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Underground Metal Special: Indonesia

Underground Metal Special: Indonesia

by Luxi Lahtinen

Traveling to the strangest and most obscure places in the world to find underground metal bands is what we do here at The Metal Crypt. Indonesia, a country not really known for its metal scene, in western metal communities at least, is up next. As I have stated in earlier parts of this series, there probably isn't a place in the world where you won't come across a metal band, either completely by accident or after a long search (the coldest and harshest areas of Siberia might be something different).

Indonesia, the world's largest island country with about 270 million people, has its own actively bubbling underground metal scene and there's no way that we here at The Metal Crypt could possibly ignore it.

Instead, we contacted a bunch of metal musicians from several Indonesian bands to tell us more about their bands, what drove them to get together and play metal music and what it is like to be a member of a metal band in Indonesia where metal isn't something that gets major headlines.

Thanks to every individual who took the time to introduce their band for this special on Indonesia.

When you decided to form/join this band, what did you want to achieve?

Isaro Aprilianto (PERISH MOON): I formed this band at the behest of darkness, with the aim of achieving self-satisfaction by creating a black plague.

Wolven (WOLFFROST): To create something with the band and keep playing music, as long as it is fun. I am sure we will continue to do just that.

Valendino Mithos (VALLENDUSK): We had no really ambitious goals at the beginning. We were doing music just as a hobby. Being very innovative has never really been our purpose. We try to make music from our hearts and trust our feelings. I am not sure whether we've succeeded in adding our own personal touches along the way. We do everything the best we can and enjoy the ride as much as possible.

Faizal Al Karam (KEMENYAN): My main reason for joining this band was actually very simply because I and some other of my friends had the same vision and mission for making music. I wanted to be free to create music without any limitations; to record albums and to play them live for the crowds. It didn't matter if we were playing our music on a small or big stage. Another main reason was to create music that I really wanted to play on tour so fans would really know what we are doing.

STAX: What we actually want to achieve with the band is to run it consistently as our long-term plan for the future until we are too old to run it anymore.

Doni Herdaru Tona (VOX MORTIS): The band uses music as a medium to raise awareness about animal welfare under the banner of death metal. Vox Mortis focuses on the least-protected domestic animals, cats and dogs. The idea was to put a different perspective on this community, which often gets a negative stigma, and deliver positive messages about animals. We do believe that metal is related to rebellion against normative ideas and shackles of conservative themes, and we want to rebel over the injustice of these animals.

Dennis (PARGOCHY): Pargochy was formed in early 2013. Our goal was to play music that we wanted to play and hear ourselves. Each of us likes different types of metal. In Pargochy, we are all united under the umbrella of death metal. Our main target was to record a full-length album and that milestone was accomplished in 2016. Our debut album was released by Armstretch Records and it was called Tribe.

Subhan Rizal (WALKER): What I would like to achieve with this band is to travel around the world making as many new friends as possible from all over the world.

Arief (TRAGEDY KERETA JENAZAH): We started the band in 2001. We started with the concept of black metal until we decided to change our style to death metal back in 2006. We have done three albums and for the latest (Dropping of the Human Wrath, 2021) we worked with Rottrevore Records of Indonesia. With our fourth album, titled Worst Fatigued, we have been working with Coyote Records from Russia, and the album is set to be released in May 2022. We are from the small town of Javatimur, Indonesia and our only goal is to play death metal, release albums and tour. Last year we wanted to tour, but all our plans were blocked by the fucking Covid-19 virus. Our goal is to tour as much as possible, though. The rest of our goals besides playing in the band is to form friendships between different communities.

D (WARKVLT): Warkvlt was formed on June 22, 2013. Previously we used the name Impish (from 2011 to 2013) but due to a name dispute, we decided to form a new band named Warkvlt.

At the beginning we just tried just to make a noisy and fast black metal band based on our personal dark experiments in our musical journey and experience because all the band members had the same background as black metal enthusiasts.

Warkvlt have released three albums so far and themes are all different, and this will be our primary target and objective, to make each of our albums a little bit different from the others, both theme and song-wise.

Ipuletar (PROLETAR): I joined the band in early 1999. Our initial goals were to release a demo EP in 2000 (nine tracks). We actually run this band like running water. But if there is a plan, we must focus on working on it by looking at the reality of the situation we are facing. Maybe our goal/hope is to be able to tour Europe, America, and other continents in the world.

