Heavy metal band slays stereotypes

The hijab doesn't stand in the way of VoB members who've been playing for three years. The three teenage girls cover Metallica and Slipknot and their original songs protest the state of education in Indonesia.

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Widi Rahmawati (L) and Firdda Kurnia, members of the metal band Voice of Baceprot, perform in Garut, Indonesia. (May 15, 2017)

The three-member Indonesian band VoB (Voice of Baceprot or Noisy Voice) does not look like your typical heavy metal group. 

The teenage girls sport hijabs and a more modest attire than the bands which they choose to cover: Metallica or Slipknot. The latter is known for performing with macabre face masks.

VoB was formed in 2014 when Firdda Kurnia, Euis Siti Aisyah and Widi Rahmawati met at school in Indonesia's West Java province. Their music combats the stereotype of the more covered Muslim woman lacking agency.

Wearing a hijab or Islamic headscarf should not be a barrier to the group's pursuit of its dream of being heavy metal stars, Kurnia, 16, said. Kurnia is on vocals and plays the guitar.

(L-R) Firdda Kurnia, Euis Siti Aisyah, and Widi Rahmawati walk to the mosque for prayers in Garut, Indonesia on May 14, 2017. (Reuters)

When girls can, and do.

Invited to perform at a recent graduation ceremony at another school, the trio quickly had fans dancing and head-banging at a mosh pit or the front of the stage.

"I don't see anything wrong with it," said one fan who attended the show. "There's no law that bars hijab-wearing women from playing hardcore music," the fan said.

"This also relates to human rights. If a Muslim girl has the talent to play the drums or a guitar, should she not be allowed?"

Besides covering classics by groups such as Metallica and Slipknot, the band perform their own songs on issues such as the state of education in Indonesia.

Muslims make up nearly 90 percent of the 250 million-strong population in the country which has pockets of conservative strongholds.

An official of a top clerical body said although VoB might trigger a culture clash in a conservative area, he did not feel it broke with Islamic values.

"I see this as part of the creativity of teenagers," Nur Khamim Djuremi, the secretary general of the Islamic Art and Culture Division of Indonesia's Ulema Council, said.

TRTWorld and agencies