The rock 'n' roll evangelists down south

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Sunday, March 16, 2014

"SILENCE is broken by sonic elements in different frequencies as melodic synths and fine guitar strums breeze through the air in low pitches and heavy thumps. Catchy lyrics spurt with intensity as occasional growls find their way to the heady collision. The ergasmic barrage tickles, gives rise to goose bumps as if rock and roll is not equivalent to euphoria. "

Fancy talk aside, horns up for 5D (Wicked), an original stunner entry at the recently concluded 15th Red Horse Beer Muziklaban Grand Champions delivered by Cebu-based heavy rock quintet, Stellarskin.

On throats is Raymond Arsenal, Jag Gonzales on riffs, Vincent Ngalis on thick strings, Richard Ricky Flores on rolls and Christian Saoh on turntable duties.


The boys made it to the 2012 semi-finals in Bacolod. Last year, they were an inch close to target. After a series of local eliminations, Stellarskin hit Makati last Jan. 27 to represent Visayas at the 2013 culmination of the country’s biggest amateur battle of the bands staged at Hard Rock Cafe.

Among Stellarskin, Cabanatuan’s We, Batangas’ Rigmarole and Cagayan De Oro’s Hubito’s Tribe, progressive rock Manila Under Fire bagged the coveted crown.

To typify the Southside sound into the rock fold was sort of Stellarskin’s secret goal and they were wickedly loud and proud at that. The genre stemmed from ska to rap metal but the execution is all them.

Stellarskin banded in the summer of 2011 as an aggregate of influences—Rage Against the Machine, (Hed) Planet Earth, Delinquent Habits, Twelve Foot Ninja, 311, Karnivool, Snot and Sublime and Incubus. Yep, Stellarskin is Incubus’ titles, Stellar and (New) Skin.

Stellarskin poses a challenge to create a diversity of sound penned with honest intentions via themes of love, society and the effects of cruel reality. A lineup of do-it-yourself materials are up for an audio collection in flesh to include existing singles Escape, Evo, Clown Fish and Freeze.

The band asserts on versatility. Any music will do as long as it’s worth listening to because pure musicians don’t discriminate anyway.

As a huge part of their formation, the musicians also underline the ache for competition to pump up the band’s repute especially down here where a whole lot of clamor for raw talent is brewing.

“Your songs may suck but you just have to have the balls. Attention is too much to ask for, sure but you gotta start somewhere,” Gonzales and Ngalis exchanged nods while Flores highlighted the rule on sacrifice, which for him translates to advance weapons (instruments, equipments and gears).

Perhaps one of the best things about being gutsy are the unexpected compliments from respected names in the circle because, really, it’s not like every day unsigned takers get a “Man, that was sick!”

Saoh, who joined the team about a year ago but has been around the scene since the heyday of punk, observed that sincere applause, which is rare from the audience, is also a hint for successful flirting with the crowd.

“Indirect, ‘rock on,’ that is,” he quipped.

It’s not like competitions define a band but, guys, whether you’re rooting for a rank or just taking your time getting psyched with music and mosh pits, don’t be scared to try something new. You’ll get there, one day.

“Stay educated. Be receptive with genre and most importantly with your mates. A band is a relationship. Dedication and respect are requisites” Arsenal said.

They waved the Southside flag at the championship until the dust of the battleground settled. Needless to say, Stellarskin’s contribution sets forth an all-new perspective of unpretentious heavy gospel for the next astig posterity, in the name of Pepe Smith and Philippine rock progenitors alike. Be blown away but just don’t loose your mind.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on March 17, 2014.


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