Saturday, April 26, 2008
IMPIETY- Asateerul Awaleen Digipack CD
(Shivadarshana Records 1996)
It's about time I write some metal reviews. I've been writing many reviews on local indie rock and recently suffered an overdose from it with dreams of guitar parading boyscouts haunting me. How often do you not conjure up images of Singapore indie boys as folks who tread a fine line from the sterile Xinyao dudes? Is Joe Ng in black the scariest thing you've seen? Singapore music of course is not just about a bunch of clean cut nerdy people playing in a band and singing "yeah yeah yeah". And if you look hard enough, we actually have many really, mean gritty bands that can never be found on your regular BigOs. This bigoted publication is not your underground bible. I would love to respect BigO, but when they compared Black Sabbath to black metal, I've totally lost respect of the editorials. When one carefully peel deep in between the crevices of the fat Singapore underbelly, one will discover a very exciting scene known as underground metal. And the sheer amount of demos churned out by these bands far outweighed those cute looking alternative demos with artsy pretension. Most importantly, with strong interest from the international metal community on South East Asian metal scene (because the tropical heat makes some good fiery metal), Singapore metal bands by any measure is actually very much more popular overseas than the most commercial Singapore pop/rock/indie. And this band I am reviewing, Impiety is actually way bigger and more popular overseas than Dick Lee and The Quests for that matter. Their music is heard by inhabitants from the North pole to the South. Singapore metal was an actual LOCAL EXPORT that is truly in demand. People overseas will not give a rat's ass to see a rare Humpback Oak CD on eBay at USD$4.99 “BUY IT NOW”, but many would gladly bid the rare Impiety- Skullfucking Armageddon picture disc all the way up to US$216.66 without hesitation. It takes a metal fanatic of more than 20 years to really appreciate this pot of black gold and yes, my background is metal. Not your average dude who look angry in a metal t-shirt but very much more than that. You're only beginning to know me.
How can I not include Impiety in Rock In The Fine City? While your average Singapore nerds are clueless about a genre known as black metal, Impiety, which is a black metal band, is ironically the most famous Singaporean band outside of Singapore. Seriously how long have you been in ignorance and hiding? In this closed society, the average plebeian is blanketed from reality. Even Beijing uncles know about their extreme death grind underground, but the average Singapore nerds are living in Mediacorps entrapment. Ignorance is however pure bliss especially for the more prudish, because the actual ideology of black metal draws from all that is dark, occultic, violent and quintessentially anti-religion. Not your average shocking cock rock heavy metal superstars. If you are even offended by Depeche Mode's "Blasphemous Rumours", then black metal will probably make you get a cardiac arrest. I know this topic can be controversial, so for the sake of objectivity I will not take sides here but solely focus on its musical merits.
--sojourner at 2:51 AM
Actually black metal has been around for a pretty long time already. Those so called "metal historian" conveniently see black metal as the tail end of an evolution or mutation in heavy metal music that stems from thrash to death and then black metal. However, even before Venom (so called black metal godfather) came into existence there is already many signs of black metal tendency in many early bands. In Singapore, there are many black/death metal bands by the turn of the late '80s and early '90s. Bands like Abhorer, Beheaded Nasrani, Thartarus, Euronymous, Libation and the band in review here Impiety, are some of the unholy names that released demos that pledged allegiance to the dark. Incidentally, Impiety is the moniker with the greatest longevity and influence, and currently they had earned a status as the godfathers of Singapore black metal. Black metal however is recently getting very trendy in Singapore, being the darker choice of fashion for idiotic emo kids with gothic inclination, and even Chris Ho has professed his new found love with this music and how he thought of it as the “true alternative” but still most Singapore nerds could not tell if this is different from that heavy metal noise they detested. Well by convention, black metal usually meant sped up metal with lightning fast drummings and frenzied evil chords with blasphemous lyrics sung with Donald Duck-like guttural vocals by musicians who wore scary makeups and spikes and leather and Impiety is pretty much that. Very violent and noisy for the uninitiated. You might want to do more research on black metal as currently it is the most varied and versatile genre in music with way more creativity and originality churning forth in logarithms than those so-called postrock bands. I know Shyaithan, the band leader of Impiety personally, he being a close friend for many many years, and he is of course much more normal than your typical rock stars so try to envision them as the perverted evil cousins of Kiss to see the whole point and change your biased perception.
“Asateerul Awaleen” is Impiety's debut album on CD and they had already made a good name for themselves in the extreme metal scene with their cult demo tape “Ceremonial Necrochrist Redesecration” from 1992 and 7” EP “Salve The Goat: Iblis Exelsi” 1994 all of which sits comfortably in my extensive metal collections. Nowadays being considered a legendary and influential local metal band, Impiety has an impressive discography that spans more than twenty years in existence. Originally conceived back in 1988 as Sexfago by Goatlord Cunt-shredder (early pseudonym of Shyaithan) and Roslan (later formed Tetragrammaton) and Gaddafi (from Mayhem Force) because of the band leader's love for two Brazillian blackened death thrash bands at that time Sextrash and Sarcofago, they played an early primitive version of blackened death grind much alike Beherit and that two aforementioned Brazillian bands. Then sometime in 1992, Shyaithan hooked up members from Leviathan (another cult legend in Singapore), Infidel and Libation (pre-Itnos) to release the debut demo and this time they were more brutal and aggressive playing low registered grinding black/death metal like the Canadian Blasphemy. The EP was released two years later on an actual record label Shivadarshana and it was a covetted cult item of extreme desecrating black metal gem (and also lived up to its controversy because of a statement made by Shyaithan against the Norwegian black metal scene at that time). “Asateerul Awaleen” came forth with a set of new lineup which included As Sahar (a nationalistic Malay black metal band) members and is equipped with a new music direction that led Impiety further away from the basal primitive aggression from older school. Technically I would say that this album is right in the veins of a typical second wave black metal sound, somewhat close to the Dutch Funeral Winds and many Norwegian bands at that time.
The CD opens with a very creepy epic intro titled “Dzuul Ar'Shil Jaheem”, which is actually sampled from the Conan soundtrack. After the brief foreboding moment of impending doom settles in, the album kicks off with a raging fast classic Impiety number “Anal Madonna”, with its evil chords evoking Bathory, and Shyaithan's wicked Donald Duck-like vociferations and snarls. Don't read too much into the title though. I personally would say the highlight on this album is “Magick-Consecration Goatsodomy” which is my favourite track of all time from Impiety, and it had appeared in a slightly different more deathly version on their EP. This one has alot of wicked grooves ala Celtic Frost, which offers many variations deviated from a more straightforward sometimes monotonous blasts of the black traditions. The album closes with “Blasphemyth... The Seventh Goatspawn” which is a very short fast grinding track as the band eagerly concludes the somewhat short album.
Well, of course I still love my local indie rock and all that but I hope that the average Rock In The Fine City reader will expand their horizons from within their small closed arty farty circles and to actually see the REAL world out there, where reality is only a fine line away from brutality. While this may not be the best release from Impiety, it is indeed a good starter for blur little Kafka-expounding indie sotongs to see beyond their three chords and converse shoes. Anyway, this first version I'm reviewing is long sold out from the defunct label, but the title was recently reissued by Agonia with updated cover and sound. So look under your bed and deep inside your toilet bowls, and head down to the nearest underground to check out the biggest Singapore band you never knew!