The Quirky Circumstances Surrounding Southeast Asian Grindcore

A perplexing idiosyncrasy of the human race has always been our knack for finding means and ways to rebel against the established norm. No matter how oppressive the existing governing body might be, it cannot ever seem to entirely eliminate traces of rebellion.

As one of the oldest and most popular forms of entertainment, music has often been an outlet to channel frustration at authority in any form. Its endless permutations and combinations of various sonic pitches always promise exciting new possibilities.

The most exciting form of such music to ever emerge is, perhaps, grindcore. Spawned in England, this underground form of extreme metal is the logical rebellious answer to authority. It is comprised not of pleasant tunes to sleep or dance to, but of intense and seemingly chaotic bursts of noise.

As with everything Western, grindcore spread beyond its original territory and planted seeds in many other parts of the world, spawning various scenes. Of these many scenes, perhaps the quirkiest one of all is the Southeast Asian grindcore community. The countries in this region are not the likeliest of candidates to be breeding grounds for sociopolitical extreme music; China and North Korea would arguably be more logical choices. But as a region that is perennially straddling the political middle line separating Western democracy and Eastern authoritarianism, it is intriguing to observe how such non-extreme sociopolitical conditions could still spawn extremely extreme music such as grindcore.

If the raison d’être for pioneering English grindcore band Napalm Death was to criticize their state for being inherently flawed and unneeded, bearing in mind that the band members themselves were brought up in the state’s highly liberal environment in the first place, what then could be the raison d’être for Southeast Asian grindcore acts? Do they exist to sing about politics too, even though their countries are not at either end of the liberal-authoritarian political spectrum?

Suppose there is actually a single grindcore band in dictatorial North Korea, but the whole world is not yet aware of their existence. Then one highly unlikely day, due to a miracle of Red Sea proportions, this band actually manages to get some Internet access and creates a page on Metal-Archives.com, with Google Map screenshots of their coordinates to prove their existence. Wonderment at the existence of audio recording technology in their backward country aside, it wouldn’t be very shocking to learn of the band’s existence, would it? After all, most of us can easily imagine that the North Korean leadership’s way of governing their country should have royally pissed off a certain fraction of their citizenry. It isn’t unlikely that some of these citizens are musically gifted and relish the extreme sound of grindcore too.

Politics? Why politics?

As with other genres of extreme metal that spread to other parts of the world, foreign interpretations of grindcore are not necessarily going to be complete imitations of the original style — and that was exactly what happened with Southeast Asian grindcore.

Despite the complicated and pervasive nature of the Southeast Asian political climate (such a brief description doesn’t actually do justice to the region’s rich political history, but it suffices for the purpose of this article), young Southeast Asian grindcore bands generally seem to avoid the traditional grindcore trait of writing political lyrics, while the old ones generally move towards other themes (such as the banal topics of love, hate, gore and death) as the years go by.

Today, the closest topic to politics that most of these bands sing about is that of social problems. Drug abuse, abortion, suicide and church-state separation are common subject matters, but even then, the bands do not seem to make informed opinions in their lyrics.

Of course, there are the dull copycats who imitate their Western peers down to a tee; which country wouldn’t have such bands? But currently, the most prominent Southeast Asian grindcore acts seem to prefer focusing on one of the oldest and most common reasons for playing music in the first place: having fun.

Remarking on the issue of Western influence in Southeast Asian grindcore, Calvin Chiang, A&R manager of Singapore-based extreme metal label, Pulverised Records, notes that “the emphasis on sociopolitical lyrics might not take precedence over the music itself.”

“A probable reason why grindcore is so accepted amongst the Southeast Asian countries is because of the fact that the music itself was really fresh and exciting during that time [1990s],” Chiang explained. “Southeast Asia is actually in a very unique position; it’s not extremely oppressed but still somewhat traditional and conservative as well. Which is exactly why back when grindcore was invented, it did not take us too long to discover this genre; and the regional tape-traders were literally going insane searching for those rare and out-of-print demos.”

Chiang continues: “There is no doubt that [Southeast Asian bands] are certainly imitating the grindcore pioneers, but even for other genres such as rock and metal, there were always influences coming from the West anyway. Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that [they] embraced the “know-how”, and tried to infuse [their] various influences with the original Western style to create a signature sound.”

Historically, Western culture has always emphasized the trait of political awareness because of its enthusiastic endorsement of free speech. While Southeast Asia has a rich political history, its member countries promote a culture that generally discourages their citizens from actively participating in politics through a variety of indirect means.

