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Could get ugly

Mumbai’s biggest rockers, Pentagram’s fourth studio album, Bloodywood hit stores last week. One thing you learn about the band, after years of following them around stages is that they don’t do anything small.

music Updated: May 20, 2011 13:28 IST
Sharin Bhatti

Mumbai’s biggest rockers, Pentagram’s fourth studio album, Bloodywood hit stores last week. One thing you learn about the band, after years of following them around stages is that they don’t do anything small. If sound is grandeur, then Pentagram’s loud, heavily sampled oeuvre is a masterpiece. Case in point: Bloodywood’s 14-track compilation.

In production for two years, Pentagram’s end product is everything you would expect from it: relentless, emotive and imploring. From the introspective opening track ‘Identify…’ to satirical ‘Lovedrug climbdown…’ and ‘No two ways…’ evoking stimulus to change — each song has been written to drive a sense of urgency.

Bloodywood is an attempt to salute Mumbai’s alternative subculture, which has been inching its way up from the city’s underground movement. Cleverly written lyrics chant the thought in, like ‘I can take you to the water, but I can’t make you… think’ from their
regular gig-favourite ‘Mental zero…’

Even though the album is dedicated to Mumbai, there are songs that are more universal in introspective intent than specific, like ‘Nocturne…’, which has a distinct grunge core and is about insomnia.

Even though Pentagram, over their last few albums, has impaled their stringent electro-rock sound into their fans – Bloodywood is more traditional rock ‘n’ roll. Randolph Correia’s tight electro production hasn’t overridden the melody, Vishal Dadlani’s vocals or Shiraz Bhattacharya’s reverberating grooves. Papal Mane and Randolph’s incendiary riffs in songs like ‘Nocturne…’, ‘Paper toys…’, ‘Human failings…’ are mind-bending to say the least.

Moreover, Vishal’s vocals and songwriting drives Pentagram’s rock-bus through many stages and tours as more of an earnest rock band than anything else. And which is why, we love to hear them live, rather than on an idle afternoon on our iPod. There is nothing settling about Bloodywood, rather it’s piercingly unsettling. Nobody’s complaining.

The album is shrouded in hysteria, each song is urgent, the tempo is frenzied and you find yourself looking for respite from the monotony. Having said that, ‘Technology…’ begs to differ, with its electro-blips and varied audioscape.

Pentagram has always braved the sonic storm. Bloodywood, in many ways, is a clampdown on pop-culture, even though they partly (Vishal) represent the Bollywood mainstream. Like one of their songs, they scream it out loud, ‘This could get ugly…’

What we like
Seamless production.
Chanting, thought-provoking lyrics.
More rock, less electro.

What we don’t like
Sounds monotonous.
Could do with two songs less.

Rating: ***