Johor band As Rusty Empyrean rumbles with its unique sound

As Rusty Empyrean is rumbling down south in Johor with a mindwarping sonic swagger. Photo: As Rusty Empyrean

Birds of a feather flock together, goes the old adage. And while music alone might have been sufficient to bring the boys in As Rusty Empyrean together, it, in fact, took their love for gear to form the band.

Guitarists Nadzrul Iddhar and Irwan Shah, along with bassist Ridhwan Rosli were active participants on the instrument trading platform Jamtank, and while going about their business, found a camaraderie rooted in their love for instrumental music steeped in ambient melodies and heavy, progressive guitar riffs.

The band’s recently-released debut, Enigma, an eight-song affair, bears all the hallmarks of a band cut from the same cloth as Russian Circles, Caspian, God Is An Astronaut and Mogwai. It’s not often that an album’s art depicts an octopus, but that alone is an indication to how the music is as enigmatic as the mollusc.

As Rusty Empyrean is adept at switching sonic lanes as expertly as a race car driver, thundering down a track with true sonic bombast, and easing off the gas with lighter, airier passages.

The song titles, everything from Serigala Jalanan and Karma Dan Sutera, right through to Eksplorasi Antagonis and Panik, all share a colourful story, and the music perfectly reflects it. Enigma is a sonic ride which highlights the band’s social conscience, literary interests and emotional psyche.

To date, the Johor-based quintet (augmented by drummer Pedot) has graced Malaysian and Singaporean stages since its inception in September 2015. The band has played the Tempatan Fest Johor 2016, opened for Thai band Spring.Fall.Sea, Macao’s Forget The G and Indonesia’s Matajiwa.


1. What is the story behind the band’s name?

It was a name we randomly chose to remind us of the day we started the band ... Malaysia was invaded by a pretty bad episode of transboundary haze at the time. (Hmmm ... ok)

2. How have people taken to the band’s music?

Although people stand still and merely nod their heads most of the time, there have been occasions when the unpredictable has happened. We’ve seen the audience mosh or headbang to some of our songs ... or even instances when a member of the audience has jumped up on stage, grabbed a mike and screamed spontaneous lyrics to our tunes.

3. Ultimately, what do you want to achieve and where do you realistically see it going? Can a career be made out of this?

This is more of a hobby and self-satisfying journey for us. Although we don’t view this as a primary career for the future, appreciation from listeners and gig-goers means the world to us to keep pursuing our passion.

4. Where is As Rusty Empyrean’s place in the music scene, and would you rather be somewhere else?

The instrumental/post-rock genre is a niche market in terms of listeners and followers. However, we love where we are today as the band brings variety to the local music scene.

5. Given the chance, which artiste would the band most like to work with and why?

We would definitely love to work with any visual artists (lighting artist, painter, art performer, animator, etc) who wish to perform with us.

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