Our interview with Jurex and Koko of Black Mass Community Organization, Bandung
Date: Wednesday, 15 May 2019.
Translation: By Teguh Prasetyo.
Teguh Prasetyo (Interfectorment / Digging Up): Tell us about the history of the Black Mass…
Jurex (Band ov Prophet): In 1995, Black Metal music was becoming bigger because of the legendary place Saparua. This place had so many BM gigs. It is a legendary music venue in Bandung. There were three central main figures in BM at that time: (1-2) Abu and Ade from Hellgods; and (3) Agus from Sacrilegious. They were the people that began the BM community in 1995. Because a lot of BM people hang out together so we start to hang out temporarily at Adi’s house. The community became bigger so we moved the place to Yogya Kepatihan Road (mall). We basically hang out in the front of the mall. So we did not expect the community to become that big. It happened because we started hanging out together every weekend and began sharing about BM on Sundays. We normally went to gigs and so it became bigger and bigger. There was no specific place where we were born, such as Ujung Berung. The people were from every part of Bandung.
Kieran James (Busuk Chronicles): What was the first BM album in Bandung?
Koko: Hellgods – When the Forest Become my Kingdom (1997).
KJ: So, keep going with the history…
Jurex: At this time the first generation of BM in Bandung emerged.
Koko: Especially when the Hellgods song “Kabut Keabadian” went into the metal compilation Metalik Klinik. It became the role model for BM in Indonesia. Metalik Klinik was the first major compilation album in Indonesia. That was the first time that all genres of metal got major attention from the public. And also Black Mass made the first BM compilation in 1996. That was under the name of Black Mass and Dark Banner Records.
KJ: What was the relationship between BM and DM community at this time?
Jurex: We became friends because usually we meet together at the gigs. Sacrilegious was BM from Ujung Berung.
Koko: The Sacrilegious demo Lucifer’s Name be Prayed was released in 1998.
KJ: So there was no conflict between the communities?
Teguh: No conflict. Around 2011, the case was not many BM bands were active. This is why there were not many BM bands playing at festivals. It is not because of conflict between the communities.
Jurex: The spreading of BM is a little bit hard because of the lack of information. We were just buying tapes and reading magazines. We were borrowing each other’s stuff because it was expensive.
KJ: What were the most popular bands from overseas?
Koko: Cradle. There is a stereotype in the 1990s that Bandung bands sound like Cradle and East Java bands sound like Marduk.
KJ: Who were the first BM bands in East Java and Jakarta?
Koko: Dry [Surabaya] and Ritual Orchestra [Malang]. After the first BM compilation, Blacker than Darkness, there was a small setback in the movement. One of the tabloid newspapers, Adil, was using the BM band picture of Ade and Abu from Hellgods, The headline was: Bangkitnya Para Pemuja Setan (“The awakening of the Satanists”). After that, there was another review from another major newspaper which talked about this. Because of this, there was a lot of reaction from outsiders. We got hate from a lot of people around us. It was just people talking behind other people’s backs. For example, when Abu went to college there was the whispering: “Look, there is the Satanist.” At that time, it was still taboo to be talking about these types of things – religion, pentagram.
From that opposition, there was later a positive impact because people were learning that there was this type of music in the society. We had some limitations about expressing ourselves because the society began to understand what the community was wearing. The setback was not because bands were inactive but because there was too much pressure from the outside people. Nowadays, we will think it cool and funny if people say that we are a Satanist. Back then it was dangerous. But it was not true, just a gimmick [i.e. the Satanism].
KJ: How is the community in recent times?
Koko: In 2010, the people in the community wanted to make the community active again. We made a show in the Rock Café. The show was called Blackness Rebirth. After that, we started to hang out again weekly at Gasibu. We started to make an event and collaboration with another community – Grinding Punk Corporation. And the gig was called Bohemian versus Borjuis. The punk bands will play BM songs and the BM bands will play punk songs. There is a close connection between BM and punk so the gig was easy to make (Sunday, 20 June 2010 @ Score Ciwalk, Bandung). Bands: The Cruel, Sedusa, Bloodgush, Disaster, Hellgods, Haze, Divine Blackness, and Demonstorm.
After this, we made continuous gigs with other communities such as Grind Ultimatum. After this, there is a domino effect. Another BM community in another city wanted to join Black Mass. So Black Mass wanted to make a community chapter in other cities. At first it was called Black Mass: Blacker than Darkness Bandung. Now it is called Black Mass: Blacker than Darkness in Indonesia.
KJ: What happened about Warkvlt and Impish?
Koko: Impish is an old band from the community. Impish was already made by the community. Abah joined and they made an album called Warkvlt. But then Abah wanted to separate from the name because Impish was a community name. He made the band based on the album title Warkvlt. The old Impish members then reformed as Impish and made the album Eat Your Gods. Warkvlt is more like War Metal but Impish is more necro-punk such as Impaled Nazarene.
KJ: Was there some friction between BM Bogor and BM Bandung?
Koko: There is no friction. At our last show Bogor bands played, Ririwa and Dark on Rust. Officially there is another chapter of Black Mass from Banten. Another city will follow. We already have an agenda for it.
KJ: How many people in the community in Bandung?
Koko: There is no official counting of it. It is more than 50. Everyone is free to join. In the old times there were more than 135. In the past we did not have a mission. We just hung out and sharing. Now we have a mission to make people understand BM because there is so much misunderstanding about this genre.
KJ: How do you compare Bandung BM to East Java?
Koko: Basically they are the same because all people in the communities are connected. Bandung people come to East Java and East Java people come to Bandung.
KJ: What do you think about people leaving Black Mass to become more Islamic?
Koko: It is not much, fewer than five or ten people. I almost do it but I’m back [laughs].
Teguh: Back to the darkness.
KJ: What is Adi doing now?
Koko: Lost contact, the last communication we had was that Adi made two pictures, one on the stage and secondly using religious outfit. After that we lost contact.
KJ: Did Adi go to study at the Islamic school?
Koko: Not in the formal school but there was a community.
Koko: No, Tablighi Jamaat – they do preaching from one place to another (tour).
KJ: Have you got any message for the audience?
Jurex: Keep learning without limits especially about Black Metal. BM is growing and everything is changing.
Koko: Stay close to the roots.
KJ: Why do you like Black Metal?
Koko: It is basically because I first found BM music from Metalik Klinik. I connected to the music as I had a critical way of thinking about ideology. BM became my platform to showcase my views.
Jurex: At first I listened to BM music. BM is evolving so it means more to me.
Koko: I first listened to Iron Maiden, Powerslave album.
KJ: Does BM have a message for Indonesian society?
Koko: Don’t judge us before you know us. We cannot be following the Norway people 100% because we have a different culture. We adapt the music.