20 Brutal Bands from Indonesia
It’s no secret: Indonesians love death metal. If you go searching, you’ll quickly find that the country of a thousand islands has hundreds of brutal death metal bands.
I can’t possibly cover them all — this is just one article, not a novel — but for a country with such a massive output of brutality, it’s important to shed light on at least some of these bands.
If you’re living in a place that you feel is a bit too soft with its metal output, it might be time to think about moving to Indonesia.
Behold, a platter of splatter: 20 death metal bands from Indonesia.
The legendary Siksakubur are tech-death masters who have been around the scene for 25 years. Their moniker, meaning “Torture at the Grave,” was inspired by Sepultura, but Siksakubur bring a heavier sort of ruckus, starting with 2001’s The Carnage. Like the Brazilian masters, the band has experienced lineup change throughout the years, though 2016’s Mazmur:187 is another fitting addition to their iconic discography.
The Bandung death metal brigade known as Jasad, or “Dead Bodies,” have been hammering away at music’s skull since 1990. Five albums and several lineup changes later, Jasad now sit comfortably as one of the country’s legendary acts, an assuredness that their brand of death metal is some of the country’s best. The band has played festivals such as Obscene Extreme in 2015, getting the word out internationally that Indonesian death metal can stand shoulder-to-shoulder with bands from any part of the world.
Hail to the old guard of Indonesian death metal. Gelgamesh started in 1997 and since day one have been producing Bogor style brutality, beginning with 2002’s Episode of the Serial Murder single and EP. In 2008, they released a vicious statement with Last Breath of the Dying One, an album that sticks the listener on a meat-hook and revs up the chainsaw for 28 minutes of Texas-style fun.
Step into the Altar of Decomposed with another one of Indonesia’s oldest active brutal death metal masters, Asphyxiate. In the good old days they did Suffocation covers, but soon started churning out their own blood-soaked content, starting with 2002’s Bleeding Promo followed by their Process of Mutilation full length (on cassette). This year’s Altar shows that the band has a lot of air left and are still ready to strangle the listener.
One of Indonesia’s “big four,” Forgotten are indeed veterans of the scene, containing a sound that is more distinct to the region compared to newer bands who are knee deep in gore and blast beats. Lyrics of strife and unrest are shouted in vicious, throat-straining passion to accompany the death metal java. Their latest effort, 2020’s Silalatu shows that the band has no plans to mellow out or slow down. Bandung is known as the flower city, but Forgotten should not be forgotten when putting together a tourist brochure of the location.
Bestial. Slam. Horde. The West Java sledgehammer Turbidity formed on Valentine’s Day, 2008. Grab your lover and throw them in the pit, and then try to be the “only lovers left alive” after the down-tuned, infinite guttural spewing onslaught of Turbidity. Suffering of Human Decapitated (2011) is their sole full length, but the band is currently working on another “Slam on Your Face.”
The frothy-mouthed, shark-toothed symbiote known as Venomed suited up in Yogyakarta in 2008 with one goal in mind: to create crushing, crusty death metal that feels as if it’s rotting away the listener’s ears second by second. Venomed have amassed a huge following in the time they’ve been together, and rightfully so. Their 2013 record, Removal, came out on SEM Records, known for representing Indonesian legends like Beside and Forgotten, and indeed, Venomed will one day themselves as Indonesian legends.
Exhume the body and get that carcass prepared for an autopsy. The medically inclined Gore Infamous have read all of the pre-med textbooks and have graduated from the University of Goregrind, and from 2010 onward, have been practicing their deranged art in West Java and beyond. Their 2021 effort, Excaeco Deconception, has been making the rounds in dirty labs across the world. Get your lab coat on and get ready for some general surgery.
Sometimes bands just need to cut the bullshit and get to the point. A band name like Gory does just that, telling listeners what to expect with four simple letters. Their EP, however, contains a typically long, descriptive title, Lobotomize in Unscrupulous Murder, the cover of which depicts some zombies eating some poor fool in a swamp. The gory Kediri boys go hard as fuck during the duration for this 15-minute EP, also cutting the bullshit and going for the overkill before the first song even ends.
