Hijab heavy metal: All-girls Muslim band from Indonesia has a blast

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It’s not your typical heavy metal group. It’s something that, arguably, never existed before. It’s Voice of Baceprot, which introduced hijab heavy metal to the world.

(Ok, we have Gisele Marie Rocha, a Brazilian converted Muslima, in this genre, but she plays trash metal with a burqa on as a soloist.)

Voice of Baceprot translates to “Noisy Voice” from a local Indonesian dialect. The band is made up of three hijab-wearing Muslim teenage girls who met at school in the town of Garut, West Java, and discovered that they share the same fondness of heavy metal music. Back in 2014, they decided to form a band in order to enjoy playing music together and to “combat the stereotype of Muslim women as submissive or voiceless.”

This is even more remarkable since heavy metal has been targeted for crackdowns in Indonesia from time to time in accordance with Islamic beliefs that loud music and particularly Western music is “haram,” or forbidden. But, while there are parts of Indonesia where Islam is taken very seriously like in the western province of Aceh, many people are following a rather moderate version of the religion. After all, Joko Widodo, former mayor of Jakarta and currently Indonesia’s President, is a professed heavy metal fan, but he has yet to show up at any of the girls’ concerts.

The Muslim environment didn’t hold back Voice of Baceprot, or VOB, from performing, beginning with concerts at graduation ceremonies at regional schools where the trio quickly gathered fans dancing and headbanging at the front of the stage. Later, they got invited to other concert venues and eventually began to make studio recordings.

The band consists of Firdda Kurnia, vocalist and guitarist, drummer Eusi Siti Aisyah and bassist Widi Rahmawati. Besides covering classics by groups such as Metallica, Slipknot and System of a Down, they also perform their own songs on issues such as the state of education in Indonesia (“School Revolution”).

The band has, naturally, both followers and opponents. Not everyone in the town of Garut, which is home to several Islamic schools, feels the community is ready for them, or that their music is appropriate for performance by young Muslim women.

Others, however, say that there is nothing wrong with it, since someone who has the talent to play and sing and the creativity to compose songs and stage concerts should not be hindered from doing it, merely as a human right.

An official of a top clerical body in the town said that the group indeed triggered a culture clash in a conservative society, but added that he did not feel it broke any Islamic values. However, other local religious authorities, at times, have tried to obstruct the band’s concerts – in one case pulling out the power cord of the speakers to cut off the sound.

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It's not your typical heavy metal group. It's something that, arguably, never existed before. It's Voice of Baceprot, which introduced hijab heavy metal to the world. (Ok, we have Gisele Marie Rocha, a Brazilian converted Muslima, in this genre, but she plays trash metal with a burqa on as a soloist.) Voice of Baceprot translates to "Noisy Voice" from a local Indonesian dialect. The band is made up of three hijab-wearing Muslim teenage girls who met at school in the town of Garut, West Java, and discovered that they share the same fondness of heavy metal music. Back in 2014,...

Reading Time: 2 minutes

It’s not your typical heavy metal group. It’s something that, arguably, never existed before. It’s Voice of Baceprot, which introduced hijab heavy metal to the world.

(Ok, we have Gisele Marie Rocha, a Brazilian converted Muslima, in this genre, but she plays trash metal with a burqa on as a soloist.)

Voice of Baceprot translates to “Noisy Voice” from a local Indonesian dialect. The band is made up of three hijab-wearing Muslim teenage girls who met at school in the town of Garut, West Java, and discovered that they share the same fondness of heavy metal music. Back in 2014, they decided to form a band in order to enjoy playing music together and to “combat the stereotype of Muslim women as submissive or voiceless.”

This is even more remarkable since heavy metal has been targeted for crackdowns in Indonesia from time to time in accordance with Islamic beliefs that loud music and particularly Western music is “haram,” or forbidden. But, while there are parts of Indonesia where Islam is taken very seriously like in the western province of Aceh, many people are following a rather moderate version of the religion. After all, Joko Widodo, former mayor of Jakarta and currently Indonesia’s President, is a professed heavy metal fan, but he has yet to show up at any of the girls’ concerts.

The Muslim environment didn’t hold back Voice of Baceprot, or VOB, from performing, beginning with concerts at graduation ceremonies at regional schools where the trio quickly gathered fans dancing and headbanging at the front of the stage. Later, they got invited to other concert venues and eventually began to make studio recordings.

The band consists of Firdda Kurnia, vocalist and guitarist, drummer Eusi Siti Aisyah and bassist Widi Rahmawati. Besides covering classics by groups such as Metallica, Slipknot and System of a Down, they also perform their own songs on issues such as the state of education in Indonesia (“School Revolution”).

The band has, naturally, both followers and opponents. Not everyone in the town of Garut, which is home to several Islamic schools, feels the community is ready for them, or that their music is appropriate for performance by young Muslim women.

Others, however, say that there is nothing wrong with it, since someone who has the talent to play and sing and the creativity to compose songs and stage concerts should not be hindered from doing it, merely as a human right.

An official of a top clerical body in the town said that the group indeed triggered a culture clash in a conservative society, but added that he did not feel it broke any Islamic values. However, other local religious authorities, at times, have tried to obstruct the band’s concerts – in one case pulling out the power cord of the speakers to cut off the sound.

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