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Text by: Samack Samakk
All photography by: Hendisgorge

(scroll down for Bahasa Indonesia version)

Tens of thousands of metalheads all dressed in black invaded Ocean Eco Park, Ancol in Northern Jakarta in the afternoon of April 17th 2016, making a sea of band t-shirts, metal artworks and logos. They all came to see Indonesias biggest outdoor international metal festival – Hammersonic Festival.

Four different stages were heating up Hammersonic throughout the whole day: Hammer Stage and Sonic Stage as the main stages, standing firmly side by side in the main festival area, then there is Soul of Steel Stage hosted inside Econvention Hall, as well as the Extreme Moshpit Stage – a smaller stage with a more intimate gig-feeling, without any barricades. It was the most packed and reckless stage of them all, like the siege of Romans in The Village of Gauls.

Soul of Steel Stage and Extreme Moshpit Stage opened Hammersonic Festival on the previous day, April 16th, with a number of local bands such as Noxa, Koil, Dead Vertical, Power Punk, Turtle Jr., Blind To See, Jasad, and many more. On this first festival day there was also a wide variety of happenings, like a Talk Show and Conference sessions hosted by many well-known metal musicians, record labels and international music agencies. Also for the first time, The Hammersonic Awards was held as an appreciation from Revision Live (the organizer) to various persons in the metal scenes who´s considered as inspirations to both the metal community and music industry in Indonesia.
On Sunday about 2 PM, grindcore unit from Malang, Extreme Decay, had already started igniting some heavy noise and sparkles on Soul of Steel Stage. This was a re-union of their classic line-up with their former guitarist, Ravi, coming from Pekanbaru, performing together with his former colleagues on stage. Vocalist Afril, wearing a black Disrupt t-shirt was barking loudly, flanked by guitarist Rully in a Phobia shirt and Yuda with his flannel – blasting a wide repertoire from the albums Sampah Dunia Ketiga to Holocaust Resistance. Drummer Eko kept a solid beat from the back, and the band performed a straightforward and intense set.

Hammersonic 2016 Rundown

Hammersonic 2016 Rundown

Later in the afternoon, Internal Bleeding took to the main stage, playing very tight and full of precision. Sonic Stage was hit hard by their violent, heavy death metal. This legendary band from the United States made a quite convincing performance! Head to head with Sonic Stage stood the mighty Hammer Stage, triumphantly blasting out thrash metal band Onslaught with a super strong appearance. Already before they went on stage, the band’s logo displayed on the big screen behind the stage was already quite intimidating. Vocalist Sy Keeler with his silver-hair stature looks like Saruman, the character from The Lord of The Rings series. This old man was still energetic and full of enthusiasm, and being very humble to the crowds.

Speaking of appearances, the guitarist Nige Rockett looks so cool with his black guitar covered by the “Viva La Hate” text, bassist Jeff Williams in his sporty outfits – plus the black-glasses bald drummer Mike Houlihan – who is somewhat reminiscent of Mickey Knox in Natural Born Killers movie. The thrash titans from Bristol (UK) played some classic numbers, such as “Let There Be Death”, “Metal Forces”, “66Fuckin’6” and a cover-song of “Bomber” (Moorhead), as a tribute to a late Lemmy Kilmister.
The moshpit was quite exciting, crazy and fun. Some old faces in their metal shirts and vests looked really happy finally watching their favorite band playing live on stage. Yeah, the relation between thrash metal bands and their fans is always fun to see.

Moving over to the Sonic Stage, we caught the tech / prog death metal warriors Obscura. This German unit played like a metal dish swishing through the galaxy – so brutal and spacey. Very precise musical compositions by super skilled musicians. In some parts there was a sampling similar to Nocturnus or Cynic. For nearly thirty minutes they also forced the audience to be more calm and focused, to listen to every track from the album Cosmogenesis to Akroasis.

When Darkest Hour was performing on the main stage, the rain began to fall heavy from the sky. Most of the audience was forced to flee while saving themselves and find a shady spot. The safest bet was running back to the indoor area or hang out at Extreme Moshpit stage. At the same time, the hardcore / metal act from Jakarta, Paper Gangster, was heating up the Extreme Moshpit stage in the heavy rain.

From inside the Econvention Hall you could hear the blasting sets from Taring and Hellcrust, people on the grounds said that these both two bands performed really brutal and awesome shows. The climax of it all was when Burgerkill totally blasted this indoor stage. Almost all the crowds were sheltering inside Econvention Hall from the rain, so that space became even more crowded, hot and really sweaty. Ebenz & Co in Burgerkill delivered  tracks from “Penjara Batin” to “Shadow of Sorrow”, but  the highlight was the cover version of  “Air Mata Api” (Iwan Fals) –  a ballad song has never sounded this sharp, heavy and elegant before.

