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HAMMERSONIC FESTIVAL 2024: Jakarta, 04/05 to 05/05

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words by Prarthana Nandini Venunathan

Home to the largest metal festival in Southeast Asia, I found myself returning to Indonesia, only this time, it was for metal. Hammersonic, held in the beach district of Ancol in Jakarta city, has undoubtedly put the island country on the map of heavy music, since its inception in 2012. Many a band have passed through to play the reputed fest and to experience the rich culture but more importantly, the passion of this community. With fans gathering from near and far just to catch sight of their favourite bands, it was incredible to meet people there from Colombia, Japan, Australia, Timor-Leste, India, China and more.

Entering their ninth year, the promoter behind this massive event, Ravel Entertainment, certainly went the whole nine yards with what was an incredibly diverse lineup – there was something for every kind of heavy music enthusiast. In addition to that, the entire festival from start to finish was truly a spectacle. As you enter the welcoming archway and become one in a crowd of battle vests and black, there is no denying the extreme efforts that go into the making of something this size; onwards it was into the world of Hammersonic.

(Photo credit: Abi)

Day One of Hammersonic


My day began with the end of Majalaya’s metalcore act Hyper who had the crowd fist-bumping at noon, which was indeed impressive given the ridiculous heat. There was already a sea of band t-shirts gathered at this stage area and its neighbour The Avalanche for a slew of brain-rattling local talent.

Next Me Zhanalena from across the other side of the country, the island of Sumatra, brought forth to the now quite crowded grounds, a stampede of hardcore riffs, raspy, raw vocals and a healthy amount of post-hardcore breakdowns. Perth’s very own Crypt Crawler were next on the Beast stage with their debut international performance. This band has been making waves in the last few years and for good reason. Playing a high-energy set of death metal complete with chugs, chops and some grind thrown in for good measure, they had a horde of new fans by the end of it who were only too pleased to show their appreciation with a mosh or two.

(Crypt Crawler Photo Credit: JV Photo & Film)

Australia had a strong presence here as Freedom of Fear took to the stage next. Always a pleasure to see live, the death metal band from Adelaide had vocalist Jade swirling circle pits into existence with the mere wave of a finger as she unleashed her powerful growls and deep bellows onto the masses; while guitarists Matt Walters and Corey Davis made jaws drop with their riveting solos and guitar wizardry. While it seems effortless to one standing amongst the crowds who had now gathered in large numbers to catch the Adelaide metallers, they have really worked hard, truly stepping into their power and evolving as a band since 2018.


Aptly named, this stage had some of the hardest-hitting local acts of the day which in hindsight were also some of the highlights for me personally. This included Circafaith with some of the best vocals and musicianship I heard that day, Velhina with the hard-hitting breakdowns and of course my absolute favourite band of the festival, yes the whole festival, Gorebomb. From Wonogiri, Central Java, the five-piece are truly a force to be reckoned with their edgy sound, groove-laden riffs, vocals that shook the very ground we were on and a fierce display of solid hardcore . You can catch some of that the Lamb of God influence in there too with just as much if not an even more blistering energy in tracks like Hantu Kota. They also handed out free fans to the crowd which was a really nice gesture. Saved the day gentlemen!

Rebellion Rose took me right back to my 13-year-old self and the moment I first listened to The Clash with their epic choral chants, fist-bumping the air with every beat and that classic 70’s punk rock style. Rezume was undoubtedly another favourite from day one kicking off the nighttime music rituals as the weather cooled down and darkness began to descend. The band came in like a sonic force ready to whip everyone into true mosh form. The Balinese five-piece brutal death band including their newest member guitarist Dyson enjoyed a little on-stage banter between some caveman riffs and gutturals. Slamming people with sounds akin to the Kraken regurgitating a meal amidst a chaotic storm would probably best describe my thoughts on their performance. Epic boys!


Also known as the Suffocation Stage given that they were the only band I saw completely on the Hammer Stage on the first day. I mean, they really need no introduction and in true Suffo style, wasted no time in releasing their brutal riffs onto the masses gathered. As is customary when they play, and given where I was standing, my view was essentially a chaotic vortex of flailing limbs either entering or existing one of the multiple circle pits that had manifested. Fear Factory is a force to be reckoned with and the fresh new energy that vocalist Milo brings really carried this particular performance for me. Needless to say, Dino Cazares was also a pleasure to watch as always.

