Takatak: the quintessence of metal in Pakistan


In a vast musical landscape dotted with frequent bursts of brilliance, especially over the last two decades, it is truly difficult to produce something that hasn’t been done to death already. Equally challenging is taking on a genre that isn’t widely listened to in Pakistan, and usually evokes a lukewarm response and subsequent dismissal as ‘noise’.
It is perhaps not unwarranted that musical taste in our country has changed so drastically in so little time. Within two generations, we have gone from solid classical crooning to bouncy pop and moved on to gut-wrenching, metallic sounds that anyone from 15 years ago would be loath to endure. Perhaps those of us who grew up in the 2000s didn’t have the luxury of quiet roads with occasional cars, little construction activity and tree-lined streets full of chirping birds to boot. Our music is a product of our environment, and hard rock/heavy metal music is perhaps the best and most melodic representation of the sounds we have absorbed growing up. A defiant answer to the vast ugliness that surrounds us, if you will.
None of the musicians active in this country today has epitomised that answer as well as the Lahore-based heavy metal band Takatak. In this early stage of its existence, limited to some demo recordings and in the middle of its first professional studio recording, this band has put together quite the musical milieu.
The most immediately noticeable fact about them is the obviously advanced level of skill every musician in the band possesses.
When I say advanced, I mean these kids could play alongside the likes of Lamb of God and probably steal a few of its fans by the time they are done.
The singer’s gruff, intense growls are nothing to sneeze at either. Growling is something that sounds extremely ugly if not done right, but becomes a very powerful mode of expression if executed well. In this case, it combines with the instrumentalists’ skills to convey a deep, deep sense of foreboding. While that sounds fairly ominous, it is not without a distinct feeling of sorrow that I acknowledge that a band comprising young men from Pakistan could hardly express something other than foreboding at this point in time. If you have been living in Pakistan for the last six or seven years, you probably would not disagree and you most certainly do not need an explanation.
But I digress. Or maybe not. Their lyrics definitely address this amply. It is plain that these are intelligent, sensitive individuals seething with anger and sorrow at the state of affairs as they currently stand, and up to their neck in a desperate desire to change things. Artists don’t shoot guns, and Takatak makes a good case for why they don’t need to.
Musically, I will refrain from pegging them to one single sub-genre of heavy metal, and here’s why. Pigeonholing isn’t my thing, and in any case these guys make just as good an argument for Thrash Metal with one lick as they do for Speed Metal with the next. Every so often, traces of Black Metal and Death Metal creep in so nonchalantly that it is frankly unnerving. Unnerving in a strangely good way, like the music rudely ripped the control you have on yourself from your grasp and left you jerking uncontrollably with every beat of the snare and every hit of the guitar. Let’s just say they probably owe me some money for a visit to the orthopaedist to fix my poor neck (see: headbanging).
What is most fitting about this band is their choice of name, in my opinion. For music stuffed full of exquisite chops and cuts, Takatak is probably as good a name as any, and certainly better than most for one simple reason: it hasn’t been nicked from a dusty old Urdu dictionary in an effort to seem intellectual, as many bands here are wont to do.
So, I invite you to buy a seatbelt if you don’t already have one and attach it securely to whatever your choice of seating is, because if Takatak is what you plan on listening to, it is going to be one hell of a ride. Also highly advised: neck braces.


  1. This is the best music review I've seen in a long while…Mother Jones and all that! Most impressive, indeed!

Comments are closed.