By this time Walls of Jericho were all set to invade the Hammer Stage. As always this bands look stunning onstage, just like their last performance in Indonesia. Candace Kucsulain & Co put on a great show and an awesome setlist, from “A Trigger Full of Promises”, “American Dream”, to “Revival Never Goes Out of Style”. Gothic-metallers Leave Eyes show was not very interesting to my metal ears, but thats my opinion. They sound rather flat and dull. Luckily, next band to hit the stage was Gorgoroth and the show suddenly becomes much more cold and dark. This infamous Nordic black metal unit brings you lots of blasphemic lyrics, great speed and ruthlessness throughout their setlist, which ranges from “Bergtrollets Hevn”, “Forces of Satan Storms” to the closing song “Kala Brahman”.

Then, Drowning Pool joined the action on Sonic Stage. Unfortunately, it´s rather difficult to boost the atmosphere with this typical nu-metal, their performance was not bad, but it didn’t help much and it was far way from what we expected that day.
American Asking Alexandria on the other hand was exactly what the festival needed. This band plays like crazy youngsters who just turned 20, and many people in the crowds seemed the same age! In fact many female fans desperately lounged towards the stage – screaming  and singing loudly together. Asking Alexandria´s performance was quite entertaining and fascinating. Watching their stage act as a whole proved that Asking Alexandria is indeed a true and experienced live band. Their show production looked so conceptualized and well-organized – ranging from the use of samplings and intro´s, stage lighting to the rhythm of the music, setlist arrangements to an excellent performance from all the band members.

But boredom struck many fans on Angra´s show, as their performance was just too long. The power / speed metal that they offer is indeed real slick. However, this Brazilian band should have been performing at the right time or play a shorter set at late midnight. To some of the softer songs that sound like a rock ballad or slow-rock, many in the audience decided to sit down on the grass or even fall asleep!

The closing part of this short festival absolutely belongs to Suffocation. These death metal pioneers from New York (US) has already played 3 times in Indonesia, all of the shows being very memorable to the fans. This time Suffocation came without their original lead singer Frank Mullen, who has decided to only be active for studio sessions and won’t be joining any tours. So for this show the microphone duties was handed the band´s good friend and also vocalist of Disgorge. His vocals was not disappointing, quite fitting to Suffocations music. Only thing was that it felt strange to watch Suffocation without the presence of Frank Mullen, especially for the older fans who grew up with albums like Breeding The Spawn or Effigy Of The Forgotten.

Suffocation played several classic tracks like “Catatonia” and “A Grace Descends”. Unfortunately the guitar sound was often lost and several times it was interfering with the show. But generally speaking, the Suffocation act was quite intense and charming. The sky was overcast when the last song “Infecting The Crypts” rang out from the stage, sending thousands of metalheads on their way back home, or even to their homelands. It was too short. But these two days were quite solid and blasting.

See you again in Hammersonic Festival, next year. Surely in the moshpit! … \m/

Special thanks to Revision Live and Hammersonic Festival team; Ravel, Krishna J Sadrach, Stephanus Adjie, Aldila Karina, and all the guys on the pit. You’ve done a great work! …

See the full image gallery from THE EXTREME MOSHPIT STAGE HERE
See the full image gallery from THE SOUL OF STEEL STAGE HERE




Text by: Samack Samakk

Konsentrasi massa penggemar musik cadas sedang berkumpul di ujung utara kota Jakarta sepanjang hari Minggu itu, 17 April 2016. Sedari siang hari, ribuan metalhead dengan dandanan khas yang dominan kaos hitam berdesain artwork dan logo band favorit mulai tampak memasuki area Taman Impian Jaya Ancol. Mereka datang dari berbagai pelosok demi menyaksikan hajatan besar bertajuk Hammersonic Festival 2016 yang diadakan di area Ocean Eco Park, Ancol.

Di sepanjang hari itu, ada empat panggung yang memanaskan Hammersonic ; Hammer Stage dan Sonic Stage sebagai panggung utama yang berdiri kokoh berdampingan di area festival, lalu ada Soul of Steel yang berformat indoor di dalam Econvention Hall, serta Extreme Moshpit yang berformat gigs kecil, tanpa barikade dan paling urakan tak ubahnya seperti desa Galia di tengah kepungan Romawi.

Sehari sebelumnya, 16 April, sebenarnya sudah ada aktivitas dalam rangkaian Hammersonic Festival 2016. Panggung Soul of Steel dan Extreme Moshpit sudah menyalak bersama aksi sejumlah band lokal seperti Noxa, Koil, Dead Vertical, Power Punk, Turtle Jr, Blind To See, Jasad, dan banyak lagi.

