Jasad and Bleeding Corpse Bludgeon Bangkok
Band Photo: Revilement (?)
Approximately 200 of Thailand’s most brutal turned up for Bang-Cock Death Fest 2011 at the cavernous yet acoustically pleasing Barbie’s Bar in Bangkok, on Saturday December 3rd. The 12-band bill was comprised of a who’s-who of the underground Asian death metal scene, featuring bands from Japan, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Taiwan, which played alongside an incredibly strong array of acts from the host country.
Granulocytic Blastoma kicked off the afternoon with a rumbling, grinding set of goregrind that would have given Dead Infection, “Reek of Putrefaction”-era Carcass and Last Days of Humanity a run for their stinking offal. The three-man (vocals, drums, guitar) Thai band ripped through approximately 25 songs, all with obscure and disgusting medical maladies as titles, in a roughly 35 minute set, proving once and for all that brevity is indeed grind. Many of the gurgled tracks were taken from the band’s full length on Last House on the Right records, “Moments of Tarsotomy.”
Not to be out-gored, Smallpox Aroma, another Thai goregrind act, with many a split release under their belt, were up next for what reportedly was their first set in quite some time following their drummer’s departure to New Zealand. With the aptly named Goredick back behind the kit, the Bangkok threesome, rounded out by L.S. on bass and vocals and Septictanklavatory on guitar, tore into their own blend of gore, grind, and slamming death metal that brought out influences as varied as Nasum and Disgorge (Mexico), with some old school death metal tinges thrown in on top of the slithering pile.
Bang-Cock Death Fest promoter Sunyaluxx Saengtham took a brief reprieve from his long list of duties on the day to annihilate the drum kit for Masochist, a brutal death metal band hailing from the Thai capital and the city of Rayong, a few hours to the north. Featuring a dual vocal attack, one handling the lows and another for the mid range, the band smeared on some stage blood and proceeded to gravity blast their way through a carnivorous set of modern brutal death metal heavy on the Disgorge, this time of the American variety, Suffocation, and many more bands of the technical and brutal kind.
Singapore’s Analdicktion was the first foreign act of the day, and was out in force promoting its recent Sevared Records release, “Sluts.” Already battling somewhat of a logistical nightmare, with three members calling Singapore home and guitarist Andrew Ferris currently residing in Bangkok, the band also had to deal with a last minute lineup change following the recent ouster of their drummer. But the boys blasted into an entertaining set that, while definitely full bore gore, was also heavy on the crust and D-beat influence, and even included a Disrupt cover, that makes for quite the catchy and memorable mix. Look for this band as the members flesh out plans for further forays throughout Asia in 2012, and an upcoming split seven inch with Proletar.
Nagoya, Japan’s Clandestined provided the first old school death metal strains of the fest, providing a bit of a change of pace from the fest’s first four bands. Long-time member of the Asian scene and band leader Okazzy growled powerfully over his own buzz saw riffs while female bass player Shinho, having the distinction of being the only female band member of the day, held down the low end as well as the attention of more than one member of the mostly-male audience.
With the crowd noticeably gaining momentum as the Chang and Singha beers continued to flow it was back to the brutal gore with two more Thai bands, Gore Consumed and A Good Day for Killing, which inspired the first true mosh pits as light gave way to darkness and the heat of the 30-plus degrees Celsius day mercifully began to dissipate. Both bands were completely devoid of trends, preferring instead to keep the brutality cranked up to 11 at all times, blasting away with some guttural ferociousness that had the heads on the front row on a constant windmill.
My band, Revilement, from Taiwan/Canada, had to follow A Good Day for Killing’s crushing set, which was no easy task, but in my own entirely subjective opinion I’d say we were up to the challenge. Our set consisted of tracks from our upcoming Coyote Records full-length release, “Pillars of Balance,” which the crowd responded to in fine fashion, dutifully heeding my calls for a little action on the floor, stage diving, and making us feel incredibly welcome in the land of Siamese Brutalism. I had a great time leaping from the multi-step drum riser and jumping off the bass cabs on either side of the stage, but opted out of the bass cab jump into the crowd for fear of ending the set early due to some cracked ribs. I’m still kicking myself over that one. Lesson learned: jump first, ask questions later.
