Last month, the rockers of Hyderabad-based death/ thrash metal band Godless scored a trip to Germany for the nearly 30-year-old Wacken Open Air festival by winning the India edition of the Wacken Metal Battle. But the real fight was getting visas and the cash needed for the dream gig at the world’s largest heavy metal festival, says bassist and founder Abbas Razvi.
“All four of our visa applications got rejected at first,” says Razvi, who grew up in Hyderabad. “We didn’t realise how much work goes into a visa. We reapplied, appealed and got our visas just a week before flying.”
Running annually in the small village 80 km northwest of Hamburg since 1990, Wacken Open Air added a global “battle of the bands” in 2004, and the competition finals now attract more than 70,000 metalheads from some 40 countries. So missing it would have been devastating.
To compound the tension, Razvi had scheduled a holiday without considering Godless might win the trip, so Bengaluru-based vocalist Kaushal L.S. had to sub in for him. And the whole crew—which also includes drummer Aniketh Yadav and guitarist Ravi Nidamarthy—was putting the finishing touches on their second EP Swarm, hustling to secure more gigs to make the most of their first trip to Europe as musicians and seeking out a sponsor to cover expenses.
At the eleventh hour, the band tweeted to Telangana’s IT minister K.T. Rama Rao, whom Razvi recognised as an active supporter of arts and culture in the state. “He responded the same day and said the government wouldn’t be able to help, but that he can find us a private sponsor.” Lahari Resorts came forward to cover all expenses of the trip, which by then had also included an additional Germany gig in the city of Kiel. China’s Die From Sorrow wound up winning the contest, with Ukraine’s Motanka and Romania’s An Theos taking second and third place. But Godless’s 20-minute set was greeted by calls for an encore twice over, confirming Kaushal’s belief that they have what it takes to make it on the world stage. “There’s no point in being in a band if you don’t want to be the best in the world,” he says.
With that same confidence, Razvi says they played like any other day—razor-edged riffs, pummelling drums, anguished growls and all. “We weren’t thinking about the results, because even if it’s a competition, we didn’t change anything for Wacken,” the bassist says.
With the first single from Swarm, ‘From Beyond,’ already exceeding expectations, and the full EP set to release on October 27, there are more victories to come.