Unearthing the Metal Underground: The Brutal Bangkok Underground Scene
It doesn’t take long when wandering the streets of the sprawling, congested, and smog-ridden city of Bangkok, once known as the Venice of the East due to its many canals, long since paved over, to realize that metal lives here. Young and old sport metal t-shirts with surprising regularity, metal paraphernalia abounds in shops here and there, and even airport employees asked this recent visitor to the country, upon seeing his tattoos and metal garb, “What metal band are you in?” Though scene insiders in Bangkok remarked to this correspondent that the Bangkok scene is largely split among subgenre lines, it clearly does little to diminish the following among the brutal bands of the Bangkok scene. Here are four punishing bands hailing from Thailand’s capital waiting to unleash upon you and aural assault of massive proportions.
Sometimes the only cure for what ails you is some raw, gurgling goregrind. A one-man project, helmed by Panrat Indhapanya, with session members utilized for live engagements, Granulocytic Blastoma keeps its songs short, simple, raw, and, pardon the cliché, brutal. If the shoe fits, then it will probably pound your face into an unrecognizable mess of torn and contorted tissues and bodily fluids.
After a demo released in 2004 and a three-way split in 2005, Granulocytic Blastoma took five years to finish up its first full length album, the 38-track “Moments of Tarsotomy,” which was put out by American grindcore/goregrind/powerviolence label Last House on the Right Records. Heavily influenced by early Carcass and Last Days of Humanity, Mr. Indhapanya obviously thumbed through a medical textbook or three when looking for song titles, and delivers bowel rumbling low vocals, all the more impressive because he does so without the aid of a transformer, in addition to handling guitar, bass, and drum programming duties. Simple, bouncing goregrind riffs in the style of Rompeprop and pornogrinders GUT provide a catchy backdrop to the grinding, drum machine madness. Let it rot!
Smallpox Aroma is another goregrind/grindcore act hailing from Thailand’s capital city, and has amassed an impressive array of splits and compilation appearances since forming just five years ago. The three-man act consisting of Goredick on drums and vocals, L.S. on vocals and bass, and Septictanklavatory on guitars, Smallpox Aroma plays a blasting and bouncing form of goregrind that delves into areas of brutal death metal and even displays some crust influence. Guttural vocals are juxtaposed with gore-tinged shrieks and creatively induced squeals and other near indescribable and equally disgusting vocal techniques.
The band always sets a frenetic pace, and as a result of their constant recording schedule, has established itself as one of the more recognizable names to come out of the Thai scene among the brutal aficionados of the world. Unsurprisingly, the band has several upcoming split releases planned, along with the band’s first full-length CD.
Dual vocal attacks can be a mixed bag at times, as rather than having twice the impact, the front persons can wind up competing for attention and drawing half the crowd’s energy, rather than a single man or woman uniting the audience’s aura under one, dominant persona. But Masochist manage to be the exception to the rule, with two more than capable vocalists, Somkiat and Ekkachai, each keeping their focus mainly on opposite ends of the vocal spectrum, who work well as a tandem to incite the fans. Fans of Disgorge and the vaunted gravity blast will enjoy Masochist’s particular brand of brutal.
Since the band began in 2002, Masochist has managed a demo and two split releases that have had the backing of drummer Sunyaluxx Saengtham’s own Sick Chainsaws Productions label. Saengtham is also the man behind the yearly Bang-Cock Death Fest, which showcases some of the best death metal acts from Thailand, Asia, and around the world.
Bangkok four-piece Intricated is another Sick Chainsaws Productions band that ramps up the American style of brutal death metal to a blast-heavy and unrelenting new level that the Southeast Asian death metal bands seem to have an absolutely uncanny knack for achieving. This year saw the release of the band’s first EP, “Chronofrustration (The Extermination of Humanity),” a seven-song effort featuring five studio recordings and two live tracks. Bringing to mind bands such as the American incarnation of Disgorge, Condemned and Gorgasm, Intricated have the technical proficiency, outlandish speed, and crushing brutality to swing with the true beasts of the genre.
Check back every Monday as we unearth more metal bands from around the world.
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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