When Manifest disbanded a while back, it was a huge disappointment since they were preparing to release a CD. And Manifest had always been one of Singapore's better metal bands, armed with socially conscious lyrics and ethnic sounds.
As such, the return of Manifest frontman Burhan, in the form of Urbankarma, was welcome. Backed by Nazri on guitar, Zamry on bass, and Firdaus, Sukhairan and Hairul on drums and percussion, the band, as their song Like A Phoenix puts it, is an attempt to rise from the ashes of Manifest's destruction.
As a fan, one wondered if this band would be Manifest Part 2, which has its good and bad side. Good because Manifest were a great band, bad because they would probably be called a rip-off. But Urbankarma, had no such plans.
Perhaps on this CD, Burhan not only attempts to shed his Manifest past, but the common references to him and Max Cavalera. On the first track, Urbankarma, Burhan sings of "a new chapter," and certainly it is. The influences here are much more diversified. Ranging from the ethnic influences of Sweet Charity and, more distinctly, a mix of Machine Head, Soulfly and Slipknot. These influences are, once again, evident on Like A Phoenix.
But don't be mistaken, there isn't just shouting and screaming all over the album. (unlike in Manifest) There are some nice singing bits in the midst of Burhan's shouts. The third track, Mon(k)ey Love or Cinta Monyet/Duit is a mix of Malay and English and where Burhan satirises (Malay) relationships. By turns comical and serious, this song criticises the material aspect of relationships.
The chugging guitars and angst in Disenchanted, a standout track, are probably familiar to metalheads but towards the end, the song slips into a rap, similar to nu-metal bands like Slipknot. But Urbankarma can and do sound different, especially on the albums highlight Kritikal where they veer away from the usual nu-metal sound, but it is the lyrics that will be remembered Burhan criticises Malays for despising themselves, and not being proud of the culture they have. And even if the themes are drawn from Burhans own (Malay) background, they don't stray too far from the problems that most Singaporeans or urban dwellers, face.
It is still early days for Urbankarma and one is definitely keen to find out how the band will progress.
The CD also features a song each from some of Singapore's better metal bands, namely Axed Ministers, 7 Pound Vein, Picturesque, Zeotz and Ethereal. (7.5, thanks to Kritikal) Tan Weiming
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