Since the early 2000s, Vietnam has seen exponential growth in local metal, hardcore and grindcore bands, and consequently, an equally growing fanbase. Apart from the few bands that have managed to cross over into the mainstream — including national phenomenon Microwave, metal powerhouse Black Infinity and progressive rock outfit Ngu Cung — Vietnam’s metal scene boasts a collection of still largely undiscovered talent that relies on a tight-knit community of young fans.
Metal bands like Seismic Origin, Sagometal, and now disbanded Multiplex were all founded in the mid-2000s, but are already considered veterans in the scene. In a country dominated by commercial pop and dime-a-dozen dance anthems, young fans disenchanted with the status quo are leaping into the scene faster than ever.
“Even kids that are [a little] rebellious need some community, and these guys are definitely getting that [in metal],” says Cormac, drummer of metal band Wu’u. He pegs the growing fanbase as a symptom of locals needing a sense of belonging, even on the fringes. “I think they’re definitely surrounded by people that are like-minded, and they feel like they’ve got something in common.”
The sense of community in the scene gave rise to festivals built largely on local talent. Hellfest — an annual mini-festival featuring only a handful of local bands — kicked off in both Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi last year. Rock Concert 2014: Battleship is trading on the Rockstorm name and is on its way to selling out some stadiums of its own. Even major brands are recognising the growing scene — Tiger Translate's recent Battle of the Bands featured Italian metal band Lacuna Coil as the headliner.