Chepang is not a new band. They’ve been inhabiting Queens, NYC for about eight years now. The band members left Nepal and subsequently formed Chepang in 2016, and since then they have been grinding away and making their sounds known to the world.
Before I get into the album itself, I want to dive into why Chepang has taken up residence in Queens. Briefly, Nepal had a civil war from 1996 until roughly 2006, and during that ten year span, roughly 17,000 people were killed, massacred and severely hurt (as many wars go). Prior to the war, the Nepalese government had its issues (as all governments do) with corruption and silencing masses of people that didn’t fall in line (Info from Human Rights Watch).
The civil war was mainly between Maoists and the Nepalese monarchy that had existed for about 200 years. The Maoists weren’t necessarily fighting for the best interests of the people either. They too murdered and hurt people, as well as used children to cook and run information on the war front (Info from Human Rights Watch). The war ended in 2006 with the Maoists gaining some political power and the monarchy dissolving (from Aljazeera’s timeline of Nepal’s civil war).
Following war there has been intense corruption, which only gets worse the more untreated it is (see article by the Atlantic Council on COVID-19 and earthquake response). Government corruption in Nepal is one of the biggest points of interest in Chepang’s music. They want to call attention to it, and have successfully done so by creating intensely creative noise that makes you wince and listen in awe.
“Swatta” was released on July 7, 2023 and I didn’t start listening to it until a few months ago. This album is basically a four-parter. Tracks 1-11 are classic grindcore, tracks 12-14 are prog-rock and metal infused grindcore, tracks 15-24 are a monster mash of chaos, and tracks 25-29 are AI generated chaos trained through the band’s live sounds.
The cover artwork is one of the biggest draws to the album for me. It piqued my interest and pushed me to listen to this album. Here is what the art represents according to Chepang:
“The artwork represents three poisons that symbolically draws inspiration from the center of Buddhist Bhavachakra artwork, with rooster, snake, and pig, representing greed, ill will, and delusion respectively”.Chepang’s Bandcamp
Yes, it’s a complicated project. But that doesn’t mean it’s too much for any one person to handle. “Swatta” has a total run time of 49 minutes and 6 seconds, all of which are worth devouring at your leisure.
I will dive into the album a little bit, but I think knowing a little about the band’s history and their country’s history is an important first step to enjoying this music. It makes the sounds more impactful, and the sounds will be able to resonate with an audience that understands the chaotic pain and paths to peace this album is trying to convey.
Side A, GRINDCORE: Tracks 1-11
As I mentioned previously, this section of the album has the classic grindcore sound that I’ve come to cherish thanks to bands like Wormrot. These tracks all rip. They are classy, destructive, intense, noisy, violent, chaotic, and monsterish. The track “Anumati” has a neat, trippy video to accompany the music, which does a great job of summarizing how this section of the album sounds.
Side B, CHAOS-JAZZ-METAL: Tracks 12-14
“Ba” is easily my favorite track on the album. With a total time of 5 minutes and 46 seconds we are sent immediately into a section of throaty screams that devolves into a chaotic jazzy masterpiece. This side of the album is rife with guest musicians lending their talents to create an otherworldly beauty shaped in the pits of hell.
Side C, INSANITY-BEAUTY: Tracks 15-24
For side C, there is a blissful insanity that creeps and feasts upon my fragile mind as I listen to the intense guitar riffs and drums echoing for what I hope is forever. My favorite track is “DMT”, a minute-long deadly guitar and drum experiment gone haywire.
Side D, I-DON’T-KNOW: Tracks 25-29
The production, thanks to the help of AI, on this side of the project is unique. I love the formulaic chaos that just appears and disappears. It’s definitely not my favorite part of “Swatta” but I think it will grow on me. I love seeing artists use AI in beneficial ways that will aid them in the future to create really strange music. This is the first time I’ve experienced AI generated metal, and I hope it continues to get better from here.
Overall, this whole album is a strange, chaotic, violent experience that I implore readers to try out on their own time. Chepang has this to say about their album on their bandcamp page:
“Swatta is [a] record where one will find everything from Chepang sonically and collaboratively. The record represents everything we have felt for the entirety of our lives as human beings into a big slab of wax. The main message is about hope and finding happiness in chaos and negativity”.Chepang’s Bandcamp
These guys have so much heart and thought going into their music and I’ll always be excited to check out their new sounds to see where their experience has landed them in the future.