Our top picks this week - featuring a crushing metal from newcomers Prodigium, a groovy indie rock banger from M1LDL1FE, and dexterous rap from Opus Renegade and KNWN.
The Prodigium Demos
With the 3 tracks off The Prodigium Demos, the eponymous Malaysian instrumental metal quartet make a blistering debut in an ode to classic metal that’s imbued with delightfully modern sensibilities. Despite being touted as a collection of demos, Prodigium manages to work well with what they have, managing to mostly emulate the production of stoner metal bands of the 90s such as Kyuss. The result is a myriad of budding ideas that are explored with tasteful production as the band begins to take its first steps to establish their identity and sound.
Standout track Frostbite is a particularly strong testament to their potential, guiding the listener through a crushing 6-minute journey that explodes in all its low-end fuzzy glory. The track’s moderately lo-fi aesthetic gives it tons of character, as its pummelling sludgy riff work are interlaced with a slight prog influence. There isn’t a whole lot new here for veteran metal listeners to discover, but perhaps that isn’t a bad thing. Prodigium greatest strength here is that they don’t try to reinvent the wheel, but rather opt to take the best elements from their influences (such as Metallica and Opeth) to craft dynamically diverse sections that compliment each other, with its repeated motifs (be it heavy down-tuned riffing or its melancholically picked chords) lingering just long enough to form a lasting impression without overstaying their welcome. Frostbite is a monster of a track and rightfully the highlight off The Prodigium Demos.
The Prodigium Demos is a definite treat for metal fans and shows promise, and its exciting to think what else the band could do with their sound as they continue to work on their craft and inevitably hit the studio once again.
Listen to "Frostbite" here:
- - by Isaac Yackem
"Can't Seem to Get Anything"
Can't Seem to Get Anything / Where Are The Fruits
In a refreshing departure from what seemed like a safe, by the numbers, and very on brand pop-rock tune on their last synth driven single Small Lanes, Can’t Seem to Get Anything is a solid groovy rebound for Singapore’s favourite indie rock darlings M1LDL1FE. Released under Singaporean label Where Are The Fruits? (In which guitarist Tan Peng Sing independently runs), the track is the second single in anticipation of a yet to be titled upcoming LP, which will mark the band’s first full-length release since their self-titled EP back in 2017.
Here, the quartet manages to strike the fine balance of crafting an irresistibly catchy refrain, whilst avoiding their previous pitfalls of being overtly derivative. The track’s killer combo of tactful vocal samples, lush synth textures, tasty guitar tones and infectious basslines become a package that make it easily the band’s most exciting offering by far. Large credits go to vocalist Paddy Ong’s subdued performance, which manages to match the vibe and energy of the track by opting to complement the band's sonic backdrop, rather than overpowering it with an impassioned performance. Here, bassist David Siow forms the backbone of the song, imbuing it with a sense of groove and drive that create a bedrock for the track's embellishments to shine. With pitch-shifted guitar licks and chopped vocal samples, the band gives way to an incredibly catchy chorus – an interplay which only further synergises Paddy's vocal performance with the rest of the track. And above everything, the true highlight of Can’t Seem to Get Anything lies within its two extremely gratifying guitar solos, in which Tan’s tasteful note choices balance sonic satisfaction boasting an absolutely killer guitar tone, while also being delightfully weird at the same time, with certain sections almost sounding like something out of The Voidz’s playbook.
Perhaps this track is indicative of the material that we’ll hear on the upcoming M1LDL1FE album, but lets just hope it’s less of Small Lanes and more of Can’t Seem to Get Anything.
Listen to “Can't Seem to Get Anything” here:
- - by Isaac Yackem
Opus Renegade (prod. knwn)
Oculus / DBL Line Records
Up-and-coming rapper Opus Renegade teams up once again with rising producer knwn (best known for his work on ABANGSAPAU's BUAT APE?) for a hard-hitting trap flavoured single. Coming hot off the excellent East Coast rap-tinged New Age, the pair ride on the momentum established there with yet another solid track with convincing flow and lyricism from Renegade and impressive production work from knwn.
Opus Renegade raps of betrayal and retribution, and displays a poetic sense of lyricism as he contrasts the merciful mantras of his upbringing with the retribution and violence he intends to inflict on those who have wronged him (“I forgive, but I will never will forget/ Bury hatchets, near bodies in a ditch/ Forgive me mama for my words and my actions/ My evil nature not a cause but the reaction”). The religious undertones on the track that Opus Renegade throughout also create a keen sense of juxtaposition, painting the image of a rapper of faith that gives in to worldly temptations such as Kanye or DMX (“Breaking biblical law, I burn bitch as a I gaslight/ Maybe God will forgive me in my next life” and “Sins in my pocket, next to cigarettes and cash/ I take another sip of that whiskey from that glass/ I’m zeroing my sight, taking in that gas/ Im living with my vice, demons in the back”). Despite solid lyricism and flow, Renegade falls slightly short of greatness with his rapping voice lacking the presence and command that the rest of the song seems to require.
knwn’s beatmaking is once again excellent, although it doesn’t necessary innovate or break any new ground. knwn builds upon a simple piano loop with thumping 808s and snappy trap drums in an effortless fashion that puts Soundcloud-type beat producers to shame. Towards the end of the track, knwn builds suspense with a drum break and speech sample that leads into an extremely hard-hitting beat switch that allows Renegade to finish the track with a bang.
With its old school sensibilities enhanced with a modern touch, Oculus is an honest, solid single in its own right and hopefully only the beginning of the blossoming collaboration between Opus Renegade and knwn.
You can listen to “Oculus” here:
- - by Isaac Yackem