Sahil Makhija aka Demonstealer, the man at the helm of India’s premier death metal band Demonic Resurrection and the equally revered Reptilian Death, has gone solo again and the result is the breathtakingly emotive This Burden Is Mine.
As complex, fragile and imperfect as the human spirit, This Burden Is Mine may launch into the kind of blistering death metal you’d associate with Demonstealer ‘s work in Demonic Resurrection but it soon becomes apparent that proggy waters are being traversed and expectations are going to be tested.
What hits hardest is the multitude of personalities that spring forth from Sahil’s throat; from his more recognised – and formidable – death growls to an almost emo-esque shout and a hardcore meets metalcore bark all topped off by an accomplished clean singing voice. This split personality is echoed throughout and you’d be hard pressed to find a more diverse set of tracks all year, with the kitchen sink and all its utensils (ironic considering the ever-busy Sahil hosts his online cooking blog) thrown around with wild abandonment. There’s prog rock, prog metal, thrash, death metal, metalcore….you name it, Demonstealer draws from it and impressively spits out a fresh variation that’s endlessly surprising and highly immersive.
While the sheer diversity may keep you on your toes, This Burden Is Mine is to be applauded for its fearless nature and brutal honesty. “Frail Fallible” feels like an open wound laid bare, raw emotion backed by a gruffly sung chorus that cuts to the bone with its heart-wrenching sincerity while the prog-strains of “Where Worlds End” feels upbeat despite its “I don’t belong here refrain”. Fortunately masterful musicianship accompanies the soul-baring and this mature record is as liberal with its riffs as it is the social commentary. Still finding room to harness the ‘heavy’, the metalcore-like bounce of “From Rubble And Ruin” – Devildriver like in its furious groove – reminds the listener that this is the work of a heavy metal pioneer, a man who fly’s the flag for Indian metal higher and with greater integrity than anyone.
The ultimate selling point of having Nile’s George Kolias on drums is ironically not the biggest draw here (although he does put in a flawless and nuanced performance), that honour instead falls on the shoulders of Sahil Demonstealer Makhija himself, a burden he seems more than capable of carrying alone. 9/10