Pada hari pertama itu juga ada beragam sesi talkshow atau konferensi metal yang mengundang musisi, label, dan agen band metal kaliber internasional. Di situ pula untuk pertama kalinya digelar ajang Hammersonic Award sebagai bentuk apresiasi dari penyelenggara Revision Live terhadap para insan musik metal yang dianggap telah menginspirasi komunitas dan industri musik keras di Indonesia.

Pada hari Minggu, sekitar jam dua siang, unit grindcore asal kota Malang, Extreme Decay, sudah menyulut kebisingan di panggung Soul of Steel. Formasi Extreme Decay saat itu ibarat sebuah reuni line-up klasik. Gitaris lawas mereka, Ravi, sengaja datang dari Pekanbaru dan turut tampil bersama kolega lawasnya di atas panggung.

Tanpa basa-basi, vokalis Afril yang hari itu memakai kaos Disrupt menyuarakan lagu demi lagu secara lantang. Diapit gitaris Rully yang berkaos Phobia dan Yuda dengan flanelnya yang anggun, mereka menggeber banyak repertoir dari album Sampah Dunia Ketiga hingga Holocaust Resistance. Drummer Eko tampak kokoh menjaga beat bahkan dalam tempo terkerasnya dari sektor belakang. Set yang singkat dan intens.

Jelang sore hari, di panggung utama sudah berdiri para personil Internal Bleeding yang bermain rapat dan penuh presisi. Sonic Stage seperti berguncang keras dihantam alunan musik death metal yang penuh imej kekerasan dan bobot berat. Band kugiran asal Amerika Serikat tersebut tampil cukup meyakinkan.

Di panggung sampingnya kemudian, berdiri kokoh Hammer Stage yang membawa kejayaan musik thrash metal melalui penampilan Onslaught. Sejak awal, logo band yang dipamerkan pada layar belakang panggung itu sudah cukup mengintimidasi. Perawakan sang vokalis Sy Keeler yang tinggi kekar berambut gondrong keperakan sudah mirip seperti karakter Saruman dalam serial The Lord of The Rings. Namun pria tua itu tetap enerjik, penuh semangat dan kerap mengumbar senyum kepada crowd.

Sang gitaris Nige Rockett memberi kesan angker dengan bodi gitar hitamnya yang bertuliskan “Viva La Hate”. Tempo musik terus dijaga oleh sang bassist Jeff Williams yang berkaos sporty ala kostum American Football serta drummer botak berkacamata hitam, Mike Hourihan, yang agak mengingatkan pada sosok Mickey Knox dalam film Natural Born Killers.

Band asal Bristol (UK) itu menggeber sejumlah nomor klasik, seperti “Let There Be Death”, “Metal Forces”, “66Fuckin’6”, hingga lagu kover “Bomber” milik Motorhead untuk menghormati mendiang Lemmy Kilmister supaya tenang di surga, atau neraka, atau di antara itu.

Jangan ditanya suasana di bawah panggung sana. Di arena moshpit cukup seru dan menyenangkan. Beberapa wajah berumur dengan dandanan kaos metal dan jaket jins yang penuh emblem tampak bahagia serta bersuka ria bisa menonton langsung band idola mereka yang eksis sejak era 80-an itu. Relasi antara musik thrash metal dengan penggemarnya memang selalu menyenangkan.

Bergeser ke Sonic Stage, ada pengusung musik tech/prog death metal bernama Obscura. Menonton aksi band asal Jerman itu seperti menikmati sajian musik cadas lintas galaksi. Begitu brutal sekaligus spacey. Komposisi musiknya sangat presisi ditunjang dengan skill yang mumpuni di semua instrumen. Pada beberapa bagian ada bunyi sampling ala Nocturnus atau Cynic. Selama hampir tiga puluh menit itu juga crowd dipaksa agak tenang dan fokus untuk menyimak nomor-nomor penting dari album Cosmogenesis hingga Akroasis.

Ketika Darkest Hour tampil menghajar panggung utama, hujan mulai turun dari langit. Sebagian penonton terpaksa lari meyelamatkan diri dan mencari tempat yang teduh. Spot yang paling aman tentu saja balik ke area indoor atau merapat ke Extreme Moshpit Stage. Tepat saat itu juga, ada dedengkot musik hardcore/metal asal Jakarta, Paper Gangster, yang sedang memanaskan panggung Extreme Moshpit dalam kondisi hujan.

Sementara dari dalam Econvention Hall, berturut-turut terdengar aksi Taring dan Hellcrust yang menggeber lagu-lagunya. Konon, katanya dua band itu tampil apik di dalam sana. Puncaknya justru ketika Burgerkill manggung di indoor stage. Kebetulan hampir semua penonton sedang berteduh di dalam Econvention Hall sehingga ruangan menjadi lebih sesak dan otomatis seru.

Ebenz dkk mengusung beberapa nomor mulai “Penjara Batin” hingga “Shadow of Sorrow”. Namun highlight-nya adalah ketika mereka mengkover lagu “Air Mata Api” milik Iwan Fals yang dikemas lebih keras dan tajam. Rasanya, lagu balada belum pernah bisa sekeras dan seanggun itu sebelumnya.

