After a triumphant return to representing metal in the Indian music festival landscape in 2023, Bangalore Open Air is scaling back up to a two-day edition this week, taking place on February 9 and 10 at Bits Club, Hennur.
Across two days — an iteration they are mounting for the first time ever since they started in 2012 — Bangalore Open Air will feature international metal bands like German act Kreator, Swedish band In Flames, Polish band Decapitated, black metal act Watain (also from Sweden), Swiss/Dutch all-female band Burning Witches and Spain’s Ankor.
The Indian artistes featured on the BOA lineup include favorites like Kryptos, Zygnema and Godless, plus Kolkata act Chronic Xorn, and local bands Moral Collapse and Speedtrip.
For Kreator’s Mille Petrozza — the vocalist and guitarist in the band that’s been around since 1982 — the festival is a chance to return to India. It’s extra special since Kreator headlined the first-ever Bangalore Open Air edition back in 2012.
Talking about coming back for their second performance in the city, Petrozza says over a call, “To us, it’s something that we always wanted to do, since we first played in the Bangalore Open Air. So of course, we are very happy that we got invited back and we can’t wait, this is going to be great.”
Their set includes songs from their recent album Hate Uber Alles, but also older songs. Petrozza promises something for every kind of fan, both longtime and recent. He says, “We definitely will play a lot of the old stuff, a lot of new stuff — a nice mix of old and new songs. We want to give the people full treatment. Some people have been following us for a long time, so they probably are going to be happy to hear older songs. Then, there are people who have just discovered Kreator and they get some of the newer songs that we’ve written.”
As someone who became a devoted practitioner of yoga over the last decade, the frontman says it helps him “stay sane” and also stay in shape physically and mentally. Describing himself as a student of yoga, Petrozza says it’s part of what helps him play at breakneck speed and around the world. In a larger sense, he says he can keep churning out faster and more intense music over the years because he doesn’t delve on it so much.
“It’s really a lifestyle. I never think about the time that has passed. It’s probably a reason why I’m here. I never really question it,” he adds. The band will also have a film crew follow them around, as part of a larger documentary that’s in the works about a year in the life of Kreator.
On the other end of the spectrum compared to Kreator are Burning Witches, a heavy metal band making their way to India for the first time. They will be adding some diversity and inclusivity to the often male-dominated space (along with Ankor, which is fronted by a female vocalist Jessie Williams and a female drummer, Eleni Nota). Guitarist Courtney Cox (not to be confused with the actor) recalls that she’d missed one opportunity to visit India in the past with her previous band, The Iron Maidens, but is looking forward to her first trip.
During our call, Cox mentions that she’s thinking about the long flight from the US to Bengaluru, but is excited to get to India. “I just know the fans are going to be metal and intense. I can’t wait to feel their energy on stage and have a really good time,” she adds. Burning Witches, who released their fifth album in the span of six years in 2023 with The Dark Tower, will be playing more from this new album. “You’re going to hear some heavy hitting ones from that album and mixed in the classics from previous albums,” Cox adds.
To anyone who’s never been to a Burning Witches show, Cox sums up the experience simply as “heavy metal.” She adds with a laugh, “If you look in the dictionary and look up heavy metal, there’s a photo of us. Heavy riffs, solos, harmonies and just quintessential metal energy.”
In her travels with the band as well as in previous projects and as a solo artiste, Cox says it doesn’t take much to break the ice when they’re playing in a new country for the first time. “Just being able to go to all these different countries, we start to realise that metal is this religion, everywhere you go. We’re all this metal family. So anywhere we go, it’s just like we’re being at home, basically,” she says.
Bangalore Open Air takes place on February 9 and 10 at Bits Club, Hennur. Tickets on BookMyShow.com