Kaal: Nepal’s Death Metal Trailblazers Seek Global Dominance

by Barbara

The ambience at Beers N’ Cheers on August 12 underwent a dramatic shift as metal enthusiasts, donning black attire, resurrected the spirit of KTM Rocks. Kicking off the show were Sharabha and Nainsook, delivering headbanging and mosh pit-worthy performances. However, the main event was eagerly awaited by the crowd: Kaal, a Pokhara-based death metal band, graced the stage in Kathmandu after a six-month hiatus.

Standing out as one of the few active death metal acts in the country, Kaal prioritizes connecting with their fanbase beyond their lakeside hometown. Their music, dark and evocative, coupled with haunting lyrics, creates an electrifying experience that resonates deeply with devoted death metal enthusiasts.

It was no surprise that nearly 200 individuals congregated at BNC, exuding anticipation as they prepared to witness one of Nepal’s most exceptional death metal bands.

“We always appreciate the time and effort people invest in coming to watch us play,” expressed Hem Kumar Pun, the band’s vocalist and founding member.

Fifteen years have passed since the formation of the band in Pokhara. With a lifelong passion for metal, Pun aspired to create a group capable of emulating the music of international heavyweights such as Slayer, Lamb of God, Sepultura, and Children of Bodom.

In 2007, his dream became a reality when he connected with like-minded engineering students. They began jamming together, and thus Kaal was born.

Venturing Into the Realm of Death Metal

Initially, the band covered songs by their musical influences, gradually improving their skills and eventually feeling inspired to create their own music. Fueled by the desire to produce original compositions, they collectively crafted their debut song, “Feeding.” From that moment on, their creative momentum knew no bounds.

However, progress was far from effortless. The late 2000s marked the decline of death metal’s golden era in Nepal. Regular gatherings, occurring almost every weekend, became sporadic and posed challenges for bands like Kaal.

Nevertheless, Pun and his bandmates persevered, proudly upholding Kaal’s status as one of the few remaining active death metal acts in the local scene.

“Many believe it’s not worth it due to the lack of commercial success. Ego also plays a detrimental role, leading to the disbandment of numerous groups,” shared Pun.

However, Kaal never pursued commercial success. They cherished their underground status, an ideology the majority of the band members resonated with.

“Despite limited opportunities, several of our members left Nepal and settled elsewhere,” revealed Pun.

Kaal has also undergone changes in its lineup. With Pun as the constant driving force, the band has seen only five member rotations in 15 years. This success, according to Pun, stems from fostering a sense of equal ownership and unity among its members.

“Every decision made regarding the band should be a collective one,” emphasized Pun. “Just because I am the oldest member does not mean I should make decisions alone.”

The current iteration of Kaal boasts Pun on vocals, Prashant Gurung on guitar, Jay Ram Karki on drums, and Ashim Gurung on bass.

Kaal 2.0: The Evolution Continues

Over the course of 15 years, the band released their debut EP, “Anga Bhanga Nepal,” in 2016 and is now gearing up for the launch of their second EP.

Enthusiastic about the upcoming release, all band members anticipate a distinct evolution in their sound compared to the previous EP.

“The utilization of advanced technology, skilled recording expertise, and high-quality gear will set the new EP apart. We are eager for its release,” stated Karki, the band’s drummer.

The band is currently immersed in studio work, with early 2024 as the target for their second EP’s unveiling.

Moreover, Kaal’s forthcoming EP promises unique thematic content. While their previous tracks explored themes of anti-establishment and disdain for deities, Pun revealed that their new compositions delve firmly into realism.

The Resilience of Death Metal

Since 2007, Pun and Kaal have witnessed numerous transformations within Nepal’s metal scene. According to Pun, initially, only a handful of individuals grasped the essence of the genre, but now the audience for death metal has considerably expanded.

“The audience numbers fluctuate. Some days we witness an influx of people, while on other days, attendance may be as low as a hundred during shows,” shared Pun.

In addition to their EP release, Kaal has other plans in the pipeline. First, they intend to tour Nepal before eventually venturing beyond their home country.

“We had a show in Manipur, but an unfortunate incident forced us to halt our plans temporarily. However, we are resilient and determined to carry the banner of death metal in Nepal, ensuring the world recognizes the thriving death metal scene in our country,” asserted Pun.

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