Sitar Metal was born by bringing together talented musicians: bassist Tushar Khurana, guitarist Deeparshi Roy, and drummer Joel Damian Rodrigues. Rishabh proudly claims that it is the world's first band fronted by a sitar player. Their music represents a fresh take on heavy metal while remaining deeply rooted in the Indian classical tradition, creating a melodious fusion of the two worlds. The album was mixed and mastered by Adhiraj Singh and features Robert Alex on bass (also known as the bassist of Aswekeepsearching) and electronic music contributions from Swastik Chakravarty.
For Rishabh, the priority was to craft an album consisting of "legit songs" rather than focusing solely on speed or showcasing technical prowess. He emphasizes, "So I decided to write this whole album, again all by myself." Thematically, the album delves deep into his personal journey, exploring various moods and moments from his life.
Rishabh Seen embarked on his journey to master the sitar before even reaching the age of five. His lineage boasts a remarkable legacy, spanning four generations of sitar players, with the instrument gracing their family for nearly two centuries. For many years, he joined his father, Pt Manu Seen, who also served as his guru, on worldwide tours, gracing Indian classical concerts with their mesmerizing performances. However, in 2015, a pivotal moment reshaped Rishabh's career as he decided to infuse metal into the sitar's traditional repertoire.
While metal was a novel terrain for him, it quickly became a familiar soundscape. As he began releasing covers of metal songs, he was pleasantly surprised by the intriguing parallels between the two genres. One of his earliest breakthroughs came with his rendition of Animals as Leaders' "Tempting Time," where he discovered the use of one of his beloved Indian classical ragas, the Kirwani raga. These covers swiftly gained popularity, with his first video uploaded in June 2015 amassing a staggering 10,000 views overnight. Soon, icons like Metallica and Steven Wilson were giving him shout-outs.
His reputation as a musician soared, leading to invitations such as opening for the Aristocrats in Nepal. During this time, he crossed paths with bassist Bryan Beller, who later invited him to collaborate on the track 'World Class' for his 2019 album 'Scenes from the Flood.' Encouraged by these experiences, Rishabh Seen took a leap of faith and released 'Mute the Saint,' an EP of original music in 2017. Despite its merit, the EP did not receive the anticipated reception. Instead of genuine listeners, Rishabh found himself inundated with unsolicited advice on how to alter his music, and he faced ridicule from other bands for various reasons. He reflects on this period, saying, "People just don't get it sometimes. When 'Mute the Saint' came out, I was kind of young and unable to ignore a lot of stuff… the Indian music scene is truly brutal."
The impact of these challenges led him to shelve his metal composition aspirations for an entire year. During this hiatus, he toured America and Europe as part of Arijit Singh's band. Despite the luxury and comfort that came with this lifestyle, Rishabh felt a profound disconnect; the lavish trappings failed to ignite the same passion as his musical pursuit. He recalls, "Suddenly you're thrown into seven-star [hotels] and you have a ton of money, everything you've ever wanted in life. But it's not exactly what you want to do… you will not have the same drive."
Eventually, Rishabh Seen decided to return to his roots in India and to the world of metal. It was during this period of inner conflict that he composed 'When Time Stands Still,' a song he describes as an exploration of chaos. This composition would later become the opening track of his band Sitar Metal's eponymous debut album, which was released on October 1.
The second track on the album, 'Beyond Me Beyond You,' is a sprawling composition lasting nearly ten minutes, inspired by the breathtaking vistas he witnessed during a hike in Himachal Pradesh. Although it lacks a specific narrative, the song vividly captures the scenic beauty he beheld, following in the footsteps of countless lone artists who have found inspiration in nature's grandeur.
This is followed by 'We'll Never Exist Again,' a track that Rishabh Seen describes as a celebration of himself, the sitar, and metal. He reflects on the ephemeral nature of existence, acknowledging that Sitar Metal's unique fusion may never be replicated. The song aptly conveys this sentiment with its buoyant melodies, illustrating the expressive capabilities of the sitar.
Next up is 'I'm the Wakeup Call,' a departure from the album's general tone, with a darker and angrier disposition. It stands as the sole track with vocals, featuring Ankur Nanda. This song is a manifestation of the frustration that had built up within Rishabh over the past two years when his music failed to receive the positive response he had hoped for. He candidly admits, "I've written that song about me, how I felt in that moment. It's exactly what went on inside me… Because when you're creating something and people don't get it, everyone gets frustrated at some point. And you have to have an outlet. My outlet was music."