Moving on to the heavier side of things, metal may still stand as a genre highly misrepresented (there are still people who believe Metallica are "satanic") but it's a long-running style of music that features imaginative imagery — imagery that varies from the fabled to the morbid, a close-knitted community of fans and concerts that provide grounds for pure catharsis. Also known as a mosh pit.
Metal is also an important umbrella genre; featuring a jaw-dropping amount of varied styles (you'd be surprised at the stark difference between thrash metal and doom metal), it has had the fortune of intensely loyal metalheads for decades, many of whom who live and breathe the culture, through their fashion or even line of work — if not in a band then working for a record label, being a visual artist, a writer etc.
Metal breeds loyalty. Being a metalhead doesn't mean you should be restricted to heavy music but once you're in, it'll be hard to escape the land of down-tuned guitars and lyrics that could shake your soul. Metal has an astounding variety of music so we'll be approaching the bands within the more traditional subgenres, as we'll touch the hybrid bands (metalcore, grindcore etc.) later on.Here are five metal bands around the region we think are worth your time, if you haven't explored them yet.
This unique quartet from Taiwan performs symphonic black metal, like European contemporaries Dimmu Borgir or Cradle of Flith. Anthelion combine various orchestral elements with the typical heavy distortion and fast-paced tremolo picking of black metal. Besides the interestingly operatic clean vocals, there is a wide range of choral texture to be found even within the vocalist's main ‘unclean’ voice. The eclectic mesh of instrumentation and genre adds to the epic majesty of their sound. While not as raw as most traditional black metal bands, Anthelion still offers exciting new dimensions to the Asian black metal scene.
Damn, all these Taiwanese metal bands with their inventive instrumental fusions. This time, Chthonic (often stylized as ChThoniC) offers metal with the twist of traditional Asian instruments such as the erhu, koto, Tibetan bells and the shakuhachi flute. Just like our Vedic buffs in Rudra, Chthonic have that rare distinction in international metal for sticking to their cultural guns but still having enough to appeal to a fanbase beyond their native Taiwan, attracting fans like Randy Blythe of Lamb of God. Their technical prowess and intriguing ethnic elements have earned them a pretty impressive fanbase, and with their sound…well why not?!
In its early years, the band was an iconic pioneer of the rap-metal scene in the Philippines. Since then, Slapshock's aggressive yet heartfelt sound has evolved from rap-metal and they have become one of the biggest heavy metal outfits in Asia, shaping their sound into a more melodic package favouring a lot more singing than rapping. Slapshock now has several massive gigs under their belt, having opened for Deftones and Korn and performed alongside rock and metal greats like Lamb of God, As I Lay Dying and Sepultra.
Aptly describing themselves as doom/stoner/metal, these guys combine the thicker and slower nature of doom metal with the psychedelic and distorted feel of stoner metal. Their hypnotically heavy sound makes it hard to believe, but Matiasu is only a duo, their booming drums and fat low-tuned guitar riffs more than making up for the lack of other instruments. (Fun fact: the duo are known to regularly play alongside fellow Indonesian bands KAITZR and Sigmun. Yay, band friends!)
‘Metal As F**k Award’ winners for the UK Metal Hammer magazine’s ‘Golden Gods Awards’ 2013, death metal quintet Burgerkill have been established pioneers of the Indonesian metal scene since they started out in the 90s. The band’s creative rhythms and song structures support their distinctive distorted sound, with their fast-paced aggressive energy adding to the intense feel of their tracks. The boys from Bandung have three well-received albums, and their reputation for stunning live performances have made them regular openers for massive international acts like As I Lay Dying and The Black Dahlia Murder. Impressed? Well take a listen and you sure won’t be surprised.
(Watch out: the video below gets pretty gory, so brace yourself or don't look!)