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Home Entertainment Review | Indonesian trio Voice of Baceprot generates high-voltage metal

Review | Indonesian trio Voice of Baceprot generates high-voltage metal


Voice of Baceprot, a genre-expanding Indonesian metal trio nearing the end of its first U.S. tour, opened its Tuesday night Union Stage performance with a surge of searing, restorative energy.

With a blood-pumping instrumental introduction, vocalist and guitarist Firda Marsya Kurnia (who goes by Marsya) and bassist Widi Rahmawati showcased their fast and savvy fingers, while drummer Euis Siti Aisyah (who goes by Sitti) set a sturdy rhythm that had brows collecting sweat in no time.

The trio increased the voltage once it hit “[Not] Public Property,” a forceful demand for bodily autonomy off its scorching debut album, “Retas,” its title taken from an Indonesian word for a body of igneous rocks that pierces other rocks.

“To us, ‘retas’ means to open or smash boundaries, much like our musical journey so far,” Marsya said in an NME interview this month. “We hear people questioning what genre our music falls into. It’s so easy to be fixated on a certain idea of metal and I think we shouldn’t get bogged down by all these boundaries, as long as the music is honest.”

The nine-track album, rife with nu-metal and heavy rock influences, rails against restrictive religious expectations in the soaring “God, Allow Me (Please) to Play Music” and a draining education system in the acidic “School Revolution.”

While growing up in West Java, the young women formed Voice of Baceprot (a Sundanese word for noisy) in 2014 with guidance from their school counselor. They became interested in metal after discovering System of a Down, eventually sharing covers online that attracted far-reaching attention.

Now in their 20s, the members of VOB have steadily gained national and international recognition, playing at a heavy-metal festival in Germany last year, finding a mentor in Indonesian jazz musician Barry Likumahuwa and garnering support from Rage Against the Machine’s Tom Morello.

Their musical journey has included plenty of challenges. Marsya has talked about the threats and physical violence the band has experienced from religious conservatives in their home province. Meanwhile, European and American media tend to overemphasize the supposed shock value of young hijab-wearing Muslim women rocking out.

VOB has channeled white-hot rage into blistering music, which erupted on the D.C. stage in a sustained molten flow. The trio centered the ongoing climate crisis with the razor-sharp “The Enemy of Earth Is You,” which takes aim at environmental violence.

“We are saddened by the fact that we are now surviving on an Earth that is constantly sick,” Marsya told the crowd. The band recently learned that the air quality in Indonesia’s capital city, Jakarta, where they now live, has worsened.

Throughout the performance, Marsya’s finesse on her guitars matched the elasticity of her spry vocals, walloping ageism in “Age Oriented” and rallying for liberation in “PMS,” an acronym that translates as “wholly independent woman.”

The obvious chemistry among the three members made for exquisite instrumental explorations. Intriguingly, the impressive “Kawani” included recognizable Sundanese musical flourishes, which Marsya recently hinted might be a possible future direction for VOB.


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