The event at the National Music Center in Pingalsthan last Saturday was as well-attended as the premises allowed, with scores of youths crammed onto the rooftop looking down onto the courtyard stage. Five bands vying to represent Nepal for the chance to win $100,000 and a world tour - who'd blame them for screaming? The odd men out were the charming Sutra, who opened with a two-song set of flute, tabla, madal and guitar. Shouty, leaden rockers Alt-F4 followed, then came Jindabad, a melodic, intense rock combo whose compositions bore the mark of future stardom. But it was not to be this time around.
When E.Quals strode out with black Ts, jeans and swirling hair (pictured), it was clear who the audience was rooting for. It was a set only a metal fan could really appreciate, but give the devil its due: their crunching, tight, menacing songs of angst were impressive enough to sway not just the head-banging SMS voters, but also the judges. The contrast with forgettable fellow-metallers Kaal Bhairav couldn't be starker.
It's clear E.Quals are good at what they do, but one fears it'll come to nothing if the judges in London next year, like most music-lovers across the world, simply don't think death metal is any good. Perhaps ours should have taken that into consideration.