Three out of four shows to attend to this September… time sure flies by so quickly just like that, no? Just a measly four days after French screamo/hardcore punk band Birds in Row’s wildly successful show over at Mow’s, Xibalba brought along their Latino-American-flavored metallic hardcore (again, not the Mexican black metal band just so everything’s clear from this point on) last Monday night over at Selda-Dos still in Quezon City.

As I mentioned in my previous post, I requested for my overtime work to be cut down to just an hour and a half though I actually risked asking one of my teammates in that rush project we’re working on involving some bank application if I could leave from last Monday night’s work 30 minutes earlier than previously negotiated. The thing was, I already rendered my share of the required 3-hour overtime work last Friday night hoping I’d be able to make it back home via train then shuttle van and trike by around 11pm only to come across some massive queue of passengers who were not able to board any train at all due to some technical malfunction in one of the northbound stations so I had no choice but to take a bus ride to EDSA and face the usual Friday late-night road traffic due to people driving or commuting their way either back home from shopping or to their preferred nightspot in the Metro and all that.

Long story short, I left work by around 7:30pm and managed to arrive at Selda-Dos at 9pm only to find out that the first two opening acts Off the Chain and Thieves had already finished doing their respective sets. Good thing though that I had managed to catch Thieves a few times before and I’m pretty sure they pulled off yet another wild, chaotic performance that is very much expected from them. A bit gutted though to have missed out on Off the Chain who I have entirely no idea as to the kind of hardcore they’re doing which leaves me more curious than ever – though my educated guess would be that OTC might be heavily influenced by Terror, Backtrack and the like.

Last Monday night marked the nth time I’ve seen Value Lasts and all I could say is that they’re doing an amazing job at being one of the current flagship bands of local hardcore record label Still Ill. I personally would’ve preferred it though if instead of being third in the opening lineup, Value Lasts performed right before Thought who flew all the way from Cebu (more on them in the next few paragraphs of this post) because women of hardcore and all that but hoping anyway that a Value Lasts/Thought split record would materialize anytime soon.

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Value Lasts

The fourth band who performed that night was no other than Nonentities. My initial impression with regards to their music from when I first saw them some months ago still stands to this day as I still found (and will perhaps forever be finding) myself quite blown away with their highly angular, mathy take on hardcore punk. Vocalist Ron is definitely one of the strongest voices out there in the music scene as he pours all his heart and soul out in every song he sings rather gravelly with his current band without any need for the macho posturing that’s endemic in a lot of local hardcore (and “hardcore”) bands while the rest of (n) scour a diverse range of sounds ranging from jagged post-punk to math rock to the glory days of Revolution Summer to the more aggressive, riff-driven brand of alternative/indie music back in the 1990’s (which I personally tend to be more partial to than the mostly wimpy stuff that passes for “indie” since the 2000’s but I’ll save my thoughts on that for another post coming soon) as filtered through a hardcore punk lens. I decided out of the blue to not take any snaps of Nonentities performing as I wanted to get myself so engrossed that night with their yet to be matched brand of hardcore punk that only they can pull off.

Veils sounded surprisingly good to me as the fifth band who performed last Monday night compared to my previous impression of them some months ago. Maybe it’s because I could more clearly hear what their vocalist is singing about compared to the last time I saw them perform. They also had this one song that night which vaguely reminded me for some reason of the start-stop hardcore of Iron Lung and Weekend Nachos. Even if their set felt a bit too short to my personal liking, I’d cut Veils some slack for now since they’re a relatively new band. Here’s to hoping they would release a proper record anytime soon, but in the meantime, here’s their demo from last year:

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It’s always a cause for celebration every time a local band that isn’t based in Manila flies all the way to the Metro to do a handful of shows. Such is the case with Cebuano hardcore band Thought who had recently put out a self-released split 7” with Pushed Aside from Bukidnon (which is even farther than Cebu; it’s really good to know that there are hardcore bands from regions other than NCR). As the immediate opening act prior to Xibalba, Thought did not waste any time and launched straight into some youth crew-style hardcore that immediately led to some of us moshing away since it’s a bit rare for a band from Cebu to travel from their hometown to Quezon City – on a Monday night no less. Thought’s vocalist Grey sure is a feisty one as she was walking to and fro while doing her thing throughout her band’s entire set like some sort of moving target. I also like how Grey’s really clean vocal delivery on record is also very much the same in a live setting without having to resort to either doing some slurred NYHC vocal style or shredding her throat like nails on a chalkboard. Here’s to hoping Thought would do a more full-on tour of not just Luzon but the entire country so that they can inspire a lot of young (and young at heart) folks to start their own bands and play the kind of music that they truly love.

