Saturday, April 04, 2009
STOMPIN' GROUND- Measured By The Richter Scale CD(Smoke/Pony Canyon Entertainment 1995)
--sojourner at 6:56 AM
If a real earthquake strikes Singapore, we would all be doomed. But how about a groundbreaking band that is so sonically powerful that it needs to be measured by the richter scales? We get more hardcore. This band has left a huge impact in the local music scene since its activities were first reported, and any lion city hardcore musicians will somehow point backwards at Stompin' Ground as the premier hardcore gargantuan of local music. This band is often credited for spurring the whole hardcore punk establishment in Singapore. I had followed the band since their very early days. I remember fondly how Hafidz pranced about with a bucket on his head, and how “botak” my dear friend Ayong is. Back in '89, there was not as much fun in the scene with pop/rock, but everywhere there's plentisome metal, hardcore and punk with demos that even made themselves famous across the globe, something that is unfortunately seldom acknowledged amongst the current elitist indie rockers in the scene. The wave created by those bands like Stompin' Ground, Opposition Party, Mindrape Protestants, Global Chaos, and Rotten Germ (a band which had actually influenced U2's drumming when they were in Singapore!) swept through the lion city and subsequently we see the cohorts of famous names like Voice Out, Retribution, Four Sides and Obstacle Upsurge bringing hardcore to greater heights after been inspired by the legends.
In 1995, “Smoke” label, a subsidiary of Pony Canyon tailored to releasing more extreme bands put out the debut Stompin' Ground album aptly titled “Measured By The Richter Scales”. Earlier on, the band had found fame in their “Grey” demo days back in '91, appearing on BigO's “Lion City Hardcore” compilation in 1993, and put out their debut EP “We Set The Pace” in the same year. On “Measured By The Richter Scales”, the productions is powerfully strong and the music is truly bottom heavy with groundtrembling sonics and chugging riffings. When “Tunnel Vision” kicks off this CD, the soundpicture caves in like a monstrous bulldozer. The basslines are frenzied and hypnotizing on “From Within”, with Hafidz snarling hoarse with intense angst and Ayong's need fluid drum patterns with alot of play on the peddles. “Ages” is more straight ahead with melodic riffings, with very disturbing lyrics directed at parents who lost their kids due to neglect. “Better Day” is dedicated to the hardcore scene calling for unity, and which is partially stemmed from an incident in the past; back in a Kuala Lumpur gig in '94 when the band got booed off stage by a group of Nazi punks. “Betray” is a cover of Minor Threat's classic punk anthem and it is often played at shows to rabid response. There are two bonus tracks on this album, namely “Generator” and “Life”. The two tracks are killer hardcore and Red Hot Chilli Pepper-like funk fusion with plenty of grooves.
The hardcore scene has died down considerably quite alot in recent years, with many extreme music lovers shifting focus either to the trendy modern black/death metal, or reintegrating back into fashionable norms with the current retro-indie and emo. Back then, many hardcore musicians took themselves very seriously and at some point, alot of the straight edged positive mindset driven factions even function like highly disciplined monks, with extremely tight ethics, strong ethos and principled living. This is pretty much unlike the impressionable, susceptible and “sensitive” crowd we often see a lot these days. Unfortunately throughout the years there's too many infightings amongst extreme music fans with mob mentality, them punks, skins, skas, metalheads and whatnot. Worst still, there's always the threat of the racist/fascistic infiltrations to further manifesting, poison and divide the scene, making the underground precarious and unpleasant. I remember very well a warning that came from the hardcore scene during the “Lion City Hardcore” days,”...united we stand, divided we fall...”