Friday, June 1, 2012

The Arson Project @ Rumah Api, 05.04.2012

The Arson Project is a name to remember for fans of no-nonsense grind, especially after the loss of the mighty Nasum.  Few bands have risen to fill that particular void, besides Rotten Sound ('Fast Music for Slow People' may be the best slogan ever printed on a black t-shirt) and Splitter (who had a lot of heat when I saw them back in 2007, but have been quiet since then).  TAP belongs right up there with them: Their Blood and Locusts mini-album showcases a band that can grind as fast as the big guns but are smart enough to offset it with moments of doom and groove.  Best of all is THAT guitar tone, as Swedish as pickled herring and needlessly complicated furniture stores.

Truth be told, I'd never heard of The Arson Project before their appearance at Rumah Api was announced (one of thirteen dates on their 5-week South East Asian jaunt).  But anything that contains the words "Swedish" and "metal" will have me all over it, especially since so few Swedish metal bands get to visit sleepy KL town.

Before the show I got to hang out with the band and trade stories about Repugnant, Ghost and Watain. Their bassist William told about his other project, Inverted Cross, another addition to the old school Swedish death metal revival (something I'm rather fond of).  Expect more of that in an upcoming post.

Opening band Deforming Torture could be protegés of Tools of the Trade, just as political though muddier and less menacing.  Like old Napalm, they have a fondness for Peter Gunn-like riffs and ridiculously short songs. The announcement of a Disrupt cover gets the loudest applause in their set; I have to say, Disrupt getting any love warms my heart.

Gymnastic Skull Whistling's name may sound like metal magnetic poetry, but is weirdly appropriate for their style - dizzying power violence/grind that verges on dadaist.  Consisting of just a drummer, guitarist, and vocalist, they do the 625/Slap-a-Ham thing well, and with most of their songs speeding by at under a minute, they slip under the wire of even the shortest attention spans. A song titled "Fast, Stop and Go" pretty much sums up their entire set.

Expectations were high for our Swedish visitors, but first, a brief Greenwich Village open mic moment, as TAP bassist William and the band's "party coordinator" Hannis performed a short acoustic set of folk songs in Swedish and Spanish.  The crowd was game and attempted to sing along, language barriers be damned.  Let it not be said that Malaysian metalheads don't have a sense of irony or folksiness (despite everything I've said to the contrary).

There was nothing folksy about what happened next.  When TAP's guitarist Ellis steps on his orange pedal of death, it was like a fuse had been lit on a keg of dynamite.  The band don't start their set; they explode.  Singer Niklas immediately jumped into the crowd and engaged them like a stick engages a hornet's nest  The reaction was of biblical proportions: bodies flying through the air, dogpiles on the stage, mass hysteria.  It was a perfect example of grindcore osmosis, of performers and audience converging in a glorious disregard of their respective roles.  Open beverages spilled on the concrete floor, adding to the overall chaos as anyone attempting to move through the pit ended up slipping and falling through their friends like dominoes.  Rumah Api's modest PA had a hard time standing upright in the onslaught, but that was true of everything else in the room as well.

TAP played an encore, and with Niklas MIA ("Our singer is passed out or something," Ellis said by way of explanation), the mic was passed around the audience to scream a few lines.  Few knew the lyrics, or even what song it was; it didn't matter. Immediately after they finished, the band stepped through the back entrance to escape the heat.  Rumah Api's sauna-like temperature was brutal enough for the locals, let alone four guys from Sweden.

If there's one recurring theme in this blog, it's this: when it comes to metal, Sweden is upstaged by no one. Fy fan!