Interview: BLCKHWK from Bandung, Indonesia Talk ‘Decomposing Rotting Flesh’

BLCKHWK are a powerviolence/grindcore band formed in Palembang, Indonesia in late 2011/2012. BLCKHWK made their official debut in 2013, releasing their first self-titled EP containing six songs under the Rimauman Music label. In 2015, the original drummer (Rama Pratama) left and was replaced by new drummer Aldo. The band then released the split EP with Jakarta-based grindcore/powerviolence band Disfare and their music slowly started to change.

From 2017-2019, members Billy Rizqi (guitar) and Aldo started working on BLCKHWK’s first album, creating 10 songs, but the band had to momentarily stop because Aldo moved from Palembang to Bandung to start a new job, and the rest of the members could not continue the band. Billy then decided to move to Bandung to continue the band elsewhere and started recruiting new members from Bandung. Finally, BLCKHWK released their first album, Decomposing Rotting Flesh, in early 2021. The album would be released in 2022 accompanied by the savage video for the title track.

New Noise spoke with drummer Aldo about the scene in Bandung, their brutal video, and their horrific influences.

Tell me about the scene in Bandung, Indonesia. Is brutal death metal the sound of the youth in this region?

Over the years, Bandung has always been an exciting hub for creative minds, especially for music enthusiasts. In the late 80s metal and punk became an attraction for those interested in the underground music scene. The musicians explored and developed their craft, utilizing the most extreme side of metal, namely brutal death metal, grindcore, and black metal. Ujung berung became a specific area in Bandung that was famous for the sound and style of brutal death metal from the late 90s until the end of 2010. But for those who are into punk, this story differs a little —They perhaps preferred grindcore to brutal death. 

Nousonix is your other band. How do you approach drumming in it as opposed to BLCKHWK?

There is not much of a difference, just a slight difference in tempo. In BLCKHWK, the tempo is fast, and in Nousonix, it is slower.

You have a few videos out now. “Decomposing Rotting Flesh” looks like an extreme horror short. Tell us about the filming of it. Who was the main actor playing the killer?

The main character is Frederick who is ambitious, cold-blooded, and psychopathic. We wrote the storyline ourselves, inspired by a horror movie, and we enjoyed the whole process. We wanted to spread the anti-virus message to all corners of the world, and we decided on the “Decomposing Rotting Flesh MV to become the main bullet used in spreading it. 

Your “Useless” video incorporates scenes from Night of the Living Dead. The song is said to be about being useless and careless to the people around us. Do the zombies represent that? Also, what other horror films inspire BLCKHWK?

I think I should probably first explain the use of zombie characters attached to each burst of fire that BLCKHWK brings. The zombie itself represents an aspect of human nature that can no longer think clearly and is greedy and rotten, which is actually very relevant to the world in the present day, so we decided to inject it into the Decomposing Rotting Flesh album. Yes, we are greatly inspired by vintage horror movies like the Evil Dead trilogyDead and Buried, George Romero’s living dead series, Lucio Fulci’s City of the Living Dead/Zombie and early Peter Jackson films like Bad Taste and Dead Alive. We are also inspired by some enormously talented comic and manga artists.

Your Decomposing Rotting Flesh album contains 17 tracks with subjects ranging from complaints about the environment, friendship, and other things going on in your life. Which topics would you like to highlight?

We wanted to highlight everything around us that is related, be it personal or outside of our immediate circles. It can be as simple as a loss of trust, creating fake friendships with a specific purpose, or even just reaping certain benefits by hiding behind the community. 

Loonerhaze did the cover art. What advice did you give him?

Billy is the one who directs Loonerhaze’s idealization for the cover art. Loonerhaze is actually the moniker of Tony, one of our guitarists. The idea was inspired by the Scream painting by Edvard Munch as well as Junji Ito’s Fragments of Horror, and it is also mixed with elements from classic horror movie posters.

I know of the big festivals like Hammersonic, but have found that they don’t usually book many of the underground extreme bands found in Indonesia. Which other festivals found in the country could you tell us about?

As we know there are many festivals here in Indonesia, which every city or collective has. But the problem is we are not really into those kinds of festivals so we don’t follow the news.

Obscene Extreme happened in 2013 in Jakarta. Do you hope for another one in the country, or do you think BLCKHWK will make it to the Czech Republic for one?

We do really hope that we could perform more in our country but if there is any chance for us to get on Obscene Extreme in the Czech Republic, why not? 

Follow BLCKHWK on Instagram.

Photo courtesy of BLCKHWK

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