Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Eskatologia @ Rumah Api 7.20.2012

You wouldn't expect it, but Swedish hardcore is enormously popular in Kuala Lumpur.  Wolf Brigade shirts are a frequent sight at shows here, as are patches of Skitsystem, Disfear, and Anticimex (no love for Driller Killer?).  Eskatologia, from the D-beat Mecca of Gothenberg, should have attracted a much larger crowd than the 2 dozen people who actually showed up to Rumah Api that night.  How to explain the sparse turn-out?  Blame it on the rain, blame it on the beginning of Ramadan (known colloquially here as "fasting month"), but you can't blame it on KL fans being spoiled for options; trust me, a band visiting from overseas, playing on a Friday night, is as good as it gets here, despite the headliner's relative obscurity.

Of course, there's always the issue that shows here don't go on til hours after their advertised start times [that's okay, punctuality is overrated].  I walked into Rumah Api at 9 pm to find Eskatologia's singer/guitarist walking out of the shower [dispelling at least one stereotype about crust punks].  The lateness worked in my favour for once, since slick here forgot his SD card, and had to go hunting around the neighbourhood to find another before the first band went on.

This is one of the few shows I've been to without Tools of the Trade, who are currently on their first European tour, flying the flag for Malaysian grindcore - and it's a surprisingly big flag. Case in point: Deforming Torture, whose take on classic grind owes a lot to early Napalm.  The band were missing their other guitarist/vocalist, which was only noticeable when a cover of Nasum's "Time to Act!" was aired sans chorus [that's okay, choruses are overrated].  Kudos to the band for carrying on as a three-piece; though it has to be said their sound was much clearer at this show than when they opened for the Arson Project with their full line-up.  Maybe a single guitarist is the way forward for them.

Even by grindcore standards, Hatred Division keep things short.  Like a lot of newer grindcore bands, their line-up is limited to a drummer, a singer, and a single guitarist [that's okay, bass players are overrated].  Despite only being active since last year, the band are making a name for themselves, sharing releases with the venerated likes of Unholy Grave and Agathocles.  Their set was liberally peppered with covers (Infest, Drop Dead, and Insect Warfare) ...possibly because filling a half hour is difficult when your average song length is 40 seconds.

Eskatologia aren't afraid of melody; coming from Gothenberg, the home of melodic death metal and crusty hardcore, the band find a way to combine both melody and crust, Tragedy being the most apt reference point.  The KL date was the last show on their 3-week South East Asian tour, an ambitious trek for a band who'd never been to the region before.  Self-effacing to a fault, the headliners apologized for not being as fast as the two opening bands and for the technical problems they experienced throughout their tour ("It's the Swedish curse," singer Jonna quips).
Maybe their equipment is cursed, as midway through the set their guitarist broke a string; while he attempted to sort out a replacement, I helpfully called out for (and was granted) a drum solo.  Eventually, the band decided to go on without the second guitar [that's okay, duelling guitars are overrated] and the crowd really came alive for the first time, with band and audience seemingly energized by the trumping of adversity.  Hopefully when Eskatologia look back on their Malaysian experience, they'll remember that and not their battles with "technicalities."