The most common example is being directly involved with the media, and this is a common practice shared by all Southeast Asian countries. It is simply a matter of degree of involvement that decides how “unfree” a Southeast Asian country is. In Singapore for example, making public speeches or organizing strikes requires going through the notorious bureaucratic red tape. Also, Brunei’s media is infamous for being extremely pro-government. It has been given the “Not Free” status by Freedom House, because the press rarely criticizes the government and monarchy.

Hence, it might be dishonest for Southeast Asian grindcore bands to try to ‘sell’ themselves by strictly following the traditional grindcore practice of having politically aware lyrics. Even if a band wants to insist that they are really a “political” grindcore band, it is highly likely that they are not as politically aware as bands like Napalm Death.

This is because Napalm Death comes from a much more liberal region that values free speech more than social order, while Southeast Asian bands come from a much more conservative region that values social order more than free speech. Napalm Death’s members have freedom to express their thoughts on political matters openly all the time, while those from Southeast Asian bands do not. Western bands like Napalm Death have relatively better-informed opinions on political matters than Southeast Asian acts, because they constantly get to develop ideas on these issues openly in their daily lives, and then bring that quality into their music’s lyrics. On the other hand, Southeast Asian bands cannot afford to voice their opinions openly, and only get to do so when writing their lyrics in either the jam room or bedroom.

Take note that there has not actually been a reported case of a Southeast Asian grindcore band being actively censored by their country’s government so far. However, there have been reported cases of certain bands from other extreme metal sub-genres being actively censored or banned from a country because of their provocative lyrical themes. These acts of musical censorship mostly take place in stricter countries such as Malaysia and Singapore.

In January 2006, Malaysia’s National Fatwa Council banned black metal culture in the country and said that Muslims found practicing it can be prosecuted. But of course, the peculiar authority-encourages-rebellion paradox states that plenty of black metal bands still exist within the conservative Islamic nation! In December 2010, Swedish black metal band Marduk was only allowed to play live in Singapore under the condition that they do not perform overly-explicit songs such as “Fuck Me Jesus”. More recently, in November 2012, the conservative island state banned American black metal band Inquisition from performing in the country, most probably due to their ritualistic brand of Satanic lyrics (or perhaps as a knee-jerk reaction to live heavy metal performances in general due to rockstar Dave Mustaine’s controversial remark about Obama earlier in August 2012).

To Be Political

There is a difference between lyrics that are “politically aware” and those that are “politically inclined”. Unless they want to risk getting into legal trouble like British writer Alan Shadrake, rational Southeast Asian grindcore bands will never want to fall under the former category because of the negative impact it could have on the non-musical aspects of their lives. Their region’s suffocating political climate causes most of them to end up in the latter category, in which their ‘political’ lyrics, if any at all, are generally passionate, verbal bashing of the existing government and its practices.

This difference can be clearly seen when comparing lyrical excerpts between select Napalm Death and Noxa songs.

In the Napalm Death song, “Per Capita” (from their 2002 album, Order of the Leech), vocalist Mark “Barney” Greenway wrote these lines:

Per Capita

All placated and humoured

Self-interest in the pure sense is pushing for the privilege

Not to be undervalued or singled out as surplus dead weight

Per Capita, they’ve got your number

Turning the rest against your so-called reprehensible deviance

Setting new precedents for crass behaviour

And so persists the untouchable elite

Greenway notes how the Western capitalist system benefits the rich and powerful by making them even richer and powerful, and not the middle class and poor. This criticism is well known in the realm of academia and is perhaps the most famous flaw of the economical side of Western democracy. Now, this would be considered an informed observation.

In the Noxa song, “Keharuran Moral” (from their 2006 album, Grind Viruses), vocalist Tonny Christian Pangemanan wrote these lines (which have been translated from Bahasa Indonesia):

Corruption and collusion, destroy self-esteem

Public manipulation, blinding eyes of the heart

Do not have a sense of shame, to live as you please

Corruption and collusion, blinding eyes of the heart

Now it becomes the culture, life

There are no real steps, fight disease

Everything is lulled by the sweet promise of the giver

Worse off and cannot stand

Pangemanan laments how nothing substantial is being done to resolve the rampant corruption plaguing Indonesia’s government and its law enforcement agencies. Notice how his jab at the corrupt government is very expressive, but lacking the informative quality seen in Greenway’s lyrics.

