1998 is the marking point of Nu Metal's birth and yet, ten years earlier, way back 1988, I witnessed what was to be the sound of the future, in my hometown the Philippines.
It was the yearly Fair activity of U.P. (University of the Philippines) and part of the Fair was a concert at the U.P. Sunken Garden which was an enormous field well enough to handle a crowd of 20,000 or more. The booths were ready, people from all over coming to join the fun and at the back stage, the bands to perform were getting ready. My college band then was called Spare Parts and we played originals and covers by Guns n Roses, Rush and songs from other rock bands of the 80s. There were maybe around 20 performers with each one playing only a couple of songs and also on the line-up was Regine Velasquez whom no one knew then but later on became to be Asia's songbird and one of the best singers in the world. The members of the famous Eraserheads were my peers and their super-band which had all members from UP did not exist yet and was just on the drawing board. We all occupied the B.A. Building which was near the back stage area of the Sunken Garden.
Back stage, we were given the time of which when we were to perform. Then, I saw these 4 guys with long hair who didn't seem to know how to smile at all, later I was to know why. I heard their band name was Ace of Spades and they were up on the early part of the concert. Since we were scheduled way back on the line-up, I took the chance to go down from the artist area and into the wild crowd. After a few bands which I have no recollection at all, the Ace of Spades was called on stage.
From the first note, it was a fierce onslaught of heavy and fast guitar and bass riffs, powerful drums and vocal growls none of which I've ever heard before. It felt like being pinned down to a chair with someone forcing a bottle of vodka up your throat. It was heavy, fast, new and exciting, I did not even know what hit me; I think nobody did.
1994, still 4 years before Nu Metal broke into the world of rock, I crossed paths with Ace of Spades again, now called Magnum Opus with an album out under Quantum Records. We played back to back at Kampo, a huge bar/concert hall at West Avenue, Quezon City. Again, without compromise and hesitation, they hit the stage with their brand of metal rock. My band then was Pitchblack, a blues-hard-rock band as well, and the nights with Magnum Opus were just pure loud and in your face kick-ass rock.
Presently, fast-froward to 2013, all the members of Magnum Opus are based in Shenzhen with their vocalist Ace Disgrace singing for Bolt Action while maintaining a day job, and the rhythm section Melo, Chuck and Mike playing as an in-house band at Enigma at Sea World Shekou. Yes, in time the numbers added up to their age, but they haven;t really gone old... cause now, they're Gone Wild, performing still heavy stuff night after night.
Way before there was Korn, Disturbed, Limp Bizkit, Linkin Park, Nirvana, Pantera and others more, in the humble city of Manila existed a band with a sound no one knew what to call yet... there was Magnum Opus. Every now and then when Ace and the guys team up, I see Ace of Spades and reminisce my youthful and carefree days in college.
Being considered as pioneers of Nu-Metal is anyone's game, and who am I to say who's who in the music world, and I say so, a lot might disagree. But the fact remains the same, it was 1988, long before even the word Nu Metal was even invented, a sound very similar, way beyond it's time came from this band called Ace of Spades or Magnum Opus. Trust me, I was there, banging my head hard, not knowing what it was.