….I am alone among the crowd but I’m not lonely…
I was having a discussion with one of the biggest persons in the metal scene in Africa some weeks ago about getting in tune with the metal scene in Africa, and his response was “why don’t you write about it?” Come on, I was coming to him for help and he gave me an assignment instead! So I decided to think about it, read and I learnt a couple of things in the process.
I’ve always been different, always shared different opinions, sometimes extremely sensitive ones and I probably always will.
It’s not every Metalhead that feels these intense emotions but every Metalhead shares the taste for this extreme we call Metal, not withstanding how hard or soft the metal universe considers its forms, it always remains extreme to the general public. The desire to bang your head instead of shaking your waist, the euphoria you get when you know a metal song played in a movie, on radio or even a mainstream award show. The enthusiasm you have to check out a band you’ve just found or the inquisitiveness that wraps you to Google a song you’ve just heard. Likewise when nihilistic, sensitive, antisocial metal imagery ceases to sound or appear absurd, inappropriate and offensive to you. You are most likely a Metalhead
Many of these feelings are personal and tough to share with people. You’d likely feel you alone experience these especially if you come from a country or continent like ours, where Metalheads seem non-existent. You might consider yourself as the only Metalhead in your family, school, office, maybe state or possibly country. Weirdly you’re most likely not alone; there are many like you around in places you haven’t imagined. The key is finding the magnet that brings us together.
That magnet is our scene!
THE NIGERIAN METAL SCENE
The Nigerian metal scene is broken, perhaps beyond repair. Infact the metal scene in Nigeria is in extremely rude health, it is something of a ‘minor’ miracle that there’s been any kind of a ‘scene’ at all but hey, look at the bright side. Nigeria is a really depressing place to grow up, so many people die here all the time, car crashes, floods, hailstorms and terrorism attacks in which we all know as BokoHaram. You could count the people who are into metal in the whole of Nigeria with one hand. In all this calamity, RockNation NG (A rock organization in Nigeria) serves as a creative hub for rock musicians and fans in the Nigerian metal scene in the sense that they do all in their power to organise rock events and parties in which the fans hold dear and appreciate. It’s really a massive struggle in Nigeria, a struggle for survival for the metal scene.
Here in Nigeria, there are quite a couple of reference points to join the metal community! There’s the yearly Rocktoberfest that has been organized twice by RocknationNG.
There’s also Metal and Romance (MnR) party regularly organized by RockNation NG every year. Last year metal4africa covered them, to know more about metal n romance, click here. This year’s Metal and Romance was a silent one.
There are also a couple of Groups on social media (Twitter, Facebook and WhatsApp) with light to heavy participation by huge fans of Metal in Nigeria. Groups like Rockazworld, Rock Republic, Rock Haven and Naija School of Rock. Interactions in most of these groups will surely link you up with like minds around you which are usually closer than you imagine. Our biggest Metal export yet is Metalcore band “1 Last Autograph” and that is the only metal band we have in the whole Nigeria, also important to add another Nigerian Export, a one man project Arum performing with a shrieking voice that closely mirrors that of “Metal God” Rob Halford of Judas Priest.
SO I AM GOING TO BE EXPLAINING THE 11 MAJOR METAL SCENES IN AFRICA
SOUTH AFRICA METAL SCENE
There is a huge number of metal bands toiling away in South Africa. I have studied the South African metal scene for a while and the greatest quality of the South African metal scene is their musicianship. This guys organize at least 3 metal shows every week be it Album or EPs launches, charity events, tribute to bands.
If you have been keeping an eye on the fertile and confident South Africa metal scene over the last few years, you will observe that there’s the yearly Witchfest metal festival done yearly in South Africa since 2013 with the likes of Sepultura, Kataklysm, Finntroll, Eluveitie and Behemoth headlining a couple of editions and Krank’d up festival also which have graced lots of foreign bands to play such as Periphery, Norma Jean, 36 crazyfists, Monuments, Unearth and this year, Memphis may fire will head the festival. Let’s not forget Witchfest and Summerfest concerts organized by Patrick Davidson of metal4africa. South Africa is well rooted in heavy with the rise of bands like Truth and it’s burden, Zombies ate my girlfriend, Megalodon, The fallen prophets, Odyssey and Ragnarok paving the way even in the international scene. South Africa has grown to be home to no less than 200 Metal bands.