Subjectively, listeners who actually care about grindcore lyrics will better connect with Pangemanan than Greenway. Objectively however, their rationale demands that they understand Greenway’s criticism as being more substantial than Pangemanan’s.

Moving with the Times

When Earache founder and CEO Digby Pearson signed Wormrot more than two years ago, he noted “UK in 1988 was a very different time and place as compared to Singapore in 2010.”

“It would have been dishonest to expect Wormrot to be singing about the exact same things, because it was a totally different era then,” Pearson explained. “Apartheid was still the law in South Africa, and vegetarianism was a niche concern. It really was so last century.”

He continued: “I signed Wormrot mainly because drummer Fit is a world-class talent, and also because of how the band didn’t just pay homage to the ‘80s grindcore scene, but gave it their own twist as well.”

“I absolutely loved the idea of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs cover on their debut album. It marked the band down as being unafraid to defy conventions, and that’s pretty much what I like in acts I choose to work with – iconoclasm.”

As mentioned earlier, a defining trait of traditional grindcore music is the political nature of its lyrics. But those who read Wormrot’s lyrics will realize that the band does not sing about politics at all. In fact, frontman Arif Rot finds it utterly banal to do so.

“We don’t really bother much about the world’s politics, as personally, I always find it pointless to blabber about it on every album,” said Rot. “Wormrot’s lyrics are always about social issues, the ups and downs of touring life and my military experience. It’s somewhat like a diary-ish album in which you can look back in time and have a laugh or get pissed off all over again, because it relates so much to your life than an album about the world’s issues.”

Wormrot – “Principle of Puppet Warfare”

“We have no intentions of giving hidden messages about saving the Earth — we all know it’s already fucked on so many levels. There are still bands keeping that tradition, which I have no problems with. But honestly, I just want to hear the blast beats.”

Political Apathy

Apart from personal experiences, Southeast Asian grindcore bands also sing about gore, violence and sex. These sub-genre names are not unfamiliar to those in the know — namely, goregrind and pornogrind — and they are as prevalent in this region’s grindcore community as they are in the West.

Thai Goregrinders Smallpox Aroma

It is intriguing to see how the region’s rich political history completely does not influence some Southeast Asian grindcore bands to write political lyrics. After all, most Southeast Asian countries were British colonies during the pre-WWII era. Additionally, there are also never-ending territorial disputes between Southeast Asian countries pertaining to land such as the Spratly Islands, yet these disputes are not cared about enough to be mentioned in song lyrics.

“We don’t sing about political issues because we fall under the category of grindcore’s sub-genre, goregrind. Yes, there may be goregrind bands that also sing about political issues in their songs, but we prefer to sing about gore alone, because we are mostly influenced by goregrind bands with purely gory lyrical themes,” said Ip, vocalist and drummer of Thailand’s Smallpox Aroma. “More than that, we don’t really focus on lyrics; just gurgling, shouting, shrieking, burping and making whatever other inhuman sound there is in our songs.”

Smallpox Aroma – “The Abnormal Conversion of Fibrinogen by the Unimmunization of the Enzyme Thrombin”

Thailand was the only Southeast Asian country that was not colonized by any European power during the pre-WW2 and WW2 era. Couple this with the fact that the Thai king holds great influence over the Thai people, and it could be argued that Thailand seems to be a historically politically stable Southeast Asian country. But in the last decade, there has been much political disturbance in the form of conflicts between the Thai military and the civilians; especially the much talked about exile of former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra. On top of that, there are social issues too, as Thailand has a violent underworld that is inhabited by both corrupt policemen and drug lords.

Yet despite the proximity and prominence of such issues, Ip chooses to sing solely about gore in the manner of old Carcass. To him, it certainly seems to be a case of personal preference over stubbornly adhering to tradition. He admits that Southeast Asian grindcore bands “did inherit sociopolitical lyrics from their Western seniors” initially, but at the end of the day, it does not necessarily mean that their ankles have to be chained to the boulder of creative influence. He observed: “There are a lot of Western bands that write lyrics about gore, violence, and sex as well.”

Perhaps the general political apathy found in Southeast Asian grindcore lyrics really is simply the result of DWTHOP (Doing Whatever The Hell One Pleases).

