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SINGAPORE: A Look Into the Past
By: Vasp NecroGoat

With the recent international success of the Singaporean black metal legend IMPIETY, it became obvious that the extreme metal scene was ready to open their arms towards the isolated corners of the world, where metal music takes a more fundamentalistic stride. This gives the local scene the due recognition it deserves for as this part of the underground was already thriving for more than a decade. Although Singapore is far from a third world country (yet nevertheless "exotic" by western standards), this infernal South East Asian country had a rather conservative stance towards music in the past, especially for extreme music like heavy metal and hardcore music. It takes gradual absorption of western musical culture and when death/thrash metal was nearing its downward spiral, it gained a particularly strong foothold in the local scene. In between the underground prime of '87-'93, one can literally find at least five death/thrash metal bands in a neighbourhood. Deathsters are reading such local publications like Evil Rotting, Pandemonium, Backache, Living Corpse, etc and got inspired to cut demos. Take a walk around the Bedok area in the earlier years and one would frequently find gangsters in Sarcofago t-shirts or for the more adventurous, a trip through Bidadari cemetary will reveal so much misdeeds with its headless graves. In the earlier days, bands like ABHORER, NUCTEMERON, etc spreaded their evil manifestation beyond the island, and established cult followings in the underground, with devotees from as far away as Finland and Brazil. ABHORER became the first black/death metal band to do a 12" (as split with Japanese band NECROPHILE), followed by 7" releases from IMPIETY and ITNOS. IMPIETY was the only band that persisted in their satanic warfare to these days and establishing themselves as the godfathers of the Singaporean black metal scene. Here is a look at the past (1987-1993), at some of the bands that turned this tropical island into a necromantic graveyard...

This "scene report" is by no mean the complete list as it is strictly based on my personal collection and I can swear that there is at least few hundred more bands that I haven't covered (I won't cover DEMONOS though 'cos which reviewer will review his own band?!). So your help is greatly appreciated. If you have any infos, tapes or scans of local metal bands please do contact me (see more info below the page)!

ABHORER
 

Split LP '90 With Necrophile

Upheaval Of Blasphemy
EP '93

The black/death metal legend from Singapoore! The band was formed in '87 (the pre-ABHORER band goes by the name PERFIDIOUS) and it wasn't until '89 that they released the notorious cult debut demo "Rumpus of the Undead" which became a vital piece of black/death metal history in the underground! The demo material was subsequently reissued on a split vinyl with the Japanese black/death metal gods NECROPHILE's collections of tracks from '87 to '90, aptly titled "Deride the Remedied". The split 12" was put out by Decapitated/Wipe Out Records in '90, Panos' previous label before Unisound. After the release of this cult split LP, the band deliberately went into a hiatus, due to their "abhorrence" for the newer black/death metal bands that held no regards for the pioneers as well as being simply mediocre. But ABHORER returned with a vengeance with the unleash of their godly '93 7" EP "Upheaval of Blasphemy" through Shivadarshana Productions, constituting two tracks of desecrating black/death metal, and with a powerful crushing productions. I'd still prefer the more old-school approach on the demo/split LP though, but ABHORER felt that this 7" EP should be the landmark of their prowess. In '96, they unleashed their debut full length album on digipack CD, titled "Zygotical Sabbatory Anabapt" on the Shivadarshana label and I find that this is where they have the most modernised approach to black/death metal, with very technical riffings, and a more intense warring style. They officially R.I.P. after this release but their names are eternally whispered in the blackest masses.

BELIAL


Belial
Demo 92

Do not confuse this BELIAL with the other ones from Finland, Chile and Columbia. This BELIAL was highly revered in the Singaporean underground as one of the best death metal band around and I can certainly agree to it. The band started in '90 and recorded their first self-titled demo in '92, without their old bassist Hisham. The demo boasted a very good productions, the music is executed with great proficiency and the songs are well written and memorable. Although there's no tracklisting on the demo, the tracks are "Seducer of Mankind", "Mortal Schizophrenia" and "Demon' Rise" as I found out from separate sources. All the songs are excellent death metal with technical touches and it even comes close to the Swedish and American standards. I especially dig the last track as it is the most raging and blasphemous sounding of the bunch. I've heard that they 're even more impressive on their second demo and they had R.I.P. after that.
 


