It's not every day that you get an email from Malang, Indonesia, so I was intrigued by Children of Terror right off the bat. Then I heard their music: an incredibly intense form of metalcore that draws from an impressive variety of influences—hard-charging rhythmic grooves, a H8000-esque attack given a Swedish death metal facelift, grinding blasts, dark atmospheric textures, vocals that shift from ferocious snarls to sinister singing to chaotically high-pitched sneers... the list goes on.
Prior to last night, I had only heard two of the five songs from their forthcoming new EP, Kaliyuga, which was more than enough to demonstrate just how far the group has come since their 2016 full-length, Retrospective. Kaliyuga represents an amazing step forward on every level, from the songwriting and musicianship to the production—which sounds absolutely huge, by the way. Finally sitting down with the full EP, I'm truly impressed, and Children of Terror has certainly scored a new fan here.
There have been some manufacturing delays on the CD pressing of Kaliyuga, but physical copies should be available any day now. In the meantime, stream the full EP below (or purchase digitally via Bandcamp), followed by an interview that provides plenty of background information regarding Children of Terror (and the highly active Malang City Hardcore scene)...
I don't know much about Children of Terror yet, but it looks like the band has been around for some time now—releasing a demo in 2008, appearing on a few compilations, and issuing a full-length cassette last year. Introduce us to Children of Terror: who's in the band, what do you stand for, etc.?
Children of Terror was formed in 2006. Just like any other band, we've reformed our formation a couple of times since its beginning. Our current lineup is Antok (guitar), Bagus (vocals), Josh (drums), and Seweng (bass). We released limited copies of a demo CD-R in 2008, took part in some compilations, and released our full-length album last year. Not so productive as a band. We're not full-time musicians, we have our full-time jobs. We have to deal with daily life and have to work for ordinary life just like anyone else. We try to stay true to ourselves and know who we are. Mostly we speak of humanity and how we live in this world as humans. We feel like people nowadays are more ignorant and forget their history. People are killed by technology, live in their own worlds, and don't care about each other.
I've only heard two songs from the new EP so far, but it's pulling from a much wider range of influences than your previous material. There's obviously a '90s metalcore influence that touches on everything from sludgy death metal to more chaotic textures; but then there's the grindcore element with shrill, higher-pitched vocals; and also some darker melodic elements with bits of singing, too. How would you say your songwriting has progressed since your last tape?
Our full-length is more like a compilation album. We compiled a few songs which we had recorded from 2010/2011 until 2015. We mixed, packaged, and released it in 2016. That's why we titled it Retrospective. It's like looking back to the past. You'll know our history by listening to that album. How our abilities to write a song, write lyrics, create a sound, and make a concept has been progressed can be heard track by track on that album. Since the early days, we already stuck by '80s and '90s hardcore bands—mostly '90s. We love Strife, Shai Hulud, Brightside, Ryker's, Integrity, Vision of Disorder, Snapcase, Gorilla Biscuits, Sick of it All, Youth of Today, etc.; but we're also metalheads in some way. We described our music as hardcore/thrash/prog back then. We were young at the time. We just wanted to play straightforward, angry, and aggressive, but we added a little taste of progressive music by the drum tempos. It sounded cool.
Then, our songwriting abilities progressed every time we wrote new material. We added darker elements by adopting some of the H8000 sound, we put more '90s metallic hardcore sound, '80s thrash metal taste, and also added more technical elements into our music. Now we try to make something new, at least for us. We want something heavier, darker, more brutal. We widened our influences—sludge, doom, death metal, grindcore, powerviolence—anything we take as an influence and shaped it in our music. We started by downtuning our guitars as low as we could, we always played in standard tuning for our previous releases. Exploring sounds and writing songs, it's just as simple as that. But we're older now. We want to redefine our music and sound, we want to make heavy music that's dark and elegant. We still love the old days, but we need to move and raise our musical steps to the next level. "Nothing consistent but change." We've changed. We've developed. Every time in positive way. Become older and wiser, but also get deeper as your roots grow, musically or as a human being.
The new songs are also much heavier, and display a big step up in production values as well. What was different about the recording process this time around?
We're just doing it the same way. The difference is that we put more effort in this time. Our full-length album was recorded a few years ago. Now we have more knowledge about the recording/production process. Technically we use better quality equipment than before. We changed our tuning, dropped as low as we could. We take more time to write songs and find a good sound that fits our music. We're in a very good mood about this recording. It helped us to do more exploration and some experiments in the studio. Trial and error.