South Africa is by far the biggest metal scene in Africa, as one may expect. According to the internet’s biggest metal database/website, metal-archives.com, there are around two hundred known recorded bands in South Africa, over four times as many as in any other African country. Though the site’s list is incomplete, it can give one a sense of the size of the scene in relation to other African countries. Bands of all genres can be found, with death, thrash, black metal and metalcore/deathcore being the most widely played. Giving a rundown of all major bands by genre is not practical, as there are far too many. Some of the most notable bands hailing from South Africa are: Zombies Ate My Girlfriend (who was the first African band to win Wacken Open Air, along with the first Botswanian metal band ‘Overthrust’, to play Wacken), Voice of Destruction (formed in 1986, one of the first metal bands ever formed on the continent of Africa), Junkyard Lipstick (all female thrash band), Imperial Destruction (internationally praised death metal), Adorned in Ash (Christian extreme metal featuring a female vocalist/guitarist), Demogoroth Satanum (first metal band to ever emerge from Soweto, where metal is unheard of), Wildernessking (internationally praised black metal), and Agro (speed/power metal veterans active since the mid 1990s). South Africa also has a strong rock/indie scene, with Seether achieving international mainstream success. South Africa is clearly the leader in metal on the African continent.
BOTSWANA METAL SCENE
Would be inappropriate to go on without discussing the huge Botswana scene; featuring metal bands like Wrust, Skinflint, Raven in Flesh, Amok, Overthrust and Crackdust. If you’re familiar with the metal scene in Botswana, you will know it is the richest metal culture/tradition in Africa perhaps the whole globe. If a metal fan can whip himself with metal chains listening to old school heavy metal, i don’t know what can beat that.
If you are aware of any African metal, you have more than likely heard about the scene in Botswana. A country with a population of less than 2.5 million, it is certainly not home to Africa’s largest scene, but the metal bands and fans of Botswana just might be the most passionate. Indeed, it is the metal fans of Botswana as much as the bands that make the scene so noteworthy. Botswana has invented its own metal fashion. Bands and fans dress in metal shirts and black leather jackets, to which copious amounts of spikes and other accessories are added, usually accompanied by cowboy hats and/or cowboy boots. The scene is so unique that it has been the subject of numerous documentaries as well as stories in international news outlets (featured on BBC, CNN, Vice and others). As for the bands themselves, heavy metal and death/thrash are most common. Death metal band Overthrust, along with Zombies Ate My Girlfriend from South Africa, were the first metal band from Africa to play Wacken, after which they did a mini European tour. Overthrust received a very strong reception in Europe and sparked an interest in Botswana’s scene as well as Africa as a whole.
But Overthrust were not the first extreme metal band to hail from Botswana. Death/thrash/groove metal mainstays Wrust were formed back in 2000, and Crackdust emerged on the scene in 2006. Groove thrashers War-Tog were active 2001-2008. Botswana’s first metal band, Metal Orizon, was formed back in 1991, with a traditional heavy metal sound that sometimes borders on hard rock. Skinflint are the best known newer band featuring a traditional metal sound, although one that borders on extreme metal. And like the aforementioned bands, their music has reached international audiences. Other noteworthy band include Amok (heavy metal), Remuda (heavy metal), and Stane (thrash/death/groove metal). As well-known as the scene is, there are still many emerging bands that have yet to record any other their material, such as Dust N Fire (heavy metal), Blackened Nights (black/doom), Raven in Flesh (black/death) and PMMA (power/heavy). Botswana is undoubtedly on the global heavy metal radar, and its presence and significance is growing.
Botswana is definitely one of the biggest and most recognized promoters of the Metal flag in Africa with a rich history that dates back to the 70s that has evolved into their cowboy fixation. The metal tradition and culture in Botswana is authentic and it is the first country in the universe i would like to do a documentary about. There’s also the Overthrust Metal WinterMania Fest that has had 7 editions hosted yearly in Botswana featuring the best local acts. To know about the metal culture in Botswana, there’s a particular place in Botswana called Maun Village you all need to checkout, click here to view the article.
