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In 1996, Philippine rock band Bl@h released its self-titled debut album. The band has a raw-edged sound, gritty and raucous. "Gandang Kupas" ("Faded Beauty") moves on a penetrating guitar riff, and the vocals are emotive and sincere. "Hilaw" ("Not Ripe") starts with a distinctive chord progression played slowly on acoustic-styled guitar, soon joined by the strumming of reverb-tinged guitar chords, as tender vocals enter the scene. Bl@h displays a good amount of diversity on the album. "Life," for example, works off a folk-styled motif, nearly polka in ambience, while "Si Nanay, Si Tatay" ("The Father, the Mother") has an old-time rock & roll feel. "Homesick" uses a staccato-like rhythm guitar figure which imparts a gritty, soulful sound to the song, similar to that heard on the wonderful Stax soul recordings of the 1960s. "Lasngag" (no translation) works off tender rhythm guitar, and the singing is poignant. The singing is emotive and passionate throughout the album, though on some songs the enthusiasm needs to be harnessed, as heard on "Ganito Pa Rin Ako" ("I'm Still the Same"), "Mainit Na Kili-Kili" ("Hot Underarm"), and "Life," where the singing is strained and off-key in spots. The band has imagination and displays good instincts. The songwriting is sturdy, and in some cases even exciting, but catchier hooks wouldn't hurt. Nonetheless, Bl@h shows promise.