My recent debut on Roads and Kingdoms, “The Dark Joys of Bengalcore” where I tell about my exploration of Bangladesh’s capital extreme metal music scene, has been selected among writing worth reading by The Browser. This site crawls up the whole world wide web looking for very interesting material, and well, I guess they found my adventure quite enthralling.
Fantastic to be found among prose by the likes of greats such as William Dalrymple, and even Hunter S. Thompson. This warms up the heart very much.
The suggestion is to go and read the article then, as I’m not the only one to say it’s indeed pretty great.
I am glad that COMA finally posted their opus maximus “Black Moon” from 2012 on Bandcamp. I pestered them for over a year to do so, in order to be able to help them get some digital exposure. Hailing from my turf Penang, COMA are a strange beast with 7 heads at its best (way too many for a proficient touring beast, tough), and represent the missing link between originality and the Malaysian extreme rock scene. In fact, where most Malaysian bands take their influence from the obvious metal and punk bands, COMA verge towards the swampy soundscapes of American labels Southern Lord, Relapse and Hydrahead. I can’t point a single influence, because besides the drummer, I bet none of these guys listen to any of those blazoned mammoth volumetric bands. But there’s a lot of Malaysian Chinese Yellow Fire (who gets my reference, I pay for beer) current of thinking going on behind the trenches here. And that’s just as good as it gets.
Because of their post and college rock influences, after having them blended in with metal and a bit of heavy hardcore, COMA comes out powerfully refreshing, and very Asian. Oh yeah. Finally one band – if even only ONE band – in this enormous continent who dares to challenge ears by playing something I define as pretty original. By choosing to open up this song with Buddhist chanting, COMA might indeed sound lame if you are from New York. But there’s no Ray Cappoism going on here. For when you look at the ethnic diversity of the players (Malays, Portuguese Indians, Malaysian Chinese, Muslims, Taoists, Alvin Neo the uncategorized Chinese elf, and so on) …well, you should come to the conclusion that this is not some white guy on a religious trip who disembarks in the Orient on a mission to find his inner stupidity. This is real heavyness for anyone to recognize that Malaysia (Asia) has finally opened one of its two sleepy eyes, and maybe is thinking. New things are about to move. Help these guys understand how much they are worth, for Asians they are, and the shy chromosome of inadequacy is still there. They deserve to be much more international players of what they think they are. Have a go, press play down here, and reflect.
Sorry, the boys have no other website as far as I know.
NonserviaM “A Spectral Ascension” (2014, Self released)
First of all, a disclaimer: this band is from Penang, I know them very well, and I have seen them play live way too many times. For inasmuch as this could be interpreted as no fair review game, this is my personal opinion based on THE MUSIC, and not the people I usually hang out with. For this reason, this review is detailed, lengthy, and precise. Also, I paid for this CD.
“Non Serviam” was a popular album by Greek black metal band Rotting Christ, but there is no analogy between them and Penang’s band NonserviaM. The Malaysians might have taken the idea for their monicker to comply with the idea of “I will not serve”, more than follow the black metal howlings of the European band. This aspect is quite clear in the lyrics written by singer Leon Low, which set NonserviaM apart from most other Malaysian metal bands. Why? Because they are thoughtful, poetic and smart. With the highest point being the usage of the history of Ibrahim Libya and the Baling incidents in definite hymn “Martyrized”. In fact, in the CD’s booklet, characters from Siddartha Gautama the Buddha to Markus Zusak are cited to better contextualize the songs’ meanings. There’s no blatant, ripped off adherence to the great themes of cheesy metal here: Low grounds his vision into a forest of philosophical meanings he extrapolated from every corner of the world, and dishes them up poetically by reflecting on the quintessential oxymoron of religious devotion against the plethora of human sins.
A positive point, to me, is the way the vocals are pissed off but clear sounding, crisp, and totally intelligible. You can actually understand clearly most of what’s being said even without looking at the booklet’s transcriptions. Some people have complained that NonserviaM sounds too clean, and that Low’s vocals be clean and wimp, but I wouldn’t agree. He’s able to switch from more growled crescendos to a high-pitched, distinctive timbre that comes off as if you had an evil goblin perched on top of your left shoulder, who tries to pry his cold nose into your ear. At times, Low’s reminded me of a Dave Mustaine without the screech and with more testosterone, but this could just be my personal opinion. Read the rest of this entry →