Metal music is all the rage in Muslim-majority Indonesia (yes, really). In fact, President Joko Widodo recently told the press that “rock is my passion” citing Metallica, Napalm Death and Led Zeppelin as his musical heroes. Metal-heads around the world were thrilled to see the president wearing a Lamb of God T-shirt and cool jacket, even flashing the sign of the horns, a hand gesture common within the metal landscape (see photo).
Threat in Indonesian (AKA Gugat) is said to be one of the Indonesia’s first hardcore metal band. “My parents protested at first and told me to quit,” says band member Asri Yuniar. “They said metal music is scary and so dark. But I only like the music. I don’t smoke, drink alcohol or take drugs.” Performing in t-shirt, jeans and a hijab, a sample of Ms. Yuniar’s lyrics are: “I burn with revenge and false hopes. In these falsehoods, I die in darkness. Darkness, darkness, darkness!”
On the flip side, musical critic Bens Leo says that metal music in his country has evolved from year’s past. “Nowadays, the musicians advocate the spirit of nationalism, and sing about how to protect women and the environment. Metal music reflects current social issues and serves to unite people.”
Though musicians have tweaked lyrics to suit Islam and the local conservative culture, there are still plenty of standard metal tropes such as the always reliable, ‘death and destruction’ theme. Many say the reason that the genre has become so popular is due to the rise in social media and thus, an accessible fan-base.