The Rise of Metal

The band Iced Earth

Preparations are underway for a heavy metal festival in Bangalore that's the stepping stone to the world-famous Wacken Metal Battle in Germany.

Every year, for about three days in August, the small and relatively quiet town of Wacken in northern Germany is overrun by 70,000-90,000 visitors. Dressed in frayed or torn jeans, black t-shirts bearing the names of famous metal bands, and sporting long often unruly hair, they arrive in hordes to watch the biggest names in metal play at one of the most popular metal festivals in the world Wacken Open Air.

In 2004, 14 years after the festival started, the organisers introduced the Wacken Metal Battle. A battle between bands from around the world, it gave one winner from each participating country a chance to play and compete with other winners at Wacken. Also on offer was a label deal for the final winner and endorsements, among other things. Last year, India became the 27th country to participate in the battle and will continue to do so this year as well.

There will, however, be one difference. This year, the winners from the four zonal level competitions in Mumbai, Bangalore, Delhi and Guwahati will compete at a newly established metal music festival Bangalore Open Air alongside German thrash metal band, Kreator, who will headline the festival, and American heavy metal band, Iced Earth, co-headlining the event, among others. The Indian bands confirmed for the event include Bangalore-based Kryptos, Eccentric Pendulum and Dying Embrace, and Mumbai-based Albatross.

"Last year, we didn't have a festival. There was a pan-India metal battle and then the finale in Bangalore," says Salman Syed, founder of Infinite Dreams, a company that was born in 2007 as a band-management company and now organises the festival. "This year, we'll follow the same procedure but the finals will be held at the Bangalore Open Air event," adds Syed.

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