• Metal lives in this Islamic Asian sultanate. Pop still pops, and rock ballads rule. Traditional music such as the adai-adai, the call of the fishermen, wafts in the air. In spite of sharia law being enacted in 2014, the arts of all shades thrive in the nation of 414,000. That and the globally beloved food, pizza, as you’ll see below as we explore Brunei’s aural output.

     

    Wartillery

    These thrashers know their wordplay— their original name was Slayground, according to this interview with Busuk. Formed in 2008 to breathe life back into the scene and to counter all the black metal rising in Brunei, Wartillery fuse punk and furious fret exercises with Elmi’s in-your-face vocals. Popular at hour parties and skate parks, the group live fast— and live for “Pizza time!” as the above song suggests. Pizza and metal, the universal loves.

     

    Mienul Rashid

    For someone whose tagline translates to “I’m nervous,” Mienul Rashid has a confident, solid balladeer’s voice. A mainstay in Brunei’s TV talent show circuit, he also excels in interior design. His is the house that suaveness and sweetness built.

     

    Maria

    Armed with an angelic timbre and a friendly countenance, the artist born Meria Aires won over Brunei’s pop fans over the last decade. She got her start with N’Destine, mirroring the evolution of Beyoncé from Destiny’s Child to an illustrious solo career. Maria sings in Malay, English and Chinese dialects.

     

    Jazz Hassan

    Women propose to him in YouTube comments. Men called his work “rugged.” He lives by the dance floor lifestyle, melding neo-soul with EDM and pop. Jasmin “Jazz” Hassan runs a hip-hop mini-empire dubbed FLOWROCKZMUSIC ENTERTAINMENT and last released a single, "Masih Di Sini," in February 2015.

     

    Juan Madial

    With a soaring, tender approach suitable for Top 40 or emo, Juan Madial melts hearts with songs such as “Dengarkan Aku.” Despite coming up short in notable singing competitions, Bru-tists reports that he carried on thanks to the encouragement of his family. He’s the kind of performer who can light up arenas full of glowing cellphones and light up the faces of the most downcast people.

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