I had heard a lot about VHUMI, the winners of Underground Uproar III, and the way they deliver awesome performances in most of the gigs in and around Kathmandu, but I had never listened to their songs nor had seen any live performances. Somehow I got their first single “Stoned Hunter” from ktmROCKS. After listening to this particular song, I figured it out why they were so popular in the local arena of underground music. After a couple of months, VHUMI was invited to perform at Pokhara Engineering College fete and they did some of their awesome originals from the forthcoming self-titled album.
I consider VHUMI’s self titled album would have been a magnificent piece of art (musically), but it seems like the members were in a real hurry to produce and release their debut and that’s why it’s clearly evident that it lacks the final touch on some parts including the vocals. But except for the recording quality, this album can be considered above the average. The album contains eight tracks, and almost all the tracks vary in terms of musical composition, originality and final production.
This album was first released during the “Coming Back to Life” gig in Pokhara and when Anil (bass guitarist) showed the album artwork, everyone around were confused whether it was a cover of a Nepali movie “Chatyang”. Hell yeah! The cover depicts a lightening struck on a dark blue background. The album artwork could have been done better than that. Even, they have ignored about the outer cover. The package is not worth the amount they have inscribed in the album.
Bikash has done an excellent job on guitar riffs along with carrying the vocals department. The melodies sometime reflect the progressive side of death metal with a more faster mid-tempo and almost Eastern-based sounds in tracks like “Balatkar” and “Suicide”. Vocals are not quite evident in most of tracks like “Stoned Hunter” and “Live to Thrill”. One may have a hard time to understand what exactly Bikash is singing (I could only understand “laaj pacheka maanish” in balatkar). The vocals must have been upped. Otherwise, Bikash’s growls are a stunner in most of the gigs.
Bass parts are rarely evident in most of the albums produced in Nepal. So this album is also not an exception, however is some songs like “Mritu ko Tandab”, “Balatkar”, the bass parts really shine and exactly match with the flowing riffs.
Ashish has also done an excellent job on drums. They sound raw and perfectly synchronize with the flow of the melodies. But at times they sound distorted, maybe due to use of real drum kit rather than the programmed ones.
The inclusion of a fourth member, keyboardist/violinist Dipesh makes a huge difference on the album: with eerily shimmering keyboards, the violin weeps in the background sounds more intimate, yet more muscular at the same time.
In retrospect, VHUMI has evolved into one of the most distinct sounding bands and one of the most daring bands that shattered the rigid constraints of the local underground, most notably with their melodic compositions. This album not only caters to the extreme crowd but also for the melody loving masses. For anyone who doesn’t mind a hint of darkness blended with melodic chaos in their record collection, this album is essential. One of the year’s must buy, leave aside the cover design.
1. Mrityu ko Tandab
5. Stoned Hunter
6. Shant Mahatma
7. Live to thrill