The Underground of the Underground

Death and black metal are more common in Southeast Asia than grindcore. As of 14 December 2012, a search on Encyclopaedia Metallum: The Metal Archives for bands falling under the “Death Metal” and “Black Metal” labels reveals that there are 197 such bands from Singapore (113 death, 84 black), 386 from Malaysia (227 death, 159 black), 588 from Indonesia (399 death, 189 black), 145 from the Philippines (109 death, 36 black), 97 from Thailand (66 death, 31 black), 20 from Vietnam (12 death, 8 black), 21 from Brunei (10 death, 11 black) and none from Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and East Timor.

In contrast, a search for bands falling under the “Grindcore” label (which does not include sub-genres such as goregrind and pornogrind) reveals that there are only 12 such bands from Singapore, 38 from Malaysia, 95 from Indonesia, 30 from the Philippines, 18 from Thailand, 1 from Vietnam and none from Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and East Timor.

Wừu, the lone grindcore band from Vietnam

However, what cannot be discovered via Encyclopaedia Metallum: The Metal Archives can always be discovered through the word of mouth. For instance, according to Ip of Smallpox Aroma, there is an obscure pornogrind band from Laos called “Killerz Virginal”, and it is not registered in the comprehensive cyber index of metal bands from all over the world.

A live performance by Killerz Virginal

The statistics above do not take into account whether or not the bands listed are still active, but according to them, there are 1454 death and black metal bands, and a mere 194 grindcore bands from Southeast Asia. This means that there is nearly 7.5 times more Southeast Asian death and black metal bands than their grindcore counterparts.

“Death metal just exploded and went viral worldwide sometime around 1990 – 1991, and every underground metalhead was into either the Floridian Death Metal scene or the Swedish Death Metal scene,” said Calvin Chiang, A&R manager of Pulverised Records. “Fans here still love death and black metal bands in this day and age, probably because of the subjects and themes that death and black metal bands talk about, such as death, gore, zombies and the anti-Christ. It gives them a sense of ‘fantasy’ that cannot be found in the norm of our everyday lives.”

Visual presentation plays a crucial role in death and black metal music, and they come in the forms of grotesque-looking band logos, album artwork, applying bloody and/or corpsepaint makeup and wearing of costumes during live shows. In grindcore culture however, visual presentation is at the bottom of the priority list. Band members are often seen decked out in casual wear, and they can resemble everyday people walking on the streets, except for the grotesque and occasionally explicit words printed on their grindcore T-shirts. Perhaps this is why death and black metal are more popular than grindcore in Southeast Asia. Their tradition of having a comparatively heavier emphasis on visual presentation seems to appeal to the imaginative human mind more than the stark nature of grindcore culture.

Another reason could be the iffy issue of song length versus song quality.

“Perhaps why death and black metal bands are more popular here could be how people tend to see their members as being relatively better musicians than those from grindcore bands; in the sense that they would put in more effort in songwriting and musicianship,” speculated Chiang. “However, I tend to disagree at some point. Grindcore is, after all, traditionally much shorter in song duration. And hell, it can take a lot more effort to write a really kickass song in under two minutes!”

Arif Rot with Flesh Disgorged circa 2004

Before Wormrot, frontman Arif Rot had actually done vocals for brutal death metal band Flesh Disgorged. As someone with a strong appreciation for traditional forms of extreme metal, he feels that grindcore’s abstinence from top-notch album production is a key factor in its obscurity.

“Kids these days are exposed to more ‘professional-sounding’ metal than the listeners who lived through the old school era of raw grindcore, black metal and the likes. With tons of new sub-genres popping out, grindcore is getting smaller and smaller, because new bands keep incorporating a million genres into one,” Rot explained.

“Hence, these new generation listeners pretty much get to hear everything from just one band. I’m assuming it’s way more interesting for bands to play this way than the old-fashioned, straightforward form of grindcore?”

It’s More Than Just Wormrot

Wormrot may be the most famous Southeast Asian grindcore act at the moment, but they are certainly not the first to be part of the Southeast Asian metal underground. In fact, Demisor, a band largely acknowledged to be Singapore’s pioneering grindcore act, has existed long before Wormrot’s conception.

Demisor – “Theocracy Revile”

Grindcore may not be the most popular extreme metal sub-genre in Southeast Asia, but it is being kept alive by a number of bands. These bands include Abrasion (Singapore), Analdicktion (Singapore), Biopsy Cunt (Thailand), Compulsion To Kill (Malaysia), Demisor (Singapore), Failure Trace (Thailand), Killerz Virginal (Laos), Magnicide (Singapore), Noxa (Indonesia), Proletar (Indonesia), Smallpox Aroma (Thailand), Tools of the Trade (Malaysia) and Wừu (Vietnam).

