Some may think that the three members of the Indonesian band VoB (“Voice of Baceprot” or “Noisy Voice”) do not look like your typical heavy metal group. Formed in 2014, the all female band of teenagers met at school in Indonesia’s West Java province. The group says that they use their music to challenge the stereotypes of Muslim women as submissive and voiceless.
Firdda Kurnia, 16, sings and plays guitar. She says that wearing a hijab (Islamic head scarf) should not get in the way of the group’s musical pursuits. “I think gender equality should be supported, because I feel I am still exploring my creativity, while at the same time, not diminishing my obligations as a Muslim woman.”
The band performs original music (one topic is the state of education in Indonesia), plus metal classics from such groups as Metallica and Slipknot. Recently, the band played at a graduation ceremony and had fans head-banging. “I don’t see anything wrong with it,” comments one fan. “There’s no law that bars hijab-wearing women from playing hardcore music…If a Muslim girl has a talent to play the drums or a guitar, should she not be allowed?”
Though the group is controversial in more conservative areas, a top Indonesian official says that he did not think the metal group went against Islamic values. “I see this as part of the creativity of teenagers,” says Nur Khamim Djuremi, secretary general of the Islamic Art and Culture Division of Indonesia’s Ulema Council.