Arise, Iloilo Metal!

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It has lived as far back as the Rock scene of Iloilo actually came into existence. One could argue that when the rock scene first actually came into existence, it was born along with it. They have been referred to as the hardcore scene of Iloilo City (composed of the early purists of metal, punk, and prog rock). But to be more specific to their current identity, I’d call them by the name they are more familiar with (as signified by their love for the heavy metal genre); THE ILOILO METAL SCENE.

I myself am a metalhead. But I was not personally familiar with the current metal bands of Iloilo until lately. Although there were many times that I have been blown away and immediately felt like a fan boy at the impressive sounds of these local under-appreciated metal bands.

One evening, I was finally able to meet one of the revered front-runners of the metal scene; Dedrick of Grindhouse Productions which is one of the currently active production groups that are breathing life into the Iloilo metal scene. And they seem to have been doing a damn good serious job at it. I sat down with Dedrick of Carnage and Mongrelblood, Tata, Peter Paul of Carnage, Cedric of Leprocyst, Jason, and Bujie of Krematoria, and had a discussion about the Iloilo Metal scene.

Actually, there have already been many generations of the Iloilo metal scene, many have already gone old, while many still lived on to the scene to be known by today’s generation; such as Regie of (the band) the Four Horsemen, Biloy, and even a street beggar known as Janak (Yes, this beggar actually sings in a metal band, believe it or not).

According to Dedrick, when he started watching Iloilo metal gigs, he said “the metal scene was already on the brink of extinction” he considered that Metal scene had its decline during the end of the 90’s up until the 2000, when it “began to be overshadowed by pop and (boyband-ish) mainstream rock, and emo.”

But for the past few years the metal scene has gradually risen from obscurity, with some independent metal bands and some hard rock or industrial bands. But when I personally saw bands like Carnage and Mongrelblood, did I get to notice, oh hell yeah, this is the pure metal that I was salivating for. And then did I find out that these people were having this production group, Grindhouse Productions, which has been actually trying to bring life into Iloilo’s Metal scene.

Dedrick says that Grindhouse wants to keep the metal scene moving. With their gig series “Kapatiran ng Bakal at Apoy” (1,2, & 3 already) the group aims to gather everybody who is into heavy metal music. When they began it, they were actually in a financial loss. But that was expected, because as Dedrick says, you have to lose something in order to get something started. But the success of it was the reputation of the gig. News had actually spread that those who loved metal were congregating.

Back then, it was the MindArt group that was holding their annual metal events, but grindhouse takes inspiration from that, aims, and strives to make metal gigs have a consistent kind of continuity; that metal bands would regularly have gigs. Dedrick adds “we strive to create a scene that metal would be there every week, no matter where the venue is”

It’s such a bold ambition but something that I can gladly get behind with. These guys are conscious of the current reality is though. Dedrick adds “so far the metal scene is still spread out because there are also other metal bands that belong to other productions, but Grindhouse is trying to set an example that metal bands have to be on everybody’s back & that we have to create a scene. Nobody has to be above over somebody, we can do it by working and helping each other. Creating a scene is hard, so we have to be on each other’s backs to make that”

Speaking of ambitions and aims, as I asked, what are the hindrances of the Iloilo Metal scene right now? Do you find it hard that there is a prejudice against metal because of its image?

Dedrick reacts to this question, quoting Clark Gable in Gone with the Wind “frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn” then smiles it off, and adds a very interesting point: “Around 70 or 80 percent of people here in Iloilo, Metal is not their cup of tea. I’d rather work on the remaining 20 percent rather than giving a damn of the 80 percent who do not dig metal.”

The main hindrance of these people is that the mainstream (or at least the majority of mainstream) would never really appreciate Metal. Dedrick says that the metalheads are like the Jews of wartime Germany “we are ostracized we are persecuted for some reason”

Bujie says “If we have a gig, the moment we play, people already throw their negative criticism instantly. They say that our music is tacky; and that of drug addicts.” Dedrick adds: “When actually, drugs are not even our cup of tea. Alcohol, maybe” I agreed, Alcohol of course. I discussed with them the fact that many metal bands really do not meddle with drugs and that’s what makes many of them have their longevity. Take bands like Cannibal Corpse, Nuclear Assault, and Exodus; they’re as old as your grandfather, and they still kick it hard onstage. Dedrick adds that in the local scene, there’s Regie of the Four Horsemen, he’s been playing metal for more than twenty years, he never smokes, he never did drugs, he’s active in sports, and he’s a really nice guy”

The metal community also explains the prejudice even in the local rock scene. “If you’re metal, you’re last on the gig’s band list; you never get to be the highlight” And also the prejudice they get even from other local bands, quoting the somewhat sarcastic remarks they make “Is that music?” Sometimes, there are other productions that also tend to neglect them “Just coz you’re metal, you’re neglected” But I don’t think mere remarks and negligence can easily crush the spirit of Metalheads. If there’s anything I know about the metal scene of Iloilo, it’s that they’re survivors. And these survivors are bent to create a stronger scene in Iloilo.

If you ask me, this is a good thing. A strong Metal Scene means that there is an active movement in the rock community in Iloilo and the spirit of musical subculture is alive. We all want Iloilo to be this capital of creativity and arts. I don’t know about you, but I think the Iloilo Metal scene is already working on this revolution.


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