(Fear Factory Photo Credit: JV Photo & Film)

I caught the last twenty minutes of the very charismatic Marty Friedman’s set just as he was amusing the crowds by speaking some Japanese and engaging in a little friendly on-stage banter with his band and the fans, before playing Dragon Mistress and Kaze Ga Fuiteiru. I must admit that old age is catching on so I managed to find a good spot from which to sit and watch some of Crossfaith’s set and I love seeing them live – they’re just straight up wild. There’s just so much going on at a show from the Osaka quintet, you don’t really know where to look, be it the flying ninja kicks, the relentless headbanging while lashing out some killer drum solos or the killer electronic breakdowns where the DJ just goes mental! High-energy, fun and eclectic, these techno-metallers just know how to have a good time and pull you in for the fun.

(Suffocation Photo Credit: Ramski Putra)

(Crossfaith Photo Credit: Bryner Tan)


The Main Stage of the festival was a sight to behold indeed, being much larger than even the biggest local live music venues. While I did spend most of my time attempting to see the local acts, it was great to take a step back and watch the bands on the big stage.

Strangers from Bandung played an energetic style of deathcore and djent, a prime example of the incredible local talent this country has to offer the metal community! We The Kings played much later in the afternoon providing a nice break from the heavier sounds and playing a fun set of alt-rock music. But it was Madball I was most looking forward to having last seen them nearly ten years ago at Hellfest. Playing some of their best songs like Hardcore Lives and Hold it Down, Madball is just one of those bands that gets you going with the relentless and raw punk energy!

People had started gathering at the main stage at least a good two hours prior to Saosin’s set and this was the first time I had even heard of the band but who were a last minute replacement. I’ll be honest here because sometimes it’s necessary – I was very bored, and as someone rightly put it to me ‘bland’. I didn’t understand how they ‘fit’ on this bill. That’s not to say that they weren’t good musicians because clearly they had a big following but it just wasn’t my cup of tea.

Due to the chaotic delay courtesy of Yngwie (25 mins over time, the sets got pushed forward quite late into the night but the crowd had now grown bigger in anticipation of the final band of the night), A Day to Remember came, and conquer they did, proving why they are a headline-worthy band. Vocalist Jeremy McKinnon effortlessly weaved in and out of cleans, screams and growls leading the now easily 30,000-strong crowd through songs like The Downfall of Us All, A Shot in the Dark, and Miracle. I can’t say that I’ve listened to a lot of music by them but there were a few very catchy tunes that also seemed to be the real crowd pleasers. The energy of the band from start to finish was electrifying, the pyro made it all the more magnificent and there were just those beautiful, pure moments where you could see just how much love the band and their fans shared.

I think what I love most now about festivals, at times more than the actual bands themselves, is seeing the emotion they evoke from their fans and when I say that Indonesia went hard that night, I do not say it lightly.

(A Day To Remember Photo Credit: Bryner Tan)

Day Two of Hammersonic Festival

The second day felt more relaxed than day one somehow, probably because I managed to find some vegan Nasi Goreng for breakfast, which kept me going for the rest of the day. If there is one thing that does get quite hard sometimes, it’s the availability of vegan food at festivals and that’s something it would be great to see a little more of at Hammersonic. But the weather was crisp, the lineup was sick and I think learning your way around the site on the first day of a festival makes you feel more organised because you know where to go. The layout of this festival was convenient and didn’t require too much running around from stage to stage. There were also a few rest and recover areas out of the sun and fully equipped with beer, massage chairs and food courtesy of some of the sponsors and which many punters took full advantage of.


Bandung’s Haunted Era on the Beast Stage really began day two of the festival on a strong note for me. With some beautiful melodies and rather mesmerising symphonic elements, the band plays a really unique style; a combination of progressive, technical metal with some melodeath for good balance. But it was SLFR that were my local act of the day. Right from the start, they reminded me of Iceland’s Auðn musically, playing a very melancholic post-black metal set which is very much my cup of tea and was a set I thoroughly enjoyed. Engage in Vengeance’s relentless hardcore tunes packed a punch at The Avalanche Stage, getting people psyched for another full day of heavy music while Speak Up were also roughing up the crowds with their adrenaline-fuelled performance of punk rock and thrash; the energy was electric to say the least!

(SLFR Photo credit: Rio)


I have said this and will continue to, there is something in the waters of Scandinavia and Norway’s Blood Red Throne proved my point by playing a blistering set of solid death metal tunes. Playing some old tunes as well as songs from their latest release Nonagon, the multiple circle pits and moshers braving the peak afternoon heat to jam with this talented lot was a testament to just the kind of band they are. Hydration is a must on a 40-degree day so after what seemed like the consumption of five bottles of varying drinks, I headed back to the Sonic Stage to catch DVRK. The French deathcore act, newly signed by Season of Mist brought a fresh, and relentless style of the genre to Jakarta with a power-packed set and some very enthusiastic moshpit stompers that magically appear when there’s any kind of hardcore music playing.

