To outsiders, the loud, aggressive world of heavy metal might seems like an unlikely place to find progressive politics. But any metalhead worth their leather can attest that the genre has often commented on society’s ills. Black Sabbath railed against the Vietnam War, Nuclear Assault offered apocalyptic visions of Reagan’s ‘80s, Sepultura howled scathing condemnations of the treatment of indigenous tribes in their native Brazil, Napalm Death addressed government failures and corruption, and more recently, Cloud Rat roared about sexism and urban blight atop a grindcore soundtrack. Thrash metal, in particular, has a long-running habit of tackling sociopolitical subjects with its rough barked vocals, wailing solos, and frenetic shredding.
In both a geographical and cultural sense, Mumbai seems about as far as one can get from the California Bay Area where the thrash-metal movement reached its apex. But the Indian band Sceptre offers proof of just how widely this style has spread. Inspired by their American forebears in Exodus and DRI and the music of classic German thrash bands like Kreator and Sodom, Sceptre recently celebrated its 15 anniversary, and is distinguished as one of India’s longest-running metal bands. Their latest recording taps into their genre’s liberal-leaning ideological tradition in a way that’s refreshing and urgent in modern India.
Age of Calamity is a concept album that deals with the plight of women in Indian society, and all proceeds from its sales will go directly to benefit a girls’ orphanage in Mumbai. Its haunting cover artwork was created by Indian artist Saloni Sinha, and depicts a weeping woman cradling her head in her hands, surrounded on all sides by crumbling walls and grasping shadows. It’s a powerful image, and in keeping with the theme, the band chose to work with a female artist.
Procession for the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, with her holding various artefacts such as the Sovereign’s Orb and the Sceptre with the Cross . Standing aside her, Geoffrey Fisher, the then Archbishop of Canterbury. Westminster Abbey, London. 1953
1. The Imperial Regalia: Imperial crown of Russia, consorts’ crown, coronation robes, chain and badge of the Order of Saint Andrew, orb, sceptre, seal, sword, banner, previously used crowns… - 1858 2. Laurits Tuxen - Coronation of Nicholas II and Alexandra Feodorovna - c. 1898 3. Anonymous portrait of Nicholas II in coronation robes - c. 1896 4. Konstantin Makovsky - Coronation portrait of Empress Alexandra Feodorovna - c. 1896