BLOOD ANGEL


In Evil We Trust
Demo 92

This was one of the most controversial baand back in the early beginning of the '90s when the underground was pretty sceptical on the newer black metal bands spawning from this island inferno. The first lineup consisted of Brutal Bot (voxx), Aye (Guitarz), Talib (Guitarz) and Nazri "sotong" (Drumz). Their debut demo "In Evil We Trust" was unleashed in '92, the only I've heard and it claims to play (satanic) noise/death core. It has a strange (probably unintentional) comical vibe to it, sounding like a mixture of local grindsters DEMISOR, Wehrmacht and Impaled Nazarene. Highlights here goes to the opening track "The Unholy of God" and the funny track "Death to Poser" with its brow-raising "Jiwa Jiwa" lead guitar interlude! Somewhere in '93, they released the second demo "Nocturnal Sacrament", which adopted a more black metal oriented style. To some this band is nonsense, but it certainly has a certain cult following.
 


DEATH SQUAD


Demo 92

The band played a rather raw and simplistic form of black/death metal. According to the '90 demo "Hallucination", the lineup goes like Din (vocal), Syidi (guitar), Jai (bass) and Mimi (drums). I'd describe their style as close to early Treblinka and the French Mutilated (!!!) and borders among black and death thrashing metal. The vocals is probably one of the most extreme I've heard in Singapore, period, probably even surpassing the hellish roars of the American legend Necrovore! But the music is not exactly the best. especially the song "Visionary Destructor" that came after the intro "Lucifers Scream", which has some amateurish touches. However, tracks like "Hallucinatory" and "Cryptical Depocintory" are extremely furious death thrashing numbers that can evoke some pretty nasty pictures of inferno and satan.

 

DEBAUCHERY


Spirit Of Barbuelis
Demo 93

According to sources, this outfit was preeviously known as CEMETRY. This band had an immense cult status in the newer wave of Singaporean black metal scene which also constituted bands like BLOOD ANGEL, BEHEMOTH, SEVENTH GATE, etc but on the other hand they were the most criticised band on this ungodly island. And it even got criticisms beyond the island when It from Abruptum (contributed some lyrics to this band) accused the band for being false satanists. The first official demo was released in '93, titled "Spirit of Barbuelis" and the lineup goes like Infernal Abominator (chanters/guitars), Teutonic Guardian (guitars), Aemonius Daemon (bass) and Abysmal Impaled (drums). There are three tracks on the demo, namely "Rites of Profanity", "Bestial Desecration Through Unholy Prayers" and "The Unholy Ground of Darkened Evil". These titles sounds like the grandmother of all evil, but the music proves to be quite a disappointment, with those melodic and beautiful guitar riffs, and irritating keyboards and female backup vocals, which is quite the opposite of their evil desecration theme. The band later evolved into Eibon.

 

IMPIETY
 

Ceremonial Necrochrist Redesecretion
Demo 92

Salve The Goat: Iblis Exelsi
EP 93

These maniacs are the godfathers of black metal in Singapore! And certainly they're the most wellknown Asiatic black metal band ever! But history went a long way back to '88 where IMPIETY began in the form of SEXFAGO and like the name suggested, the band was heavily influenced by Brazillian black/death metal. The first release under the unholy moniker of IMPIETY was with the '92 demo/promo "Ceremonial Necrochrist Redesecration", which is raw, caustic black death metal comparable to Blasphemy, Treblinka, etc. They managed to clinch an EP deal with Shivadarshana Productions in the form of "Salve the Goat: Iblis Exelsi" 7" EP '93. This EP created quite a controversy in the black/death metal scene due to an anti-Norwegian statement made on the back sleeve. In '96 they released their debut album "Asateerul Awaleen" digipack CD on the same label and it received good response from the underground. This time they have a more modern black metal sound. Their breakthrough came with the phenomenal release of "Skullfucking Armageddon", the second album '99 on Dies Irae Productions, also on digipack CD (with vinyl pressings from Iron Pegasus). This is their strongest work to date and it captures the evil essence of true ancient black thrash attack! They are working for the third album and the future seems positively black.

