With a population that rivals the entire population of the British cities of Liverpool and Sheffield, you couldn't fault Suriname for having a close-knit metal scene. Despite it's size it has a strong and ever-growing scene. Flying the flag for the Surinamese Metal scene is Groove Metal / Metalcore outfit Asylum, who this year won the Wacken Metal Battle Caribbean (previously won by Trinidad & Tobago's Lynchpin; first edition winners) and ultimately went to Wacken Festival in Germany where they placed 9th internationally at the Wacken Metal Battle, not too shabby for a band who only formed six years ago and released their debut EP 'Domination' this year. GMA spoke to the band's vocalist Romeo about their scene, the band's history and their experience at being at Wacken Open Air.
"It (winning WMBC) put things into perspective... we were going to be ambassadors for the entire Caribbean region in Europe."
For those who have not heard of Asylum, could you give us a brief history of the band? Were you in previous bands?
"Asylum is a metal band from Suriname, South America, that formed in 2012. The name refers to the band being a safe haven for metalheads in a country where metal is severely frowned upon. Asylum incorporates traditional Death and Thrash Metal with their own South American style they dub “Srananmetal”. Asylum first had a long standing underground scene before they broke out and gained notoriety in the Caribbean metal scene. In 2018 Asylum headlined local festivals and won the Wacken Metal Battle Caribbean 2018 in Trinidad and finished 9th place internationally at the Wacken Metal Battle in Germany. 3 of the 4 members have been in previous bands and various projects."
What is the Surinamese Metal scene like? How long has it been going? Is it big?
"While metal dates back to the 1970’s, metalheads today are even more passionate about the music. Being a small country the scene is relatively small but it is healthy and growing."
What challenges as a metal band from Suriname do you face?
"First and foremost, the financial aspect. Since the scene is small, you have to do a lot of self-investment and organizing for shows and travels. Everything is paid out of pocket."
How did it feel to win the Wacken Metal Caribbean Battle this year? What was your Wacken experience like?
"In Trinidad it was our first time playing outside of the country. We did not expect to be so well received by the Trinidadian fans and the whole experience blew our minds. It put things into perspective as we realized we were going to be ambassadors for the entire Caribbean region in Europe. We not only wanted to make our country proud but every metalhead across the Caribbean.
Coming from a small country, none of us really get to see the metal greats perform. We rarely get to see any big shows or much less perform at one. Suddenly we shared the same stage as our South American heroes, Sepultura, and performed in from of thousands of cheering metalheads. It electrified us to our cores and this experience has given us the necessary tools and ambition to continue on this journey of metal domination. Big plans for 2019."
What nationalities for the battle were there? Is the wider Caribbean scene big?
"There were 30 countries and or regions represented. The wider Caribbean scene isn’t as big as the rest of the world. But the isolation has led to a lot of unique creativity from the bands and the scene is very lively and unlike anything you may see abroad."
For metalheads visiting Paramaribo, what sights / attractions could you recommend?
"We recommend you head on over to Unker Bunker Terras and get information on local shows and events. They are sporadic, but when they happen it’s a lot of fun and there everyone is welcome."
In general, how has 2018 been for the band? How will you sign off the year and enter 2019?
"2018 has been the most successful and fulling year for the band so far. It has left us motivated and we are pursuing new horizons in 2019. Our dicks are hard."
Are there any greetings, thank you’s, etc., that you wish to send out?
"We’d like to say hello to everyone who hasn’t heard about us and invite them to check us out and be part of the Asylum. We’d like to thank all our fans who made 2018 so memorable. We do this for the love of Metal, thanks GMA for this interview. Stay metal."