Noxa – “Respect All Ethnic, Kill Racism”

The common influences among these bands seem to be Carcass, Napalm Death, Nasum, Insect Warfare and Pig Destroyer. However, some of the more prominent Southeast Asian bands, such as Noxa, Demisor and Wormrot, have an intense sound that seems to be directly influenced by Nasum and Insect Warfare. They generally favor playing extremely fast, before breaking out into slow grooves unexpectedly, and then speeding up again towards the end.

As the most well known Southeast Asian grindcore band before Wormrot burst onto the scene, Indonesia’s Noxa was formed in mid-March 2002 and have been grinding for more than 10 years now. They have released 3 studio albums and played at events such as Tuska Open Air Metal Festival (2008) and Obscene Extreme Festival (2010). In the process, they have shared the stage with Western grindcore legends such as Carcass, Cattle Decapitation, Cripple Bastards, DRI, General Surgery, Haemorrhage and Misery Index.

In Singapore, there is Demisor. They formed in 1987 — decades before Wormrot’s formation in 2007 — and have been playing extreme music for more than 25 years now. They still have not released a single studio album. However, staying true to the grindcore spirit, they have already released a grand total of 2 demos and 13 splits to date. They also made their first appearance at Obscene Extreme Festival in 2012.

Nearby in Malaysia, Tools of the Trade is a fairly young band that formed in early 2004. Hardcore Carcass fans can immediately see that their name is taken from the English grindcore legends’ 1992 EP. They have only released 1 demo, 1 split and 2 studio albums so far, but they have already gained some momentum with Western audiences due to their debut appearance at Obscene Extreme Festival in 2012 (similar to Demisor).

Tools of the Trade – “Seeking of Affiliation”

“How is it that such great bands go unnoticed?” is a common question most Western grindcore appreciators ask themselves when they come across an awesome Southeast Asian grindcore band. The answer to this question lies in the power of media.

Through the filter of mainstream metal publications, it might seem like Wormrot is the only grindcore band from the entire region. The truth however, is that the bulk of these bands stay true to the underground ethics of grindcore and never get picked up by established extreme metal labels. Even in an obscure market such as extreme metal, there is still tension between the current corporate media system and democratic ideals and practices.

For instance, if one looks at Nuclear Blast’s history, the label seems to keep up with the times. In the late ‘80s, just when grindcore started becoming popular, it signed grindcore acts such as Righteous Pigs. In the mid ‘90s, when black metal was becoming popular, it signed black metal acts such as Dissection. In the mid-2000s, just when the deathcore movement was at the peak of its popularity, it even signed a single deathcore band in the form of All Shall Perish. Of course, it has always signed acts from other genres no matter the era, but special consideration seems to be given to bands from current movements.

Generally, this habit of looking for the “next big thing” is also observed in other established extreme metal labels, such as Century Media, Metal Blade and Season of Mist. Every now and then, new signees turn out to be part of current and popular movements, such as metalcore in its various spinoffs (e.g. The Agonist), deathcore (e.g. Suicide Silence) and esoteric black metal (e.g. Deathspell Omega).

Hence, when Earache Records signed Wormrot in 2010, most Westerners perceived it as an unexpected move on their part. The sight of a major label giving such attention to an obscure band from a foreign part of the extreme metal world simply violated the trend of signing bands whom are part of current and popular extreme metal movements.

“People from around the world who checked out Wormrot might then check out other Southeast Asian grindcore bands, but the metal press generally doesn’t,” said Andrew Ferris, frontman of Analdicktion. “Also, when Southeast Asian grindcore bands send stuff for reviews, they would now get compared to Wormrot, because that’s their frame of reference for Southeast Asia.”

Analdicktion – “Cheebai Destroyer”

Fame is a double-edged sword. Ever since Wormrot became the first Southeast Asian grindcore band to be signed by Earache Records, virtually every Western metal publication — that does not specialize in grindcore coverage — started using Wormrot as the benchmark for every other Southeast Asian grindcore act. On one hand, Wormrot’s unique status as the face of Southeast Asian grindcore puts the regional scene on the extreme metal world map. On the other hand, it also focuses much of the extreme metal world’s attention on them and spares little for the rest of their brethren; which is not something that any true grindcore supporter wishes for.

