Thursday, December 2

The pagan beast, against the Government

Today we get tough in every way. To realize that Heathen Beast are quite a radical group, just take a look at the titles of their new album, released early last summer. There are twelve songs and they all begin with ‘fuck’, the fundamental expletive in English: from Congress to police brutality, Heathen Beast (ie, the ‘pagan beast’) just want to “screw it up.” And, of course, they also manifest that purpose for the economy, or rather for those who control it. In fact, Heathen Beast may be an even more extreme band than their titles suggest: the Bombay “atheist black metal” trio (which, in fact, have stylistically evolved into grindcore, another branch even more brutish and angry. metal) is a mysterious unit whose members remain anonymous to avoid retaliation, since his lyrics do not leave a puppet with a head in his urgent review of the Indian present.

Actually, the theme they dedicate to the economy has a particularity with respect to the other eleven of the album: it incorporates a subtitle to point out that, the truth, the economy is already quite annoyed because of the prime minister, Narendra Modi. That’s the title of the song, ‘Fuck The Economy (Modi Already Has)’, something like ‘Fuck the economy (Modi has already screwed it up)’. The lyrics focus on two recent measures by the Indian Government: demonetarisation (in November 2016, all the five hundred and one thousand rupees notes were withdrawn to exchange them for new ones, five hundred and two thousand) and the GST (the Goods and Services Tax, something like the Indian VAT, which started to apply in July 2017). Members of Heathen Beast, like much of the society in their country, consider that both initiatives harmed the most vulnerable sectors of the population: the banknote exchange, for example, was intended to combat black money but took much longer than anticipated and exposed to misery all those people in India who depend on payment in cash, without contact with the banking system. If we leave agriculture out, eight out of ten workers in the Asian country belong to the ‘informal’ or underground economy.

“People are left to die in the streets, / scammers in power, the economy is sinking. / Demonetarization killed small businesses, / GST is a complicated mess (…). / You have shattered dreams of better days, / You have lied to us, You have led us astray. / You have sold this country to the highest bidder, / You have broken the system, you have betrayed ”, accuses the song with pressing phrasing, according to the lyrics that the group kindly transcribes. “Manufacturing is at historic lows; / unemployment, at unprecedented highs. / There are no investments, no credit or supplies. / All you know how to do is put taxes, taxes, taxes », they analyze. The lyrics even allude to the former governor of the Indian central bank and the current one, Shaktikanta Das, who comes from other academic nurseries: “Raghuram Rajam warned you that this would happen, / you did not like it and now we have a historian.”

There will be very few musical groups in the world, or rather none, that pay such detailed attention to the economic situation of their country. In 2017 they released ‘$ cam’, a nine song mini album focused entirely on that “horrifying overnight withdrawal of 90% of the banknotes in circulation,” which “paralyzed activity, especially that of the poor who do not even have bank accounts.” The lag between the miserable reality of so many fellow citizens and the ambitious approaches of the authorities constitutes a true obsession for Heathen Beast, evident in songs like ‘Fuck Poor People, I Have PayTM’ (that is, ‘Fuck the poor, I have PayTm ‘, a modern digital payment platform). “The digital age is our priority, among other things, / more than food, water, electricity and housing, / famine, suicide and drought. / Now it is more important to learn how to use PayTm. / We have a very good network, / ‘cashless’ transactions will be a breath of fresh air, / it doesn’t matter if I don’t have a smartphone / or if my grandparents are 90 years old (…). / In some cities, people do not have a place to shit, / but, of course, the Government pees in full view of all, “they round off their attack. Ah, maybe someone can accuse Heathen Beast of subtle subtlety, but never incoherence: all of their releases are available for free.

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