Writing this review past midnight on an appropriately rainy evening, I found that I had to turn the lights off. Squinting at the screen, clumsily beating the keyboard in hopes of hitting the right keys, it would have simply felt wrong to listen any other way. Engaging fully with Sujud, on its terms, feels akin to awaiting death in an ancient temple, a foreign interloper facing their just desserts.

Honestly, you just might not survive this.

Hailing from Yogyakarta, Indonesia, Senyawa may be deeply connected to the natural world, finding great meaning in “tanah”, which roughly translates to “soil-ground-land-earth”, but their music makes only thing clear: we’ve fucked it all up. Senyawa’s Earth is a deeply grieved one, full of rightful rage; out to do harm.

The often brutal duo of Rully Shabara and Wukir Suryada are here to make us pay on its behalf. Shabara is billed as “extreme vocals”, and it’s no exaggeration. His guttural barrage of rage and emotion may damn well frighten you. Suryada handles instrumentation, crafting his own homemade instruments: the existing hardware just didn’t cut it for Senyawa.

Let’s be perfectly clear: unless you’re a prior fan, you’ve never heard anything like Sujud.

Surely, you’ve no doubt heard more than enough reviews (and pals) make the same claim. So go ahead, put on Senyawa’s latest LP on for even five minutes. Watch your jaw hit the floor; assuming you aren’t too petrified and transfixed to move a muscle, that is.

Perhaps no musical act from anywhere is presently melding deeply felt traditionalism with harrowing, damn near unclassifiable experimentation with greater affect. Is Senyawa metal? World music? (Whatever that clumsy tag truly means.) Eerie folk? Aggressive drone? I sure don’t know, and I doubt you will, either.

Senyawa would have it no other way. Entirely unconcerned with what exactly their audience will make of their work, they’re comfortable in their knowledge of one simple fact: we’ll damn well feel it.

As Sujud opens with a deeply deceptive (relative) placidity, Shabara’s vocals, gripping and starkly alone, are quickly joined by Suryada’s sludge-drenched homemade guitar. Throbbing and insistent, ‘Tanggalkan di Dunia’ (which translates as ‘Undo the World’: can you tell this is a light affair yet?) sets the stage for an experience quite unlike any other.

Before you’ve even begun to catch your breath, next up, the title track is a different beast altogether. Weaponizing a largely string-based approach into something somehow even more cold sweat inducing, ‘Sujud’ is a true stunner. Later on, ‘Kehendak’ seems to mimic drowning in its garbled, desperate vocals. In short, no, this album never lets up. Even when things slow down for ‘Kebaikan Tumbuh Dari Tanah’, and the vocals turn almost (gasp) beautiful, there is an ever-present sense of dread and loss, a deep sense of longing for what can no longer be.

Shabara’s voice is an instrument onto itself, a powerhouse unmatched, in my estimation. Inspired by Indonesian folkloric traditions, he seems to fade in and out of an imperceptible mist, giving the listener the feeling of being lost in a jungle, hearing omnipresent voices frighteningly close, yet somehow always just out reach, hidden in the shadows. It’s important to acknowledge my ears are untrained in the realms Senyawa hail from, my knowledge of Indonesian tradition depressingly scant, but Sujud seems crafted for just such an audience.

Shabara and Suryada invite us into their world, and we leave it changed. There’s simply no encountering something as powerful, as primal, as Senyawa without scarring. This is their turf, and only they know the rules. Sujud is an experience. Be safe, everyone.