Friday, August 24, 2012

Brimstone in Fire (and Shawarma) @ IDB Bar, Manila

None of my trips to Manila would be complete without a local metal show (and taho... lots of taho).  I scheduled my visit so it would coincide with my buddies Brimstone in Fire playing a gig with more than a dozen bands from the Pinoy metal scene.  My week in Manila came at the tail end of a massive storm that flooded the city, but that didn't seem to deter anyone involved with the show; after all, what's been a better muse for metal than inclement weather?

I spent most of the afternoon before the show hanging out with Ian (vocals) and Isa (guitar) at guitarist Dondi's Noiseworks Studio (where their previous live EP was recorded), shooting the shit while Don's black metal kitties prowled and looked evil.  Once bassist Igs and drummer Mikah arrived, the band had a relaxed run-through of their set before packing up and heading to the venue.

IDB Bar, the venue in question, is a no-frills rehearsal studio/performance space in Parañaque.  The decor screams geek-chic, with Darth Vader and Dwight Schrute on prominent display, and the incredibly short tables and stools [made from re-purposed tires and crates] sparking off many, many hobbit jokes.  The sound is certainly better than its humble appearance suggests, though one of the guitar amps acted up throughout the night.

Being the first band to arrive, Brimstone in Fire were asked to kick off the show.  They're an anomaly in the South East Asian metal scene; where most bands in the region seem content with "local version of popular band" status, Brimstone's style defies comparison to almost anyone I can think of.  Guitars and bass weave serpentinely over drummer Mike's phat beats, while Ian's vocals split the difference between Kelly Shaefer and Chris Reifert.  Their set that night is close to that on their live EP, with the exception of closer "Despair," which takes Monsters of Rock cliches and skews them into paranoid, claustrophobic shapes.

The applause they get throughout their set is warm and no doubt heartfelt; but I still can't help picture the response they would get for playing Rumah Api, where every visiting band is rewarded with stagedives and dogpiles.  Methinks a Malaysian tour is in order, if for nothing else than a crowd that doesn't sit and chat through a band's set.

While the next band Serefamus set up, Ian and I played  "guess what they'll sound like based on their look."  The bassist's wooly hat should have been the give-away, as they proceeded to do a note-perfect copy of the first couple Deftones records.   Riding a White Pony past "influence" into full-on "Vegas impression," Serafamus clearly paid close attention to their source material - I was impressed by how well their singer channeled Chino Moreno (when his shoulder length hair wasn't obscuring his upper body like a burka). Their material did get thrashier as their set progressed - possibly to justify the drummer's sweet Pleasure to Kill shirt.  Not sure where a band like Serafamus hopes to find itself in an era where rap-metal has replaced glam rock as the most derided form of heavy music, and when even their heroes seem intent to reinvent themselves as a cerebral shoegaze band.

Of course, if you love a band enough, you could just stick to being a covers act.  The show promoter's band, whose name escaped me, kicked off their set with Hypocrisy's "Inferior Devoties" - not that I'm complaining, as those guys were in constant rotation during my college years.  A few more Hypocrisy covers and a shaky version of "Black Magic" (which Hypocrisy also covered) and that was it from them - pretty much what you'd get from a cover band.

That seemed to about do it for my friends - we picked up the gear and ditched IDB for a late night shawarma run. It's a little weird to me that scene OGs like Brimstone were asked to play first, but Brimstone's members didn't seem to mind; maybe they were just relieved at being able to go home early.

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