Hujan tampaknya mulai reda di area festival. Banyak penonton yang berjalan kembali ke sana. Tepat saat itu Walls of Jericho sudah beraksi di atas Hammer Stage. Band ini selalu tampil memukau. Masih seperti penampilan mereka sebelumnya di Indonesia, Candace Kucsulain dkk mempertontonkan performance yang tangguh lewat stok lagu “A Trigger Full of Promises”, “American Dream”, sampai “Revival Never Goes Out of Style”.

Leave Eyes memainkan musik goth-metal yang tidak begitu menarik di telinga, setidaknya bagi saya. Terdengar agak datar dan membosankan. Suasana sedikit terselamatkan ketika Gorgoroth naik ke atas panggung. Aura panggung sontak menjadi lebih dingin dan kelam. Band black metal asal Norwegia itu menyuarakan lirik-lirik blasfemik dengan kecepatan dan kebengisan yang cukup pekat melalui setlist yang ditata mulai dari “Bergtrollets Hevn”, “Forces of Satan Storms”, hingga ditutup dengan “Kala Brahman”.

Disambung kemudian oleh Drowning Pool yang beraksi di Sonic Stage. Sayang, tipikal musik nu-metal agak susah diandalkan untuk bisa mengangkat suasana. Aksi mereka tidak buruk, namun memang tidak banyak membantu atmosfir festival musik metal yang diharapkan crowd hari itu.

Justru Asking Alexandria yang bikin festival musik ini makin layak untuk diperhatikan. Band asal Amerika Serikat itu tampak digilai oleh anak-anak muda yang baru menginjak usia 20-an. Bahkan tidak sedikit juga fans perempuan yang nekat merangsek mendekati panggung, ikut berjingkrak dan bernyanyi lantang bersama.

Performa Asking Alexandria kudu diakui cukup menghibur dan mempesona. Menonton aksi panggung mereka secara keseluruhan sudah membuktikan kalau Asking Alexandria memang sebenar-benarnya band panggung yang bagus dengan jam terbang yang tinggi. Semua sisi produksi mereka tampak begitu terkonsep dan tertata dengan baik – mulai dari penggunaan intro dan sampling musik, tata lampu yang seirama lagu, setlist yang pas, hingga blocking act yang menarik dari setiap personilnya.

Lepas dari situ, kebosanan melanda sebagian penonton saat Angra tampil terlalu lama di atas panggung. Musik power/speed metal yang mereka tawarkan sebenarnya apik. Hanya saja, band asal Brasil itu tampil di momen yang kurang tepat dan banyak menyita durasi di tengah malam yang larut. Pada beberapa lagu yang terdengar seperti rock ballad atau slow-rock membuat sejumlah penonton memilih untuk duduk di atas rumput, atau bahkan tertidur?!…

Di penghujung festival, dalam sisa durasi yang pendek, adalah mutlak milik Suffocation. Pionir death metal asal New York (USA) itu sudah tiga kali menggung di Indonesia, dan semuanya berkesan di hari penggemarnya. Kali ini Suffocation datang tanpa vokalis asli mereka, Frank Mullen, yang sudah memutuskan hanya akan aktif di sesi studio dan tidak dapat ikut tur lagi.

Untuk sesi panggung Suffocation, mikrofon di-handle penuh oleh Ricky Myers, kawan baik mereka yang sekaligus vokalis Disgorge. Corak vokalnya sebenarnya tidak mengecewakan. Cukup pas dan sesuai dengan musik Suffocation. Hanya saja, terkadang sangat aneh menonton Suffocation tanpa kehadiran Frank Mullen. Itu bisa terjadi pada fans lawas mereka yang tumbuh dan besar bersama album Breeding The Spawn atau Effigy of The Forgotten, misalnya.

Suffocation menggeber sejumlah track favorit seperti “Catatonia” dan “A Grace Descends”. Sayang, suara gitar Terrance Hobbs kerap hilang dan beberapa kali terkena gangguan. Tapi secara garis besar, aksi Suffocation cukup intens dan apik. Langit masih mendung ketika lagu terakhir “Infecting The Crypts” berkumandang dari atas panggung. Mengantarkan ribuan metalhead untuk kembali pulang ke rumah, atau ke daerah asalnya masing-masing. Ini memang terlalu singkat. Tapi seharian tadi memang cukup padat dan memukul.

Sampai jumpa lagi di Hammersonic Festival tahun depan. Tentunya di moshpit!… \m/

*Special thanks to Revision Live and Hammersonic Festival team ; Ravel, Krisna J Sadrach, Stephanus Adjie, Aldila Karina, and all the guys on the pit. You’ve done a great works!..