MADAGASCAR METAL SCENE
Eastern Africa isn’t left out of the metal rave with bands like Sasamaso (a female fronted Thrash Metal band) rooted in Madagascar, and other worthy mentions like Apost (Thrash), Storm (Power Metal) and Lamasy (Symphonic Black Metal). Worth pointing out that there’s a huge black metal following in Madagascar.
The roots of the Madagascar metal scene date back to the 1980s, with bands such as Pharaons and Kazar, who mostly played a thrash/aggressive heavy metal style. The scene remained small through the 1990s, and more or less exploded in the 2000s. Presently, the scene is one of Africa’s largest, with bands playing every sub-genre of metal imaginable. Bands such as Apost, Beyond Your Ritual, Sasamaso, Manïa and Soradra play different styles of thrash. Lamasy, Golgotha, and Amperus Alegor make symphonic black metal. Samar, Egraygore, Death Karma, and Dark’Inside churn out heavy metal. Symphonic/speed/power metal is also well represented with bands such as Eternely, Storm, Resurrection, and L’Imby.
Behind the Mask, one of the best known new Malagasy bands which they are also gaining attention in Africa, have their own style of aggressive metalcore, a genre which seems to be underrepresent in the more roots-metal dominated scene of the island. Indeed, there are many, many more bands than those listed making metal in Madagascar. Much of the scene remains unknown internationally due to the language barrier (many bands’ lyrics are in their native Malagasy), lack of resources, and little international promotion. This mysterious scene is well worth exploring, as it is one of Africa’s richest.
KENYA METAL SCENE
Another huge scene in the East is that from Kenya with metal acts like Lust of a Dying Breed, Irony Destroyed, Seeds of Datura and In Oath. Not forgetting Absence of Light (Blackened Death Metal) and Last Year’s Tragedy (Metalcore). The metal scene in Kenya is growing rapidly in the sense that more metal bands are smashing their way out of their shells.
It’s hard to say exactly one thing about it. The scene, in general terms, is large/substantial. Most of the people that follow this kind of music are concentrated in the capital Nairobi but there are fans everywhere across the country in places like Nakuru, naivasha, kiambu, Kisumu and even Mombasa. So collectively there is substantial awareness about the culture of rock music and heavy metal. Social interaction began when the internet slowly began taking a foothold. There used to be a yahoo chat group founded by Mildred Achoch. Then there was MySpace which was also a platform that engaged fans. But things really started to take off with the advent of Facebook. Facebook allowed more people to reach each other because the platform was easy to use and also by this time most people including teenagers had access to a mobile phone. So people found each other. Those that could play instruments met up for jam sessions and slowly local bands started forming
Now it’s a lot easier for people to interact in a more direct manner, but I can’t say that this has brought more focus on the local metal scene. People are more aware of it obviously but there is an apathy that prevails. There are more WhatsApp rock groups but fewer people attending. At the moment things have changed. Some years back, actually up until last year the main shows were March from the Underground and then there were regular platform shows organised by Rock Society of Kenya. But the latter shows have since been discontinued because the society felt the model was unsustainable because of low turnout.
So at the moment the main shows are the ones organised by Hardcore Help Foundation, featuring local bands and an international act. Then there are regular monthly shows organised by Nairobi rock showcase on every first weekend of the month. These ones have a better turnout since they tried to deal with the problem of timing. Shows now start at around 4pm and end at 11pm or thereabout. The Kenyan metal scene have been graced with foreign acts such as Skinflint (Botswana), Boargazm (South Africa), A traitor like judas (Dutch), All for Nothing (Netherlands) and earlier this year, Hardcore help Foundation brought the American band Stick to your guns to perform in kenya.
MOZAMBIQUE METAL SCENE
Metal in Mozambique has been around in the 1990s, centered around Beira and Maputo. Back in 2002, Morghelarisy was the first metal band to record a demo. Several years later, the popularity of metal surged, driven largely by social media. Nowadays, Mozambique is home to a multitude of metal bands, the plurality of them death metal. Still today, the metal scene is centered around major cities, as reliable electricity is required to play metal, something often not found in the rural areas of the country.
The scene has received enough attention abroad to spark the interest of filmmaker Leslie Bornstein, who would create the Terra Pesada documentary, which tells the stories of some of the scene’s major players. One of Mozambique’s biggest death metal bands is Sarcotrofia. Their drummer, Goro Fast, is responsible for the now annual metal fest Gorofest, which attracts many metalheads from abroad. To know more about Terra Pesada documentary, click here to view the article.
