Thursday, August 30, 2012

Bandcamp Picks: Pulverised Records

Singapore's Pulverised Records have been in the game for a long time, and are without a doubt the most recognized label in South East Asia.  They're somewhat isolated in the region, considering most of their market is in the US and Europe, and a good deal of their talent is in Sweden - so their embrace of Bandcamp for digital distribution isn't just wise, it's probably necessary.

On the recommendation of Brimstone in Fire's Ian, I decided to check out Iron Lamb, and was not disappointed. Featuring Swedish Death Metal scribe Daniel Ekeroth on bass, Iron Lamb play two-fisted garage punk, like the Hellacopters before they discovered their inner Skynyrd.

July brought another album from the always prolific Paul Speckman, in his guise as death metal OG Master. I'm really only familiar with the simplistic punk-thrash of Master's first album, so I was pleasantly surprised by The New Elite's relative sophistication (relative being the operative term). Jacket patch kids everywhere - bow to your fucking Master!

Of course, any discussion of Singapore's metal scene will lead inexorably to Impiety, and their latest album, Ravage and Conquer, was released by Pulverised back in April. Any reader of this blog knows I have issues with some of Impiety's beliefs, but the beauty of Bandcamp is that it allows you to enjoy the band's music without having to buy their politics.

Dead, Rotten and Hungry, the debut from NWOOSDM upstarts Facebreaker, was released by Pulverized 4 years ago to little notice, possibly lost in the glut of similar releases - though Facebreaker distinguish themselves by being chuggier and more hook-heavy than most, not to mention the inhuman vocals of Robban Karlsson (ex-Edge of Sanity). A suitable Bloodbath substitute now that Mikael Åkerfeldt has officially gone all classic rock on us.

Another band who slipped through the cracks for most is Tribulation. Along the lines of the Crown and Impious, The Horror is a melange of black, death, and thrash with just the right amount of melody and no shortage of viciousness.  The band has been quiet since this was released in 2009; let's hope that whatever they're doing in the meantime hasn't mellowed them out.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Tools of the Trade Interview

In the limited number of shows that I've been to since getting back to Malaysia, grindcore assassins Tools of the Trade have been a constant presence, gigging regularly and serving as local grind ambassadors to visiting foreign bands like the Arson Project.  Guitarist/vocalist Tiong, bassist/vocalist Emi, and drummer Ian Han alternate between jagged rhythms and bursts of pure napalm. The band recently finished their first European tour, as well as an appearance at the Czech Obscene Extreme Fest. I e-mailed some questions to the band, which Emi was kind enough to answer.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Brimstone in Fire (and Shawarma) @ IDB Bar, Manila

None of my trips to Manila would be complete without a local metal show (and taho... lots of taho).  I scheduled my visit so it would coincide with my buddies Brimstone in Fire playing a gig with more than a dozen bands from the Pinoy metal scene.  My week in Manila came at the tail end of a massive storm that flooded the city, but that didn't seem to deter anyone involved with the show; after all, what's been a better muse for metal than inclement weather?

I spent most of the afternoon before the show hanging out with Ian (vocals) and Isa (guitar) at guitarist Dondi's Noiseworks Studio (where their previous live EP was recorded), shooting the shit while Don's black metal kitties prowled and looked evil.  Once bassist Igs and drummer Mikah arrived, the band had a relaxed run-through of their set before packing up and heading to the venue.

IDB Bar, the venue in question, is a no-frills rehearsal studio/performance space in Parañaque.  The decor screams geek-chic, with Darth Vader and Dwight Schrute on prominent display, and the incredibly short tables and stools [made from re-purposed tires and crates] sparking off many, many hobbit jokes.  The sound is certainly better than its humble appearance suggests, though one of the guitar amps acted up throughout the night.

