Best of 2014 is a 5 piece series where we sit down with
artists from across the globe and ask them their favorite albums of 2014.
Featured in this final edition, is none other than the man behind TRANSCENDING
OBSCURITY – Kunal Choksi!
The man not only runs a successful web-zine, but has one of
the fastest growing Indian label along with an amazing Distro, and a world-class
PR service for bands and labels worldwide. We sat down with him for a small
chat about what to expect in 2015 and his favorite albums from 2014.
MM: 2014 was a big year for the Transcending Obscurity
(International) label, with the release of the much awaited The Dead release
and Preludium’s spiritual album. What can we expect heading into the New Year?
KC: Hey Vidur! Thank you so much for your interest and continued
support! It's heartening to see more and more youngsters writing about metal
and spreading the word, which is required. Yes, two big releases happened on
the international label, and one of them, Preludium is almost completely sold
out within the same year which is a very big deal. The other release, as you
mentioned, is of the much awaited The Dead album and it was a very satisfying
and well-received one. There, however, wasn't even a single release on the
sub-label Transcending Obscurity India.
In 2015, the shit is going to hit the fan. Screams are going
to go off like sirens. Underpants will get soiled and mangled. Everyone is
going to go broke, including me, especially me haha. We're looking at releases
of Norse, Drug Honkey and The Whorehouse Massacre on the international Transcending
Obscurity label, both newly signed bands in 2014. There might be another new
band joining the international label ranks but we'll have to wait and see.
Upcoming Releases on Transcending Obscurity: Albatross, The Whorehouse Massacre, Norse, Dormant Inferno/ Dionysus Split and Many More!
MM: With Albatross set to release their debut full length in
early 2015, any other release planned on the Transcending Obscurity India
KC: On the Indian sub-label, we're looking releases of Dormant
Inferno/Dionysus, Albatross full length, Djinn and Miskatonic's sophomore full
length, same with Chaos, also Grossty. Gaia's Throne, Insane Prophecy and
Winter Gate might end up releasing their albums as well in the same year. All
said and done, after a gap of a whole year since the first release of Djinn and
Miskatonic, there'll be almost a release every couple of months in 2015. People
are going to die.
MM: 2014 saw Transcending Obscurity take up promotion and
distribution for quite a few Indian bands (Zero Gravity, Gypsy, etc). What
convinced you to take this step?
KC: This is a very good question. I'm so happy you asked because
I was getting tired of explaining it and its purpose almost every band I meet
here. I had to distinguish my activities because I'm operating on various
levels. There's the international label and there's the sub-label. It should
normally end there but there are a ton of upcoming bands from the region who
don't have the professional platform that Transcending Obscurity can offer. But
then again, there has to be some growth before the bands working on the
distribution level with Transcending Obscurity can avail of the same facilities
and pressing figures. For example, a new band like Gypsy can't possibly sell
500 copies or 200 T-shirts. But they still get the same proportion of royalties
with the added benefit of worldwide distribution. It's almost as good as a
label deal but they'll have to perhaps get more experienced in order to get a
higher number of pressing. Most bands on the distribution level are releasing
their debuts whereas most bands on the sub-label already have a release out.
I'm working with more experienced bands that can take the sound forward as far
But I don't want to limit this scope only to the Indian
bands. This year I'll be starting Transcending Obscurity International
Distribution where even deserving and quality international bands can benefit
from worldwide distribution and merch deals. The first release on that is of
the band The Whorehouse Massacre where we're dealing with a compilation of
their latest EPs. The full length however will be on the main Transcending
Obscurity label. I've got a couple of announcements to make regarding that,
involving new bands too like Affliction Gate.
MM: 2015 will also start with a brand-new website for the
label/webzine. What all is in store for the new website? (Return of the
KC: I have all my hopes pinned on this website which will
integrate my activities as a webzine primarily, the label and all its branches,
and finally the PR company which, as you know, enables me to help way more
bands in a different way altogether around the world. The focus will remain on
the store which will have multiple payment options, including perhaps
debit/credit card acceptance which will make life easier for all. I'll have
less hair loss. I won't be manually processing orders then (hopefully), as that
takes an immense amount of my time, and will instead have it automated via the
site. People will have to buy instantly and considering the number of bands I'm
working with, I'll have to hire a couple of psychiatrists as well.
With my international background and experience, I have come
to be a stickler for quality and the same approach will be used even for bands
willing to work with Transcending Obscurity be it only for merchandising. The
idea is to make it a 100% metal-oriented site, without ads or commercial
humbug, focusing on metal from all over and of all genres and having an
international readership. Transcending Obscurity as a whole will then be able
to offer all kinds of support to international and Indian bands especially,
giving them hope and a better future, handled by someone who's experienced in
all of this before and can do things without holding a bias, putting music and
good interest first, fostering overall growth of all scenes. Now I only wish it
MM: Your favorite albums of 2014.
KC: In no particular order -
1. SAOR - Aura.Atmospheric black metal with celtic folk touches. It's one
of the best albums to have come out in this style since Primordial and Geasa.
2. NORSE - Pest. Dissonant black metal from Australia, now to be re-released
on Transcending Obscurity - fantastic, refreshing music which is so rare in
these days. I had to snag it. A full length is also due sometime in the future.
3. INCANTATION - Dirges of Elysium. Substance over meaningless aesthetics. Lays waste their
4. WINDBRUCH - No Stars, Only Full Dark. Sublime and elegant black metal in the vein of Agalloch from
these unheralded Russian masters.
5. DOMAINS - Sinister Ceremonies. Extremely solid and rifftastic dark death metal from Spain.
6. NECROS CHRISTOS - Nine Graves. Better songwriting and coherence than ever before. One of
the flag bearers for death metal in today's times, especially pertaining to
this dark and mysterious style.
7. BOLZER - Soma. One of the best black/death metal bands in existence using
riffing over chaos to make a mark.
8. WOODS OF DESOLATION - As The Stars. Amazing depressive black metal that grows on you with more
listens. It's more intricate than it initially seems.
9. MOURNFUL CONGREGATION - Concrescence of the Sophia. Melodies that remain ever so emotive. Best in the funeral
doom metal class.
10. ANALKHOLIC - After Party - Shit Stinks. The list can't be complete without some grind and this one
is goregrind. Shit-kicking, rauncy and rambunctious.
11. MISERY INDEX - The Killing Gods. Very solid and catchy death/grind. Ace on all levels
12. GODFLESH - Decline and Fall. Return to form comeback album. Better than the full length
that followed it. Legendary band. Unimitable music of sorts.
13. SUPER FUN HAPPY SLIDE - Drop Your Pants & Grind. Unhinged, caustic and extremely fun straight up grindcore.
14. TORRENS CONSCIENTIUM - All Alone with the Thoughts. Spacey and melancholic doom metal from Ukraine - just
sublime in its expression and clean execution. Restrained yet moving.
15. DISTURBANCE PROJECT - Grita Mientras Puedas. Head smashing against concrete kinda grindcore from Spain.
Obliterating, intense and volatile.
Best of 2014 – PART 1 – Demonstealer [Demonic Resurrection]
Best of 2014 – PART 2 – Wilhelm [The Gardnerz] Picks: HERE
Best of 2014 – PART 3 – Sam Bell [Mask of Judas] Picks: HERE
Best of 2014 – PART 4 – Srikanth [Bevar Sea] Picks: HERE
Best of 2014 – Indian Metal [Melancholy Edition]: HERE