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Skychurch are a Filipino metal band founded in 1990 when the three Dela Cruz brothers—Rommel, Robert, and Russell—were barely in their teens. Despite long gaps between album and EP releases, Skychurch is one of the more senior bands in the Filipino rock and metal scene.
Drummer Robert Dela Cruz is also a member of the rock band Queso.
Another notable member for much of Skychurch's run was guitarist Joey Dizon, who has since left the band. Dizon and Russell Dela Cruz were founding members of the now defunct metal band Intolerant. Dizon is also a long-time staff writer and editor-in-chief at Pulp magazine.
Skychurch is often identified with the crossover genre, a nod to their hardcore and punk influences, but as their music progressed over the years Skychurch’s thrash and heavy metal roots have become apparent.
Known for their intense live performances, topical lyrics, and top notch musicianship, Skychurch’s heavy metal inclinations gives them a broader appeal in the underground music community.
Unlike other indie groups, Skychurch managed to release a sizable discography that includes two full-length albums and a split LP in 2010 with the metal band Loads of Motherhood.
Sky Church Album and Songlist
Sky Church EP (1996)
2. Take Away
Urge of the Human Device (1996)
4. Urge of the Human Device
5. Behind My Wound
6. Beyond the Grave
8. Fuckhead Liar
9. Sucking Up My Brain
3. World Today, Gone Tomorrow
6. Call Upon
7. For Myself
9. User Friendly
13. Nobody Owns
2. Face Fist (Demo version)
3. Into Reality (Demo version)
Objectionable Pride split album (w/ Loads of Motherhood) (2006)
1. Divide and Conquer
4. Urge of the Human Device
Skychurch was formed at a time when the Philippines, and the state of heavy metal worldwide, had an uncertain future.
Channeling the cynicism and alienation that was apparent in society during their childhood, the Dela Cruz brothers were able to draw on a broad pool of influences and ambitions to write powerful music that had the abrasive zest and bombast of classic hardcore and punk.
The Dela Cruz brothers’ musical upbringing—their father, a doctor, was a musician and their grandfather was a violinist—allowed them to efficiently delegate roles in the band. 11-year-old Russell was the bassist and shared vocals with 13-year-old drummer Robert, with 15-year-old Rommel on lead guitar.
Russell in particular already aspired to becoming a musician by the age of nine.
The band they formed was originally called Electric Skychurch. Regular gigs at venues like Club Dredd in Quezon City established a dedicated following among hardcore and metal fans.
In 1996, months before the release of their debut album, Skychurch and other local metal bands like Wolfgang, Razorback, and Datu’s Tribe “jammed” along with Metallica’s Jason Newsted, who was visiting the Philippines to acquaint himself with the local scene.
Footage of the impromptu concert was actually taken by a crew from MVTV, a local music channel.
When interviewed outside Club Dredd Jason Newsted was asked his impression of local bands. “I think Electric Sky [Church]…they have a lot of potential,” he said.
Before the interview Newsted performed as a vocalist with the Dela Cruz brothers onstage, reciting improv lyrics over the music.
The first two albums
The Dela Cruz brothers were still in college when they released their first self-titled EP in 1996. Later that same year their debut album Urge of the Human Device came out via mainstream label Star Records’s Ear Stab imprint and was one of the few enduring crossover releases in the Philippines in the 1990s. It also marked their transition from Electric Skychurch to simply Skychurch.
The name change was probably done to distance the band from the American electronic and trance band Electric Skychurch, who were also active in the mid-1990s.
During an interview four years after their debut album was released, Russell Dela Cruz shared his dissatisfaction with Star Records. “We were made to believe Urge [of the Human Device] did really poorly in terms of unit sales. We found out later the album actually sold out," he told Vernon Go, the publisher of Pulp magazine.
Skychurch’s songwriting is in Filipino and English, but later compositions (beyond 2000) are all in English. Their best known song Delubyo was the closing track for the second full length, Unaware/Unwarned (also via Star Records/Ear Stab), which was released on May 19, 2000.
To promote Unaware/Unwarned, the Dela Cruz brothers continued playing small bars on certain nights of the week. This was because the brothers were preoccupied with their schooling. Russell was finishing his Industrial Engineering degree, Robert was in Medtech, and Rommel was in medical school.
Rommel would eventually leave the band because of his busy schedule. He was replaced by Joey Dizon, who supported himself as a writer and music journalist.
In 2000, singer and bassist Russell del Cruz was recognized by the annual NU Rock Awards and honored as “bassist of the year.”
The mid-90s to now
But like a lot of Filipino indie bands, Skychurch’s discography is marked by long gaps. Between 2007 and 2008 Sky Church only played occasional “reunion gigs” because Dizon and Russell Dela Cruz were preoccupied with promoting Intolerant’s debut album.
The activities of the band’s members, especially Russell and Robert Dela Cruz, continued to diversify.
Skychurch performed their largest concert yet during the Pulp Summer Slam 2008 music festival, attended by more than 30,000 people.
The Dela Cruz brothers reunited the following year and performed a handful of well-received shows in local bars. The reception they received inspired the recording and release of their 2010 split album Objectionable Pride with Loads of Motherhood. The album was a rare collaboration between the bands, and was produced by Tower of Doom and Joey Dizon.
On October 16, 2010 the reunited Skychurch together with Joey Dizon played a rare one-off gig in Hong Kong’s School of Rock along Luard Road.
Due to the necessity of maintaining their professional careers, Skychurch entered another long hiatus. Rommel returned to his medical practice. Russell would become involved with the School of Rock in San Juan, Metro Manila. The School of Rock was founded in 2013 and included faculty members Jhun Siscar and Darrel Villanueva.
Siscar, an accomplished guitarist, would replace Dizon in 2014, a lineup change that was announced via Skychurch’s official Facebook page.
Russell and Robert remain active in the local music scene. In 2014 Russell contributed backing vocals and guitars to the single “Nasaan” by the Filipino rapper Dagger. Russell Dela Cruz and another rapper, Destro, were credited in the official music video for the song released on December 30, 2014.
Skychurch continued playing local gigs throughout the year, often with top billing thanks to their legacy and following among Filipino hardcore and metal fans.
In 2015, with Skychurch once again a trio, the band scheduled small gigs in Manila and nearby provinces. Currently, Jomal Linao, most well known as the guitarist of Kamikazee, has currently been handling guitar duties for Skychurch in their live shows.
Formed in the early 90s, Skychurch’s first releases—an EP and an LP in the same year—featured the crossover/hardcore and thrash metal hybrid that was popular at the time. Writing for the Philippine Star in 2009, guitarist Joey Dizon described Skychurch in the 1990s as: “The first heavy metal to get the most attention from all over [and] not just from the underground metalheads…The ingredients to their sound were thrash metal, grindcore, death metal and hardcore, genres previously unheard of in the mainstream arena”
Skychurch’s first album Urge of the Human Device, whose cover is a photograph of two conjoined twins in a glass jar, stands as a fine example of Filipino crossover thrash with a hardcore bent.
In later years a melodic vein entered Skychurch’s compositions and this is apparent by the time they released the Euthanasia EP.
Skychurch’s best qualities are their inventive songwriting and composition coupled with jarring breakdowns and complex riffs.
Russell Dela Cruz
Robert Dela Cruz
Former Band Members
Rommel Dela Cruz
NU107 Rock Awards 2000
Winner Bassist of the Year
Music Videos and Other Media
Nasaan by Dagger feat. Destro and Russel of Sky Church
All photos sourced from: