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South African Metal Fest Forced To Change Venues Three Times Due To Religious Backlash

Posted by on January 16, 2015 at 1:59 pm

It's safe to assume that South Africa doesn't see many international heavy metal acts touring down there, so when something happens it's a big deal.

Witchfest looks to be the biggest metal show of the year in the African country and is set to feature big names like Cannibal Corpse, Hatebreed, Epica, Septicflesh, Decapitated, Kataklysm, Fleshgod Apocolype, Alestorm and others.

Naturally, local Christians who probably have no idea what metal is really about have been spooked by the thought of thousands of metalheads congregating in their backyard and the festival has been facing some trouble. A redditor by the name of Ghost29 posted the following on a metal subreddit about the ensuing drama:

South Africa is not a place which commonly comes to mind when one thinks of metal music but we actually have a very vibrant, albeit quite small, metal music scene. We have also been quite starved of touring international bands due to the costs associated with travelling to South Africa and the comparatively small scene to Europe and America. However, we have been quite fortunate over recent years as a number of promoters have worked really hard to bring quality metal to our shores. Just this past year, I have had the pleasure to see Lamb of God, Behemoth, Sepultura and Kataklysm. This coming year, I have At the Gates and Eluveitie to look forward to. Another big event the entire metal community south of the Sahara has been looking forward to this year, is Witchfest Open Air Festival.

Witchfest Open Air is the biggest metal festival Africa has ever seen, featuring the likes of Cannibal Corpse, Hatebreed, Epica, Alestorm, Belphegor, Carnifex, Fleshgod Apocalypse, Septicflesh and others as well as some of the best local metal. Unfortunately, the festival has gone through a number of venue changes due to continual harassment from the local Christian community. There has been a strong desire to hold the festival amongst the natural beauty of South Africa but as with elsewhere in the world, rural communities often feature more conservative-minded individuals and as was the case with Devildriver's tour to SA in 2008, they have forced the festival to move to a more urban venue.

What was even cooler was that Lamb of God bassist John Campbell chimed in with words of encouragement in the comments:

I've been there playing metal music, I can back you up that [South Africa] is a great place. Sorry you missed our quick, 2 show run through. I hope to get back there again on our next tour cycle.

The good news is that in the long game, science wins out over religion.

It was memorable, to say the least. I hope you guys could sense the passion and gratitude we felt in being able to play our music for you guys, monstrous crowds or otherwise. Lakker man, lakker.

Really powerful words. The good news is that the festival refuses to back down and have reassured everybody the new venue has been secured, according to their Facebook page:

Witchfest Festival was dealt another blow (non lethal) this past week.
It appears the forgiving and accepting nature of the Hartebeespoort christian community is on holiday. They have been harassing the venue / Farmers to the point that we were told, either your fork out 3million and buy the farm or leave.

Well we have left….

Now for the GOOD NEWS. We have secured a new Venue in the Lanseria area. This means we will offer a free shuttle service from Lanseria Airport to the new venue. There are accommodation options available. With a shuttle service.(3min from airport) CAMPING is still available. ALL TICKETS are still valid.

If you are anywhere in the area to attend the festival, go support local heavy metal in South Africa. Get more info on the fest here.

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