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Pop royalty Sarah G.; Pinoy rock 'paisanos' Shotgun Combo.

TOM PETTY sang that the waiting is the hardest part, and in Sarah G.'s newest offering in celebration of her fifteenth year in showbiz, she appears to be honoring 'the wait' with pledges of earnest love and solid commitment to her S. O..

As a milestone recording, This I5 Me has no break-up songs. Sarah also tries her hand at electronic dance music, if only to make some noise and inject a bit of party-hearty fun on an album that consistently projects the prim-and-proper Sarah G. image, track after track.

After an initial batch of loving tributes to her boyfriend, a wobbly 1-minute interlude turns up which Sarah concludes with, 'Baby, come take me to paradise.' It's followed by the lounge-y My Love where Ms. Geronimo coos: 'And take me to places/Shower me baby/With your hugs and your kisses...' The next couple of songs do not gather any more sexy steam and instead goes back to the opening themes of being together-come what may-and being with the love of her life here, there, and for all time.

Small things-a twinkling piano run, a bass pump, a lovely trumpet bleat- insert pretty smudges to ballads and pop tunes that hardly take any twists to the patented Sarah persona. Nevertheless, Tagu-Taguan has the playfulness of remembered teen crush bursting out of it. Dollops of doowop punctuate the soulful Duyan, while Feels Good makes the Pop Princess head for the lounge R and B brass ring.

Reaching 15 years in the biz, Sarah G. continues to build on her own strengths and delivers a fresh perspective on the sterner stuff she's made of.


The Evil Divide

THIRTY years after their classic debut entitled The Ultra-Violence, Death Angel-composed of five Fil-Am cousins-remains a major force to reckon with in the heavy metal realm. They kept the likes of Metallica and Anthrax on their toes back in the day and have certainly outlasted their contemporaries to show a new generation of rockers how speed and aggression still translate to maximum heaviness.

Death Angel's most recent album, The Evil Inside, might as well have been produced on the same night Speedmetal first jammed with the New Wave of BrItish Heavy Metal (NWOBHM). Their new release retains the underpinnings of both rock explosions: the hot blood of NWOBHM and the adrenaline roar of speed metal, the devil we once raised fists to and his later incarnation to which we slam-danced to.

For this latest go-round, Death Angel blesses the faithful with nuggets of wisdom on how to fight for honor, defy the father of lies and unite against those who betray our trust. All the new songs, in bone-rattling bedlam in chaotic rockers and melodic intensity in their quieter moments, aim to disrupt creeping complacency that everything is in order.


Past, Present...Torture

FROM Dubai, the land of contrasting religious piety and Western-style decadence, descends upon Nervecell, a power trio of Dubai natives dedicated to stoke and spread the fire of technical death metal into the far reaches of the Middle East. Tech-death features prog-rock serpentine guitar figures running wild in the service of death growls. Some critics call it death metal as played by jazz rock giants Mahavishnu Orchestra.

Sure enough, there's a great deal of Mahavishnu John Mclaughlin's sophisticated improvs in the cascade of attractive amped-up noise issuing from Nerevecell twin guitarists Rami H. Mustafa and Barney Ribiero. The rhythm tag team of bassist/vocalist James Khazaal and guest drummer Kevin Foley add a solid foundation so the entire proceedings conjure a sonic storm of epic proportions.

And epic proves to be the best way to channel songs about holocausts, eternal suffering and yes, an inescapable plunge toward anguish and torment.

Malice Within, which begins with acoustic chords then suddenly jackhammers into outstanding electric fury, finds singer Khazaal spewing out: 'Now I am death, the destroyer of worlds...' originally uttered by famous physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer, father of the atom bomb. Nervecell serves up a soundtrack for a world that's about to go up in flames.

(Death Angel and Nervecell join other combustible metal merchants At The Gates, Behemoth and Cradle of Filth at the Pulp Summer Slam XVIII at the Amoranto Stadium in Quezon City on May 5.)



REFERENCING their online bio, the four-piece Pinoy band Shotgun Combo proudly states that after only two months of getting together, they already wrote ten original compositions and earned bragging rights to play in respectable bars in the Metro.

Their biggest achievement so far is bagging Top 1 in the 2016 Pambansang Muziklaban rock-band competition, besting contenders from across the country. They did it by emulating their heroes who include Red Hot Chili Peppers, Rage Against The Machine, Erectus, P.O.T. and Francis M. It makes perfect sense then that their debut album borrows a few thunders from their idols' rocking funk, but what's even more exciting are the gimmicks they bring to the once critically-derided 'nu-metal,' which is now referred to as 'nu phunk.'

One, Shotgun Combo-despite their fearsome name-keeps an even keel on their metal attack, enabling them to gatecrash both heavy-rock and pop-rock stages.Two, the band writes naughty songs as if plugging the green DNA of Tito, Vic and Joey with the genes of a lighter but hungrier Slapshock.

The Combo's first album entitled Garantisabog teems with enough evidence. Proof Numero Uno is Mahiwagang Butas, which guarantees instant laughter among red-blooded males and a few angry retorts from well-meaning citizens. Numero Dos is Labahita which takes as many chances at the joys of appreciating a woman's legs (though peeping isn't recommended.) Third 'bukol' goes to Kutis Putragis where vocalist Cris Genato loses his mind, metaphorically, at the sight of 'kutis porcelana.'

Shotgun Combo masterfully blends their puerile lyrics with memorable riffs at tempos not heard of since the heyday of Limp Bizkit and Kid Rock. Come to think of it, this Pinoy rock band is sort of reviving the genre but on their own terms. They've got something that will be a sure blast for every fun-loving, alt-thinking party animal.


Heads Up

MISERY loves company, but in the hands of the four ladies that make up indie band Warpaint, they match gloom-tainted themes with upbeat styles from the R and B side of the musical divide, with interesting results. The all-girl LA band has been a regular visitor in Manila displaying in previous outings a penchant for haunting pop-rockers. On their new album Heads Up, the foursome now sings of passion, heartache and sad relationships with no end in sight. They then re-purpose their sound palette to reflect their new love for Erykah Baduh, Outkast and Kendrick Lamar such that on tracks like opener White-Out and The Stall, the call-out to strutting feet is unmistakable. Given the generally somber mood of the songwriting, the band on these bouncy tracks could be attempting their own take on dancing on the bones of your regrets.

The contrast between downbeat words and perky music actually works at some level, more so as breaks from the downturn ambience permeating most of the new album. It will be a toss-up either as a welcome surprise or unwanted puzzle for Warpaint's long-time fans.
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Publication:Business Mirror (Makati City, Philippines)
Date:Apr 29, 2018
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