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Glad to have my personal copy of “Tierra y Libertad” signed by Xibalba some minutes prior to their set while I was buying the only medium-sized shirt they had left as part of their tour merch and even grasped the opportunity while there wasn’t much of a crowd checking whatever other stuff was available for sale to have a really brief chat with their drummer Jason Brunes about Morbid Angel (since I saw his “Gateways to Annihilation” tour shirt strewn to the side) in which I actually made him choose who’s the better vocalist: David Vincent or Steve Tucker. Good thing the consensus between both me and Brunes is that Tucker deserves the more rightful claim as Morbid Angel vocalist in the here and now since Vincent seems to be too wrapped up these days with his other group where he wears that chain mail thing making himself look like some poor man’s Danzig.

David Vincent of Morb… … LOLWTF!?

I also suddenly recalled having read a few articles before describing Xibalba’s sound as deathcore which seems about right if the kind of deathcore we are talking about here is the pioneering stuff that came out sometime in the early 2000’s and got labelled as such – basically your more aggressive, muscular brand of hardcore still the lead sound but with some death metal elements thrown in for good measure, not that watered down Bring Me the Horizon or Suicide Silence crap. Some might disagree with Xibalba being branded as deathcore but whatever floats your boat as they say (I personally refer to Xibalba’s sound as metallic hardcore instead as the intro to this post had immediately stated).

Back to last Monday night, Xibalba sliced everyone and their mother’s jugular with one highly muscular, tough as nails song after another that automatically got the lot of us moshing and building some circle pit front and center. Never mind that I had to check for a while there if my upper lip got split after having been hit (good thing my upper lip is still very much as is), fell on my knees at one point during the ongoing circle pit and almost felt some sort of blacked out sensation right before “Hasta La Muerte” which I attributed to exhaustion in general from almost 20 minutes of running around and/or banging my head to the music. Good thing “Hasta La Muerte” was already the second to the last song that night and the bar was just very near from where I was standing that I immediately asked for some juice to hydrate myself back into shape (personal preference as just plain ol’ water doesn’t do the trick for me) just in time for moshing and shouting along to “No Serenity” which was the last song of Xibalba’s entire set.

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Eyes of Fire then closed the night with just the right amount of sludge/stoner metal for the lot of us who were still in the venue to unwind from the high-energy stuff that dominated almost the entire show proper. I instantly dug their vocalist’s anguished yelling that seemed to me to be quite at par with the vocal stylings of Eyehategod’s Mike IX Williams or Indian’s Will Lindsay. Eyes of Fire would’ve garnered a rather sizable fanbase by now in my book but only time will tell if the usually slower sludge metal (and doom to some extent) will be as big here in the country as the faster forms of extreme metal that a lot of metalheads in the local music scene tend to gravitate to.

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Eyes of Fire

Xibalba’s show had been a very exhilarating experience for me as it sure had been quite a while since my knees and neck got themselves aching for a few days already and counting. For those who still have some post-show hangover, here’s a live, almost 30-minute video clip of Xibalba’s set (three songs are missing though but still more than good enough – at least until somebody else had taken a more pro-shot video of it in its entirety) courtesy of someone who was more than kind enough to post it on YouTube:

And just like that, one last show to attend to for the month of September 2015 as one of the leading figures of the New York hardcore scene, Sick of It All, visits the country this coming 27th which is a Sunday. Thank goodness the 25th was very recently announced as a public holiday which means more than ample time to rest, do some more stretching and get both body and spirit ready for the last Sunday of September to remember…

Even if the opening lineup for Sick of It All’s first-ever Manila show seems to be a bit of a dud at best – more about that in my next post.