Indian Supergroup. I saw those two words and thought: ‘Yep, I have to check this out’. I was hesitant but intrigued.
The Minerva Conduct is a genre-bending instrumental trio from Mumbai, India which began as a solo project by ex-Gutslit member, Prateek Rajagopal. He was joined by Ashwin Shriyan and Nishith Hegde, both of whom played in Demonic Resurrection and Reptilian Death. The trio recruited ex-Animals As Leaders drummer Navine Koperweis for this album, who also provided the beautiful synth-work.
This self-titled album is eight songs of truly progressive, atmospheric and somewhat experimental metal.
My hesitation about this album disappeared about 2 seconds into the first track. I’m fairly new to the instrumental realm; I generally find myself picking places where vocals could go, or I imagine a vocal melody. This does not occur once throughout this brilliant production. I think the main comment you’ll read about will be about how TMC really harness the instrumental aspect of their sound. Lyrics are not missing from this music; they don’t belong in the first place.
The opening track “Vile” greets you head-on, and for fans of djent/ prog metal, you’ll know you’ve come to the right place. Of the eight songs, it most certainly serves best as the intro to what lies ahead. “Vile” was released as the first single on July 13. The speed and accuracy of the double kick rhythms are mind-blowing, and the guitars seamlessly move through different heavy styles.
“Desertion” starts off with some atmospheric samples, falsely leading you to the neck-snapping intro passage. I have to call it a passage, TMC don’t just lay down riffs and beats. They create a sonic campaign that throws your ears all over the place. Out of the initial carnage comes a dreamy synth and voice over section, and then they build to some minimal but punchy guitar which carries a synth part that intermittently pans all the way left and right. This track is sublime through good headphones.
“Metanoia” is the stand out track for this writer, if anything just for the first 60 odd seconds. It’s everything the first two tracks are plus so much more. It’s the first display of some technical lead guitar work. There is a clean guitar break in the middle that builds with quirky synth sounds that lull you right back into your chair before an unexpectedly intense outro of that machine-gun kick drumming that dominates the album, mixed with some basic trem-picked chords. Yum.
The first three tracks will have your pulse rate up, guaranteed. It seems then that “Trip Seq”, the shortest track, acts as an intermission. I think it would serve well as the soundtrack to a horror-movie scene, for some reason it conjures up images of John Wayne Gacy’s Pogo, but that could just be me…
The pace picks right back up again with “Appetence”. This track is the best example on the album of how you can make a killer song instrumentally. It competently covers everything you need, and again this one’s better through headphones, although I would love to see it live.
“Exultant” was kinda difficult to keep up with, and that’s a good thing. That theme of having your head mashed up by alternating time signs, syncopation and a bunch of other tricks reigns throughout this piece.
“Unearth”, you’re gonna need a rest after this one. The drumming is insane, the solos and leads are the best of the album, and there’s even some slap bass. At points it sounds like a calliope going off and not long later, we’re back in a creepy, industrial, suspenseful soundscape.
I want to know if anyone else gets an Iron Butterfly vibe from the closer “Grand Arcane”. That tone took me there immediately. In true TMC fashion, this nostalgia was quickly forgotten when that heavy AF riff kicks in. This track relies more on rhythm than melody, but the result is sensational. By the end of this, you’ve really earned a lie-down.
The Minerva Conduct has delivered an accomplished instrumental record and being that it’s their debut they’re very clearly an act to pay attention to.