Monday, June 27, 2011

African metal scene: Kenya & Botswana

Finally, this weekend I had some time to check the music recommended to me by my readers, and let me start from reviewing some African metal.

As I have already said, metal or even rock music is almost non-existent in Africa, if not to count South African republic, Madagascar, and the countries near Mediterranian sea. Countries having at least one more or less known rock/metal band could be counted by one hand: Angola (Neblina), Cameroon (Ngos'a Bedimo, never released anything), Mozambique (Darkest Place, again no physical releases), Malawi (Rhanawa, most likely a hoax)... if not two important exceptions.

First of all, looks like Kenya has at least two metal bands, and they're actually not bad. Initially I had quite low expectations on the band Last Year's Tragedy from Nairobi (especially when I saw tags like "emo" on their last.fm page), but their single "A Tribute To Anarchy" turned out to be much better than I expected. LYT's music can be loosely described as post-hardcore/metal with lots of keyboards. Of course the quality of production isn't perfect... but come on, it's the first African (non-SAR) hardcore band I've ever heard of!

There's at least one more Kenyan metal band, called Absense of Light. Almost nothing is known about them, but here's a preview of their album "Penumbra":

And of course, I have to mention the metal scene of Botswana, one of the most active in Africa. Botswana is a sparsely populated desert country, yet it's among the most urbanized and generally developed countries in sub-Saharan africa, and looks like it applies to the metal scene too. One of the best African metal bands, Crackdust, is from Botswana:

Don't like death metal? Well, there's some traditional heavy metal in the vein of early 80s NWOBHM scene (though in my opinion it isn't as impressive as Crackdust... and the vocalist's accent is quite strong even for me, not a native English speaker):

There are some rock/metal festivals in Gaborone, even though it don't looks like there are too many attendees:

The perfoming bands are: Stane, Amok, Wrust, Metal Orizon, Dust n' Fire. According to them, there are no serious political or religious obstacles for playing metal in Botswana, if not to mention some Muslim fanatics who are destroying the instruments which they believe to be designed for playing "satanic music" - but such cases are extremely rare. As we can see, there's already plenty of heavy metal and death metal bands, but no black metal at all. That's a pity, since not only the mythology, but also the history of Africa has a lot of material for black/pagan metal lyrics.

For just a single example, here's a story of Joshua Milton Blahyi, better known as General Butt Naked (no, it isn't a joke - when he was a warlord, he actually led his troops naked except for shoes and a gun, and he believed that his nakedness was a source of protection from bullets), once dubbed "the most evil man in the world". Joshua Blahyi was born in Liberia (yes, I know it's very far from both Kenya and Botswana, but it's still in Africa...), and at age 11 he was initiated as a tribal priest and participated in his first human sacrifice. During the course of the three day ritual that followed, Blahyi says that he had a vision in which he was told by the Devil that he would become a great warrior and that he should continue to practice human sacrifice and cannibalism to increase his power.

During the days of Liberian civil war, Blahyi claimed that he "met Satan regularly and talked to him", and took part in monthly human sacrifices. According to him, it "included the killing of an innocent child and plucking out the heart, which was divided into pieces to eat". Blahyi also purported that when he was a warlord and Satanic priest, he had magical powers that made him invisible, and a "special power" to capture a town singlehandedly, then call in his troops afterwards to "clean up" (which meant slaughtering anyone they saw, chopping their heads off and using them as soccer balls). During the First Liberian Civil war he led a mercenary unit, many of whom were child soldiers, that was known as the Butt Naked Brigade - and they indeed entered every battle naked, hence the nickname.

When I read this article, I just couldn't help smiling at every occurence of the words "General Butt Naked", even though the article deals with very serious and gruesome subjects. As of today, former General Butt Naked claims he has found Jesus and seeks redemption for his crimes. Now he's an evangelical pastor, preaching peace and forgiveness - but I think it'd be better for him to form a black metal band instead :P At least he actually deserved the name of "the most evil man in the world", unlike some...

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Heretica - "Omnia Sunt Communia" (2011)

HERETICA "Omnia Sunt Communia"

Year: 2011
Genre: Thrash Metal
Country: Italy

Track List:
  1. Iraqi Resistance
  2. Laos Fantasmi
  3. Collasso Interiore
  4. Time Has Come
  5. Trinità
  6. Col Ferro e Col Fuoco
  7. Porco Dio
  8. Pure Hate
  9. Pay the Price pt. 1
  10. Fino all'ultimo Bandito
  11. Censura
  12. Pay the Price pt. 2

This Italian leftist thrash metal band finally released their first full-length album! Of course it's not BM, and their ideology is more on the "red" side of the spectrum, but it's very good album, and I highly recommend to check it out. Of course, this album can be distributed freely.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Lux Carentes - "Lux Carentes" (2010)

LUX CARENTES "Lux Carentes"

Year: 2009
Genre: Blackened Doom Metal/Rock
Country: USA

Track List:
  1. I Love You Sheriff Truman
  2. Cohesion of Blood
  3. Particle and Wave
  4. Atom
  5. Slumbering In The Arms Of A Stone Giant
  6. Hypoxia

Another interesting project from Bandcamp, this time from Ithaca (NY). Although being highly influenced by Cascadian BM scene, Lux Carentes' music is rather blackened doom metal / depressive rock. This 6-track demo is officially available for free download, but you can also buy it on Bandcamp for $6.

