Dark Dungeon — The Deathless Desire For Metal
The metal scene in Bicol in the early 90s until the beginning of the 21st century was way more acceptable compared to the scene today, no doubt. For instance, in Tabaco City, home to some of the scene’s pioneers and where the metal music scene was considered as one of the best in Albay, the metal scene back then was genuine. It didn’t matter what you wore to a gig; nobody cared about fame; and people slammed their asses out in complete chaos. But the best part is that there were hardly any posers: only pure metal scene shit.
As the years passed, a new generation was born, and then the scene wasn’t the same anymore. The metal scene today is trashed; filled with youngsters claiming to know everything about the scene but the truth is they have insufficient or no knowledge about it at all, wearing band shirts without a single clue in their “metal” heads about the band, and standing in front of the performing band during a show, which they consider “slamming”, only to show off their oh-so-metal get up. But regardless of the sudden change, there are still a few legit bands present in the local music scene. This includes the band that seems to have no plans of letting their name die, a name that existed even before I did: Dark Dungeon.
Dark Dungeon is a metal band from Tabaco City, one that doesn’t want to let their burning passion for playing metal music die out. They make the past 17 years seem as if they went by like the wind. They’ve been on hiatus for three years, but Dark Dungeon is now back in the local music scene with the replacement of some of its members to keep the band alive.
Band members of two other ’90s Tabaco-based metal bands Pantheon and Kulto already had plans of merging their bands. But it was when they discovered Uban’s vocal skills one night after Pantheon’s gig in Sorsogon that they decided to go on with their plan of joining forces. They started playing as Dark Dungeon since then.
“Hindi sya ganon ka’dali i-merge kasi sobra na sa members, pero hindi din sya ganon katagal i-merge. Yung parang bawat napaguusapan or napagdesisyunan maganda ang output. Hindi sya nagbibigay ng conflicts. Yun na nga sabi ko, like si Pad, kailangan nya i’give up yung position nya kasi sobra na sa members. Ako, kinailangan kong i’give up yung pag’gitara kasi ako lang naman yung may alam ng konti sa keyboard kaya from guitar, lipat ako sa keyboard, si Leo drums to rhythm guitar, Remar from Bass to Vocals, Siodian from Vocals to Bass. Timing nung pinaplano namin yung magiging setup, nadiscover namin yung vocal skills ni Uban so pag uwi parang “Ok na tayo. Nakuha na natin yung magiging lead vox natin para sa Cradle of Filth cover.” — Chong.
The merge was made possible by Fernando Cordovales a.k.a. Pad – he was the one who handled the band. Pad was their Roadie, Manager, Motivator, Overall Tech, and their Inventor of the improvised and makeshift equipment needed by the band.
The band’s original members were Remar Martirez, Jessel “Uban” Basanta, & Laarni Gonzales (vocals), Benito Obed (lead guitar), Leo Mier (rhythm guitar), Alvin “Chong” Matias, (keyboard), Siodian Uy (bass), and Ryan Buitizon (drums). They were influenced by Slayer, Sepultura, Carcass, Beherit, Early Tiamat, Immortal, Moonspell, Cradle of Filth and Type O Negative. It was Edward Bañez who introduced them to Black Metal. They also got their cassette tapes from his independent obscure label, “Cruel Art Production.”
This lineup raped the crowd’s ears with black fucking metal back in their days – wearing corpse paint, and an inverted cross. It would be awesome though if they brought a fresh and bloody goat head to one of their shows.
Many years have passed and there came the time when they had their own jobs and families, making some of them leave the band to prioritize other things in life. Not wanting to abandon what they have started, Pad motivated everyone to get their shit together and start playing again, and so they did. The band’s lineup after the hiatus consisted of Alvin “Chong” Matias (lead guitar), Emil “Nayr” Deprisa (rhythm guitar), Fernando “Pad” Cordovales (vocals), Elton Philip San Pablo (drums), Cherry Magallon (keyboard), and Christian Magallon (bass). This group was more on Progressive and Melodic Death metal though, but they still kicked ass. But when Elton decided to leave the band to study again, Alvin also ended up with the decision to give himself a break from the band and focus on his job instead.
It wasn’t the end of the band though. They eventually got back together because of an event organized by the Faultine Productions, Higher Ground. They were reunited, performed again onstage, and left the crowd wanting for more.
The band’s current members are Fernando “Pad” Cordovales (lead vocals), Siodian Uy (vocals), Alvin “Chong” Matias (lead guitar), Emil Deprisa (rhythm guitar), Paul Brutas (drums), and Waquin “Waxx” Ko (bass). Playing Melodic Death, Thrash and Death Metal, they were influenced by Cradle of Filth, Slayer, Sepultura, Carcass and Dream Theater, Symphony X, Nevermore, Arch Enemy and Kreator.
