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Sangkakala Tells Us Which Indonesian Power Ballads Stand the Test of Time

Bust out the hairspray and the torn acid wash denim, because it's time to get real sensitive with some 80s hair metal gods.
All photos courtesy Hendra Priyadhani.

The power ballad doesn't get a lot of love anymore. But for a long time, power ballads ruled the airwaves. These cheesy, overly dramatic love songs had real staying power in Indonesia. When Boomerang released their power ballad "Pelangi" it was already 2000. Mainstream rock in the US had traded bandannas for Kangol bucket hats. Axel Rose was nowhere to be seen. But Boomerang still had years of making music ahead of them.


Today, Indonesian rock has moved on from the power ballad and it's unlikely to see a resurgence anytime soon. The 90s nostalgia wave thankfully skipped the hair metal revival and focused instead on R`n B and classic hip-hop nights.

Power ballads are for the longhairs working at some cheap recording studio on the outskirts of town. You know the guys, the ones you see rocking Extreme tees and strumming Mr. Big songs on an acoustic guitar while you and the rest of your shoegaze band set up to record an EP for some Bandcamp label. It's like come on dude, don't you know which 90s throwback bands you're supposed to still like?

Well, Yogyakarta's Sangkakala didn't get the message either. And thank God for that. They're Indonesia's last-standing hair metal band—after Jakarta's GRIBS went on an extended hiatus—and they are working on a second album of head-banging hair metal goodness. We just know that they have to have at least one more epic ballad just itching to escape from that long head of hair. VICE Indonesia's Abdul Manan Rasudi reached out to Sangkakala vocalist Hendra Priyadhani to see which power ballads still left this metalhead feeling all romantic.

1. Slank - "Bidadari Penyelamat"

"I love Slank so much that I have a side project called SLENG. It's a Slank cover band. The guys in Slank are very 'local.' Attitude-wise, Slank is sort of like a really good small-town band. And they realize this. That's why they wrote the album Kampungan (in English it sort of means country and low class, but from a city or a town). Their songs are great because they write about common issues. "Bidadari Penyelamat" is on the album Minoritas and it sounds better when they play it live (especially on the Virus Roadshow live album). I often sing "Bidadari Penyelamat" a capella during my band's opening and during breaks."


2. Boomerang - "Kisah Seorang Pramuria"

"This is actually a song from The Mercy. When I heard it the first time it was my dad playing it on guitar. He played "Kisah Seorang Pramuria" by The Mercy on tape a lot. Peter Pan also performed this song, and I liked that version as well. But when it comes to style, Boomerang managed to cover the song without altering the soul of the song and since I heard their version first, it will always be my number one favorite version."

3. Audy - "Janji di Atas Ingkar"

"My high school band's guitarist taught me how to play this song. This was in 2000 after I graduated from high school but failed to pass the university entrance test. So I had a lot of time to play guitar at home. He taught me this song, in detail, complete with all the variations. I can't really play guitar, but I managed to slowly master the first half of the song before the interlude starts. But my friend, he got sick for a long time and when he recovered he could no longer play guitar. Now every time I hear this song it reminds me of him.

"The arrangement of this song is nothing special, but when you nail the guitar part, you sound like you're a way better guitarist than you actually are. And I like how direct Audi's songs are. They aren't too poetic."

4. Godbless - "Balada Sejuta Wajah"

Still today Godbless is my favorite rock band. I am a fanatic who loves all of their songs. But if I had to pick one ballad, I would choose "Balada Sejuta Wajah." In my opinion, Godbless and their contemporaries were masters lyricists. The lyrics are very Indonesian and not overly romantic like today's bands. Indonesian lyrics in the 70s had this amazing vocabulary, even though content-wise they were moralists.

"I also chose this song instead of "Rumah Kita," because it is better suited to be performed acoustic and we play this one a lot while we're chilling together."

5. Begundal Lowokwaru - "Selamat Menikah Kawan"

"This is my favorite Indonesian ballad because these guys are a bunch of thugs, but they somehow wrote a romantic song without changing their personalities. This Malang-based band sounded so hard, but they still sung about romance. Because of this song, I got obsessed with writing ballads, but as myself. Sangkakala's "Kawan x Kawan" was supposed to turn out like this, but we didn't succeed. Bottom line, I wish I could write a ballad like this."