Interviews

Ripped to shreds (an interview with R from Mantahungal)

Now that’s an interesting band you shouldn’t miss! Forgive me my excitement, but Mantahungal, the obscure Indonesian black metal duo, should be on the radar of every fan of the dark arts. And, of course, I couldn’t miss the chance to talk to one of the persons behind this secretive band about all things Mantahungal! Thanks to R. for joining me in the conversation!

First thing to strike me…why the name of the Phillipino cryptid for a band name? What’s so interesting about this for you to pick up it as the band name?

R : Actually we don’t have a specific meaning or philosophy about the name. We prefer to use it name because it sounds unusual or something strange. and of course we both like cryptid creatures and mythology..

Now, I don’t know how much information are you willing to provide, but because there are not much info readily available about Mantahungal, let’s start with a few basic questions… What town/city are you based in? In what year did you start the band? What was the motivation behind forming the band? How did you two meet?

R : We are living in a separate province in Indonesia. We started the band in 2021. We knew each other from facebook and then we met . We talked about black metal, and we had an idea to make a black metal project . Because we were in a different band before.

So far you’ve released one EP, “The Festering Decadence and Misery” (2021) and the full-length titled “Gevangenen van angst”, also from 2021. Now, before we’re going to discuss both a little…what I found interesting it, that song titles on your full-length…majority are in Dutch language. Of course, we all know Indonesia was previously a Dutch colony of East Indies…is there any significance of using Dutch language on your record?

R : Dark ages of colonialism carried out by the Dutch East Indies indeed inspired the formation of our band and music. The dark history inspired us how past events from two sides (Dutch Indies and Indonesia) could be raised as a theme. And most of us will never forget that history. Of course we use the Dutch language to keep it mysterious.

Released in July 2021, your debut EP “The Festering Decadence And Misery” was really a fantastic one (in my opinion). What can you tell us about the material presented on it? What language have you written your songs in (I don’t think it’s a standard bahasa Indonesia, right?) …and what Mantahungal sing about, what are your songs about? And who’s that on the cover?

R : That is our own language that we created, it represents the unidentified whispered voices from the dead realm of the dutch man. And the cover is just an illustration about the old dutch man that passed away because of combat in Indonesia. (He was created by digital imaging by the way, he’s never existed.)

Released initially as a digital release, the EP was later released in a tape format by Singaporean label Ancient Horror Records. Why have you picked this particular label to release your material, and how satisfied are you with your co-operation with the label?

R : The man behind Ancient horror reached us first on email, I knew ancient horror before. There are many great and mysterious bands doing physical releases there. So, we’re so honored to become a part of the label. We got a proper production, promotion, and we got an offer to be part of a compilation album.

As for the debut, what were the reactions from the general public and the underground press regarding the EP? Any particularly interested review you might have recalled?

R : We just got only one review from metal archives. It came from NausikaDalazBlindaz on july 2021. We’re really appreciated that, he said “Raw BM festering with fury, aggression, pain and intense energy”

Interestingly enough, in August 2021, just a month after the release of your debut EP, you released a full length, the aforementioned “Gevangenen Van Angst”. That sounds like a lot of productivity between you two…and this time you’ve released it not only digitally, but also in vinyl version (through Russian label Obscurant Visions and in a tape version also (via American label Labyrinth Tower). For those readers not familiar with your material, how would you describe the difference between your EP and the full-length? Are there any at all?

R : Again Gevangenen Van Angst got more attention in bandcamp, then we got approached by Labyrinth Tower and Obscurant Visions. Basically the difference between them is the lyrical themes. Gevangenen van angst is more specific to describe how cruel the dutch indies and they’re haunting every native people in the past times.

Well, the album is out for some time now (as well as the EP), so I think it’s safe to ask… looking back, how satisfied are you with those releases? Have you considered going back, do some changes…you know, constantly getting better, sort of … ?

R : We’re satisfied with both releases, and of course we’re going forward with few or more changes in our music without leaving the root style of our own.

Part of the mystique or charm (if you will) of the black metal is for some artists to refuse to appear live in concert. Obviously, with a two member project/band, it presents some difficulties on the technical side of things, but anyway…do you contemplate some day to actually play live?

R : We’re not going to do a live concert, we’re both had main band for playing on stage.

After all been done…we’re in the 2022 now, what are the plans for the rest of the year from Mantahungal? Any new release planned?

R : We’re already released the new EP for 2022 “De Krijger” (The Warrior) via digital release (Bandcamp) and physical release via Labyrinth Tower in June 2022.

And again, my traditional question, which I consider quite an important one – for those readers trying to know Indonesian underground music scene better, what bands – black metal and from other genres – would you recommend our readers to seek out?

R : For local raw blackmetal project, Nocturnacul got our attention, and there are many great raw black metal project too such as Nansarunai, Upamsu, and many more (just look up on ancient horror records release)

And for those interested in any merch…where should they look?

R : Labyrinth Tower release our merch, and for domestic Indonesia just reach us on instagram (if they’re still available)

Coming to the end of this nice interview…any final message to the readers?

R : nope, thank you

Bandcamp: https://mantahungal.bandcamp.com/

Rudolf Schütz

I am the founder/owner and editor-in-chief of the Rubber Axe webzine, the underground/overground cultural publication, publishing also this website dedicated to all things Indonesian. I'm a happily married guy with 2 kids and a fantastic wife, and I'm a relentless discoverer of all things cultural and culinary. An everlasting dreamer and idealist.

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