I haven't seen the full lyrics yet, but the English translation for "(((Patah)))" is pretty dark and intense. How would you describe the lyrical direction of the new EP?
This EP is titled Kaliyuga, which means "age of destruction" in the Hindu belief. Kaliyuga is a semi-concept album, not fully a concept album. The lyrics are very personal. Seweng wrote all the lyrics here, except "(((Patah)))," which Bagus co-wrote. He writes from his personal view, drawing from all experiences. All of the lyrics on this EP talk about death. Any kind of death. "Rest in Peace" talks about our friend who died in the wilderness of the mountains. He was lost for two days before a rescue team found his dead body hundreds of meters below the top. "(((Patah)))" talks about drug abuse and our friends who died by overdose. "Puppets of War" talks about a soldier in the middle of the war. He denies his sense of humanity like a machine who is already programmed to complete the task, whether he likes it or not, he must follow the order to complete the mission even if it's against his own beliefs. "Kaliyuga" talks about the world today. We know how the world works today. How cruel the world is today. Who's the stronger kills who's the weaker. We all forget about our sense of humanity, taking care of each other, we lost our path, burn our history, etc. It's time for the age of destruction, which crushes everything, burns everything to build a new one, the age of peace. It seems like doomsday. "Bharatayuddha" was Hindi and Java epic art, talking about a great war of the warrior race, representing good and evil.
Lyrically, in the old days we always talked about the hardcore scene, hardcore pride, and anything about the scene that sounds cliché for us. Later on, as our music progressed, so did the lyrics. We started to talk about inner struggles, depression, humanity, spirituality, and philosophy. Since our music is going darker and more evil, our lyrics help to build dark vibes and nuances to our music.
Children of Terror covered the German metalcore band Veil on the full-length, Retrospective. That's a pretty cool and obscure choice, I don't see people talking about bands like Veil too often these days.
Yes. We are stuck in the '90s. European hardcore had a big impact on us as a band. They've really influenced us. Their music was unique, underrated, and most of them were dark. American bands were greats, but European bands were always having different tastes. Germany was the home of tons of great bands, whatever the genre. This song "Everyday," by Veil, was popular in our scene back then in the '90s. We tried to recapture that moment, but we did it in our way, as always. We rearranged the song, gave it our taste, etc.
I'm honestly not sure if I've ever written about an Indonesian band before. What's the scene like in Indonesia from your perspective, and what are some other Indonesian bands—past or present—that listeners should check out?
Indonesia has a huge underground scene—punk, hardcore, and metal—that already exists since the early-'90s or late-'80s maybe. I'll just talk about my city, Malang, which I know quite well and am a part of it, especially the Malang City Hardcore scene. We have tons of great bands here. I'll just name a few like No Man's Land, The Babies, Strength of Unity, Wodka, Stolen Vision, Primitive Chimpanzee, Today is Struggle, Screaming Factor, Rotten Corpse, Extreme Decay, Antiphaty, Breath of Despair, Hindsight, Stupid Rascal, Honesty, etc. Some bands are R.I.P. or took a long hiatus, some bands never released an album, but most of them are still active. They already existed since the '90s until now, and made a big impact on the scene, inspiring the younger generation like me. Some bands were formed later, like Screamsick 99, Neurosesick, Death of President, Give Me a Chance, Last Threat, Difficult and Hard, Fallen to Pieces, Stand In, etc.
Our scene was active. Organizing gigs, making zines, making labels to release albums, organizing charity gigs for helping people who became victims of earthquakes or floods, helping disabled people, making book donations for poor schools, etc. Some bands and friends were taking part in the Drug Free Campaign or Social Campaign. We have many bands which play any kind of hardcore music. Old school, new school, hardcore punk, metallic hardcore, powerviolence... we even have many bands who play a H8000 sound. But just like any hardcore scene all over the world, people come and go. Old blood is gone, young blood comes and grows. It's always like that. We've been regenerated. Now we have younger blood like Hand of Hope, Attack Destroyer, Roots of Earth, Ravage, Strikeball, Take the Risk, Disobedient, Excrowded, etc. You better check them all. They're all great bands. Young and dangerous...
Actually, our scene has had many great bands time after time. '90s, '00s, and from 2010 until now. Each era has its own story. Each band has its own history and puts its footprint in Malang City Hardcore history. Salute to all of them. I'm sorry if I forget to mention anyone. Later I will make for you a Malang City Hardcore scene report, so you have more ideas about my scene.
Anyway, thanks for the interview. Thanks for your great questions. Nice talking with you, Andrew. It's been an honor for us.