December 12, 2016 at 09h16By Athens, ZAW ZAW and Caroline HENSHAW
Dressed in black, they look like the metal bands around the world. But in Burma, these rebels are careful to not hit the front of a buddhist society conservative with refrains speaking of death, sex or drugs.
“Listen to metal, it’s a fucking well. It sounds like freedom, it is good for the soul,” says Thaw Di Yoo, 21-year-old mobile phone repairer come to attend a concert in a hall of Rangoon.
“It is different from other music, that’s why I’m a fan of metal,” he added, a tattoo on the arm of his group of burmese fetish, Nightmare Metal Band.
The metal, which has emerged in the United States and in Great Britain as early as the 1970s, is today a success shifted to Burma, a country in South Asia-Has remained cut off from the world for half a century under the military dictatorship, and today directed by a civilian government led by the Nobel peace prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi.
When the junta was in control of the country, until 2011, the musicians burmese suffered under the full force of censorship which forbade the metal, among other ” foreign influences harmful.
But this has not prevented the cassettes and CDS of groups that are forbidden to be disseminated under the coat, and the punk scene or the metal underground began to develop even before the dissolution of the junta in 2011 and the official abolition of censorship in 2012.
But for the young musicians of today, the conservatism of a society steeped in the buddhist values remains a challenge.
- political Commitment -
sex, drugs and death that haunt usually the verses of metal, the musicians, the burmese prefer the commitment policy.
“In our new album, we speak primarily of the political and security situation in the country”, explains to the AFP, the guitarist of the Last Days of Beethoven, Phoe Zaw, aged 32.
“We write to end violence against muslims and buddhists in Rakhine State and the violence against the ethnic minorities in other regions,” explains the thirty-year-old, referring to the situation of the muslim rohingyas, a minority without rights in Burma, the object of the hatred of the powerful nationalist buddhists.
“Now, the political situation has changed and a new government running the country. But there are people who do not want to change their mentality and look to the past,” said one of the new songs from the Last Days of Beethoven.
political positions that may seem surprising, but not in Burma, where the young musicians of burma, all genres, are traditionally very engaged.
During the campaign for the parliamentary elections in November 2015, which ended in a tidal wave election for the party of Aung San Suu Kyi, the songs have been an important tool for young Burmese who hunger for freedom of expression and openness to the world.
- Dissemination via social networks -
The metal is, however, a music minority in Burma, where the most popular, as in the rest of Asia, remains a sugary pop on the model of the boy band Korean.
“The metal, this is not the kind of music that revolves around +I love you, I miss you+”, has fun, Myo Min Thu, a guitar teacher and metal fan.
at the time of the junta, the songs were not to talk of roses, seen as a reference to Aung San Suu Kyi. There is no question up to a few years ago to display T-shirts of metal bands westerners and their world dreary made of skulls and blood.
“We could not criticize christianity or be antibouddhistes. The policy, it was the worst at the time and we had a lot of trouble with the words,” he says, in his rehearsal room covered with posters of american bands like Iron Cross or Metallica.
many subjects, however, remain taboo in the country, such as the role of the army, or even any criticism of the icon of democracy Aung San Suu Kyi.
And all is not rosy for the metal band burmese, who are struggling to find recording studios, concert halls, equipped with amplifiers that are powerful enough, but also to be distributed by record labels classic.
Their workaround to the system ? Conquer the public via the social networks, autoproduisant.