Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Days of Defiance 2 - with Infectious Maggots, Tools of the Trade, Atomicdeath and more 06.09.2012

Submitted for your approval: Days of Defiance, an art show/rockfest held in the trendy Publika mall, located in an affluent part of Kuala Lumpur.  Organized in part by the punk band Carburetor Dung, the event featured work from several of the local scene's photographers and artists, and 11 bands split over two days.  I missed the first day because I planned on going to BJJ class and ended up falling asleep instead...but enough of my hectic social life.  Day Two was always the priority for me, since it featured both Atomicdeath and Tools of the Trade, the two bands who changed my view of KL's metal scene from "nay" to "yay."

Like everything else about the mall, "The Black Box" (as the performance space is called) is enormous. It's a distinct change from the punk dive coziness of Rumah Api, and most of the bands looked out of place on the large stage. That aside, the juxtaposition of crusty metal kids and the mall's imperious settings was its own reward, as were the looks we got from the regular patrons.
Openers Last Minute (with Tiong from TotT filling in on bass) establish their formula early on by alternating between melodic hardcore riffing with DRI blitzing; if they figure out a way to integrate those two things, they'd have something special on their hands.  As it is, not a lot about their music is memorable, though their petite singer was all kinds of adorable as she danced circles around the stage.

Mid-way through the show, I passed by the neighbouring "White Box," where KL's beautiful people had come together for a charity ball and slutty outfits.  Teeth-grating electro-pop isn't dead, in case you were worried.  I tried snapping a few pictures before scurrying back to the safe anonymity of black shirts and cargo pants.
xCrime Scenex (the sXe tags are facetious, apparently) may have the answer for anyone wondering what happens if you cross Brutal Truth with Sleep.  Featuring half of crossover kids Sarjan Hassan, I expected their grind would be up to snuff;  what surprised me was how well they doomed.  Their slow moments, earth-shaking and Sabbath-worthy, would get Matt Pike's bleary eyed nod of approval.  Unfortunately, their momentum was derailed when their singer killed two mics within the first song, leading to an interminable wait (and an impromptu jam through Fugazi's "Waiting Room," which got clever points from me and an astonishing number of people singing along).  When the problem was finally resolved, they finished their set in style... though I couldn't help but dwell on the irony that we waited more than fifteen minutes for a band whose songs rarely extend past one.
More than any other band on the bill, Atomicdeath looked like they belonged on the big stage.  The bridge in opener "Forever Black Hell" should come with a disclaimer that says "WARNING: Moshing Eminent."  I'm not sure what else to say about Atomicdeath that I haven't said before, except that this is the third time I've seen them in three months, and they keep getting better. They play the shit out of the six songs from their split with Bloodstone, and end as they usually do with their thrash anthem "Kombat 666."  I can't wait for that song to ring out where it will do the most damage: on a muddy field in a little town called Wacken. 

Infectious Maggots had "OG" stamped all over them, even before their guitarist teased the riff to "World Eater" during soundcheck.  The band is all well into their forties, and if their best days are behind them, there's still something endearing about their lack of pretension. Throughout their set, members of Tools and Atomicdeath headbanged reverently at the front of the stage. Musically they sound like most 90's death metal, though the appearance of clean vocals and faux-rapping midway through their set suggests that they attempted to integrate themselves when the ubiquity of "alternative" left little of same (a quick youtube search confirms they also went through a dodgy industrial phase).  By the end of their set, I felt as if I'd seen an overview of Malaysia's metal history.

The audience conspicuously increases in size and enthusiasm for Carburetor Dung, and they were probably the biggest draw of the event (not surprising, as they helped organize it).  They play punk with lots of rock and roll swagger, and the crowd loves them for it.  Their reworked version of the Stooges' "I Wanna Be Your Dog" strips the original of all its menace, which I guess made it safe for the young girls present to dance around to.  I personally needed a wall to lean against while they played, even as their finale caused an eruption of singing and skanking around me.

Carburetor Dung may have cemented their local hero status, but when it comes to breaking out of the local scene, I'm betting on the grindcore dark horse.  At the tail end of their "Defy Peninsular" tour and a month away from hitting Europe for the first time, Tools of the Trade have never sounded tighter or more ready to fuck shit up.  The remaining audience were ready to riot, even though it was past midnight by the time the band got on (start times here are mostly an in-joke, I reckon).

Despite their local MVP status, the band members remain humble, thanking the crowd for their support and letting their blistering, jagged riffs do the talking for them.  After going all out for a whole set, they acquiesced to the chants for more, and played two songs while bassist Emi put down his instrument to focus on screaming.  [Comparisons to Pig Destroyer are fair except for one point: the bass is essential to TotT's sound, and they sound half as deadly without it] Cue mayhem and the inevitable dogpiles on the stage to signify a job well done.  Hopefully those European kids will give them some good ones to remember.