Grindcore doesn’t hold an exclusive claim on content relating to war, strife and suffering, as you’ll hear in Devormity’s war-themed death metal assault. Chopper blades welcome their Revolusi dan Agresi full length, which drags the listener through a mine-infested jungle of horror. The West Java battalion has been at it since 2009 with their latest single, Satir, released in 2017. We anxiously await the next series of rounds they fire off.
Black and white and red all over is the visual aesthetic of Plasmoptysis, the malevolent breed of death metal connoisseurs from Bandung, West Java. The band smashed through the gates of the scene in 2008, releasing a demo, followed by the split Grind Party at Home with Matanza, Decomposed Aesthetic and Fleischwald. Their message of unrestrained carnage was fully realized with their 2010 full length, Breeds of the Malevolence, an album that smashes along at a premeditated pace, allowing space for fills and open sores.
Hellbeyond are a riff-worshiping death metal machine formed in late 2006 in Bandung, West Java. Like “gore,” the word “hell” is very popular in the Indonesian scene, with at least 10 bands bearing the devil’s home as part of their name. Hellbeyond recorded The Follower Butchery demo in 2007 and released The Strongest Stand Last in 2010, a muscular, groove-infested death metal album with a pair of fists on the cover. Put this sucker on before a fight and be the last one standing.
Funky-ass brutal death is on the plate with the technical beasties known as Humiliation. The band certainly looks outside of the box when it comes to songwriting, with clean guitar and woodwind instrument passages and gang vocals all over their 2012 Savior of Human Destruction album. The bassist of Humiliation seems to want to humiliate all other death metal bassists, as his funky fills dominate the recording. For fans of genre bending, avant-garde metal.
Using your ear as an open window, the parasite works its way into the cranium brandishing bags of death, grind and slam to spill all over the brain. This band sees no time for catchy hooks or melodies to accompany the cyclone of churning discharge they whip up. Deviations Period of Inhumane is a gloriously dark red starting point for a career of head-smashing brutal death metal. Keep that cranium infected.
Otospondylomegaepiphyseal dysplasia (OSMED) is a condition characterized by skeletal abnormalities, distinctive facial features, and severe hearing loss. Seems the band is preparing us for some incoming symptoms from listening to their brand of brutal death metal. Formed in South Jakarta in 2009, the band’s 2018’s audio abnormality, Territory of Warfare, is a sticky, muddy tour through corpse-covered trenches.
Murtad is defined as the abandonment of a cause or religion, namely Islam by a Muslim. I would presume the band name would be best suited for a religion-scorning black metal act, but it fits like a glove in the brutal death metal realm. The band came to rotten fruition in 2009, releasing a few EPs and a full-length. One EP has one of the more colorful titles I’ve come across: Fornicating With a Decomposing and Festering Stump. As for the music, which adjective would you like? Brutal? Savage? Morbid? They all fit.
One of the high-ranking generals of Indonesia’s death metal army is Bandung’s Kaluman. Emerging on the scene in 2012, the band’s songwriting goes above and beyond many of their contemporaries, with heavy offerings of tempo changes, blast beats, and an old school crunch not unlike an Indonesian equivalent to Suffocation. Their two albums, Kaluman and The Anthem of Blasphemy, became instant cult classics in the Indonesian scene.
Castigation (from the Latin castigatio) is the infliction of severe (moral or corporal) punishment. Get ready for a disgusting infliction of that, with Banten’s young chastisers, Disgusting Castigation. Formed in 2015, the band, as their t-shirts claim, are 1+99% death metal. Don’t pull out your calculator when you’re in the pit at their shows or you might get kicked in the head by an out-of-control castigator disciple.
What is more impure than humanity itself? Human Impurity are another relatively new band of death metal cadets from Tangerang. Their absolutely massive sounding Bingkai Sejarah Merajah album shows great promise from these strapping young lads, with a technical, rip-snorting savagery sounding beyond their years. In November 2020, they took part in the Forest Gets Noise event, an open-air festival in which some bands perform in a large tent surrounded by nature. What is purer than that?
What unknown torment could aliens do to the human body when they abduct one of us skin bags? With Dissecting Flesh, their EP The Impact of Cruelty From Extraterrestrial hopes to vividly give the listener the aural equivalent of being vivisected by a group of nefarious strangers from the stars. Slamming, brutal, alien grind, if you will, with enough cosmic firepower to disintegrate Saturn along with its rings.