As the date for the Silence Festival VIII approaches (December 14), the excitement level of the metal-heads and music lovers of Kathmandu is palpable. “We have sold over 600 tickets in pre-sales,” the organizers inform. “And the merchandise are also selling like hot cakes. This year is going to be the biggest of them all.”
Founded by the Nepali metal giants Underside in 2011, the only annual metal festival in the country aims to turn Nepal into a destination for international bands. In just a few years, it has grown into a big day-long festival visited by over 4,000 metal-heads. More than that, it has already hosted international legends such as Behemoth, Vader, Textures and SikTh, making Silence Festival easily the biggest and loudest metal fiesta in Nepal.
We featured all the international acts playing at the Silence Festival a couple of weeks ago, only to be requested by hordes of music followers to write something about their favorite participating Nepali bands as well. So here we go.
Nepali disruptors Underside are the epitome of the burgeoning Asian metal scene. Following the decade-long civil war, these Himalayan metal heavyweights came together in 2010 as a loud and robust response to the country’s delicate socio-political situation. The four-piece band are one of the biggest and best metal bands Nepal has ever seen. They have taken their riotous metal music to venues across Europe and Australia and next year plan to conquer the US.
Even though the metal scene in Nepal is in its infancy, Underside are unafraid to take risks, be it with their lyrics or the extremity of their music. The rebellious attitude of all four men (Nishant Hagjer on drums, Bikrant Shrestha on guitars, Avishek K.C. on vocals and Bikash Bhujel on guitars), combined with exceptional guitar shredding skills and blood-curdling screams—all fused with an unmistakably Nepali sound—Underside have carved out something extreme and wholly their own.
In 2019, Underside have been relentless. Fresh off a UK tour with CancerBats, the band were invited to join them on their European tour in March. At Download Festival 2019, the band delivered a standout performance by incorporating traditional Nepali dance routines steeped in history.
Based in Kathmandu, Shree 3 is the brainchild of Sarad Shrestha, a popular figure in Nepali music industry. Founded in 2016, the band came to life as a side project of three proficient musicians already playing for other bands. Shrestha (Tumbleweed) on guitars and vocals, Rozet Gurung (Jugaa, Nude Terror) on bass and Robin Neupane (Tumbleweed, H.O.S.) on drums complete the lineup of Shree 3, a power trio.
As for their music, although band members do not prefer to label themselves with a single genre, at its heart Shree 3 is an alternative rock band that also explores stoner rock, desert rock and grunge. With Sarad’s overdriven guitars and unique finger-style playing and raw vocals reminiscent of the alternative greats of the 90s, Rozet’s groovy basslines, and Robin’s steady drum beats, the band is a complete package of skilled musicianship and scintillating energy.
Shree 3 released their debut album in May this year and has toured the country, finding fans in cities from the east to west.
Strangle is a hardcore band from Lalitpur that initially started as a trash band. In 2012 they recorded their first seven-track demo with a new lineup, when the focus shifted to playing more Hardcore and Crossover Thrash. After live shows in Nepal for a couple of years the band went into a hiatus in 2014.
In 2016 they came back with a new lineup and by March 2017 had recorded their first full-length album “You’re next in line.” Since 2016, Strangle have been very active and have played shows in different cities of Nepal. In 2018 the band recorded an EP titled “The Illusion” and are soon coming up with their second full-length album.
Born In Silence
A band with nu-metal origins, “Born In Silence” was formed in 2011 when the Pokhara underground scene had already started to fade. After multiple line-up changes, which resulted in different creative inputs and musical influences from each passing member, the band’s sound has evolved to what its members now call “a fusion between different sub-genres of metal.” The current band members, aged 24-28, are some of the few active musicians in the ‘Pokhara Underground.’
The founding members of Born In Silence are Pradip Gurung (Guddu) on vocals, and Sujan Thapa and Nikhil Gurung on guitars. Since 2016 they have been joined by Bishal Pertel on drums and Ashim Gurung on bass. The band that started by covering music of international artists now have their own set-list and as they grow in confidence that comes with experience, they have also experimented with DIY face masks to give members different on-stage personas.
Binaash is a “Ramailo Death Metal” band from Kathmandu, formed in 2009 by a trio of musicians interested in death metal. A few line-up changes saw the founding member Prateek Raj Neupane joined by Prabin Shrestha (Arachnids) on growls and grunts, Bijent Bikram Shah on bass, Shashank Shrestha (72Hrs) on guitars, and the powerhouse Bikram Shrestha (Ugrakarma/Xmantra) on drums.
Formerly “Kaal,” the name was later changed as many Nepali bands were playing under the same name. The band has a full length album, an EP, a 4-way split, and single under its belt.