Who wouldn’t love Senyawa, the duo from Indonesia who combine traditional Indonesian folklore and music with black metal vocals, noise textures, and all manner besides. Sujud is their new record, and features a specially home-built guitar as well as Rully Shabara’s incredible vocals. On Sublime Frequencies.
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Metal is one of the most aggressively pigeonholed genres out there. There is a degree of specificity that makes getting into the genre feel like learning about one of the drier corners of the animal kingdom. So it’s always exciting to find releases that are definitely still metal, but don’t quite fit in that fraught family tree. Active since 2010, the Indonesian pair Senyawa are probably the best example of this in recent years. And their latest album, Sujud, is without a doubt one of the best metal albums of the year.
'Terbertaktilah Tanah Ini (Blessed Is This Land)' might just be the single heaviest track I've heard for ages. Wukir Suryadi’s instrumentals are noisy and chaotic and dense. His is an extremely DIY approach, going as far to create his own instruments that let him make sounds unique to the world of metal. On 'Terbertaktilah' he creates a backing of freeform noise but is just as apt as something more conventional, like 'Sujud (Prostration)'’s hypnotic guitar melody.
Meanwhile, Rully Shabara voice sounds like it’s trying to leave his body behind. This is down to a combination of physical skill and technical ability. Shabara has complete and utter breath control, and a willingness to twist his voice from deep guttural growls to strained melodic yelps in the space of a couple of seconds. The riff at the centre of 'Penjuru Menyatu (Unified Counters)' almost sounds like something you’d find on an Iron Maiden track but Shabara has no interest in sounding like Bruce Dickinson. Shabara is also a wizard at effects, and though he certainly doesn’t need them, his use of looping and distortion means his performances across the album are wildly varied.
In combination they are unique and enticing. It would be impossible for me to not get drawn in to Sujud's sonic world. And let me reiterate, they are metal as hell.
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