Sunday, July 15, 2018
Valley of Chrome, first Pinoy metal band, to perform in Indonesia’s Hammersonic 2018
by rick olivares
Filipino metal band, Valley of Chrome, will be performing in Hammersonic 2018, this coming Sunday, July 22, in Jakarta, Indonesia. Hammersonic is one the biggest heavy metal festivals in Southeast Asia let alone Asia.
For this year’s edition that will be held at the Carnaval Beach Ancol, Swedish melodic death metallers, In Flames, American punk rock legends the Dead Kennedys along hardcore punk compatriots, H2O, will headline the festival that draws tens of thousands fans from the region.
Valley of Chrome, which has been around for almost two decades, are hoping this will be their regional breakthrough.
“For us it seems like a dream come true,” gushed lead singer Rogel Africa. “To be able to play a different country with the bands we look up to is such a huge landmark in the band’s career. We feel that this is hopefully a sign that Filipino talent should be heard more.”
Hammersonic will be the fifth time for Valley of Chrome to perform outside the Philippines. They have performed in Singapore and Thailand as well. However, in terms of opportunity, Hammersonic is the biggest.
The festival has drawn some of the top acts from the heavy music genre from Bullet for My Valentine, Hatebreed, Megadeath, Kreator, Nile, and Epica to name but a few. And the day-long concert is the biggest in the Asia Pacific region.
The band which started out of Laguna at the start of the new millennium, has to date, released five extended play albums and three full length albums. And perhaps coincidentally with their international breakthrough, the band is gearing up for its fourth album in a few months’ time.
“We are releasing what we believe is our best body of work with the most solid lineup yet,” tickled Africa. “We are aiming to come up with more challenging songs with topics that are rarely tackled in heavy music.”
Valley of Chrome’s current line-up features Africa; guitarists Tatel Marcelino and Kaloi Cambaliza; bassist Jordan Constantino who aside from the former, are the sole remaining members of the original roster; drummer Paul Eusebio, and Africa.
“We are also looking into playing to more diverse crowds and collaborate with artists outside of our genre. We aim to be less predictable and come from leftfield. We take it as a challenge within the walls of a much stereotyped genre like metal,” expounded Africa of the band’s direction.
Summed up Constantino of this opportunity, “Playing outside the Philippines brought the realization that there is a bigger scene and world out there. Music shouldn’t be confined to one area only. Metal, like all music, speaks a global language, and to see people of different cultures get together for heavy music inspires us to think outside the box all the time.”
Saturday, July 14, 2018
Pinoy Punk Rockers Betrayed release powerful new album, Why Must Everything Involve Politics?
by rick olivares
When Filipino punk rock band Betrayed released their debut album on cassette in 1986 (under DMZ Records), it was like a Molotov cocktail had been thrown through the window. Like the Urban Bandits’ Independence Day that came out earlier, there was an urgency to the music. But the Betrayed mixed obvious protest songs with others that straddled other themes. The cover alone featuring a tabloid cover was fetching.
Thirty-two years later (22 after their last album, Betrayed Again), it’s a new old formula – a blurred newspaper waiting for the licking flames to torch it. I like the fact that the cover image is blurred because despite the title, Why Must Everything Involve Politics?, the band points out that politics or not, our daily lives are problematic. And that is an understatement.
During a conversation with a friend of mine about the state of American politics today, he remarked that we will see a lot of very good music come out from North America that reflects the times. And I agree. The angry and sad (sometimes depressed) write really good songs.
Thousands of miles away in these islands, we’ve seen Chickoy Pura song “Sa Madilim na Sulok ng Kasaysayan” that doesn’t mince words. It’s powerful.
And Betrayed – vocalist and guitarist Buddy Trinidad, guitarist Boyet Miguel, bassist Ed Ramos, and drummer Manny Pagsuyuin – have put together a powerful album. The fact that it is 22 years in the making means the band had more than sufficient time to refine the songs. And Why Must Everything Involve Politics? finds the band’s chops well-honed with their fire not dampened one iota.
The self-titled debut was a raw piece of work. You know – fire away and damn the torpedoes. Betrayed Again well, it’s all right. Why Must Everything Involve Politics? makes you sit down and take notice and wonder what the F are we doing with our lives? Leave it to the punk rockers to set us straight.
The band isn’t particularly overt with their song messages. They are pointed but they leave you to make your own conclusions. However, I will have to admit their re-working “Caught in the Crossfire” – though minus the angry young man in the late Dominic Gamboa – is just as vital and fiery with Buddy Trinidad’s crackling voice. The man is a veteran who has plugged away non-stop all these decades even as fads and genre changes be damned.
