• ดอนผีบิน / Donpheebin - โลกมืด / Dark World (1993) - A milestone debut record for the Asian metal scene - 95% (28/05/14)

    ดอนผีบิน / Donpheebin - โลกมืด / Dark World (1993)

    Metal bands from Thailand are very hard to find and not very known to people outside of that country. While Japan always had a very popular metal culture since the early eighties and countries like Bangladesh, China or Taiwan developed constantly growing and promising metal scenes in the mid-nineties and later on, Thailand didn’t really jump on the bandwagon. But they are there, the obscure pioneer metal bands of that beautiful country. One of them is the trio ดอนผีบิน or Donpheebin from Chiang Mai. Their name is taken from a northern village where an important battle took place at the time of the Kingdom of Lanna. Between 1993 and 2001, the band released six studio albums, one live record and numerous demos and compilations as well. The band then went on hiatus with several members releasing solo records.

    The first records offer a mixture of heavy and thrash metal influenced by popular Western bands like Metallica but they are still adding an own melodic touch to it with many passionate hard rock ballads. Later on, Donpheebin became more and more progressive and sophisticated. Their lyrics were not only influenced by dark stories and historical events but also by nature and they sometimes had a nearly philosophical touch. The band always had a great musicianship and especially the melodic guitar work stands out. Many records of the band include multiple instrumental tracks where the three musicians show off their talent.

    Their first record from early 1993 was released when Metallica first came to their country. The album is called “โลกมืด” which means “Dark World”. It includes seven tracks sung in Thai and three instrumental songs with English titles and offer over forty-three minutes of great music. What immediately stands out on the album is the outstanding guitar work that I would almost call unique as I have rarely heard such a gifted guitar player on a first full length release. The three instrumental tracks already show us the gifted musicianship of the three band members but let’s focus on the songs with lyrics. The energizing opener “ต่างคน” or “People” kicks off with energizing riffs, many amazing guitar leads, emotional clean vocals but also a few darker vocals. This song takes no prisoners and could come straight from a European or American heavy or thrash metal record from the mid-eighties as it has the same irresistible sound and charm. I think that any traditional metal fan should dig this kind of music. The fast banger “โลกันต์โลกา” or “One World Logo Trim” keeps the pace high and includes incredible guitar sounds, a solid bass guitar work and a vivid powerhouse drumming. The melodic middle part incarnates a stunning beauty and gives you a well-needed break from the pitiless thrash metal anthem. “เพียงหนึ่งเดียว” or “Only” has more of a mid-tempo pace and is situated right in the middle of traditional heavy metal and a more thrash metal orientated sound. The vocals sound a little bit out of tone on this tune but they also have some kind of unique charm because of their unusual technique. The singer has proven in the first two songs that he is a solid musician, so I guess this weird sound in the third track is no mistake but simply an almost psychedelic variation of style. 

    After an intensive beginning, the album gets a little bit calmer. “ผ่านวัน” or “Through The Day” is the first ballad on here and it’s an emotionally sung mid-tempo hard rock or heavy metal ballad with another great guitar solo that sounds like a Thai version of Guns 'N Roses to me. Another ballad entitled “ลีลาลวง” or “Catchy Rhythm” has a much more psychedelic approach and also a slight Asian folk touch. This track even surpasses the great classic hard rock ballad we have heard before. But don’t worry because this track includes another heartbreaking classic guitar solo. “ไกลบ้าน” or “Away From Home” is a more vivid half-ballad with a more positive and joyful tone and more minimal folk approaches. The vocals are really variable and beautiful on here. The track even includes two and almost slightly neoclassical extensive guitar solos of the highest quality. There are loads of high quality melodic electric guitar solos on the album but also appeasing acoustic guitar parts as in the epic album closer “ทำไม” or “Why?” that starts as a profound ballad before it turns into a captivating thrash metal anthem with very expressive vocals before it comes to a psychedelic and almost folk orientated finish that reminds me of Pink Floyd. The song sounds somewhat like a Thai version of Metallica's masterpiece “One” but it still has its own harmonious approach. This track simply is a masterpiece and it’s not the only one on here. At the same time, the closing track perfectly summarizes the entire record and shows off everything Donpheebin is about in 1993.

    In the end, ดอนผีบิน or Donpheebin deliver a very well done interpretation of Western hard rock, heavy metal and thrash metal music. The album kicks off with three energizing metal anthems and then takes a more down-stripped and ballad-driven approach with a few folk elements and emotional lyrics and vocals. The acoustic and electric guitar work on the album is top notch. Mister Sombut Kaewthit has immediately become one of my favourite guitar players of all time since I have first listened to this record. I’m not a guitar player and don’t know very much about techniques but his play is so emotional and melodic that I don’t care because his music touches my heart and my brain. I’m aware of the fact that this album is hard to purchase but any fan of traditional metal music should try to get her or his hands on this release. Most of the album’s songs can easily be found on the internet and so you should at least take this option and check this magic music out. This album has immediately become one of my all-time favourite classic metal releases as it was somehow love at first sight. Take a chance and you could maybe also fall in love with ดอนผีบิน or Donpheebin.

    Originally written for The Metal Observer

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