What if I told you that we have an alive and kicking metal scene in KL? Some of you would say, “Eh, now only you know ah?”, but I’m hoping that some of you will also say, “Oh wow really? Aren’t those things like, haram, in Malaysia?”
Well, apparently not. I must admit, I also raised my eyebrows derisively when I was first introduced to a local metal band. But after listening to their album, I realized that the only thing worth ridiculing was my disregard to this other side of the music scene. Hey, you can’t blame me, think about it: Heavy metal in Malaysia? Come on… We didn’t allow Queen Bey to perform here!
So, I then came to my senses. Amidst all the dreamy-eyed boys tenderly plucking the strings on their acoustic guitar with their Ed-Sheeran-like voices, there are also these impassioned lot on the other side of town busting their electric guitars, blowing the roof off the place.
How?! What?! Do they smash their guitars after every song? Do they whip their hair back and forth complying with their guitar riffs? Do they all have tattoos and snort cocaine? There was only one way to find out, so I put on my gutsy mask and ambushed a couple of them. Turns out, they’re really nice people!
First things first: it’s 2015 and people still think that metal musicians spend their nights worshipping the devil and indulging in wild sex after sniffing a line of cocaine. This are-we-in-the-14th-century mindset has scared off a lot of companies who do not want to be associated with black magic. Steven (who is single, by the way), drummer for local alternative metal band, Infiltrate, said that the mindless last-minute cancelling of events and concerts has made things worse. International concert promoters and managers simply frown and say “nope”, thus, decreasing the chances for our local bands to show their faces. I was more distracted by the fact that I couldn’t locate any sign of ink on his buff and tanned façade. Maybe it was just hidden? Eventually, I gave in. “You don’t have a tattoo, Steven? And you play for a metal band?” I asked. “You’re the second girl to ask me that this week!” He chuckled before continuing, “Nah, I don’t think I’m ready for it yet.”
Andrew Tan (who is NOT single), bassist for The Marquee, who got bitten by the metal bug 7 years ago, said, “Ok lah, the scene is growing but very slowly. It would be more awesome if local venues can organize more gigs. But see, that’s not the issue. It’s also the crowd, AKA you guys. When you go to a bar after a long hard day at work, what do you feel like listening to, Elton John or Korn?” So they depend more on festivals where people just want to rock out with satan fingers and bust their vocal chords.
Having said that, there is actually no consistent annual concerts or festivals for the bands to play at, explains Pervin, lead vocalist from Infiltrate. We still have Rockaway Festival that happens every year but it’s not genre specific, like Soundwave in Australia. Wait what, you’ve never been to Soundwave? Go book your tickets to Melbourne right now!!!!!!
So how many types of metal are there? Andrew pulled out a Google image and sent my eyeballs into spirals. Heavy metal, trash metal, goth metal, power metal, glam metal, and these do not even cover half of it! All these years of Metallica and Iron Maiden and Black Sabbath and I still don’t know the difference. I’ll probably never understand, so I proceeded with my next question: What do the KL metal heads like to play? Pervin said it mostly revolves around metal-core and post-hardcore, which he eloquently explained, but besides both genre having hardcore punk in common, I can’t remember the rest so you guys just Google lah.
Apart from the massive competition from you indie and pop scene motherfuckers, metal also caters to a very niche audience and therefore lack venues to perform. Yeah, well, it’s not exactly an MLTR concert that everyone will flock to.
“What will we do without social media?” quips Steven. The bands now are resorting to promoting their music videos on YouTube and streaming and selling their music online. Some even give away albums for free on the pretext of exposure, because Malaysians love free stuff right? Right? But then again, I guess this applies to almost all budding musicians in Malaysia.
So yes, if there’s one thing I want you to take away from this, it’s that there is a metal scene rocking the grounds of KL and they are relentless! They may not be Metallica quality, but I bet you that you won’t even be able to tell that they’re local if I don’t tell you beforehand!
If you don’t know where to begin with the local metal bands, I’ve put together a cheat-sheet to help you get started.
Andrew’s Choice (Bassist, The Marquee)
- I, Revival
- Azure For Janne
- Massacre Conspiracy
The way to her heart is through a pint of Guinness and AC/DC is the best band ever end of story.