“Southeast Asia is fucking awesome. There are tons — and I really mean tons — of great underground bands,” gushed Arif Rot, frontman of Wormrot. “I guess the reason why Wormrot became a ‘benchmark’ for bloggers and reviewers is because we have been active in touring the globe for the past few years. I think that is the only difference.”

“We have no issues with people comparing us to other bands; they have their opinions and so do we. We know how we sound like and that is all that matters. There are lots of great grind bands over here; it’s just that they haven’t been around the globe to spread their tunes as much as us. I guess they have their own goals and are happy with it, and that’s awesome enough.”

Heat & Humidity

Despite Southeast Asia’s warm temperature and high humidity, she has managed to spawn a decent number of grindcore bands that do not mind sweating it out. With summer as its main season, the region is generally tropical throughout the year.

The average temperature hovers around 30°C, and it rains frequently. Equatorial parts, which include Malaysia, Brunei, Indonesia, Singapore and the Philippines, have only two seasons: wet and dry. The temperature varies between 35°C (dry) and 25°C (wet), and 35°C is not the most torturous level seen. Summer in Indochina — which includes Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam and Myanmar — can see it soar to a searing 40°C.

However, Southeast Asia is also home to many mountains, and conditions are generally cooler in the highlands. Some of the mountains in Indonesia, Vietnam and Myanmar are so tall that they experience snowfall every year. Strangely, no grindcore bands peddle their craft in these cool mountains. It is tempting to think that the physical intensity (and the concomitant generation of plenty of body heat) involved in playing grindcore music makes it a pastime more suitable for the cool highlands rather than the warm metropolis.

“Although we may always complain about it, we are sort of used to the hot and humid climate. Still, we get that shit [from others] all the time. We have no choice but to try really hard to shut the fuck up about it,” remarked Arif Rot.

“We perspire heavily on stage all the time, even when we are touring in a cold-ass country. However, it’s always been about the adrenaline rush on stage. The sweatier, the more insane it’s going to be.”

In Beth Winegarner’s lengthy profile of Baroness, the rise of sludge metal in Southern American States has been explained as an act of musical rebellion against a generally stifling, religious culture; and its slow tempo, due to the region’s hot and humid climate. Similarly, Southeast Asia has a generally stifling, political/religious culture (depending on which country you are in), and a hot and humid climate. Yet despite identical circumstances, sludge metal bands are a rare breed in Southeast Asia! On the other hand, grindcore bands are slightly more common, even though their speed-crazed genre requires them to perform at blazing tempos and work up a huge sweat.

“There were a few sludge metal bands in Singapore during the ‘90s, but yes, we are seriously lacking in sludge metal bands today. Maybe we do not have enough marijuana import?” joked Calvin Chiang, A&R manager of Pulverised Records.

“However, I also really do not see so many grindcore bands sprouting up in Singapore these days, although I can’t say the same for our neighbouring countries. Grindcore itself has become such an old sub-genre now that there isn’t much ‘pure’ grindcore anymore.”

Natural Environment VS. Metropolitan Life

Perhaps the reason behind this development of fundamentally different scenes, despite comparable climates, lies in the fact that Southern American States are more closely linked to the natural environment than Southeast Asia.

Most Southeast Asian countries are focused on guiding their nations toward first-world status. Hence, economical well-being is the main goal of their governments. As such, building (or at least, attempting to build) world-class infrastructure to attract foreign investments becomes a top priority, and citizens end up being led by their noses into the hasty and concrete world of metropolitan life. Unlike the rural feel and laidback pace of life in Southern America, life in Southeast Asia is the antithesis of this. It is more suited to spawn fast and abrasive bands that are out of touch with nature.

Alas, external factors can only go so far in determining the decision of any Southeast Asian band to play grindcore. Ultimately, internal factors could be the greater forces at work. Firstly, there is the obvious reason of simply choosing to play grindcore because of one’s passion for it. Secondly, it could be due to the overbearing need for catharsis, a physical and psychological form of therapy aimed at easing frustration with the hurried pace of metropolitan life. Lastly, it could even be a form of escapism, a temporary retreat from the harsh truths of reality.

“It always acts as a form of stress relief for us, not to mention that it’s a great fucking workout at the same time,” proclaimed Wormrot frontman Arif Rot. “We can’t say living in Singapore is hard, but it’s not easy either. There will always be something to be pissed off about, and I’m very sure that the same thing goes for all parts of the world.”

“Extreme music is healthy; it’s the perfect way to let out your frustrations openly and legally.”

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