It was all happening on the Sonic Stage as Nervosa moved to day two, belting out a relentless adrenaline induced set of straight-up thrash metal. While again, this isn’t necessarily my kind of music, they put on an incredible performance. Venom Inc is always a good time and it was sad not seeing Mantas there due to his health condition (send good thoughts his way everyone) but the band, acknowledging his absence, soldiered on and put on a sick show. This is what I love though, regardless of old members forming a new band and some of the slack they’ve copped over the years, this is a group of truly passionate metal musicians who give it their all. The setlist had something for old fans and new as the band played some originals like War and There’s Only Black but also Venom classics such as Blackened are the Priests, Bloodlust and of course ending the set with Black Metal.

(Venom INC Photo credit: Ramski Putra)

Misery Index I could go on about forever – it’s just straight-up no-bullshit death metal and despite their initial sound and tech issues, the band is just flawless in every way possible and truly, a force to be reckoned with. I’ve been listening to the Baltimore boys for a long time but this was my first time seeing them live and man does that dual vocal assault from Jason Netherton and Mark Kloeppel hit different live. The majority of their set were tracks off Heirs to Thievery and their latest release Complete Control, both absolute monster albums.

Cradle of Filth were the final act of the night on the Hammer Stage and they did not disappoint. It’s been a good five years since I last saw them and they now have a new keyboardist who also has the most angelic voice and looks like a fairy. Dani Filth brought his top-notch screeches in all their banshee-like glory as the band flawlessly delivered a set of gems that included Cruelty Brought Thee Orchids, Nymphetamine and of course From the Cradle to the Grave. Watching them is always an immersive experience and I couldn’t help but appreciate the girls at the barrier who were in traditional attire given that Jakarta is an Islamic state, but were rocking a whole face of corpse paint. Metal as.


Hear me out, Linkin Park but make it Indonesian, and you have the incredible St Loco. While I do my best not to outright compare one band to another, this one is hard not to – the combined growls and cleans, the spoken word rapping, the seamless back and forth between mid and fast tempos, I really could go on There was just this energy and emotion about them that was so intense, you couldn’t help but be drawn in. Bleeding Through followed up the chaos with a great set too and sent the crowds into a happy frenzy.

As night fell Suicide Silence took to the stage and as each member appeared on stage they were met with the most deafening cheer from the crowds; every band’s dream. While I wouldn’t say I’m a fan, I have enjoyed seeing them live every time I have. The band exudes positivity and had a number of beautiful messages to share with their Indonesian followers. “Look at the person to your left, and give them a hug! Hug someone you don’t know”. They truly redefine the word ‘wholesome’. “Something in our lives led us all to some brutal music because we needed to feel the way we feel on the inside, on the outside as well. Thank you for being here”.

(Suicide Silence Photo Credit: Bryner Tan)

I realised how old I was getting for late nights and loud festivals at this point and found a quiet-ish spot to stand with some mates while As I Lay Dying played, gearing up to see the mightiest of them all. The calm before the storm set in as the haunting intro of Memento Mori filled the air and soon the silence broke with the crowd roaring as one by one the band appeared, waving to their fans.

What can I say? It’s Lamb of God -it’s an entire feeling, and so much more than just a band. Randy Blythe’s unbelievably commanding stage presence, the explosive, raw energy is intense and it still blows me away just how tight they are after all these years. They blistered through a set that had a song for every kind of Lamb of God fan, as they pummeled their way through tracks like Walk With Me in Hell, Resurrection Man, 11th Hour and of course, ending on the highest of highs with everyone’s favourite Redneck. But for me, standing in the middle of a 30,000-strong crowd somewhere in Indonesia singing in perfect unison, the chorus of Now You’ve Got Something to Die For is a core memory for sure. Lamb of God remain one of the strongest, most consistent bands I’ve seen in my time and once again proved why they are among some of the greatest. They serve as a reminder to never settle, back down or be less than you are

Hammersonic is a must for every metalhead, music enthusiast and hardcore human. From beginning to end, and many nasi gorengs later, there is no doubt that this is one of the greatest heavy music festivals.

Terimah Kasih and see you next time.

(Lamb of God Photo Credit: Ramski Putra)

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