 

FRACTURED SKULL


Thrash Till Death
Demo

The demo sucks with its layout but the music is top notched. They released this demo under METALTRAX (their own label) and the lineup consisted of Burhanudin "Skullbanger" (guitars/vocals), Imran "Bonecrusher" (bass), Ramlan "Mindgrinder" (rhythm guitar) and Imran "Skinpounder" (drums). I like the intense death thrashing with a strong old-school flavour; the riffings are something that gets the approval from Kreator and the drummings are possessed by Dave Lombardo. I find that they were some of the most vicious and technical guitarists from that time. Some of the song-titles like "The Ballad of Two Fools" and "Desecrated Youth" may sound stupid, but they are ultra-wicked deathgasms! Other highlights here are the title track "Thrash Till Death" and "Infernal Torment".

 

MORBIFIC


Obscure Dreams
Demo 93

Tragedy strikes at this band towards the end recording of the second demo, aptly titled "Obscure Dreams" Demo '93 as the drummer/vocalist Kamal died after a coma. So, upon completion, the demo is released in his memory as stated in the sleeve. I don't know what happen to Wahid (guitars, bass), the sole member left after this recording, but I've heard that they've got a new lineup for their third demo. Anyway, this was one of the strongest work from these dedicated deathsters. The recording sucks abit but they handle their equipment with good competence, churning technical death metal with some similarity to supreme death metal bands like Revenant, Exmortis, etc. There are five tracks on this demo, of which the standouts are "Undying Lust", "When Death Draws Near" and of course the title track "Obscure Dreams".

 

LIBATION


Sanctimonious Offering
Demo 91

Here is another desecrating band from the unholy island of Singapore! They used to be known as MUMBRA (which is more death metal oriented) before the formation of Libation. The lineup on this debut demo "Sanctimonious Offering" from '91 goes by Necrocarnivore (growls), Abominator (guitars), Leprophilliac (bass) and Demonomancer (drums). Some of the members contributed to the IMPIETY lineup. The music on this demo has the same kind of blackened deathgrind approach of bands like IMPIETY and XTREME OBSESSION, only more primitive and uglier, and of course worshipping the same kind of sick evil of bands like Blasphemy and Sarcofago!!! Some of the tracks I like here are "Benighted Obsequies" and "Reign of Enmity". This demo is actually one of the best local metal demos around so it has a special place in my collection. The band later changed their name to ITNOS.

 

ITNOS


Christ Mary Bitch
EP '94

This band was previously known as LIBATION. ITNOS stands for "In the Name of Satan" and their music very much live up to the evilness of the name. They were one of those few black/death metal bands from Singapore to have actually gotten an EP deal. This 7" EP was released by Superior Creations in '94 and hand numbered to 500 copies. The lineup goes like Necromanism (bass, vocals), Abominathroe (guitars) and Demoncia (drums). Two tracks are found within this 7" EP, namely "Massacre of the Innocents" and "Christ Mary Bitch", both of which are fucking screwed black demonic death metal! While the songs are not as simplistic and Sarcofago-like as the ones they play in Libation, they are still truly bestial in the flavour of Bidadari's grave stench! The band subsequently metamorphosized into Doxomedon and changed their style drastically.
 


NUCTEMERON


The Unexpected
Demo '88

They are the gods of Singaporean death/thrash metal underground! NUCTEMERON was formed in late '87 by Omar (Drum) and Khalid (Bass), and they were possibly the first local death/thrash metal band (thus giving the notion that their habitat Eunos district is the birthplace for the scene but there are several arguments that Chai Chee was the origin). Several months later, Jani (Guitars) joined this unholy union and released unto the earth the death metal cult demo "The Unexpected" in '88. This demo is truly one of my most favourite amongst the Singaporean death/thrash metal underground. Four killer tracks of unsurpassed death/thrash metal took form with "Legacy", "Transitation", "Swirling Blackness" and "Silent Sorrow". The vocals is as sinister and wicked as Tom Angelripper's snarls and I'd say that the music is pure witching death/thrash in the old Sodom tradition, with pure holocaustic thrashing rhythms and unrelenting drum syncopations. The second self-titled demo was released in '90 and it contains four tracks of similar death/thrashing metal, with tighter proficiency and heavier parts, but the old-school magic of the first is still the most supreme. They R.I.P. in '91.

