India Week, Day 3: The Riot Peddlers – Strength in Dumbers


Artist: The Riot Peddlers

Release Title: Strength in Dumbers

Label: Independent

Release Date: 26 January 2020

Location: Mumbai, India

Digital Price: Name your price

Length: 11min 4s

You’ll find a wide variety of house and trance music dominating independent releases from India these days but make no mistake – when it comes to punk music, there are bands out there with some serious potential. Case in point, The Riot Peddlers are a three-piece hardcore punk band from Mumbai, India and boy do they have some character. Originally founded in early 2010 by drummer Ashwin Dutt and frontman Arun Singh Ravi, The Riot Peddlers released an EP in 2012 named Sarkarsm but had some problems in 2019 that led to Dutt leaving the band. Subsequently, new drummer Dhruv Sarker joined the band and summoned producer & engineer Apurv Agrawal to work on this new EP named Strength in Dumbers.

The Riot Peddlers are known for their somewhat aggressive, straight to the point attitude and classic hardcore punk sound, but they do show some versatility and a sense of humor with Strength in Dumbers that makes for a nice mixture of frustrated, angry lyrical content, heavy guitars, and lighter, tongue in cheek moments all together. This was a great comeback release for The Riot Peddlers who hadn’t released anything in some time, and while this isn’t the most progressive or unusual release musically, it didn’t need to be. For the intensity the band brought to the table with their first release in years, this was a great start for what is hopefully the beginning of more releases.

Classic hardcore punk is all about communicating a sense of frustration with one’s society or everyday life via the frantic, aggressive musical & vocal style hardcore punk is known for. That remains true to this day. You know a punk band is good when you can understand the underlying emotions being vented, vibe with them, and feel like you want to rock out while listening along.

The Riot Peddlers have that in spades, across a variety of topics that are all strong criticisms of Indian society, but I feel are relatable internationally, and even when about specifically Indian issues are still understandable and paired up with some raw & energetic guitars. Muslim Dudes on Bikes, for instance, is about the oppression Muslims face in modern India, and how one might become a speed demon on two wheels to vent frustration with that oppression, a way of lashing out at a society that in some quarters sees them as inferior. The aggressive vocals & simple yet catchy guitar riff helped make this my favorite track on Strength in Dumbers, but the issue of Muslim oppression is something relatable far beyond India, an almost constant problem in the post-9/11 world.

There is a sort of irony & sarcasm that permeates the album, giving the frustration and disillusionment with the world a funny sort of tone. Muslim Dudes on Bikes again has this in spades, with the titular Muslim dudes singing about ‘racing with my boys and popping some wheelies’, giving this quite serious issue just enough sarcasm to make it a fun track. This isn’t easy for a band to pull off. The Dead Kennedys were famous for their ability to inject deep sarcasm and humor into quite serious issues, with tracks like Holiday in Cambodia doing it very well. The Riot Peddlers show they’re capable of this too. In Insects Attack, a man lying in his bed panics about an insect crawling across the wall, causing problems whether real or perceived. Of course, the main character quickly realises he feels the same way about the insects on his wall as he does some of the people he knows.

The lyrics are just as often unsubtle, blunt & raw as they are darkly humorous, though. Tracks like Untitled are a straightforward venting of rage about the influence religion has over society and the way it divides people. Lyrics in Untitled like ‘Caste system – bullshit! Religion – bullshit!’ are pretty obvious statements, but the way they’re delivered in a delivery & response format works in a Rage Against The Machine sort of way. Of course, the whole EP wouldn’t work as well if it consisted only of these sorts of tracks, but there is just enough variety across all five songs to keep fuelling the desire to slam somebody in a mosh pit.

The Riot Peddlers were an early band in Indian hardcore punk and that they returned with this EP, during a global pandemic no less, is a good sign for the future. Strength in Dumbers is a blunt force instrument, here to bash your head in if you’re not along for the ride. After listening to this EP you’ll no doubt understand why it is that punks want to beat & burn things, but more importantly you’ll be thrashing about to these tunes wishing for more. I know I certainly am. Don’t miss this release, especially if you enjoy hardcore punk.

I hope you enjoy Strength in Dumbers.


Apple Music






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