Welcome to the latest edition of “Freeloader,” in which we review albums that you don’t have to feel like a douche for downloading for free. Today Satan Rosenbloom checks out the Indian metal compilation New Year Killing Spree.

Just because heavy metal’s founding fathers were largely white and from the west doesn’t mean that the U.S. and Europe have a total lock on good heavy music. Call it post-imperialist guilt, but I’m genuinely thrilled when I discover a great metal band from somewhere unexpected. So when Axl was rightfully “meh” about the four Indian metal bands suggested by MS reader Nikhil Pradhan a few weeks back , I considered it my patronizing duty to find an Indian metal band worthy of genuine excitement.

Where better to begin my search than New Year Killing Spree, a free compilation of more than two hours of the “best metal tracks from the Indian scene released in 2011,” hand-selected by India’s Metal Spree blog? The comp serves up 26 bands and 26 tracks of pure South Asian headbangery, most entirely unknown to the metal world outside of India. Surely there must be a bunch of undiscovered gems, right?

Wrong. 95% of these songs are total garbage. The best that I can say is that New Year Killing Spree presents a wide variety of awfulness. Plague Throat, Mutiny in March and Grimmortal offer faceless deathcore. Blurred Haze, Arcane Deception, Forsaken and Verses overstuff their songs with epic arrangements that just accentuate how boring the songwriting is. Some of these bands (Azure Delusion, Crystal and the Witches, Halahkuh) start with good riffs that never pan out into compelling songs; others like Dead Calm Chaos and Dream Diabolic have their considerable energy flattened by amateur production/mixing jobs. Then there’s Exiled Sanity, who crib as shamelessly from Meshuggah as any third-rate djent band, but win the booby prize by incorporating two of the Swedes’ album titles into the name of their song “Redesigning Humans – I [The Uprise].” And that song sucks, by the way.

When faced with New Year Killing Spree’s parade of aural travesty, the threshold for acceptability takes a nosedive. That must have been why I didn’t mind 1833 AD’s “Who Will Kill the Emperor” and Vile Impalement’s “Cremated Remains,” which are standard-issue but well-constructed slabs of Satanic black metal and Incantation worship, respectively. The only track I enjoyed without reservation was Slain’s prog-power epic “Here & Beyond.” I usually hate these kinds of over-the-top power metal vocals and über-cheesy synthesizer sounds, but Slain won me over with their unpredictable songwriting and totally pro performances.

That’s one really good song out of 26. Yikes. There must be more awesome metal bands hiding amongst India’s 1.2 billion inhabitants, right? Somebody in India had good enough taste and awareness of metal’s modern-day innovators to invite Intronaut to the Great Indian Rock Fest in 2009. So where is India’s equivalent of Melechesh, Corrupted or Wormrot, all phenomenal bands that have emerged from non-Western countries to worldwide acclaim? Is metal still too young in India? Is there just not enough of a heavy metal music industry infrastructure yet to support a world-class metal band out there? Are we looking in the wrong places? Can I hear you scream, Bangalore?

(2 horns up outta 5)


Download New Year Killing Spree here.

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