RITUAL ORTODOKS: My personal goals are to express myself as an artist and because I like extreme music, I want to share my vision and ideas by being a member in bands or through songwriting. I joined several bands and almost all of them belonged to the black metal genre. Previously I joined the Ritual Orchestra, but I have left the band now. I am currently a member of Misanthropic Imperium, Ritual Ortodoks and Abyssic Hymn, and I want to achieve some of my personal artistic visions through them. I want to get albums released on international labels and also, if possible, it would be nice if I could tour or play in big events in countries abroad or just play around my own country. That would be nice as well.

How has the political and/or cultural tolerance towards metal bands changed in your country in the past 10-15 years? Is it more "accepted" to play metal music these days?

Isaro Aprilianto (PERISH MOON): I have maybe a lot of insignificant thoughts regarding this subject, but I'm still on the black track and a rebel. I guess certain things will all remain the same from one year to another.

Wolven (WOLFFROST): I don't think our society has a problem with metal music. There will always be gigs and events everywhere and more and more new bands are appearing even if some of them have already disbanded.

Valendino Mithos (VALLENDUSK): Nothing significant has changed here. We can't speak of other genres, but black metal is still only for a select few and it's always meant to be like that. Some people with bad taste disrespect this music but that's their problem. We don't really care about politics, and it's our privilege that we don't have to. What happens politically will not overtly affect our lives. It may even benefit us, so we just keep quiet and do our thing. And yeah, to this day Indonesia is still considered the least noticeable country in the black metal worldwide scene.

Faizal Al Karam (KEMENYAN): A few years ago, generally speaking, metal music had achieved some status with the public but sometimes it feels like it still isn't an accepted thing because we have had many problems in our culture and in our country. Regular people still think in a negative way about metal music in our society. Our government sometimes kind of tries to limit our space as the members of this band for no good reason but that does not make us give up.

STAX: Metal music is more and more accepted in our country and there are even more events for metal bands nowadays.

In terms of political and cultural tolerance for metal bands in Indonesia, there's no big difference with how the underground metal scene was in the past and how it is today because many musicians here in Indonesia move from one community to another, hence they are more involved in social activities in the same forum. Also, in our society, so-called "normal" people cannot understand our type of music but they are still kind of accepting it as a part of our culture little by little. Even though from a political point of view, arranging things like gigs is still possible in our country, yes, but due to some of these restrictions because of Covid-19, there are many gig organizers that have moved on to do other things as the restrictions won't allow them to be involved 100% with getting concerts arranged.

Doni Herdaru Tona (VOX MORTIS): The Indonesian metal scene is now more "accepted" by society, including being acknowledged by the public for exporting out cultural products through the music. Compared to 10-15 years ago, this is great. We can hold a big metal festival and the mainstream media/press love to put it into the news and the most important thing is that we can voice things in our music, such as animal welfare and political views. The metal scene has a point that has been proven, that this independent music survived when the popular music channels collapsed. We proved that we built a stronger market because we have our own loyal supporters, the extreme music fans. This one thing that helped the metal scene, as well as the outsider, respect the way we survived and adapted to the new technology.

Dennis (PARGOCHY): Thankfully, metal music has been accepted in Indonesia, especially in Medan city where Pargochy is located. Although not all people understand what metal music is all about, compared to 10 or 15 years ago, metal music in Medan, is more accepted by the general public.

Subhan Rizal (WALKER): Yes, it really influenced politics in my country but didn't affect my band. In the past 10-15 years or so, people were very enthusiastic about metal bands. In fact, it was very good at that time and during recent times, people have started to listen to metal music, but people have moved to different types of metal subgenres. They seem to bow mostly toward many new genres of metal music these days.

Arief (TRAGEDY KERETA JENAZAH): Indonesian society has begun to adapt to the existence of death metal music compared to 15 years ago. Getting to play a metal music concert in our community used to be complicated, as "regular" people thought this type of shows would cause chaos.

Over time, there have been several shows and festivals in Indonesia that have also had an international line-up of bands, such as Hammersonic, Rock in Solo, Hellprint and so on.

Each city in Indonesia puts on shows in accordance with their respective traditions, from small gigs to big events. Performances at each festival always make the cities crowded with visitors. In essence, our government still sees metal events in a negative light that only create chaos, trouble and so forth. But there are also people in our government who see concerts in different light and help to get shows organized in Indonesia and make these events pretty successful.

D (WARKVLT): During the new era (before 1998)/before the reformation political era, performing music in general was not as "free" or "accepted" as it is now. Many musicians were being targeted as supporters of a rebellion movement or something along those lines. But after the reformation era and the Internet era, playing metal music, especially extreme music, is currently far more acceptable in our country, and we are also free to wear metal shirts when wandering on the street. It's actually a common trend now.

