Indonesia Week: Day 6: Holykillers – Squalor


Artist: Holykillers

Release: Squalor

Label: Independent

Release Date: 23 April, 2021

Location: Indonesia

Digital Price: 7 USD

Length: 37min, 40s

For the third day of Indonesia Week, we take a look at the Squalor album, independently released by Holykillers on 23 April, 2021.

Holykillers come to us with a blend of melodic death metal and metalcore on what is their debut album, Squalor. Indonesia is full of great, great extreme metal, but beyond the realm of traditional death metal and black metal, there are a lot of bands in Indonesia coming up, putting out interesting releases like Squalor that bring modern, fresh sound by taking elements of different genres and presenting them in a modern way.

I once read an interview with Rammstein’s Richard Kruspe who said that a Rammstein studio album would never consist of more than eleven tracks, because he felt that this was a good maximum to prevent too much filler being included on the album. It keeps the band on their toes, so to speak. In that vein, with Squalor coming in at a little over 37 minutes across just ten tracks, this is a nice and tight album. Nothing here feels like it doesn’t belong on the album, and it is a much stronger release because of that fact. These tracks also err on the shorter end, with the longest being only four minutes long, so this is a short & sweet album.

Holykillers guitarist Zethria Okka, speaking about Squalor, said that with this album the band hopes to create a sound reminiscent of the great earlier metalcore days, but fused with a modern sound and arrangement full of distortion and intensity. After three years of developing the album, Holykillers have surely achieved this goal. Squalor is somewhere between groove metal, deathcore and vintage metalcore, combining elements of each to great results.

Suar has an almost uplifting sound to it, with a solo towards the end that isn’t necessarily the most technical around, but for death metal/metalcore it doesn’t need to be. Instead, it needs to be evocative, contributing to the mood and emotion of the track – and does just that. Between its death growls and clean vocals, there is a nice contrast between singing styles in Suar. That comes with a rising progression in guitars throughout the track leading towards that solo.

Throughout Squalor, Holykillers are consistently able to set the tone and communicate emotions across the language barrier. Before Google Translate, I may not understand the lyrics but damn I can feel them. Senyap for instance is a track about mass killings that occurred in Indonesia in 1965, and with a little research into Holykillers and this album, someone who doesn’t speak Bahasa Indonesia can learn this fact. But without doing so, the riffs, frantic distorted bass and screams immediately communicate a sense of frustration with society, with government, with the state of the world.

It turns out that there are a variety of tracks on Squalor that talk about the dark atmosphere and events of the past. In thinking of those stories, Holykillers are able to tell us about the disgust and rage felt when confronting the difficult times Indonesians face. Those emotions are relatable in a cross-cultural way for many throughout the world, and in creating that atmosphere within a death metal/metalcore context, Holykillers have created something that metalheads everywhere can enjoy, regardless of what language one speaks. Do yourself a favor, listen to Squalor and support bands like Holykillers – you won’t regret it.

I hope you enjoy Squalor.



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