The first two albums had this marked hardcore influence. In fact, it’s still there – I can hear traces of the Damned, GHB, even Rancid --- but the band doesn’t forsake any melody for a total sonic assault. I was surprised the by the last track “All That I Have” that is a slow one. Perhaps the band wanted you to dispense with the pyrotechnics for the listener to pay attention.
Oh, they want to be heard. And at first glance, it might seem – despite the title – to be political commentary. But in truth, the band intends all the commentary – pointed as they may be – to be applicable to daily life. Take the politicking away and it’s still the same. Having said that, Betrayed has come away with perhaps their most telling album. They even re-recorded “Caught in the Crossfire” (along with “Where Has Love Gone) that takes even new meaning whether they intend it or not.
The album is a call to action for people to wake up, make a stand, speak out, and do something about the quagmire of life we find ourselves neck deep in.
Why must everything involve politics? Why must we wait for good music? Ah, never mind the bollocks, Betrayed are here.
The album launch for Why Must Everything Involve Politics is this coming Saturday, July 14, at Mow’s along Matalino Street in Diliman, Quezon City.
Monday, July 9, 2018
Sunday, July 8, 2018
United Cassettes Philippines opens shop to a new old world
by rick olivares
Who would have thought this old analog magnetic tape could completely take ahold of someone’s senses and well, make it part of his life’s work?
Kurvine Chua is a 24-year old musician/entrepreneur who just about a month ago, put up United Cassette Philippines; a label that distributes and sells cassettes from independent Filipino artists as well as foreign.
Right now, he just has a small crate of these releases located at Spindle Hole Records at Creekside Mall in Makati in addition to his online site and Facebook page.
As a youngster, music filled the home of Kurvine Chua. There were vinyl records and the cassette tapes of his parents who were teens during the New Wave years. On his way to school, first at Xavier and later at the College of St. Benilde, Kurvine’s mom would slip on a cassette tape of the Cure on the car stereo and the result was magic. “I learned to sing along to those songs,” he reminisced. In fact, he is an even bigger fan of the Cure than his mom now who somewhat finds the darker Goth Cure music (such as “Bloodflowers” an anathema to the syrupy New Wave of her time.
And so, at an early age, Chua fell in love not only with music but the medium in which his folks listened to them. So in love with it that one time, he pulled out the tape from some cassettes and used it to decorate his room.
“I was young and didn’t know what I was doing,” Chua sheepishly admitted. That was the last time he would unspool a cassette. Nowadays, he has put out his own album – on cassette of course – under the name, Memoryville, as well distributes and sells music from all over the globe.
“I got in touch with Filip Zemcik who runs Z Tapes out of Slovakia,” said Chua. “If I could distribute his product in Manila. We had a meeting of minds and how it is happening. I have United Cassettes Philippines up and running. It’s a start!”
Z Tapes is a lo-fi outfit from Bratislava, Slovakia, that is committed to releasing independent lo-fi bedroom music from all over the world. Most recently as well, an American branch was put up with one in Germany being planned. “The market is growing,” pointed up Kurvine. “I believe it will grow even more.”
Vinyl records aren’t the only analog format that has returned smashingly to a modern world suddenly in touch with its roots. The cassette tape, much to many a people’s surprise, is back with a vengeance.
A conversation with Jon “Fishbone’ Gonzales of Filipino punk band Bad Omen informed us that more and more underground acts are releasing their albums on either vinyl or cassette.
“It’s cheaper, easier to store, and well compact,” pointed out Chua who also added in the same breath the impact of films such as Guardians of the Galaxy making the old cassette tape seem cool for a new generation of music fans.
“I have several dreams and ambitions and one of which is to put up a music store to cater to my music tastes from vinyl and cassettes,” explained Chua. “But more than that, it is to cater to a certain market. It might be niche to have this lo-fi music but there are fans of this genre. And there is good music from everywhere. And part of that is to help Filipino musicians (including independent electronic artist Pamcy Fernandez among others) put out their albums not only locally but if possible, internationally as well through the United Cassettes chain of distributors.
Some titles that we wholeheartedly recommend that can be found in the United Cassettes Philippines catalogue include:
Someday We Will Rule the Universe – Memoryville
What People Call Low Self-Esteem Is Really Just Seeing Yourself The Way Other People See You – awakebutstillinbed
Foliage III – Foliage
After the Lights – The Saddest Landscape
Ghosted/Fragmented - FUVK
Dietary Requirements – Pet Cemetery