Ipuletar (PROLETAR): When it comes to playing underground metal music in this country, I don't think there are any regulatory problems. The main thing is money. We will be able to put on gigs/festivals (outside of the pandemic) I think the same as other countries in Europe/America. Maybe the culture here is less familiar with underground metal because underground metal is difficult to make a living from. So, if you live as an underground metal musician, make merchandise and then sell it, organize shows/gig/festivals as your livelihood, your neighbors might not see it as not a normal job.

RITUAL ORTODOKS: Extreme music in Indonesia is more accepted nowadays than it was in previous years, and I don't have a problem with the culture in my country. Yes, now my music is more accepted although not so many people in my country like the music that I play.

Which things are you most proud of regarding past or present achievements of your band?

Isaro Aprilianto (PERISH MOON): Achieving satisfaction through dark music, this is what I want to achieve.

And just a few days ago, I released a single in CD-R format which I only printed in a limited run of 15 copies.

Wolven (WOLFFROST): As for me and our band, we haven't produced much. We are still quite young. We don't want to look too much to the past. The most important things are new albums and gigs getting arranged in our city.

Valendino Mithos (VALLENDUSK): Every time we finish work on an album. The fact we've survived working on the ideas that we have at each given time, both in rehearsal and in the recording sessions, the ongoing development throughout the process (ups or downs, expected or unexpected) are things that we're most proud of.

Faizal Al karam (KEMENYAN): Things that make me happy in this band. Also, it's important for me personally to feel that we aren't doing this only for our passion for music but also to feel like all of us form a small family in which we all have the same purpose. We have already created many songs together and even managed to play our stuff for audiences in a few cities. We hope that we can play more shows in many more cities in the future, just to prove to people we are worth coming to see us live.

STAX: We are proud of the fact that we have been able to release our first album (Negara Hitam in 2015) and continue writing new music via our band Stax.

Doni Herdaru Tona (VOX MORTIS): There's nothing we can be proud of other than our music being heard and accepted by metalheads anywhere. We prove that extreme music is the finest medium to express or speak to others, universally. Beyond our musical achievement, the war on animal abuse seems to have no end as long as a bunch of scumbags who think themselves superior are still out there. And we are proud to stand against that kind of ignorance.

Dennis (PARGOCHY): One of our main goals was to form Pargochy, has now been fulfilled, and releasing our debut album, of course! This is an achievement that we are very proud of. We have been hit by various problems, trials, and obstacles, but in spite of all of them, the material for the Tribe album was born without the slightest flaw. Also, with the help of the Tribe album, we managed to achieve several other dreams, for example appearing on the Hammersonic stage, in 2017.

Subhan Rizal (WALKER): What I am proud of is that we have been featured on a couple of split/compilation albums, have many new songs ready, and have even played on a big stage in Southeast Asia, namely Hammersonic Festival in Jakarta, Indonesia. YEEAAAHH...!!!!! \,,/

Arief (TRAGEDY KERETA JENAZAH): There were a lot of things when we had to flash back to our past bands. Regarding achievements, one that comes to my mind is when we had to record a song in one take. It felt like a live recording and the results were pretty unexpected.

All the enthusiasm coming from the listeners of our first album is what made us want to continue and make albums. We have always felt like our next album should be better than the last one was.

D (WARKVLT): Yes, one of our past achievements from 2018, a song called "Infectoremus Regima," was put on Spotify's Black & Dark Metal playlist for a year and during that period of time it received almost 19K plays, which is pretty nice.

Lately our last album, Deathymn released in 2020, was honored and listed as one of best black metal albums of 2020 by several web magazines, which absolutely feels great!

Ipuletar (PROLETAR): We were able to document the story of the band's journey in a documentary film that was just released on DVD format (129-minute duration).

RITUAL ORTODOKS: What I am proud of is that I have succeeded in producing an album and worked with my artistic visions through all of my bands. My band Misanthropic Imperium has put out two releases so far; Cawan Amarah, released in 2017 and Legion Luxferre, which was an EP and was released in 2019. We have also released singles titled Abomination Spells in 2016 and Bejana Logam Hitam, which was released back in 2018.

Misanthropic Imperium have also performed on stage with In Flames, Ihsahn, Vital Remains, Brujeria and other bands at the 2018 Hammersonic Festival event in Jakarta. All the albums that I have with my bands and sharing the stages with bigger names are some of those things that I am very proud of.

Ritual Ortodoks have released one single Prosatanistterror in 2020 and one split album Morbid Agression in 2021 so far.

As for Abyssic Hymn, with that band we have managed to release just one single so far, titled Forest, which was released recently.














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