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Scribe: Hail Mogambo

Album Review

Indian genre-mashup merchants Scribe unleash one of the year's finest albums

From the onset of the war-drum led cinematic overtures of Hail, the album opener, Scribe make no bones about the scope of their ambitions on Hail Mogambo.

Unabashedly curious, their Bollywood-referencing identity - the lovechild of hardcore, death metal and rap-rock theatrics - has been coated with a fresh layer of synth-driven atmosphere and plenty of twists and turns eminiscent of a 90s Bollywood potboiler. On tracks like “Calendar Khana Lao, Cops, Cops, Cops and Captain Raj, the band drives one through familiar territories of bludgeoning riffs and catchy breakdowns while drummer Virendra’s double-bass-heavy rhythmic assault ensures the jerks are all too smooth. But it’s the sudden diversions in their unconventional song structures and vocalist Vishwesh’s shape-shifting propensities that push the envelope of their sound towards an inimitable shape.

On Black Diamond he’s a Hindi commentator and an English commentator all by himself, taut with excitement as Shekhar Malhotra inches closer to Sanjay Lal Sharma, a throwback to one of the most epic race sequences from Bollywood classic Jo Jeeta Vohi Sikandar,_ before segueing in and out of a faux-Blues baritone set against a mid-tempo piano and drum plonk. Their ingenious ways of incorporating Bollywood influences along with their sonic experiments, be it the clap-track backed chant on Fumanchurian as it switches to a guttural growl or Vishwesh’s beat-boxing interlude on Ha Ha! We’re Poor, are audacious, almost blasphemous attempts, pulled off with aplomb. Indeed, Scribe are comfortable in their own skin but with _Hail Mogambo they’re stretching it to the point of rejuvenation. Unabashedly ‘Indian’ and never too content to veer away from a little masala, to say that they are a genre unto themselves wouldn’t be too far from the truth.

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