They don’t usually stick to one genre of music when choosing a song to cover but they always had the passion to play Melodic Death. After more than ten years of covering songs, the band had their first original composition written by Philam Odonio in 2009 entitled “Soundness,” followed by their 2nd composition, “Cosmic Man” in 2011. Dark Dungeon is part of three music organizations, The Faultine Productions, Icebox Productions, and Hopeless Culture Productions. Although they have good exposure, ultimately plays music for expression and for sharing with other music enthusiasts. Playing for fame comes secondary if at all.
“We do not seek fame. Makatugtog lang, okay na. May mga regular jobs na kami. Pag nagpa’gig, okay nang umabsent sa trabaho maka’tugtog lang. Ok lang.” – Chong
The band shares that their music-making process is exhausting. For instance, they are unable to rehearse even with just one band member missing. But despite encountering such difficulties, they are still always able to pull off powerful and skillful performances.
With so much experience at being in a band, Chong, Pad, and Paul each gave their advice for the newbies in the local music scene:
“Kung ano trip mo, yun ang sundin mo. Dae ka magpadara kung napipiritan ka. Invest skill. Enjoy. Rock on!” – Chong
“Deretsuhon mo sana ang pagtugtog. Ta kung dae mo dineretso, mawawara ka sa scene.” – Pad
“Enjoy lang sa tggigibo mo. Basta nage-enjoy ka.” – Paul
So what’s the difference between becoming history and making history? Take it from Dark Dungeon: a mix of embracing your passion for music, working hard to improve your musicianship, and supporting the Bicol music scene.
“Enjoy lang sa tiggigibo mo. Basta nag-eenjoy ka.” – Paul
Words From Dark Dungeon
What’s the origin of your band’s name? Have you changed it before? Why?
Chong: Dark Dungeon is composed of two bands; Pantheon and Kulto. We decided to bring the two bands as one. No, we did not change the name.
How did the band form?
Chong: We merged the two bands.
Who are the other band members and what respective instruments do they play?
Chong: Me on Lead Guitars, Pad on Lead Vocals, Paul on Drums, Emil on Rhythm Guitar, Waxx on Bass, and Siodian Uy on Vocals.
What’s your band’s genre? Who are your major influences?
Chong: Melodic Death (present) Thrash ( 1996; day 1 before merging)
Pad: Cradle of Filth. Slayer. Sepultura. Carcass. Dream Theater.
When did you form your band? What inspired you to make music together?
Pad: Kaka’sounds ng Dream Theater at sa iba pang influences, nakagawa kami ng sarili naming composition, and because of the skills we have.
Who writes your songs? What are the main themes or topics for most of your songs?
Chong: Everyone contributes.
Pad: Our main topic in our songs is Tragedy. He wants to kill his lover (Soundness 2009), and a Powerful Being ( Cosmic Man 2011)
Why did you stick to that certain topic in writing lyrics?
Chong: Nilapat lang sa music.
Could you briefly describe the music-making process?
Chong: Mapagalon. Di kami makatugtog kung wala ang isa.
Describe your gigs, visually and musically.
Chong: Visually: wasak, powerful. Musically: heavy, skilled.
What’s your ultimate direction for your band? Do you seek fame and fortune?
Chong: To make a new compo and record it but with a different bagsak. We do not seek fame. Makatugtog lang, okay na. At may mga regular jobs na kami. Pag nagpa’gig, okay nang umabsent sa trabaho, maka’tugtog lang. Ok lang.
What pieces of advice can you give to bands that just recently emerged from the local music scene?
Chong: Kung ano trip mo, ‘yun ang sundin mo. Dae ka magpadara kung napipiritan ka. Invest on skill. Enjoy. Rock on!
Pad: Deretsuhon mo sana ang pagtugtog. Ta kung dae mo dineretso, mawawara ka sa scene.
Paul: Enjoy lang sa tiggigibo mo. Basta nage-enjoy ka.
Have you played shows with a renowned artist?
Chong: Yes, with Parokya ni Edgar at Albay Astrodome way back in 1998.
How do you differ from the other bands?
Chong: We are more guitar-based. And we like progression.
Anything else you want to share?
Chong & Pad: Support the metal scene in Bicol.
Dark Dungeon Original lineup
Benito ( lead guitar ), Leo ( rhythm ), Laarni ( vocals ), Chong ( keyboard ), Siodian ( bass ), Uban ( vocals), reymar ( vocals ), ryan ( drums )
Chong ( lead guitar ), emil ( rhythm ), pad ( vocals ), Elton ( drums ), che ( keyboard ), Christian ( bass )
Chong ( lead guitar ), emil ( rhythm ), pad ( vocals ), paul ( drums ), waxx ( bass )
Photo Credits: Dark Dungeon Original Lineup Photos, Benito Obed III
About The Author
Alanis Sanchez is a Journalism student of Bicol University. This friendly asshole from Tabaco City loves listening to metal music (and teaches herself how to play the drums while she’s at it), enjoys breaking rules and making trouble. If something’s prohibited or illegal, she’d probably still do it anyway. Other than being a noisy and reckless pain in the ass, she spends some of her time chilling; reading novels, drinking coffee, and finding more trouble. You can also message her at Facebook.