One might expect a death metal band to talk of religion, existentialism, and beat “the system”, so the Bengal Famine is a surprising choice of topic. Yet, Chennai-based Moral Putrefaction has touched upon it and continues to growl its way through whatever past tragedies or current issues it deems pertinent, highlighting the decay — or putrefaction — of human morality in the process.
The band has its first full-length album slated for release soon, but for now, has another reason to celebrate. It recently battled metal bands from across India as well as Nepal and Bangladesh, and will now be representing the Indian Subcontinent at one of the world’s largest death metal and hard rock events. Wacken Open Air in the village of Wacken, Germany, sees bands from around the world battle it out before 75,000-strong crowds every year.
Wacken has been witnessing Indian talent since 2011, but never before has it hosted a band from Tamil Nadu. This year, at Rock N’ Roll Originals Presents - Metal Massacre, guitarist-vocalist Shiva Moorthy, bassist Sidharth, guitarist Beeto Jerrin and drummer Hemanth Vinod will be breaking that spell.
“If you had told 18-year-old Shiva that he would be performing — not even just attending, but actually performing on stage — at Walken, he would not have believed you,” says Shiva. “It is sad that our bassist Nithin Peter, who helped us win, cannot make it to Germany, but the band’s original bassist Sidharth is happy to step in.”
For this much-coveted chance, the band had to compete against eight other bands earlier this month, each of whom had been selected from regional heats in different parts of the country. “We had qualified from our heat two years ago,” states Shiva, adding, “But Wacken Open Air did not happen in 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic. So we had to wait, and this time we got a chance again.”
The final round in 2022, held at Fandom in Bengaluru, not only gave the Chennai band a chance to show off its prowess before some of the best in the country, but also bear witness to talents they had heard much about, “I have been meaning to watch [Darjeeling-based] band Obliterating Vortex live for some time now. It was at these battles that I finally got the chance,” says Shiva.
The battle at Wacken will be an entirely different ball game, but Moral Putrefaction is no stranger to international death metal. In 2017, the band supported Australian technical death metal band Psycroptic in Chennai. In 2018, at Bengaluru’s impressive Trendslaughter Fest, the members shared the stage with Draconis Infernum from Singapore and Cult of Fire from Czech Republic. In 2020, Moral Putrefaction opened for American death metal legends Immolation at Bangalore Open Air Metal Nights. So the band’s 2022 achievement is not that far off-course.
For a team of metalheads gearing up to clash with the best in Germany, the band has quite a simple origin story, set rather serendipitously in one of the city’s favourite little musical havens, Shruthi Musicals. It was there that Shiva first met Moral Putrefaction’s co-founder, who has since left but remains a good friend. “I was tinkering with one of the instruments at the shop, and began singing a little. This absolute stranger on the other side of the room understood what I was trying to do, and started adding to my song. We have been friends ever since. Later, when we met Hemant, Sidharth, and Beeto,” recalls Shiva, adding “it was always just that simple, each time.”
The band will be playing Wacken Metal Battle on August 3, 2022.