Pinoy Rocks

Muziklaban champs unleash distinctive new albums

All graduates with top honors of past Muziklaban battle of the bands competition, Hatankaru, Light of Luna and Even unleash new music this year.

Surprisingly, the champions aren't competing head on. Rather, each group brings its own distinctive color to modern Pinoy rock.

Raging backbeat, excellent lyrics
HATANKARU

The four-piece band hails from Karuhatan, Valenzuela City, thus their name: an anagram in tribute to their home place. They won Muziklaban's 2009 edition and their 6-song EP is a labor of love, coming out after two years of intermittent recording whenever the members could raise funds to finance the sessions.

hATANKARU

ACTIVE ROCKERS. The struggle to put out a record resonates in the soft-to-explosive funk behind the music and lyrics that fuse the personal with the political. It's easy to slot Hatankaru on the same page as Karl Roy's many incarnations, Tame The Tikbalang and Rage Against the Machine, but the band retro-fits its obvious influences with bits of 70s soul, lounge jazz and hard rock. A heady brew indeed and they even have the gall, in a positive way, to compose a better ode than "Noy-Pi" to Filipino resilience.

FLAT LINERS:  None, unless you have a beef with Pepe Smith showing up on every other recording by a Muziklaban champ.

THE VERDICT: Here's an EP that dances around the mess we're in with fluid guitar work, raging backbeat and words that make a lot of sense in this day and age. It's an excellent introduction to one of the best bands to come out of an annual rock competition.

For purchase information, visit their Facebook.

READ MORE MUSIC BLOGS: PSY, Adele and making it in America, by Francis Brew

A new twist to the prog rock formula
LIGHT OF LUNA
Alarm of Acceptance

The trio from Nueva Ecija snagged first honors in the Muziklaban class of 2011. Formed in 2005, Light of Luna must have made full use of the distance from Manila, the center of all things pop and disposable. What the band delivers is a refreshing alternative founded on progressive rock and grafted to sonic candies that fell off the punk bandwagon.

Light_Of_Luna

ACTIVE ROCKERS. Every track is air-guitar worthy and the sympathetic collaboration between and among the players adds new wrinkles to the Urbandub franchise. New wave steers "Two Headed You" towards dance rock, "Acceptance" reminds of early Urbandub and the instrumental "The Start of Our Alarm" mines the same ground as current US prog-rock champs Animals As Leaders.

THE VERDICT: In progressive rock, when you've heard three tracks, you've heard 'em all. Props then to the band for putting a few twists to a genre that demands precision. One can only hope they can translate their good intentions in live performances where the prospect of audience tedium over the long haul presents the bigger challenge.

For purchase information, visit their Facebook.

READ MORE MUSIC BLOGS: Mayhem in the moshpit with Razorback and Greyhoundz, by Niña Sandejas

Something for everyone in metal-driven tracks
EVEN
Retribution

The three-piece Even came out on top in Muziklaban 2008. They're one of the rare female-fronted bands to win a battle of the bands face-off.

Even

ACTIVE ROCKERS. Even's brand of rock shuttles between the Goth-pop of Evanescence and the symphonic metal of the likes of Within Temptation. Heaviness falls on the instrumental support, going hardcore punk here, electronica there, and thrash metal in spots. There's even breakbeat in "Full Circle" and drum 'n bass in "Electrodyne." Vocalist Dyanne Licudine fits the bill since she does not overwhelm the contributions of her band mates.

THE VERDICT. Nothing earthshaking in Even's latest offering but there's something for everyone in this shifty batch of metal-driven pop songs.

For purchase information, visit their Facebook.

Read recent music obits:
Guitarist and arranger Eddie Munji III: 'He recorded a milestone in OPM history'
Jazz bassist Roger Herrera: 'We've lost a giant'