Crust Punk, Death Metal, Grindcore, Metal, Punk

Abanglupa – Of Rats and Swine (Review)

(Upcoming) Album:Of Rats and Swine
Genre:Crust / Grind
Release Date:22nd of February, 2022
Released viaLower Class Kids Records
Nuclear Family Records
Ugly and Proud Records
Audacious Madness Records
Bent Window Records
Esagoya Records
Cover Artwork ©Abanglupa, 2022

“I miss the old days” is a phrase that can sound familiar yet awfully annoying at the same time. When talking about politics, this is a statement that most obviously outs you with a drastically conservative stance that is predominantly not my cup of tea. When talking about music, though, it could mean you’re gatekeeping few specific old bands and their sound thus deeming younger bands to be wrong – get away with that opinion, nobody needs that. On the other hand, though, you might just be talking about the fact of you desperately waiting for bands that are strongly influenced by the music you tended to listen to back in the days. Then you might be damn right here talking about Filipino Grindcore band Abanglupa delivering their full-length debut with Of Rats and Swine.

Abanglupa hit you right out of nowhere with their debut release that was brought to you by numerous labels that seemed to have been interested in this music. The artists behind this project are the Vivo brothers and if you stick close to the Filipino music scene, by reading this name it might already dawn on you how it can be to have a release like that delivered as an actual debut. Those brothers are active in numerous other projects already now finding a way to channel political rage with their latest one.

When trying to describe the sound on Of Rats and Swine, the initial quote comes back at you. After having listened to this debut release for the first time, it felt as if the sound of 2010s HM2 Hardcore mixup from the folks of Trap Them, All Pigs Must Die or early Black Breath came to my mind. However, it is necessary to mention that Abanglupa do not seem like a mere revival of that sound by making use of it in the way it was played before. The focus on Hardcore those bands played is exchanged with a oppressively slow and crushing Sludge sound. Asking the band about the influences on this record with regards to the artists mentioned below, though, it also becomes clear that those were no blueprint at all since they were not even aware of those bands when having started.

With the opening track “Misery Chambers,” the opening riff alone serves with massive HM2 frequences that come along with a thick production and a massive sound. While the aggressive vocals move somewhere between Raw Punk and Grindcore, the drums oscillate between Grind and Sludge, sometimes even advancing towards Death Metal sequences. On this first track, the sound moves from Grind towards mid-tempo Punk/HC. On the following tracks, though, Sludge takes over and slows down the tracks as on “Erase” and many other sequences on the album. The aspect that immediately had me at Trap Them when first listening into this album came from the strong and catchy riffs that fill almost all of the tracks. The wild mixture between fast Grindcore riffing and packed melodic riffs that are slowed down and sped up on the tracks instantly reminds of Darker Handcraft. Apart from a huge Sludge focus, the slower sequences also deliver absolutely awesome mosh parts that urge you to deform anything that’s close to you.

The first video output that was released off this album was “Forced Dementia” that opens up with two politicians – Bonbong Marcos, son of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos and Juan Ponce Enrile, a crony of the Marcoses – discussing the problem of – according to their opinion – alleged killings by their regime. It only takes a few seconds to get that the music Abanglupa (meaning: oppressed land) is playing takes major influences from the political perspectives of the musicians. This is also what causes the most convincing factor of the album – the political rage that is channeled with the music of Abanglupa that causes the immense energy that can be felt on all of the tracks. The album deals with the political situation in the Philippines impacted and caused by the Marcose regime that is the driving force for the instable situation in the country and the force with which those messages are delivered energetically underlines the political impact.

Apart from the strongly convincing music that is delivered on this album it is also remarkable that pretty much everything on this album is fully DIY by the Vivo brothers. Starting from the music, obviously, recording and mixing also took place in the studio of Sound Carpentry Recordings – the band owned studio and label. Additionally, the cover was also designed by the band and the video output that was released off this album is also entirely recorded, produced and cut by the brothers. In times when almost anything is handed off to external help (which is no bad thing at all) it is nevertheless absolutely noteworthy to find a band that does absolutely everything by themselves – DIY at high level that is convincingly delivered.

Since this debut release is going to be your first contact with Abanglupa, the power that hits you is completely overwhelming with its blunt force. Additionally, Abanglupa manages to convince with strong messages and alterations of a sound that has your heart skip a beat when having enjoyed all of the bands mentioned above.

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