African heavy metal

African heavy metal refers to the heavy metal music scene in Africa, particularly in Eastern African countries such as Kenya) and Uganda, Western African (such as Gabon, Nigeria, Cameroon, etc) and Southern African countries including Namibia, Zambia, Madagascar, Zimbabwe, Angola,[1] Botswana,[2] South Africa, Mozambique,[3] and Zimbabwe.[4] It also extends into North African nations such as Algeria,[5] Egypt,[6] Libya, Morocco,[7] and Tunisia,[8] although bands in the North African region associate themselves more closely with the MENA region in terms of cultural and social consistencies. In South Africa, particular regional scenes are found in Cape Town, Johannesburg, Pretoria and Port Elizabeth. There is also emerging scenes in Gabon, Nigeria, Cape Verde, Ghana and 1 Last Autograph, Krad, Dark Suburb [9][10][11][12] and Arka'n leading their respective scenes.


Wrust performing at Aandklas, Stellenbosch

The Botswana heavy metal scene started in the 1970s with the introduction of classic rock and evolved into a distinctive sub-culture with a cowboy inspired aesthetic.[2][13][14] Wrust, from Gaborone achieved some international success.[15]

In South Africa the genre really began to take off in the mid-1980s to the mid-1990s in Johannesburg with the relative success of bands such as Odyssey, Ragnarok and Urban Assault,[16] and Voice of Destruction in Cape Town. The arrival of metal music in the country was controversial at the time with music fans facing official banning of some records by government and the N.G Kerk. Fans of the genre also faced hostility from the public at large with the music often described as ‘devil’s music’ and fans accused of being satanists by detractors.[16] With the rise of the dance music around the turn of the century the genre experienced a relative decline until it started growing again from the mid-2000s. In South Africa the fan base is predominantly made up of white South Africans unlike in other African countries such as Botswana where the fan base is predominately from the black majority.[13]

In Egypt fans have faced waves of discrimination from both official institutions and the general public with a number of fans being imprisoned in 1996 and 1997 for "possessing drugs and insulting the divine religions"[17] through metal music. After months of court cases defendants were released due to a lack of evidence and became known in the Egyptian press as "the Satan worshipers case."[17] During this period security forces banned 35 metal bands from entering the country. In 2012 fans of the genre were again accused of Satanism in the media and by politicians.[18]

Whilst many African countries have enjoyed a burgeoning heavy metal subculture for some decades already, others such as Zimbabwe are only beginning to show a fledgling culture developing as of more recently.[4] Some other nations have no documented history at all as of yet.

In 2010 some music groups follow a more international standard and approach to music spearheaded by bands such as Red Helen, Facing The Gallows and Betray The Emissary. The availability of music online and tutorship from world class musicians whose instructional videos are freely available has had a huge impact on how musicians in the heavy metal genre improve themselves and include new and trending sounds such as djent or black metal. Death Metal Angola is a 2014 documentary about heavy metal in Africa.

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