Malaysian Fans Defend Black Metal

Clara Chooi of Malaysia's The Star Online has issued the following report:

Black Metal musicians and fans defended themselves following the recent crackdown on them.

They said the music first hit Malaysia in the 1980s and questioned the authorities' sudden clampdown.

Arguing that a black metal follower is not necessarily a devil worshipper, they said the subculture, which is a form of rebellion against the dominant pop culture, is merely a matter of different tastes.

The genre is another form of hard metal, like death or trash metal, and is often associated with devil worship because of the dark symbols and clothes used by black metal bands.

It has caused much furor recently, with the New Year's Eve raid on an alleged black metal gig at a live music venue here.

Some 380 people were hauled to the Brickfields police station to undergo urine tests as police officers noticed that many looked like they were under the influence of drugs.

Brickfields OCPD Asst Comm Mohd Dzuraidi Ibrahim said police found T-shirts and pamphlets containing elements of violence believed to be linked to black metal culture.

However, according to singer and songwriter Azmyl Yunor, black metal music is "not a bad thing."

He said it was merely a sub-genre of heavy metal in which melodies were played on low-tuned guitars and heavy metal riffs accompanied by fast, progressive beats and guttural vocals.

"People have the misconception that all black metal followers are also into Satanism because of the symbolism of the genre," he said.

First State record label owner Mohd Iskandar Zulkarnain said what distinguished black metal from other metal music like trash metal or heavy metal was the lyrics.

"Black metal lyrics are usually about fantasy beliefs like vampirism or ghosts. They also refer a lot to death and suicide," he said.

Despite this, he said, black metal music lovers here did not worship Satan.

Iskandar, a former black metal music lover who has been in the underground music scene for about nine years, said he had never seen anything negative happen during metal music gigs.

"I have not seen any Satan worship, anyone drinking goat's blood or indulging in explicit activities. These people do not even drink or take drugs," he said.

Hardcore punk band member Rafil Elyas said local black metal followers were estranged because they were branded as devil worshippers.

"It is inaccurate to misconstrue these youths just because black metal musical arrangement is darker and harder.

"Most followers are very religious and they know what they are doing. They would never ever go to the extent of practising Satanism," said Iskandar.

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