Being the first band to arrive, Brimstone in Fire were asked to kick off the show.  They're an anomaly in the South East Asian metal scene; where most bands in the region seem content with "local version of popular band" status, Brimstone's style defies comparison to almost anyone I can think of.  Guitars and bass weave serpentinely over drummer Mike's phat beats, while Ian's vocals split the difference between Kelly Shaefer and Chris Reifert.  Their set that night is close to that on their live EP, with the exception of closer "Despair," which takes Monsters of Rock cliches and skews them into paranoid, claustrophobic shapes.

The applause they get throughout their set is warm and no doubt heartfelt; but I still can't help picture the response they would get for playing Rumah Api, where every visiting band is rewarded with stagedives and dogpiles.  Methinks a Malaysian tour is in order, if for nothing else than a crowd that doesn't sit and chat through a band's set.

While the next band Serefamus set up, Ian and I played  "guess what they'll sound like based on their look."  The bassist's wooly hat should have been the give-away, as they proceeded to do a note-perfect copy of the first couple Deftones records.   Riding a White Pony past "influence" into full-on "Vegas impression," Serafamus clearly paid close attention to their source material - I was impressed by how well their singer channeled Chino Moreno (when his shoulder length hair wasn't obscuring his upper body like a burka). Their material did get thrashier as their set progressed - possibly to justify the drummer's sweet Pleasure to Kill shirt.  Not sure where a band like Serafamus hopes to find itself in an era where rap-metal has replaced glam rock as the most derided form of heavy music, and when even their heroes seem intent to reinvent themselves as a cerebral shoegaze band.

Of course, if you love a band enough, you could just stick to being a covers act.  The show promoter's band, whose name escaped me, kicked off their set with Hypocrisy's "Inferior Devoties" - not that I'm complaining, as those guys were in constant rotation during my college years.  A few more Hypocrisy covers and a shaky version of "Black Magic" (which Hypocrisy also covered) and that was it from them - pretty much what you'd get from a cover band.

That seemed to about do it for my friends - we picked up the gear and ditched IDB for a late night shawarma run. It's a little weird to me that scene OGs like Brimstone were asked to play first, but Brimstone's members didn't seem to mind; maybe they were just relieved at being able to go home early.

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Friday, August 17, 2012

Punk's Not Dead (Russian Anti-Totalitarian Edition)

Russian punk performance artists Pussy Riot are all over the 24 hour news channels after a stunt they pulled in a Moscow Orthodox cathedral, singing and punch-dancing to an anti-Putin screed while churchgoers and nuns looked on in disdain.  There just aren't enough knuckles to hit with wooden rulers for this kind of thing.

Three of the members were arrested, tried and given a 2 year sentence for hooliganism, as CNN and the BBC repeatedly informed me over the last day or so.  [Apparently charges of "hoolaganism" are a much bigger concern in Europe than the rest of the world].

The arrest and sentencing provoked protests and similar demonstrations almost immediately, my favourite being a Ukrainian activist cutting down a crucifix with a chainsaw...while topless.  (Incidentally, Chainsaw Topless would be a great grrrrl punk band).

Meanwhile, even Mikhail Gorbachev (that noted bastion of free speech and liberalism) has decried the band's imprisonment.

The ladies went out like punk rock gangstas, not just smirking from their clear glass cell (possibly used out of fear that one of them was a master of magnetism) but actually releasing another anti-Putin single the same day they were sentenced:

All of which leads me to believe this: The Exploited are poseurs with food colouring in their hair. These girls are the real deal.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

New Tools of the Trade!

