Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Demisor @ Beatnik 2.02.2013

Malaysia's busy grindcore scene has both its merits and drawbacks. The last all-night grindfest I went to left me exhausted halfway through - and not in a good way. There's only so many 30 second songs I can take in a four hour period. Luckily, the organizers of this gig at Beatnik were able to keep things varied and interesting.

The top floor of a tower block is the last place one would expect to find a gig, much less a regular performance space. But at the top of a seemingly abandoned office building past a corridor of empty rooms is where Beatnik finds itself. This was my first time to the space; more often than not I've skipped seeing shows there because I had no idea how to find it (or get home). The sound was surprisingly good despite its sparse set up; this may have been the first time I saw a show in KL where there wasn't some kind of equipment failure (give or take one unruly bass strap - more on that later). In a city with few regular venues for heavy music, the fact that this space exists is appreciated.

Compulsion to Kill were one of the highlights of that last grindfest, even if they were playing without their full (dual vocal) line-up. This time, with all four members present, they were firing on all cylinders. Their set started off with Napalm's "Unchallenged Hate" - never a bad thing. In addition to beefing up their line-up, their lead vocalist also functioned as a human bowling ball, leaping from the tiny stage into whoever was standing in front of him. I learned pretty quickly to get out of his way.

This was Tools of the Trade's first gig in KL since September, and their first with their new drummer after a one-off show in Kuantan at the beginning of the year (which I tagged along with them to see - post forthcoming). All that and a new seven inch split with CTK made this a pretty exciting set for them - even more exciting when bassist Emi's strap came undone, and it looked like he might have to do the whole gig sitting down, singer-songwriter style. But thanks to some quick work with a roll of tape (it's my belief everyone should keep a roll of duct tape handy - just in case), the band proceeded through their set unhampered. With songs culled from their the new split as well as the previous one with Busuk (including "Suffocate," the best Tools song ever)  it was a stellar exercise in their brand of barely controlled chaos. A good welcome back party, and one no one had to sit down for. 
Appäratus fit in better with this line-up than they did at the Vaz show when I first saw them. It sometimes feels like there are more bands playing Swedish hardcore in Malaysia than in Sweden; though solidly in the d-beat style, Appäratus distinguish themselves with jangly garage rock overtones - think Joe Strummer jamming with Anti-cimex. They weren't the fastest or the tightest band that night, but they might have been the rockingest.

Kah Roe Shi, led by Tools' Tiong, play in the heavy jagged style of crust titans His Hero is Gone. I've been hearing about them for the last few months, and they definitely lived up to their reputation. In keeping with the theme of their band name (a Japanese phrase meaning "death from overwork"), they decorated the stage with several props, including a button down shirt and tie hanging from the ceiling. [Your guess is as good as mine how the disco ball fits into their theme.]

The release party for WHHIRR's first cassette EP had taken place the night before; apparently I wasn't the only one who missed it, so their last minute addition to the line-up made more than a few people happy. I've seen the band a few times, and am still impressed by how much they're able to get out of just a bass guitar. Kudos to them for attempting something that no one else in the region is doing; even if the mix of their heavy, minimalist power violence and flashing strobe light may end up causing a few seizures

If you asked any metal fan to name a Singaporean grindcore band, the answer would probably be Wormrot; but Demisor are local scene OGs, having formed in 1987 and been active since then (or as active as work and family commitments allow). This was their first show in Malaysia in over a year, and the audience's excitement was palpable. Frankly, kids were going crazy, something Demisor's vocalist commented on several times. Maybe it's because of their veteran status, or maybe it's just a function of being ahead of the curve for so long, but Demisor trump almost all the other grind bands in the region by having actual songs rather than just atonal chord progressions over blastbeats [Riffs, FTW] as well as a drummer who the more tired he looked, the faster he played. Adding a Nasum cover to their set was nice, but unnecessary; Demisor's music and stature alone were enough for them to stand on (well, that and the gnarliest feet in grind).

Dreams of Consciousness has never been proven to cause seizures. See for yourself.