First rule of journalism. Never talk about the weather. That’s a subject exclusive for insufferable work colleagues and mums and dads at weekend house parties. Basically for those occupying a different social sphere. As you’re probably aware, however, we don’t adhere to many rules around here and we’re not going to start now.
A bit like metal, really. A genre that takes a while to come into its own during a calendar year, and so it should. After all, black clad isn’t exactly built for comfort at this time of the year, which is why we usually experience a surge of new releases in the later months.
There are always exceptions, though, and this year the contrarians are Filipino super group, Basalt Shrine, who emerge as one of the brightest collectives formed out of the COVID-19 pandemic. The evidence? Their debut long-player, From Fiery Tongues.
Consisting of guitarist/vocalist, Bobby Legaspi (Surrogate Prey, Malicious Birth), bassist, Rallye Ibanez (Ex-Religious Nightmare, Surrogate Prey) and brothers, guitarist Ronnel and drummer, Ronaldo Vivo (Dagtum, The Insektlife Cycle, Abanglupa, Imperial Airwaves, Ex-Hateure), Basalt Shrine are the latest sonic allure for beardos, bikers, nerds, and true heads alike.
The Philippines has always been a nursery for esoteric art, and while Basalt Shrine deliver their message from the very same landscape permanently occupied by the outlier, this is something that will stay around for a while.
Beginning with the savagely titled Thawed Slags Blood. Think of a séance being conducted by overlords at the belly of a dungeon and you won’t be too far off the mark. As metal in the Philippines currently stands, those overlords in question? Basalt Shrine of course.
From here the rumbling torment unfolds, starting with In the Dirt’s Embrace. Here, Basalt Shrine mix Given to the Rising-era Neurosis with the searing majesty of Thou with barrelling soundscapes likened to a volcanic eruption.
And the serrated sludge grooves and dynamic melodies continue on Adorned For Loathing, which reaches deep into the bowls of punk with crunching groans and amps cranked to the max.
Which bleeds into the title track; a dark gust of noise leaving a thunderstruck impression. Here Legaspi showcases his vocal range, ploughing through the furrows of metal history. Think Attila Csihar collaborating with post-metal titans, ISIS.
Like being stalked through the Black Forest, The Barren Aftermath sees Basalt Shrine finishing From Fiery Tongues the way you’d expect them to. There’s a certain kind of grandeur about this song, but not in a showy exhibitionist kind of way that metal sometimes falls into the trap of. No, Basalt Shrine don’t adopt this kind of behaviour. With The Barren Aftermath underneath the belching hellfire lies an unintentional mystique derived from the subconscious.
And in many ways From Fiery Tongues could be just that. A visceral stream-of-consciousness delivered by musicians who know their craft and together form an alchemy that produces withering results. Make no mistake, From Fiery Tongues is one of the metal albums of 2022 so far.
From Fiery Tongues is out via Cruel Nature Records. Purchase from Bandcamp.