Sunday, February 23, 2020

Full Length Review: GAPANG "Kontrasismo" (Mindplight Recordings) by Dave Wolff

Band: Gapang
Location: Manila
Country: Philippines
Genre: Doom/sludge metal
Full Length: Kontrasismo
Format: Digital
Label: Mindplight Recordings
Release date: February 18, 2020
It has been two years since I penned a review of Gapang’s debut EP “Mabagal, Mabigat At Madumi”. As this was my first exposure to them, I remember noting they were a heavier band than The Obsessed and other US doom/sludge metal bands. I mostly had this idea because of the passion the band channeled into the EP during the recording process, along with the amount of grime and grit they recorded the songs with to make their intended point. “Mabagal, Mabigat At Madumi” was inspired by the day-to-day poverty living in the Philippines, which was long a third world nation after the conclusion of World War II and is currently transiting toward industrialization. Many of its citizens still live in underdeveloped neighborhoods and survive on meager funds despite the financial and technological improvements. Like the early thrash metal reflecting the working-class environments of England and Germany, Gapang’s music is a vehicle to express their country’s poorer conditions and political strife. If it sounds ugly, it’s because their world is not a pretty picture. Their debut full length “Kontrasismo” features new material next to tracks from “Mabagal, Mabigat At Madumi” and their second EP “A Smirk to the Posturing”, with the distortion, desolation and boiling frustration amped up. Before listening to this album I listened to both of their EPs, to see how far their songwriting and presentation have come. Listening to most of these songs for the second time I had the opportunity to listen more closely, and it was surprising to see how well the older and newer material fit together. The increase of atmosphere, background ambiance, melodic vocals, and guitar solos shows the band is becoming more melodic and placing more emphasis on feeling. This is proving to enhance their ability to bring to light the apocalyptic future that may well arrive if things continue the way they are socio-politically. “Signals to the Brain Dead” and especially “Wane” are the finest examples of where the band is going musically, showing their potential to draw influence from Pink Floyd and Black Sabbath as well as modern doom and sludge. The cover art makes no mistake conveying the band’s message, showing a slum area in the foreground with what resembles a high rise in the distance; the scenery is tinted deep red to present an impression of hell on earth. “Free” is the first of the album’s newest tracks, establishing a message that is brutally simple: “You think you're free?/Now here we lie/Blood drips, unseeing eyes/Another fool/We push up to the sky/This king sucks up/A country's fill… Do you think you're free????/You stupid fuck…” Reciting those lyrics and others against the musical backdrops described above makes “Kontrasismo” a dire warning of what is to come and an impassioned plea for change. -Dave Wolff

Joy Legason: Vocals, bass
Jay Jumawan: Guitars
Carlo Garcia: Drums

Track list:
1. Free?
2. Gin Bulag Swing
3. Mudd
4. Signals To The Brain Dead
5. Reign Of Worms (Reprised)
6. Tulo
7. Neverhide
8. Ravages Of Diplomacy
9. Wane

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