The following is a guest post by Edward Banchs, author of Heavy Metal Africa: Life, Passion, and Heavy Metal in the Forgotten Continent.
With the recent story that Stick To Your Guns was the first metal band to perform in Kenya, I felt the need to discuss a metal scene that I got to know quite well; after all, I did write a book about the matter. While Stick To Your Guns may have been the first American distortion-led band to rouse a mosh pit in the valleys of East Africa, the rockers in Kenya’s capital city of Nairobi know this music all too well, having already headbanged to previous international visitors. But most notably, Kenyans enjoy boasting about the wonderful talent of their own that have been shouting anthems at them for years. And they are proud!
In my book, Heavy Metal Africa: Life, Passion, and Heavy Metal in the Forgotten Continent, I detail the importance of this music to the current generation of ‘bangers not only in Kenya, but throughout the five other nations I visited. Immersing myself with those responsible for this genre’s nascence in their respective countries, as well as the voices shaping today’s scene, I left the land of our forebearers with a better understanding as to what fueled this generation of Africans pushing their continent forward. Kenya, like the rest of Africa, may be a bit off the collective metal map for most, but to those who call this beautiful nation home, this music, its power, its energy, and its honesty means everything. Here now are a few of the bands that are impacting Kenya’s metal scene.
Last Year’s Tragedy
I met the Nairobi-based metalcore stars just days after I landed as we spent time discussing their country’s future and the extremely social lyrical themes that have connected with so many rockers in Kenya. The result is a masterful blend of aggressive metal, with a strong focus on melodies and a live energy that infects you almost immediately. Easy to see why so many metal fans in the country love this band. And surely, with the buzz they have been generating in other African corners, it is no wonder that others throughout Africa mentioned them to me. Check out “Generation Light”:
Intense, brutal, and unapologetic deathcore performed by some rather pleasant fellows. After Kenya garnered headlines for horrific post-election violence that was triggered by a faulty election results that left many dead, and many more displaced, the members of this band shared just how important this music was to them, and more so, how it helped them heal. And this song is one of the many results.
Lust Of A Dying Breed
How do you say brutal in Swahili? You say, “Lust Of A Dying Breed.”
Absence Of Light
It has been a while since we have heard anything from this extreme three piece. The members of the band do not shy away from their love of all things extreme and have been known to show up with corpse paint to their gigs – a bold statement in a rather conservative country. Furthermore, with all of the members having roots in the Indian sub continent, their use of Indian themes has been a remarkable entry into the discussion of Kenyan identity.
Never ones to hide their metalcore influences, the members of Mortal Soul told me that they were never shy to embrace their identity as metalheads as a way of coping with the mechanism of ethnicity within the borders of the Kenyan state. Strong words from an excellent band, with a substantial amount of promise. A must listen.
Parking Lot Grass
Changing gears a little bit, local superstars, Parking Lot Grass, have been a link for rockers outside of Africa to the Kenyan rock scene. The band with the healthiest buzz outside of the country has even been asked to perform in Europe. Fans of Foo Fighter-style rock that like to belt out songs with the windows down need to give Parking Lot Grass a listen. Listen to “Rainman” below, and check out their album ‘Tusk At Hand,’ a commentary on animal poaching, on your favorite digital store. Seriously, put this one on full volume – you will have this stuck in your head all day.
Void of Belonging
Young metal band Void of Belonging have worked their way through the ranks of the Nairobi scene and are a live favorite as seen here:
Seeds of Datura
Newcomers to the Nairobi scene, the band formed just last year has been working on crafting their “fast-paced heavy and experimental” sound, and hope to one day be the Kenyan band that brings in “that solid sound from home.” I am certainly going to keep eye on these upstarts, and so should you:
Another fresh face to the Kenyan rock scene that is getting some remarkable attention within, and outside of, the nation is the band Rash. Barely three years old, Rash has received national press for their Maiden-ish hard rock that comes across rather well on their solid debut album Only a Few Survivors. Check out “Sons of Robots” – a critique of modern man’s obsession with technology.
We are looking for suggestions for the next Scene Report. Does your region have a great scene that people should know about? Email us at hatemail [at] metalinjection [dot] net with your pitch.
View previous Scene Reports here.