 

XTREME OBSESSION


Obsessed
Demo 90

Fucking evil blackened death thrash straiight out from a fucking nuctemeron of necromantheon! The "Obsessed" demo '90 is truly one of the most interesting local demo I've heard period! Sort of reminding me of LIBATION, DREAD, etc! This band truly worships the evil essence of such crazy punks like Sarcofago, Blasphemy, etc! The lineup is Nik (vocals), Hai (guitars), Burn (bass) and Axor (drums). The guitars are rancous grinding and flies insanely like second to fourth album era Bathory under black exorcism, with its wicked bestial voices command over the bloody lightning strike of the pounding punishment... on full speed of course! If you've heard the excellent works of the cult U.S. black death metal band like Infernal Death, you'll see some comparisons as they are both extremely evil! All the four tracks here are great unholy soulreaper, namely "Termination", "Seduction", "Blind Faith" and "Obsession" which only catalyse the immediate fall of Jesus Christ! Cult!

 

DEMISOR


Demo 90

This is filthy grindcore, noise(!!!), like stated on the front cover! And no doubt, this band is one of the most famous death/grind sensation in Singapore. This demo was handnumbered and the line up according to the liner notes went by Iskandar (vox), Zulkefil (drums), Azizi (guitars) and Khairul (drums). I'm not exactly a fan of grindcore but this rehearsal/demo appeals alot to me. They play straight forward noise grind, fast blasting gritty punk with some mid-paced mosher thrown in for good measures, sort of reminding me of anything between Impulse Manslaughter to Deathcore. You can't go wrong with tracks like "Mental Deterioration Ponderosity Mestectomy", "Insatiable Masturbation", "H.I.V." and "Otosclerosis".
 


PROFANCER


Rest Without Peace
Demo '90

This is the band with members spawning to so many other outfits like XASTHUR, IMPIETY, BEHEADED NASRANI, PROFANATION, ABBATORY, etc. The original lineup on this debut '90 demo tape "Rest Without Peace" is Azman (voice), Razali (bass), Shahid (guitar) and Iskandar (drums). Razali was known to later move on to form the Dies Irae Productions label. The music is primitive thrashing death metal driven on the mid tempo and having that total punk/hardcore appeal. Three tracks are on this tape, namely "Rest Without Peace", "Morbid Fate" and "Act of Aggression" of which the second track is the most interesting of the lot, with its morbid bone-grinding rhythms that simply crush in undead ultimatum.
 


SILENT SORROW

This death metal band was quite well known in the scene 'cos all the four members of the band are chinese (OK, there's the cult thrashcore act Opposition Party), which is welcoming as it shows that death metal curse is spreading everywhere, regardless of race and creed. So evil knows no boundary! The bandname SILENT SORROW is no doubt inspired by NUCTEMERON's cult song! They released a demo "Mental Obliteration" around '91 and I believed that the material are featured on the Big O's "New School Rock III" compilation CD '93 which I have. Well, it's sort of a compilation featuring local indies band and I chose not to elaborate too much on the CD 'cos it isn't strictly a metal compilation. By the way, the two tracks on the release are "Suffering in Silence" and "Pain Breeder", both of which are totally excellent technical death metal stuffs recalling the prowess of excellent death metal bands like Grave, Dismember, Unleashed, etc! Pann (the lead guitarist) later formed CONCAVE SCREAM.

WANTLIST

I have some of these important Singapore black/death/thrash metal demo classics on tape dubs (Infidel, Mutation, Beheaded Nasrani, Dread, and Rancid Decay) and would like to need their demo cover/bandphoto scan urgently as these bands are important to the scene! And I would also like to get the music/info/scan from the following bands I do not have (Antoxia, Cauldron, Ethos, Vrykolakas, Bestial Colony, 666, Necropolis, Agnosticants, Demoniac, Euronymous, Extro, Corpses, Necreous, Tormentor, Thartarus, Matyrdom, Anathema, Rosicrucian, Profanation, Xasthur, Mumbra, Cemetry, Chemikills, Crucifucktor, Seventh Gate, Sexfago, Behemoth and Stukas). Of course if you have bands that I do not know that fall in between '87 to '94, do drop me a line too!

Vasp NecroGoat
Blk 34 Marsiling Drive,
#10-381, SINGAPORE 730034.
E-mail:
ventrue9@mbox2.singnet.com.sg

** Check Vasp website Necromansy, which reviews old black death thrash: http://www.geocities.com/vasp_1999/
** All demo/EP covers have been purposely converted to grayscale/black and white color.