Malaysia: Blacklisted Heavy Metal band launches debut album



Blacklisted Metal band launches debut album

After more than 20 years of performing, the Malaysian Heavy Metal band Blackfire has finally released it’s debut album, entitled ‘Lahir Dari Api’ (“Born of Fire”) on 6 June 2006

By Freemuse

The album was printed in 1,000 copies and released by a close friend of the band who runs an indie-label called Nebiula Production. It is now sold in the areas around Kuala Lumpur and a few selected record stores around Malaysia.
But Nebiula Production did not print the title of the album on the cover because they are afraid it could cause it to be banned from the market. The company risks a lawsuit from local authorities for selling CDs that supposedly “can cause damage to people’s minds”. The titles of the songs have deliberately been blurred and made difficult to read, and none of the lyrics can be read on print.
All music and accessories associated with “Metal” are considered illegal in Malaysia. At a meeting of the National Fatwa Council in January 2006, Malaysia’s top Muslim clerics decided to ban black metal music because it could encourage listeners to rebel against religion.
According to underground media and magazines in Kuala Lumpur, the album has nevertheless been selling well. It is presently available in Malaysia only. It will soon be launched in Thailand also, on the label Warhammer Productions.

Fed up

On their debut album, Blackfire has created a formula of Malay-lyrics-meet-Black Metal mixed with Asiatic elements.
The band was founded in 1984, and were the first extreme metal band in Malaysia that got signed by a record company.
“But the company wanted us to change our music to glam rock. We refused to do that, and then they cancelled the contract,” said Rammy, bassist in Blackfire, to Freemuse. He explained why it has taken them this long to publish their debut album:
“For almost a decade, there was no other label interested in our music, until suddenly a “metal fever” took off in Malaysia in the beginning of the 1990’s. At that time the band was not very active, we only met for a jam-session once in a while because most of us were busy with jobs, having established ourselves with our families and obligations. Some new labels showed interest in our music, but we just left it. After all we play music to satisfy ourselves at first… and we were so fed up with this Malaysian music scene. For a metal band like us living in Malaysia is quite hard. The government has banned all activities related to ‘metal music’ because a lot of young people devoted to Satanism have begun to pop-up everywhere here,” said Rammy.

Hiding in the woods

“Since our early days, media and the general public have disliked us for being weird. Reporters always criticised us for our appearances in every gig we did. A few years back, a “satanic black metal fever” struck Malaysia, and local media as well as goverment officials began to look into how this extreme metal music could have become so popular in Kuala Lumpur.
When the issue was at its peak, the Malaysian parliament listed some local metal bands in the newpapers – bands which they considered as “Satan worshippers” because of their “dark imaginery and attitude”.
Blackfire was also on the list, even though the authorities apparently were under the impression that the band no longer existed.”
“I know of some metalheads who have been hiding in the woods for quite some time now, because they are afraid of being arrested by the local authorities. It’s funny, but as far as I know there has never been a “satanic ritual” taking place here, ever. It is just that the media here tries to increase their sales, and the goverment also have their own agenda,” Rammy said.

Improved situation

Rammy has noticed a new positive development, he added:
“I think that the black metal issues are cooling down now, and the goverment is more concerned with new issues that are coming up. The political situation in Malaysia is quite bad these days, so I guess, they don’t have the time to be looking around for satanists anymore. Just a few months back, there was a World Press Freedom Day event held in the middle of the city where they dig an open air gig featuring underground bands that played Death Metal, Grind Core and Punk. And it seems there aren’t interventions going on anymore, in any case not like before. So, maybe things are becoming quite ok for the metal scene here in Malaysia.”

Lead singer Azmi Bahari

Cover of ‘Lahir Dari Api’ – as it looked before the title was removed



Official home page of Blackfire:

Google News:

Latest Google news on black metal in Malaysia

BBC News – 27 July 2006:

‘Botox ban for Malaysian Muslims’

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