My buddies Tools of the Trade have a new split CD with Indonesian grind kids Busuk.  The release, by local label Strain Eyes Productions, features ten songs from Busuk and eight from Tools.  Check out "Falsehoods" on Soundcloud now:

The full tracklisting is as follows:
BUSUK 1. Anjing Ngtent 2. Govermentot 3. Go Grind 4. Courified 5. Self Profit Purpose 6. New Version of Hell 7. Grindcore Ninja Holocaust 8. Illustrasi Pembangkang 9. Dewa Pembantai Raja 10. There's No Way Out

TOOLS OF THE TRADE 11. Confrontation 12. Fake 13. Falsehoods 14. Sloth 15. Jijik 16. Suffocate 17. Putus 18. Kerajaan

For ordering information, contact Mazmi Arshad at Strain Eyes (STRAINEYES-at-GMAIL-dot-COM) or Bebal Mailorder.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

DoC Facebook page is up

Realizing that most of my readers are finding this blog through Facebook, I decided it was time to put up a page there.  It seems a little strange to have a FB page just for blogspot links, but that way people will have an easier way to check in to see what I've been working on.  Also, it's probably going to be more spontaneous; Youtube vids, bandcamp pages, random pics, etc.  I promise to inform and entertain to the best of my abilities.  I can't promise that the jokes will always hit or the references will always make sense.

"Like" the Dreams of Consciousness Facebook page here.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Grind Crush and Destroy, Part II 7.28.2012

Man.  And I thought the Arson Project show was crazy.

At the end of the July, KL was graced with not one but two groups of visiting Aussies: Captain Cleanoff (beginning their South East Asian tour) and Idylls (ending theirs). A week into Ramadan (and less than 24 hours after the two bands shared a stage in a different part of KL), I felt pretty certain the turnout would be anaemic.  But Rumah Api was bustling by the time I arrived - having finally figured out the way things work around here, I managed to be on time by showing up two hours late.  Today, I am a Malaysian.

Gymnastic Skull Whistling are something of a fixture at Rumah Api, and their 625-ready power violence set the tone for the rest of the night.  In a genre that's often derivative, I appreciate a band like GSW whose approach is slightly off the wall; though I'm scratching my head as to why "Mary Had a Little Lamb" made its way into one of their songs.

Compulsion to Kill may have been the most aptly named band of the night, a no-frills death/grind crew with a guitar tone that took me back to when in metal there was no law.  One of the few grind bands in the local scene with a full line-up (bassists are rarer here than kosher delis), their dual vocalist approach reminded me of Tools of the Trade, though Compulsion have fewer hooks, preferring to simply bludgeon their way through their material.

Coming from the same town as GSW, Rotgut share a drummer with the openers (as well as a guitar pedal, apparently).  Three bands into the gig, grindcore overload was starting to set in and I wasn't sure how many more minute-long blasts I could take; luckily Rotgut play a more hook-oriented style, Pig Destroy-ing in intent if not in scope.  The audience was into it, and I had a hard time standing upright - either due to their enthusiasm or because a few hard leg kicks had battered my leg earlier that day.

I'll bet my Jane Doe hoodie that co-headliners Idylls own a Converge record or five, sharing the Boston legends' love for skronking guitars layered over breakneck hardcore.  Idylls were firing on all cylinders, but problems arose midway through their set when the guitar started cutting out- maybe it isn't "the Swedish curse" after all.  Switching out amps seemed to work temporarily, but it remained an issue for the rest of the night.  Despite all that, the audience's enthusiasm never let up, and I decided to seek refuge behind the drummer when bodies started flying through the air.  The technical problems were an unfortunate mishap since this was the last date of Idyll's SEA tour, but they should be lauded for their performance;  all things considered, it was one to be proud of.

The "stage" at Rumah Api is really more of an idea than a physical reality, but even so the audience invasion during Captain Cleanoff's set began to feel like the end of a Romero movie - though, to the band's credit, they seemed to enjoy the chaos, including when the crowd picked up vocalist Ben and attempted to carry him for the duration of a song (without him missing a word).  Tight as they are on record, the entropy suited their unrelenting Terrorizer-style of grindcore well, and whatever minor equipment hiccups that occurred when band and audience collided didn't hamper anyone's enjoyment, as evidenced by calls for an encore. And of course, dogpiles.