HOW I LEARNED TO STOP WORRYING ABOUT SARS AND LEARNED TO LOVE HORSE MEAT
I went to Hong Kong on my Christmas vacation. How’s that for a short, sweet introduction?
Ten days in Hong Kong with five nights on the main island and five nights on the Kowloon side (“Kowloon Bay? OH MY GOD I was born in Kowloon Bay!” Name the movie and you get a prize. I said this every time we caught sight of the bay. Which was all the time. I really don’t know how I came back not in a body bag). Let’s put it this way; If there’s ever a National Lampoon’s Chinese Vacation, I’d say my boyfriend and I would beat out the antics of Chevy Chase and Beverley D’Angelo by quite a bit.
I’ll spare you our gastronomical, dumbass foreigner, and, er, intestinal adventures for the sake of keeping this metal-related, but I will say that I’m fairly certain I ate horse without knowing it (It was in my lo mein. Fun fact: lo mein isn’t entirely an American invention! I found it in China, and it’s exactly the same as in the States. Albeit with unidentified animal parts in it. I’m not certain, but it definitely wasn’t pork. Or chicken. Or beef.), and for the entirety of the trip, I had a nasty cough that made me hack and spit mucus (and almost crack a rib) like the best of the elderly men there. China, though it may technically be Hong Kong and not China China, is not for the weak.
I admit, I wasn’t well versed, or versed at all, in the local metal scene. Hell, I can only name one band from China (Tang Dynasty), so I thought it might be cool to do a little research on the subject.
Let’s start with the aforementioned Tang Dynasty. Formed around 1988, they’re widely known as China’s first metal band, and they combine traditional Chinese music elements, like lyrical poetry, with artsy prog-rock. It’s a little odd at first, hearing the soft vocals accompanied by screeching guitars but it’s an interesting sound and worth checking out if you’re looking for something mellow and different. Classic rock is a little too general a description, but I’d probably lump them in that category.
Then there’s Eve of Sin, and they’re own words are just so much better than mine:
A group of 5 people sharing the same passion — to unleash a rush of rage to anyone brave enough to dive into the pits of metalcore music. Everyone in the band comes from humble backgrounds with an interesting story to tell.
As much as we are all different in our own ways, when on stage, we are united with our desire to have fun with the audience and keep the energy bouncing. Eve of Sin is known for our loud, raw and brutally threatening riffs alongside a showcase of madness in headbanging.
Our songs are not about being upset and frustrated with life, they are about being empowered by rage and turning that energy into fuel for the mind!
There are actually quite a few metalcore bands, another notable name being Ego Fall. I’m not a big metalcore fan (the biggest understatement of the year so far), but I’m going to include them because, well, they’re from Mongolia! Mongolia is cool. Come on, haven’t you watched Long War Round with Ewan McGregor? They also have a song that starts out with some pretty bitchin’ throat singing, “The Spirit of Mongolia.” It combines hard guitars with the hoarse head string (a two-stringed instrument associated with Mongolian music) and pretty much epitomizes the soundtrack for any Genghis Khan biopic. Most of their other songs err into the nu-metal territory though, which is kind of a shame. As my boyfriend pointed out, Scandinavian death metal is all evil and fine, but what’s more evil than the Great White (European) North? Mongolia. Because while Vikings stopped for mead breaks in between pillaging and raping, Mongolian history was all DEATHDEATHDEATH. Keep that in mind, Ego Fall (also know as Against Me in China).
Then there’s Suffocated, not to be confused with Suffocation, a thrash band and one of the more popular groups. Based in Beijing, they do venture occasionally towards a more melodic death metal sound, but it’s usually integrated within a song rather than a separate, experimental piece.
There’s also Norclement, who are in the same vein.
There’s a fair death metal scene growing over in China, too. Bands like Terminal Lost, Narakam, and DengeL are getting more and more attention from locals, and they’re even branching out into more sub-genres. DengeL, notable for having a female vocalist, classify themselves as “gothic” metal, and do make good use of, uh, synthesizers and organs.
Lunar Eclipse is another female-fronted band. They’re melodic death metal and probably my favorite of these bands. Singer Tang Bo actually has quite a respectable growl.
I stumbled across quite a few other bands, but I’m going to end with this final one as they have my favorite name: Descended From Rats. They’re a two-piece thrash band from Hong Kong, and are still active, even though they haven’t released anything in a couple years.
I try to hit up local “metal” bars whenever I’m in a new city. Istanbul has DoRock (they have recently installed a Street Fighter arcade game on the second floor. Dhalsim is my go-to guy.), Athens has… uh, I forgot the name, but I just did a quick Google search and a bunch of other places came up, including one called Dr. Feelgood’s Rock Café (excuse me brb from Athens), and quite recently a couple friends took me to Duff’s in Brooklyn. Which was surprisingly dead at 1 a.m. on a Friday, save for the Polish dudes wearing matching Slayer shirts in the corner booth. But, hey, the nice bartender lady gave us free shots because we looked cold. Anyways, MetalSucks reader Hefy Matto was kind enough to point me in the direction of the local Hong Kong metal bar, as well as name a couple bands to check out, but unfortunately I never quite made it there. No, it was not because of the pig rectum in my soup. The address, should you ever find yourself in Wan Chai, is Rock School; 2/F Shiu Lam Building, 23 Luard Road, Wanchai, Hong Kong.
Speaking of being in Wan Chai, it’s also where the red light district is, and barely-clad, dancing ladies are pretty metal, right? Take a stroll down Queen’s Road East (and Jaffe Road off it) and have a gander at all the ladies just hanging out of the bars. Except, okay, I’m going to sound extremely un-feminist and possibly a little racist with this, but if you can, fortify yourself with a nice giant Tsing Tao like I did, because Cantonese is not the language of seduction, and you need a buffer. It’s like, “Oh, look, she’s pretty cute and probably not a man, OHHHH GOD, MAKE IT STOP SQUAWKING.” Oh, unclench, I speak plenty of other languages that are probably not so easy on the ears, either.
Then you can go to Mong Kok, where the night market sells vibrators and the like at the dildo stall right next to the kids toys stall. Oh, Hong Kong!
I’m kind of gunning for Australia for my next travel-to-the-opposite-side-of-the-world vacation, just because, might as well hit somewhere that speaks English. You know, mix it up a little. Plus, they have beer and meta,l too, and really, that’s all I need on holiday.