Presenting a deadly maelstrom of musical elements with a cover just as twisted.
When it comes to Singapore's premiere crust punk unit OFFSET, quality over quantity is the name of the game. With only one demo under their belt, the newly founded quartet don't look to flood the market with a senseless amount of material, rather they look to craft a refined approach to the genre as newcomers in the heavy depths of the underground. Seeing as their debut demo Besmirch (2019) was recorded in the course of one take, it speaks volumes of the camaraderie and musical chemistry between them all, the likes of which can be found on the death laden, HM-2 infused ferocity of their forthcoming Bent Benevolence EP. It arrives on September 18th via Pulverised Records, but Heaviest of Art is thrilled to give you an exclusive listen of the EP in full ahead of the global release.
Stream Bent Benevolence below and dive deeper into the release with our interview of guitarist Calvin Chiang:
The ‘Besmirch’ (2019) demo introduced you to the world and ‘Bent Benevolence’ cements you as a force to keep an eye on. As a newly formed band from Singapore’s strong underground metal scene, what does Offset mean to you?
Calvin: Personally to me, Offset is basically a bunch of us writing fast & fun music to the best of our abilities. Since the core musical style of the band is Crust/Punk, we would take on a more direct and stripped-down approach when we write. Guitar-wise, I think more along the lines of punk rock n’ roll sensibilities of Bad Religion but with a buzzsaw sound, if you know what I mean. And also, I intentionally kept the guitar tuning on E-standard and not downtuning it as I felt that low tuning does not always equate to a heavier sound; instead the choice of chord usage is key.
From HM-2 infused Swedish death metal to crust, punk, and more, the amount of influences present throughout the EP make it such a richly layered listen. Musically, were there any bands in particular that inspired you to take this approach?
Calvin: All of us in the band have very diverse musical influences but a few bands that come to mind are Wolfbrigade, Trap Them, Dismember, Tragedy, Black Breath, Darkthrone, etc. We also try keep a very conscious mindset not to pigeonhole ourselves into needing to sound like any particular bands as well. Trying to stay fresh and unique within this genre can be difficult but I hope we’ll continue to write better music when we progress as a band.
As you’ve mentioned before, Offset came to be during a two-day rehearsal session for ‘Besmirch’, which speaks to how quickly you all connected. What can you comment on the chemistry between you all as bandmates?
Calvin: The initial idea that led us to forming Offset was the fact that the bassist Shamtos and myself have an atmospheric Doom band called Onset and during one of our rehearsals, Shamtos came up with a catchy D-beat Punk kinda riff, so we thought it might be fun to form a Crustpunk band. But the very first thing we needed was a drummer who could do D-beat without much effort so the most convenient guy I could think of was Fadzlly, whom I had played in an old band with for a damn long time. He hadn't’ really been playing drums for a number of years prior to us forming Offset and he totally delivered what we wanted drum-wise.
Indeed what you’re hearing on the “Besmirch” demo was literally a two-day session in the studio. To be exact, the songs on “Besmirch” were written in probably two hours; the main idea was to use our basic know-how and try to record a quick demo within the two-day studio session. Once the music was recorded, we needed to find a singer and I had known Azri from his previous band Abolition A.D and somehow I felt that he would be the suitable guy for vocals. I must say that even though Azri doesn’t play any instrument in this band, his input in terms of songwriting arrangements and structuring have proven to be invaluable.
Before one even gets a chance to engage with the pummeling nature of ‘Plunged Into’, audiences are welcomed by a twisted Shintaro Kago painting that you so perfectly chose out for the cover. Of all the great Kago paintings, why this one?
Calvin: In all honesty when it came time for us to decide on the cover artwork, we had been going back and forth on what would be the art direction to go towards for this EP. I think you would agree with me that a lot of the hardcore/crust/punk album covers tend to go with the more black and white color concept, and so we thought we’d sort of go the opposite direction. Then I remembered one of the conversations I had with my buddy JY, aka Microchip Terror, and we do discuss about very interesting artists that we would come across; Shintaro’s name came up and it left a pretty deep impression on me.
Everyone in the band instantly loved Shintaro’s artwork too and so I thought I’d email Shintaro and see if he would be into the idea of us using one of his works. He got back to me really quickly and was beyond stoked that he agreed. We were choosing between two of his artworks (pictured below) and eventually settled with this current one solely because it was more aesthetically ideal as a cover artwork. We think that it also had a more immediate shock-factor on this one; it’s definitely more of a head turner.
The razor sharp riffs and relentless intensity are enough to leave one’s face looking like the ones on the cover. What were you looking for as far as visual representation when approaching that part of the EP?
Calvin: I’m really glad you felt that way about our songs! To put this in our perspective, we were going for a very unconventional artwork to represent ourselves on “Bent Benevolence”. We wanted to surprise people visually and the biggest takeaway from this is that I think we probably managed to open ourselves to an audience that do not necessarily listen to this form of music. Shintaro has quite the cult following but I believe the people who are fans of him come from different subcultures.
Mandatory question for us here at Heaviest of Art. Do you recall a time when an album cover made you pick up a record or even changed the way that you engaged with it?
Calvin: One of my earliest memories would have to be the Guns N’ Roses “Appetite For Destruction” (1987) inner artwork; it left an everlasting impression on me but whether or not it was this inner artwork or the alternate artwork which we all now know, this album remains to be one of the greatest Hard Rock album for me.
With a demo and EP now under your belt, is it safe to assume that the full-length is coming next?
Calvin: We still have no concrete plans to do a full-length or we might never do a full-length record? As of now, we’re definitely trying to write new material and record as much as we can. We don’t know yet but we shall see.
Pre-order your copy of the EP HERE via Pulverised Records and brace for impact.