EGYPTIAN METAL SCENE
The Egyptian Metal Scene is one of the biggest and oldest Metal Scenes in Africa. It started in early 90s with the arrival of Metallica, Megadeth and Iron Maiden music. A number of youth started gathering themselves and share the beauty of this music, then in mid 90s the early Metal bands forms appeared as Vyrus and Steel Age what we are called the first generation of musicians. This new music types aroused many questions around it, the biggest of it 1997 case or in other words Satanic Musical Acts case due to Metal concerts. Many of Metal musicians were accused by satanic worship, or bigger issues. Although the refusal of this music and the tune of hate among the Egyptian Society, a number of bands start to prove themselves in the scene as Crescent and Odious.
After many years especially in 2004, 2005, the Scene had a better chance and better atmosphere, as many events started to take place in Al Sakya and number of Hotels. When it comes to 20s, we talk about the second generation of bands as Scarab, Enraged, Sinprophecy, Destiny in Chains, Massive Scar Era, Al Azif, Sand Aura and others.
Recently, The Egyptian Metal scene became more open as we have annual festivals in Egypt as Metal Blast, Walls of Death, Groovy Beasts, and Metal Grinders. In addition, the simplicity of the process of exchanging and spreading music due to the Internet. The recent map of The Egyptian Metal scene is really interesting. We still have active bands from the first generation Metal musicians as Odious, Crescent, Osiris and number of musicians start recent projects as Nathyr, Hate Field, Divine, Sallos, Hecate, Finis Omnium, and Mythos. In addition, third generation bands as Gorynov, Catharsis, Excimer, Bovem, Thorvald, Redempotris and Infernum Expectat.
New phenomena appeared in the recent years in our Metal scene which is the collaboration projects as Hateful Desolation, Nerues, and Awaken Within. In addition, the number of foreign bands performed in Egypt as Dark Fortess, Swallow The Sun, Inner Missing, Aborted and Dimlight. On the other hand, there is a number of Egyptian bands performed in Europe as Scarab, Crescent, Anarchy and Mascara, plus number of Egyptian Musicians cooperated with international ones as Scarab cooperated with Nile and Odious cooperated with Septicflesh. Many problems still face the Egyptian Metal Scene as the lack of good studios for recording, the high expenses, the lack of venues for Metal concerts, no sponsors for bands or Metal Festivals, and the floatation of the Egyptian pound.
ANGOLA METAL SCENE
Like close by Botswana, Angola has an established, relatively well-known metal scene, which was brought to a wider audience in the documentary Death Metal Angola. Rock music had previously existed in Angola, as it had in many African countries, such as neighboring Zambia and South Africa. After more than 26 years of civil war ended in 2002, the metal scene slowly started to materialize. In 2006, Angola’s first metal band, Neblina, released their first album Innocence Falls in Decay, a traditional heavy metal recording. Thereafter more bands started emerging, with diverse styles ranging from alternative metal to nu metal to thrash to metalcore to death metal. Angola is nowadays perhaps best known for metalcore, with Lobito’s Before Crush being an internationally recognized name in metal circles. Dor Fantasma which plays Thrash metal while Multiple awards M’Vula plays nu-metal. Let’s not forget Last shout which plays Deathcore.
There are also large rock/metal festivals in Angola which attracts lots of people from around the world. For example, Rock no Rio Catumbela attracts more than 10,000 people. There is also another new rock/metal festival that recently just started called ORLEI, quite big also.
ALGERIA METAL SCENE
Algeria isn’t a country one would normally associate with metal. But the North African, conservative, Muslim country is home to a sizeable metal scene. And at that, who would think that black metal and death metal are the sub-genres most commonly played by domestic bands? The scene began in the 1990s and was well-developed by the mid-2000s. Bands like Lelahell, Barbaros, Neaderthalia, Devast (who relocated to Argentina), Carnavage, Taddart and Orcus are quite well known by metalheads abroad.
Algeria even has its own metal fest, named Fest 213, Exfest, Brutality fest and has hosted gigs featuring metal bands from Europe. If you are into black metal and/or death metal, the Algerian scene is one to investigate. There are many quality underground extreme metal bands to discover. Algeria is also another extreme scene with frequent clashes with the media and conservatives in the country with popular two days metal show Fest 213 and bands like Carnavage, Entropy, Ov Holocaust, Homicidal, Swan and Azar with deep roots in Black Metal.
