MANILA -- One of the headline performers during "Finite Fest: The Gathering" last weekend at the 123 Block in Mandaluyong City was Hong Kong-based melodic progressive metalcore band Parallel Horizons.
The band was formed in Hong Kong and although all its members – vocalist Naseem Khan, guitarist Jerome Turner, bassist Aaron Mordeno, and drummer Shaun Apellido – were born the former British colony, they all have Filipino roots.
Mordeno and Apellido were born to Filipino parents, while Khan and Turner’s mothers are Filipinas.
“Performing in Manila helps us get in touch with our roots,” said Apellido.
Outside shows also allow the band a chance to perform some more.
Hong Kong has its own diverse music scene, but because the cost of living is expensive, not to mention the increase of rental fees for gigging venues, show organizers, according to Khan, have been forced to reevaluate their productions.
“As much as they want to do more shows, the rent is so expensive. Before, promoters and bands would use industrial areas for shows, but the government is cracking down on that because they state that a building should be used for its original intended purpose and not a rock concert. So now, there are fewer gigs. When they organize shows, they line up bands who they know can bring out the crowds. So it is tough for the underground bands. Going abroad to perform is cathartic and something that expands our horizons,” Khan said.
Threw in Turner: “Going abroad can be expensive but it allows us to perform.”
"Finite Fest: The Gathering" is actually Parallel Horizons’ third time to perform in Manila. The band has also played in Taiwan and Indonesia.
Prior to planning into the Philippines, the band dropped its latest single, “Optophobia,” on all major streaming formats. Their debut EP, "Amalgamate," came out in 2014, while their first full-length album, "Dissonant Echoes," was released digitally in 2017.
When the album came out, it received positive reviews and was cited by local newspaper South China Morning Post as one of the year’s best indie releases.
The band revealed a strategy with the release of their songs. “We make sure the artwork that comes with all the releases is something you will take a long hard look at,” laughed Apellido.
The artwork is visually striking.
For the song, “Transcendence,” the art depicts a solitary figure staring out at the sea with dark clouds on the horizon.
“Resuscitate” features the skull of a horned-bird, while the visuals for “Optophobia” are right out of a Neil Gaiman horror story.
“What we want is for people to not only listen to us, but to also gaze at the art and try to figure us out,” emphasized Khan.
As youngsters, the band listened to Killswitch Engage, The Black Dahlia Murder, Parkway Drive, and other similar melodic hardcore bands.
“Having Filipino parents or foreign parents helped us in our musical formation,” bared Khan. “While locals in Hong Kong grew up on Canton pop, we got into Western music at an early age. That exposure defined us. And it is evident even in shows. The Westerners who watch us are moshing while the locals are more reserved. Again, performing abroad really helps us.”
“Going abroad also allows us to check the local talent and see how much we need to grow as a band,” summed up Apellido. “Of course, we’d like to get better at out craft. You know, expand our horizons.”
“And the music scene here in Manila is great,” added Turner. “We always look forward to coming over. This is all part of our musical dream.”