BLOODYWOOD: “Rakshak” (Album Review)

I feel as though I have been living under a rock for the last few years.  I was randomly scrolling through upcoming music releases and found an album cover that caught my interest.  It featured a huge elephant standing behind a lone boy.  Between the elephant and the name of the album, “Rakshak,” I assumed this was a band from India so I checked it out.  The first song I heard blew me away and I emailed the band and asked if I could do a review.  If you haven’t heard of this band yet, and are reading this review, I will just say this in advance- “You are welcome.”

Bloodywood (Karan Katiyar- guitar/flute, Jayant Bhadula- vocals, Raoul Kerr- rap vocals) first emerged on the scene in 2018 with their cover of Bombay Rockers hit, “Ari Ari.”  This single, along with several others that went viral on YouTube, gave the group international attention and landed them a spot at Wacken Open Air in 2019.  This rap-metal trio has not slowed down at all.  As mentioned earlier, they are releasing their debut album, “Rakshak,” on February 18.  Speaking of their new album, the band has said, “Rakshak means ‘protector’ or ‘guardian’ in Hindi. We’ve always been as passionate about the message of our music as much as the music itself, and our goal has and always will be to make a positive impact on people’s lives and on the planet.” 

Starting the album off is “Gaddaar,” a strong nu-metal song infused with traditional Indian instruments.  The official music video for Gadaar was released as a single on November 9, 2021, and has over one million views on YouTube!  The band claims that they remain politically unaffiliated and that this song calls out hateful politics as a whole.  It is a truly heavy single musically and lyrically, an aggressive call for change. 

The second track on the album, “Aaj,” premiered as the band’s latest single on January 21st.  It starts out quieter- with an Indian flute, but intensifies quickly.  Of this single, the band says, “Aaj is about the moment in time when you realize you have the strength to do what you have to do to become who you want to become. We all have our demons, our reasons to be stuck in a rut of harmful patterns, and our fears of trying something new. This track is meant to act as a spark to light a fire within the listener to overcome all of that, it’s about the fearless pursuit of the next level for as long as your heart continues to beat.”  The female vocals and Indian flute played throughout the song, really add a neat sound not heard in the genre. 

Bloodywood did an excellent job with the tracklist on Rakshak.  The album is mostly comprised of fast-paced songs, but they place slower or anthemic-type ones throughout.  “Zanjeero Se” ebbs and flows between beautiful and monstrous. There is a Linkin Park vibe to the verses on “Yaad” until it builds to a heavier chorus and erupts with a wild guitar solo in the bridge.  Most of the other tracks have a similar intensity to one another, but they are not just cookie-cutter-made songs- each is unique in its own way.  For the readers that have heard of this band before, you may be familiar with the heavy hits “Edurant,” “Jee Veerey,” and “Machi Bhasad” which were released a few years ago.  For those who haven’t heard these older singles, they are really great songs that are definitely worth checking out.

“BSDK.exe” and “Chakh Le” close the album strong with their intrusive vocals, harsh raps, and groovy rhythms.  One of my favorite tracks on the album, “Dana-Dan,” starts with light percussion but soon drops a barrage of killer riffs and the sound feels like a punch in the face. I’m not a big fan of hip-hop, but the way this art is entwined with such brutal music, it’s hard not to appreciate.  “Dana-Dan” sounds like Max Cavalera on a six-pack of Red Bull.  If you’re listening to this song while driving, watch your speed!

All in all, this is a great album.  It’s a little heavy on the hip-hop influence, something that I’m not always keen on, but when rap is mixed with aggressive music and traditional Indian instruments, it’s hard not to love this band.  Rakshak is an impressive debut and I am excited to see how this band will lead the genre in the years to come.  As long as the pandemic doesn’t hinder anything, there is no doubt in my mind that Bloodywood will be headlining shows worldwide within the next couple of years. We can thank Brazil for Sepultura, Germany for Rammstein, and now India for Bloodywood.