MORROCCO METAL SCENE
Morocco, the beautiful country in the northwest corner of Africa that brought the world couscous and boasts picturesque landscapes, has a thriving metal scene that should interest fans of black metal and extreme gothic/symphonic metal in particular. As seems to be the trend in North African countries, extreme metal is most popular among the scene’s bands. Sawlegen and Barzakh, two of the best-known Moroccan bands play a fusion of symphonic black metal and gothic metal. Her Suffering and Lifesenseless, projects of Moroccan metal mastermind Anir, play depressive black metal and funeral doom respectively.
Other black metal outfits from Morocco include Ahakay N’ Bror, Kharab, Abnabak, and Pain Emotion. Death metal is somewhat underrepresented, but Alcantagram, Ephemeral Promise, Sakadoya, Vaginal Penetration, Suicide Machine, and Psybygore, among others, have all released material to put Morocco on the death metal map. Analgesia, Black Streamline and Dark Delirium play different styles of traditional metal. However, metal is not widely accepted in Morocco. Back in 2003, several metal fans were arrested and imprisoned for blasphemy, merely because of their musical preference and metalhead attire. But as time would tell, this did not stop the metal scene from continuing to spread and evolve.
MAURITIUS METAL SCENE
Mauritius, the small but prosperous island nation in the Indian Ocean, is surprisingly not without a metal scene. The metal scene in mauritius is very tight in the sense that everyone knows everyone and during concerts they tend to meet same people but this is changing as the metal scene is evolving with more and more people attending shows. Feedback, formed way back in 1987, are traditional heavy metal. Amakartus play a more aggressive heavy metal sound that borders on thrash, while Breed Apart deliver a full-on thrash assault. Millennium play their own unique nu-metal/rock fusion. Cryptic Carnage are perhaps the only death metal band on the island and Shred the Glory are Mauritius’ metalcore representatives.
Though the country’s scene is expectedly small, it continues to grow, and even gives local bands a chance to show Mauritians what metal is all about with the Uprising metal fest. The taboo and stereotype on metal in Mauritius is changing gradually but slowly and more and more people and fellow parents are accepting metal. Like 10yrs ago, metal was like something reserved for those disturbed and satanists and they were marginalised as outcasts. In mauritius it is hard to carry the metal flag and have the metal horde growing but slowly and surely it is ever growing.
TUNISIA METAL SCENE
Tunisia, the North African country that gave us harissa and began the Arab Spring, also hosts a strong and growing metal scene. Myrath is arguably the country’s most well-known metal outfit, playing a Middle-Eastern folkish brand of progressive power metal. Nawather has reached international audiences as well with a similar sound. However, like in Algeria, extreme metal is most widely played by Tunisian bands. You may or may not be familiar with the death metal sounds of Vielikan and Brood of Hatred. Vomit the Hate (death metal), Ayyur (black metal), Melmoth (blackened death), Out Body Experience (black metal), Ymyrgar (black metal) and Gore Bath (goregrind) are some of the bands representing the extreme side of the scene. As one would guess, metal is not accepted by mainstream Tunisian society, and metal bands/metalheads are viewed as Satanists by many. But this does not stop the metal scene from gaining momentum.
Audioinferno does not take credit for pictures taken.
This article just makes reference to a few of the metal pioneers and flag bearers around the continent. Most of these bands, shows and groups can be found on social media with several handles, websites and pages. So do well to check them out, get following and promoting their activities, music and meeting up with their fans. Many of the bands mentioned here are also featured on the biggest encyclopedia for Metal Music “Encyclopedia Metallum”.
And lastly do well to point out active countries, shows and pages missed out in this article in the comment section. Keep the Metal flag flying, eat, drink and stay metal!
We are building a large database of African rock and metal bands, send the information of your bands to [email protected] and any news metal or rock related be it upcoming singles, gigs you want to share with the whole of Africa, send the information to [email protected]
This article was written by your favourite unpopular opinionated Metal purist @Edalock! and assisted by Austin of Audioinferno, Tim Salter (American), Otieno Daniel (Kenya) and Rana Atef (Egyptian) \m/
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