Extreme music is known for its entourage of die hard, hardcore fans and no care attitude. Thailand is a magnet for big names like Polish death metal gods, Vader, who breach shores in July, German thrash aficionados, Kreator, who already performed in mid May 2014. The last few years have seen a plethora of names synonymous with their respective sub genres of metal music.

With the release of “Metal: A headbanger’s journey” in 2005, it became a well-known fact that metal was global. Thailand, however, brings new significance to the world of metal. Thailand was not originally a performance destination for metal bands but it was a vacation and discovery destination for most. Known for its booming tourism, Thailand has left a very serious impression on the artists who decide to explore the mysteries of Thailand as seen with bands like Rush from the 70’s writing entire songs about their stay in Bangkok.

The Music

The Chiang Mai death fest and Bangkok death fest definitely live up to quality standards. The music is seen to have the influences of the west but there is also a uniquely Thai feeling to the songs that the bands themselves compose. Turnouts are always quite large gigs are generally well received. There is a decent flow of international artists through this area with possible 2 or 3 big names per year but local bands keep things lively throughout the year, regardless.

Locations and Atmosphere

Before Thailand, I was stationed in Sri Lanka and I was often present at the local metal gigs and thus, familiar with the basic culture and etiquette of metalheads in general, but I was pleasantly surprised when I attended the Behemoth concert in Thailand in October, 2013, I found the only difference was the language. The people were friendly and the turnout was quite large for an underground gig indicating that the Thai metal scene is already large and still growing.

Another pleasant experience as a metalhead in Thailand is Chiang Mai in the North. Holidaying here during the water festival, Song Kran, my quest brought me to a rock bar called Pentatonic down a popular strip known officially as Zoe in Yellow but more affectionately known as Zoe’s by locals and regular visitors. The strip itself is a proverbial fruitcake of music and culture, with trance, EDM and various types of dance music dominating most of the street, the end of the street breaks away with funk, jazz, reggae and rock taking center stage.

Pentatonic rock bar is on the left side of the end of the strip and hosts live bands every night, playing a variety of heavy music from the Guns ‘n’ Roses to Metallica to a variety of death metal and hardcore, growls and all. The drinks available cover the needs of your average metalhead with beer, whiskey, vodka and tequila available at extremely reasonable prices. The atmosphere is vibrant and vivid with band members inviting audience members on stage to either sing along with them or sing entire songs themselves, attributing the place with a very homely feeling. Visiting Pentatonic rock bar three nights in a row on a three night vacation should speak for itself.

If Chiang Mai is too far up north for you and you’ve only got time for Bangkok, Immortal Bar near Victory monument is a must see. The music is moderately heavy to begin with and only gets heavier throughout the night. A unique feature that this bar offers is hot pot. All customers are invited to bring raw ingredients that are all piled in to the hot pot at the center table, Thai style, which serves two purposes. Firstly, you’ve got things to munch on while sipping on a cold beer and secondly, it promotes interaction between people who’ve never met before. If you’ve been to Thailand before and enjoy moo katha and heavy metal, this is a place you should not miss. Liquor is also very reasonably priced and the atmosphere is an unusual but delightful combination of homely and chaotic. A must visit for anyone who wants a night of heavy music and good company.

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