When you think of Stoner Rock, where do you think of?
For many, the first place that comes to mind is the California desert, the birthplace of Desert Rock and much of the Stoner Rock scene.
But you probably wouldn’t think of the Philippines, that collection of nearly 8,000 islands south of Taiwan.
But that’s where you’ll find Polymerase, a trio that has been around since 2014 but finally released their debut EP, Unostentatious, on March 20, 2021.
Polymerase plays a unique style of Stoner Rock. The group rightfully includes “experimental rock” in their Bandcamp tags, but that only scratches at the surface of the Psychedelic and Space Rock influences within Unostentatious.
There’s a swirling cosmic energy within Unostentatious that’s as vast as the Philippine Sea and as persistent as its waves.
Based out of Quezon City, Polymerase is:
- VN Jose – Vocals
- Vincent Jose – Guitar/Bass
- Francis Ilagan – Drums
Unostentatious actually owes part of its creation to the pandemic: Although Polymerase was formed in 2014 (and recorded original music that was eventually lost to a corrupted computer), it wasn’t until they were stuck at home that VN reminded Vincent that they could start making music again.
Polymerase’s Unostentatious Review
Track One: The Traveler
“The Traveler” opens as a perfect blend between Stoner Rock and Space Rock, with the reverb and riff propelling the song over rocky planetary outcroppings. “The Traveler” also gives us our first taste of Vincent Jose’s considerable soloing chops.
Track Two: A Night With A Succubus
“A Night With A Succubus” is a powerful jammer that pulses ahead like a Stoner-infused Space Rock track. Reverb carries every note deep into space, allowing the band to build and expand over time. Eventually, Vincent Jose’s blistering solo cuts through the Space Rock tapestry, grounding the song with true guitar heroics.
Track Three: Lighterbringer/Lightgiver
“Lightbringer/Lightgiver” opens like it’s going to step deep into Space Rock territory, but there’s a beautiful clean guitar beneath it, offering a tasty Psychedelic twist. This may be the most ambitious song on Unostentatious, and it certainly is the prettiest.
Track Four: Green is the Color of Evil
As the closing track for Unostentatious, “Green is the Color of Evil” is slow, heavy, and drenched in fuzz, delivered much like old Black Sabbath or Sleep.
VN Jose’s vocals come through intentionally muffled and distant. While they’re first delivered at nearly a hum, eventually his screams add a sort of rhythmic scratching effect.
It’s an interesting track propelled forward by a thumping bass delivery, but we can’t help but wonder if there’s another direction they could have taken it.
Final Score: 8
Standout Tracks: “A Night With A Succubus” and “Lightbringer/Lightgiver”
Pros: It’s refreshing to hear something so original. Polymerase has tapped into something that gives them fresh perspective on the Stoner/Doom/Space Rock scene, and songs like “Lightbringer/Lightgiver” demonstrate an ability to hit well above their weight class.
Cons: Unostentatious would benefit from another recording session. For one, cranking up the bass would assist in delivering a more robust Stoner sound, instead of finding themselves trapped in the middling Heavy Psych ground they sometimes fall into—an arena I’m not entirely convinced they’re trying to stay in.
There are also moments where it doesn’t all quite click, like when the lead guitar appears in “Green is the Color of Evil,” or when some of the beautiful guitar work is buried in “Lightbringer/Lightgiver.”
Still, this is a bold, experimental record, and Unostentatious is a great listen overall.