The international underground scene is proliferate with bands deserving of more media coverage. From Southeast Asia, located in the southern-most island Mindanao, of the Philippines, Davao City has quietly birthed a fertile hotbed of underground black/death/thrash metal. Davao City has been the scene of many metal shows in the Southeast Asian region, including tourstops by the likes of Impiety and Abhorer. It’s about time some of the local bands from this city get some due attention. This article is the first in a series focusing on the Philippine metal scene.
Not to be confused with new wave of old-school thrash staple Dekapitator, spelled with a ‘k’ instead of a ‘c’, this thrash/death band from Davao City spews forth a dearth of thrash/death metal riffs that are easy to headbang to. Check out their original music on youtube below:
Decapitator released a demo in 2007 called Deathrow Arise. Made up of bassist Weng, and founding members Bemboy on drums, Vani on guitars, and Ruel on vocals, the band has played many events in Davao City, including Hellfest Davao in 2005. Their covers of old thrash bands Sepultura and Legion of the Damned are very well-executed. Check out their version of Werewolf Corpse, originally done by Legion of the Damned:
Decapitator is an unsigned/independently releasing band at the moment.
Perhaps one of the oldest and most prominent of underground black metal bands in the Philippines today is Korihor, who have released material with the likes of Japanese black metal purveyors Abigail, signed to NWN! Productions. Korihor have played with bands like Singaporean war metal icon Impiety amongst others.
Korihor is made up of Necrovomit on vocals, and original band members Obispo on bass, Propeta on drums and Abhor on guitars. They released a full-length album called Bastardo in 2005 and have been steadily releasing material since the heyday of second-wave black metal in the nineties. Check out the youtube video of their performance during the Asian Abomination Tour in Davao City, Philippines:
The band makes use of rapid blastbeats and razor sharp guitar tremolo-picking. The songs aren’t simply blast end-to-end washes that don’t feature any catchy lyrics during choruses. Korihor’s side in the split with Japan’s Abigail is called “Iniquity of His Sapience,” and can be sampled via youtube below:
Black/death metal practitioners from the Davao city scene also includes nineties second wave influenced Ancient Horns. The band conjures a style quite reminiscent of underground bands during the nineties, before bands introduced a myriad of elements to expand the black metal template and change the course of black metal forever. Black metal in second wave form is still very relevant in underground circles and purists generally reserve high praise for bands with kvlt reputation.
Melodic tremolo picking is abundant on Ancient Horns’ 2010 full-length release Profano, and the band is far removed from vaunted underground deviants Deiphago, in the former band’s use of melody, and the latter band’s all-out brutality, but fans of the earliest nineties black metal movements across Europe will love this three-piece’s music.
The Old Serpent
Another black metal band from Davao City is The Old Serpent. Similar to Ancient Horns in the nineties black metal style the band plays, their guitars are melodic but razor-sharp on the rung notes, hardly downtuned, and are primitive and raw. The Old Serpent is comprised of Guido on vocals, Clyde on bass, Burn 666 on drums, and Damo on guitars. Mostly refraining from blasting end to end, the band’s sound reminds me of early Burzum, a comparison I make without the vaguest allusion to Burzum’s ideology. Sample some of their music on this youtube uploaded promo track, Great Deceiver:
The Old Serpent is set to release more new music soon.
Dungeon metal is a dying art in black/death metal circles but Zanthicus, underground metal fans should hope, will be around for many more years. The band released a split album with underground bands Gort and Tyrantz Empire, numbering five tracks contributed in total, and should warrant the attention of labels looking to sign a band similar in style to that of Pessimist and Insult. Heavy AF!
One of the biggest black metal bands in the Philippine scene today is holocaustic war black metal deviants Satanas. They are currently signed to Satanath Records and their work appears to be some of the most putrid, raw, and violent black metal in the Davao City area. Going blast pace to mid-tempo with bloodcurdling screams and Mitochondrion-style swirling rudiment blast sections, their songwriting appears to be some of the most polished of underground Filipino acts. Sample some of their videos below:
Stay tuned for Part II of The Philippine black/death metal scene.