MANILA -- When Filipino punk rock band Betrayed released its debut album on cassette in 1986 under DMZ Records, it was like a Molotov cocktail had been thrown through the window.
Like the Urban Bandits’ "Independence Day" that came out earlier, there was an urgency to the music. Betrayed mixed obvious protest songs with others that straddled other themes and the cover alone featuring a tabloid was fetching.
Thirty-two years later (22 after its last album "Betrayed Again"), it’s a new old formula – a blurred newspaper waiting for the licking flames to torch it. I like the fact that the cover image is blurred because despite the title, "Why Must Everything Involve Politics?", the band points out that politics or not, our daily lives are problematic. And that is an understatement.
During a conversation with a friend of mine about the state of American politics today, he remarked that we will see a lot of very good music come out from North America that reflects the times. And I agree. The angry and sad (sometimes depressed) write really good songs.
Thousands of miles away in these islands, we’ve seen Chickoy Pura, whose song “Sa Madilim na Sulok ng Kasaysayan” doesn’t mince words. It’s powerful.
And Betrayed – vocalist and guitarist Buddy Trinidad, guitarist Boyet Miguel, bassist Ed Ramos, and drummer Manny Pagsuyuin – have put together a powerful album. The fact that it is 22 years in the making means the band had more than sufficient time to refine the songs. "And Why Must Everything Involve Politics?" finds the band’s chops well-honed with their fire not dampened one iota.
The self-titled debut was a raw piece of work. You know – fire away and damn the torpedoes. "Betrayed Again" well, it’s all right. "Why Must Everything Involve Politics?" makes you sit down and take notice and wonder WTF are we doing with our lives? Leave it to the punk rockers to set us straight.
The band isn’t particularly overt with their song messages. They are pointed but they leave you to make your own conclusions. However, I will have to admit their re-working “Caught in the Crossfire” – though minus the angry young man in the late Dominic Gamboa – is just as vital and fiery with Trinidad’s crackling voice. The man is a veteran who has plugged away non-stop all these decades even as fads and genre changes be damned.
The first two albums had this marked hardcore influence. In fact, it’s still there – I can hear traces of the Damned, GHB, even Rancid --- but the band doesn’t forsake any melody for a total sonic assault. I was surprised the by the last track “All That I Have” that is a slow one. Perhaps the band wanted you to dispense with the pyrotechnics for the listener to pay attention.
Oh, they want to be heard. And at first glance, it might seem – despite the title – to be political commentary. But in truth, the band intends all the commentary – pointed as they may be – to be applicable to daily life. Take the politicking away and it’s still the same.
Having said that, Betrayed has come away with perhaps their most telling album. They even re-recorded “Caught in the Crossfire” (along with “Where Has Love Gone) that takes even new meaning whether they intend it or not.
The album is a call to action for people to wake up, make a stand, speak out, and do something about the quagmire of life we find ourselves neck deep in.
Why must everything involve politics? Why must we wait for good music? Ah, never mind the bollocks, Betrayed are here.
"Why Must Everything Involve Politics?" will have album launch on Saturday, July 14, at Mow’s along Matalino Street in Diliman, Quezon City.