ALBUM REVIEW: LIMBS – Everything Under Heaven

‘Massive’ would be an understatement to describe this album.

“Everything Under Heaven” marks the third full-length release of the Manila-based Limbs, and it is perhaps their most colossal musical outing yet.

Like a steel Eldritch creature you cannot look away from, “Everything Under Heaven” is a record that dwells from the underground to cast its shadow upon all that sit carefree in their comfortable abode to shine light on truths less realized by many unaccustomed to violence.

From the album art itself, the band, with their fellow ARPAK artist Mikhail Collado helping them bring their vision to life, depicts a backdrop of an urban locale entrenched in war. Dilapidated interchanges that surpass people in height, silhouettes of mech robots built for war pulled straight from a sci-fi movie towering over all they trudge their path on.

Whether it was by intention or sheer coincidence, Limbs was going for something grand on this album that even the title hints at (their use of giant robots to illustrate this is sheer ingenuity), and the music that comes with its packaging delivers some of the best hardcore pieces of the year so far.

Originally branding themselves as a screamo band, Limbs’ “Everything Under Heaven” feels more like a mini compendium of the wider punk umbrella than a one-note act. There is something for everybody, and the way the band incorporated these different elements is commendable.

Breakdowns come from every which way, complex drum fills fly at break-neck speed, distortions come in full force. It is the rawness of hardcore you would come to expect going into this record, and more. Whether it’s the balls-to-the-walls skramz of “Transactional Rifle”, or the restrained chaos of “Metropolis of Salt,” or the multi-sectioned odyssey that is the title track, there is always a method to their madness.

Meanwhile, there are moments of ambient and electronic music thrown across the album as the band exhibits their capabilities as producers, sometimes to complement the guitar-driven sections, sometimes to go along with the loudness of a song, and sometimes to be its own thing (“Second Survivor” comes to mind).

Also worth noting are the contributions other artists have made to this album. Pry’s Jem Gallardo makes a major appearance in “Metropolis of Salt” as a co-writer and vocalist. switchbxtch, also known for releasing protest music, especially during the pandemic, also lent a hand.

Now I would be remiss to write about “Everything Under Heaven” and not discuss the themes the band explored in the album — rather, the stories the album was built around.

“Everything Under Heaven” is centered around the mass injustices of the Philippine government on the poor, spanning many faces of human rights violations and terror-induced state formation in rural parts of the country. It is the underlying, horrifying truth the band tries to bring forth to its listeners. “Metropolis of Salt”, for one, outlines a gruesome image of starvation faced by the poor in the midst of a violent clash with the state’s forces. The single “Hope Belligerent” is more specific with its narrative as it explores the Tinang 83 incident in chilling detail.

True to their roots as activists and members of ARPAK, Limbs outwardly express their disdain towards the state and its forces, whether clad in blue or green. Using their art as a conduit, the band not only wishes to bring awareness to the people, but encourages everyone to break free from all moral restraints and share the same burning spite.

Like a steel Eldritch creature you cannot look away from, “Everything Under Heaven” is enormous in scale and in essence. It is packed with collaborations, a bevy of musical influences, and songs that will leave you dizzy from all the headbanging you’ll end up doing. Its enormity is ever-so-present in its packaging. But looking past the exterior, you’d inevitably come across the horrors it eagerly wants to tell you. You either look away, or you face them and do your part in this movement for change and for justice.

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