Malaysia’s Humiliation were next, as the five-piece old school, warfare-themed death metal band brought the chugging, rolling, mid-paced Bolt Thrower and Jungle Rot inspired tunes in a huge way that left the audience calling for an encore for the first time. You can always tell how well a band has won over a crowd by how much merch they sling after their set, and Humiliation sold out each of the full lengths, EPs, and seven-inch records they carted in with them, not to mention all their shirts. I went home with one of everything they had and can only tip my hat and say, “Well done.” All the bands destroyed, but Humiliation might have had the set of the fest.
One last Thai band, Intricated, hit the stage before it was the headliners’ turn, and they rounded out what was an incredibly impressive showing for all the Thai acts, exhibiting exactly why they deserved a spot right next to the headliners. If you’re at all into brutal bands, have a look at the Thai scene and the Southeast Asian scene in general, where there is an impossibly long list of skilled and terrorizing groups to check out. Intricated wouldn’t look at all out of place tearing it up alongside the venerable Gorgasm, who were supposed to headline Bang-Cock Death Fest 2011, but unfortunately could get over to Thailand due to an apparent legal entanglement.
In the absence of Gorgasm, Sunyaluxx more than made things up to the crowd by brining in not one, but two of Indonesia’s leading death metal bands, the first of which was Bleeding Corpse. Bands from Indonesia, to put it mildly, don’t mess around. Coming from what could arguably be called the biggest death metal scene in the world, band’s from that country either destroy or get eaten alive, so you can imagine what band’s like Bleeding Corpse that get hand-picked for international festivals must sound like. It’s as though they take the most brutal western bands they can find as a jumping off point, and then take the sound as far past that as they can possibly go, pushing every conceivable musical limit they can think of. Imagine the type of quality that is bred by coming from a city like Bandung, Indonesia, which according to sources is home to approximately 150 death metal bands alone, and the mind implodes, as did the cortexes of more than a few attendees during Bleeding Corpse’s set.
Jasad, the long running death metal titans of the Indonesian scene, having been going strong since 1989, had the honor of putting a blasting cap on the festivities. Seeing them is a unique experience, as frontman Man Jasad has a stage demeanor all his own. Clad in traditional Indonesian dress, loose fitting, billowing tie pants, and a head scarf, he casually smokes acrid Indonesian cigarettes from a wood-carved cigarette holder in between vocal lines for a strangely captivating quiet and seething intensity that the crowd instantly responds to. It’s as if they can’t believe how easy he makes it look. Man spoke earlier of the difficulties of putting on shows in his home country due to the restrictions imposed by the Muslim police, and of how he turns show profits from bills he puts on into environmental initiatives and such for the benefit of the community in order to fortify positive relations between the metal scene and Indonesian society at large. Efforts such as these give all the more power to Jasad’s already powerful performance, and the band left the now exhausted but elated crowd immensely satisfied.
With recent news of troubles befalling festivals such as the Goregrowler’s Ball and Rites of Darkness festival stateside, it was heartening to see such strong dedication and support from the Bangkok faithful. Given the recent disastrous flooding the whole of Thailand has experienced over the past several months, it was all the more amazing that people were willing to part with the ticket price at all, let alone in such solid numbers. Death metal may have its ups and downs, but there are always people somewhere working hard to make great underground events happen, and fans that are willing to support it no matter what. A debt of thanks is owed by myself, all the bands on the bill, and the fans in Thailand to Sunyaluxx Saengtham and his crew, co-conspirators Apir and Apira of Triple Six Records in Bangkok, and everyone who worked so tirelessly to make Bang-Cock Death Fest 2011 a resounding success.
Joe Henley is a freelance music journalist and editor currently living in Taipei, Taiwan. In addition to pulling vocal duty in a death metal band, he maintains a website on the Taiwanese metal scene and writes regular features on the touring bands that come through Taipei for a local monthly music magazine.
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