Mumbai-based progressive metal band Festacorn has shared their full-length album, ‘Cafe Slap City Central.’ Deliciously captured and conceived as an eight-course meal, the album is ladled with servings of heavy metal, alternative metal, hard rock, nuanced melodies, roaring guitar riffs, grunge textures, growls, and a nearly eight-minute-long power-ballad dubbed ‘Mutant Prawn.’
Akhil Nargundkar (Bass), Angad Bhatia (Guitars), Vaibhav Shejwal (Guitars), and Vivek Jha (Vocals) comprise the four-piece outfit Festacorn. The band follows up their 2018 EP release ‘It’s Only Natural‘ and 2020 single ‘Raspberry Punch,’ with ‘Cafe Slap City Central.’ Described as “a deep dive into the abyss of the human psyche, where our darkest fears lurk,” the band dishes out pieces of djent, progressive metal, doom, and alternative metal. Envisioned as a meal, the band states, “The food (songs) take the diner (listener) on a delicious (emotional) roller coaster ride; on a journey which hopes to culminate in a cleansing.”
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The album/food course starts off with ‘Something Soup,’ which instantly captures the sound, energy, and nonchalant aggression of the album. The grunge heavy progressive tune is followed up with ‘Mister Gingerbread,’ which plugs in a head-bobbling guitar riff and steady drum work. True to a classic food menu fashion, Festacorn plates up two pieces – ‘Freshly Roasted Beings, Decaf‘ and ‘Lies In White Sauce‘ that offer an interval from the metal-heavy sounds of the album.
‘Mutant Prawn‘ provides listeners with a multi-genre power rock ballad boasting growls, rhythmic guitar riffs, and rattling bass stabs. Next arrives ‘Clam Chaos,’ which starts off with a passive beat and rapidly builds into a shredding back-and-forth guitar rhythm accompanied by harmonizing vocals. ‘Chicken Significant‘ blends a crisp jazz note at the beginning and stirs in snappy guitar work two minutes in, with vocalist Vivek Jha punching in notes melodically. ‘Death By Salad,’ a five-minute alternative metal /post-grunge track, flawlessly serves as the last course of the album/menu.
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We reached out to Festacorn’s band member Angad Bhatia to gain a little more insight into the makings of the record. The guitarist told us that the band started working on their latest album ‘Cafe Slap City Central’ immediately after their first EP, ‘It’s Only Natural,’ was released in 2018. Angad states, “While ‘It’s Only Natural’ served as an exploratory piece of work, the album was the definition for us, in terms of our sound. We had identified our sound then and we wanted to redefine it through this album.”
Angad goes on to mention, “The journey this album has taken from its inception as an idea in early 2019, through the pandemic lockdown years which brought a lot of turmoil for the band and for the individuals, and now finally in its final form at release; it has been an emotional rollercoaster and one we can be proud of as a band to have experienced and come through.”
When quizzed about the lyrical writing and themes of the songs, the guitarist/producer credits vocalist Vivek Jha, saying, “The lyrics come from a very personal place for Vivek, who writes the words for the band, and yet we would prefer the listener interpret their own version. The lyrical themes touch upon our fear -what it means to feel fear, how we experience it, and how it shapes us. This theme is layered deep within metaphorical representations, intentionally, so that the listener/reader is left to infer their own meaning from this.”
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The album is a solid palatable meal of metal, which follows on from Festacorn’s 2019 release ‘Raspberry Punch.’ Angad Bhatia remarks that the album hops off bassist Akhil Nargundkar’s obsession with Butter Garlic Prawns from one of their usual haunts. Delving into the concept of the album further, Bhatia expresses, “About half a year later, into mid-2019, we had been working on multiple new songs that would eventually become a part of the new album, Vivek, in a moment of inspiration realized that most of the songs sounded like they were off a menu, and we had this phrase going around in the band, ‘Slap City Central’ as a possible working title of a song.”
Bhatia continues by asserting, “So what if it could be the name of a restaurant or a cafe and the songs are on the menu at this place? And what if this cafe was serving people food that triggered their deepest darkest fear within them? That’s when it all started becoming reality and then served as the basis for the music video for Raspberry Punch later in 2019 and then the other songs came together quickly as we fed (pun intended) off the ideas and off of each other.”
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While concluding our interview, capturing the essence of the group, Angag expresses, “We are an extremely banter-heavy band, as a lot of bands are, but we also really genuinely enjoy each other’s company and the energy in a room when the four of us are together, it is the most inspirational and most creative we feel as individuals at most times. The ideas always flow freely and without judgment and it’s the most fulfilling creative experience. That’s how most of this came through for us, just random conversation about things we love and enjoy.”