After rock ‘n roll, death metal is probably one of the most maligned and misinterpreted genres in music. Hell, even one of my favourite shows, The Simpsons, had an episode in which they “blast death metal”, only to cut to Judas Priest playing a parody of their own heavy metal trademark ‘Breaking the Law’.
I didn’t have to look that far for something in India, though. Sat amidst traffic (as one is known to do in Bengaluru), my dad pointed to a billboard on a foot-over bridge which announced in bold yellow: “1st time in Kannada movie, death metal, recorded in London.” There were photos of musicians below this heading, but no one I could even vaguely recognise. It feted Vasishta N Simha as the lead singer of the title track off a movie called 6ne Maili, which translates to “Sixth Mile”. In a video interview, music director Sai Kiran S. says he used death metal because “it’s used usually to depict violence so we wanted that in our movie.”
All we know about 6ne Maili is that it’s a crime thriller, starring National Award winning actor Sanchari Vijay and RJ Nethra in lead roles, and is directed by See Ni (IMDB only lists 6ne Maili under his profile). It’s expected to hit screens in December 2018. There is a brief synopsis of the film in Bookmyshow and it reads, “A group of people go missing in the dense forest of Dhavalgiri. The mystery behind their unexplained disappearance hovers at the 6th mile of the trekking zone.” Riveting stuff.
This is one of those few times an advertisement is so intriguing that it works. The title track for 6ne Maili was arranged by Andrew T. Mackay (a rep in India for the famous Abbey Road Studios) and features a dragging, groovy riff from Adam Lamprell (who was in former rock band called Skyscraper), solid drumming work (no double-bass, sadly) from Andrew McGuinness (who performed with George Michael and Gloria Gaynor) and a perfectly eerie but evocative violin lead from Anna Phoebe. Phoebe has released her own stuff and worked with Trans Siberian Orchestra, who are definitely one of the biggest European metal acts. And performed live with Jethro Tull. She's even worked with Nitin Sawhney on the new Mowgli score.
It’s a song that instills the prominent cinematic mood of fear and suspense, but, spoiler alert, it’s not really death metal. Well, not unless you play it at 2X speed on YouTube. Even then, as far as marketing gimmicks (or should we say ‘musical experiments’?) go, this is harmless. They’re not co-opting metal per se, because they’ve got great musicians backing them. If anything, 6ne Maili’s title track does introduce the somewhat lesser-known Kannada film fandom to something heavier.