Anadonia - "Wake" (2009)


Year: 2009
Genre: Post-Rock, Blackened Shoegaze
Country: USA

Track List:
  1. Our Great Depression
  2. No Martyrs
  3. Service to God
  4. The War
  5. Atonement

I'm continuing to review albums which were sent to me in the past few months, and here's another Cascadian band (from Spokane, Washington). Their music isn't black metal, rather post-rock with some BM overtones, but there's already a number of bands who have such kind of sound (Amesoeurs, Alcest and the other projects by Neige; Dernier Martyr etc.) Looks like they're somehow related to Alda, and their views on religion, civilization and humanity aren't much different from the whole mindset of Cascadian BM scene:

".. For thousands of years, humanity has selfishly existed purely to further it's own existence, and continue to be the dominant force on planet Earth by any means necessary. We've clear cut millions of acres of forestry, blown up mountains, wiped out entire species, and poisoned the air and sea, all in the name of commerce, suburbia, power, money, and comfort. We have spoiled the planet, as well as ourselves, in every sense of the word. Throughout history we have experienced numerous wars of epic proportions, innocent humans and animals slaughtered over governmental squabbles. We have had numerous economic downfalls, leaving hard working honest people lying in the street, while high-powered CEO's get paid more money to ruin others lives. This is the last Great Depression. Our money, our emotions, our lives, are drained, empty, and it's no one's fault but our own. There will be no martyrs here. False prophets that claim to serve god can't save us from ourselves. The world as we once knew it is no more. We, are no more.. Slowly, the Earth is rebuilding in the aftermath of our self-inflicted genocide. A tree lays roots in the broken foundation of what was once a sky scraper. Machinery is rusted over, decaying gradually back into the ground from which the metal used to build it was originally ripped from. This renewal, this revivification, has sprung from the ashes we have left behind us. This is the wake of what we once were...

released 20 September 2009
andrew connelly: guitars
dustin carroll: bass guitar, sampler
cassie kirkeby: cello
mike lafferty: violin
abel cifuentes: drums

all music written and performed by Anadonia" 

UPD: according to some of my readers, Anadonia's ideology actually isn't in the spirit of my blog. I'll try to clear out this issue a little later.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Russian Discomfort Fest (All Night Hell) - 4 June 2011

Another crust/RABM event by the same people who organized Black Monday in Moscow. Line-up:

  • Kora (RABM)
  • Axidance (neocrust (early), blackened crust/RABM (later))
  • Fatum (stenchcore, blackened crust)
  • Crucified By The Sun (RABM, True Pagan-Black Kvlt)
  • Drunken Fairy Tales (Moscow celtic punk)
  • Repression Attack (stenchcore/crust metal)
  • Nimrud (post metal)
  • Tender Branson (punk/hardcore)
  • Social Zero (fastcore/pv)
  • Yeltsin Youth (powerviolence)
  • Asthma (crust punk)
  • Егор (psychedelic punk, cover band)
  • The Завод (oi/streetpunk, not to be confused with Заводь)
  • Stillborn (metalcore)
  • Fucking Paralytics (mystical noise)
  • Virulent Mass (hardcore)
  • Unkind Revolt (streetpunk (early), neocrust (later))

More info on last.fm

Good to see our RABM community becoming more and more active. Not sure if we'd have audience big enough for a similar gig in any major city other than Moscow, but there's hope for such a gig in St.Petersburg this summer.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Teko Saso - "11/11" (2011)

TEKO SASO "11/11"

Year: 2011
Genre: Doom/Sludge Metal, Anarcho-Rock
Country: USA

Track List:
  1. The 4th of May
  2. This Is My Crime
  3. The Lion Of The Ballroom
  4. In The Shadow Of The Gallows
  5. The Revolutionary Spirit
  6. Arise
  7. The Scaffold
  8. All The Tomorrows
  9. November Eleven

It was month ago when one of my anonymous readers has left a link to this album in comments to one of my entries... but only today I finally checked it out. Although there's "crust" tag for this album on Bandcamp, I don't think it's crust or black metal; it's rather doom/sludge/depressive rock played with a limited amount of instuments (only drums and baritone guitar). From what I've read on their page, Teko Saso are a duo, presumably from Chicago, whose debut album "11/11" is dedicated to the Haymarket martyrs:

"This record is inspired by the events known as the “Haymarket affair” of the late 1880’s, and dedicated to the people who gave so much for freedom in that struggle. All the lyrics are adapted from words spoken or written by the “martyrs”: Albert Parsons, Louis Lingg, George Engel, August Spies, and Adolph Fischer, as well as by their comrade Lucy Parsons. 11/11 signifies November Eleven, 1887, the date of the hanging of the four in Chicago (Louis Lingg had taken his own life the night before, presumably to deny the state the satisfaction). The five martyrs were subsequently interned together in Waldheim cemetery, Chicago. All five men (together with three co-defendants sentenced to long prison terms) were posthumously exonerated by Illinois Governor Altgeld.

Musically we tried to capture not just the outrage and tragedy of these mens’ murders, but a sense of their spirits as well. To willingly give one’s life for ideals is an act of faith and self-sacrifice that goes far beyond politics; it is the stuff that myths are made of, to shield us in shadow from the light of truth…

Teko Sãso is a Guarani phrase which roughly translates into “the state of breaking chains”. This is the essence of what we hope to be about as a band: to inspire dreams of freedom and beauty...

released 01 May 2011
kerana-drums, voice
creaghe-baritone guitar, voice
recorded by daniel"


Note: this is a low quality rip of the album. You can buy the HQ version on Bandcamp for a symbolic price. Just like in case of Lucifer The Lightbearer, the music on "11/11" is quite experimental and some of you might not like it... but at least give it a try.