6 African Metal Bands You Need To Check Out

Here are 6 metal bands from Botswana, Uganda, Angola & Kenya that should be on your radar.

An unfortunately popular myth is that rock music is un-African, a genre for white people in which Africans are under represented. This myth needs to be debunked.

The African continent has birthed several diverse and thriving rock scenes throughout the years, from Zamrock to Nigerien psychedelic rock. One of the most overlooked is the African metal scene.

Platforms like Nigeria's Audio Inferno and the South African-based Metal 4 Africa are some of the rare few that cover African metal bands, and there's been a handful of documentaries like heavy metal in Mozambique and Angolan death metal, but overall this is a scene that operates well below the radar.

Here are 6 African metal bands you should check out.


Bostwana has currently one of the most exciting rock scenes. Started in the 1990s with pioneer bands like Noisey Road, the metal scene united a generation of Batswana in a spirit of camaraderie and community through their love for music.

Photographer Paul Shiakallis’ series Leather Skins, Unchained Hearts has explored the metal subculture in a series of pictures, that shows heavy metal fans strongly involved in their communities. It doesn’t hurt that they rock some amazing gear that makes it looks like they stepped out of a Motörhead gig in the 80s. Women are also part of the scene and are called 'marok' ('rocker' in Setswana).

Overthrust is an indie death metal trio from Ghanzi formed in 2010. They gained some massive buzz after being featured in Who Are The Death Metal Cowboys of Africa?, as well as Vice magazine.

Their music is a mix of Western and African influences, and like their name shows, they’re not afraid of being aggressive. Their lyrics openly attack the hypocritical church culture in Bostwana and corruption.

Overthrusts's performances attract rockers from all over the country and they host the Overthrust Winter Mania fest, an annual celebration of the best of African rock music with acts like Adorned in Ash and SarcotrofiA. Bonfires, motorbike washes and metal DJs are among the activities that take place there.

Before Crush

Jeremy Xido's documentary Death Metal Angola led to Western audiences' discovery of the thriving Angolan metal scene. Angolan rock is a big genre of its own, promoted through local media like the radio station Volume Dez and Rockultura Festival, which was created specially to promote the best Angolan rock bands.

Before Crush is one of the metal bands featured in Death Metal Angola. Formed in 2007, the band cites Blind Witness, Sea of Treachery and Killswitch Engage as their influences. Their music is as metal as it can be, mixing elements of both progressive and death metal.

The band sings in English and Portuguese, spreading a positive message in hopes of uplifting their audience. Before Crush has enjoyed success in Angola as well as abroad, having toured in Europe and the United States.

Dor Fantasma

Dor Fantasma does thrash metal pretty well. So well, actually, that they are one of the biggest metal bands in Angola.

Like Before Crush, Dor Fantasma were also featured in Death Metal Angola. Their lyrics address issues such as the long term effects of war (the country went through a 26 year civil war) and mental issues. Some say metal music can have a cathartic effect, helping audiences to cleanse themselves off the rage and complex feelings linked with trauma. The ripples of the Angolan Civil War have helped Dor Fantasma gather a cult following.

Vale of Amonition

Vale of Amonition is a prolific Ugandan death metal band that's put out almost a dozen releases since their debut in 2009. Their influences range from Motörhead to Black Sabbath.

What makes them standout is the fact that they're a Pan-African metal band, aiming to spread metal to a large audience and make their music available for all. The group regularly includes themes of magic and occultism in their lyrics, from Egyptian Gods to Orishas, as well as mentions of societal and economical issues in Uganda.

The independent band is incredibly active supporting other acts like African Doomhammer from Kenya.

Last Year’s Tragedy

Kenya has a small but thriving rock scene from which bands like Murfy’s Law and Seismic have emerged. Radio Station 105.5 XFM regularly broadcasts independent Kenyan rock bands with varying influences and sounds, but with one common desire: to spread rock music to their local audience.

Last Year’s Tragedy is among the acts that stand out in the Kenyan scene. The post-hardcore metal band released their debut EP, Challenge Accepted, in 2013 and recently won the Best Song Award at Audio Inferno’s African rock music awards . They regularly play at March From The Underground, Kenya’s biggest metal melee.

The band members met in 2006 while studying in the UK. Since then, they’ve moved back to Kenya and haven’t stopped performing. Their goal? To embark their audience on a musical journey that will make an impact on their lives.


Rish is one of the few women in the Kenyan metal and rock scene. She's signed to Andromeda Music and has released her latest single early this year, “My Strength.” Her music is a mix of metal, rock, jazz and Christian infused-lyrics.

Photo: courtesy of Natsai Audrey Chieza

100 Women: Natsai Audrey Chieza is Changing the World One Petri Dish at a Time

Her interdisciplinary approach to biology and fashion has sparked conversation about the future of sustainability and pollution in textile manufacturing.

The bold jewel tones of OkayAfrica 100 Women honoree Natsai Audrey Chieza's silk scarves aren't the product of hazardous chemicals or silkscreen printing. Instead, they are the product of bacteria. Specifically coelicolor, a strain of bacteria found in soil that happens to excellently synthesize organic chemical compounds. Working in the trade for six years, the Zimbabwean materials designer quickly came to understand why the textile industry is one of the most polluting industries in the world. Knowing that the most harm occurs during the process of dyeing fabrics, she decided to take action.

Chieza has worked with leading brands such as Microsoft, Nissan, and Unilever to usher in a new approach to science and design. Through her creative R&D; studio Faber Futures, the design innovator uses the process of creating with bacteria to assist in moving mankind away from our fossil fuel dependency. As the biopigment expert put it [last year during her TED talk "Fashion has a pollution problem—can biology fix it?"], in the future we must make sure that we are not "mirroring the destructive legacies of the oil age."

Her interdisciplinary approach to biology and fashion has sparked spirited conversation about the future of sustainability and pollution in textiles. Here, Chieza expounds on her start, the pros and cons of creating something new and the urgency of change.

The following has been edited for length and clarity

Akinyi Ochieng for OkayAfrica: STEM and the arts are often conceptualized as separate worlds. However, in your career, you've managed to find the overlap. How did you, a materials designer, end up dabbling in biotechnology?

Natsai Audrey Chieza: I've always really wanted to work within the creative field. I used to work in architecture where I really enjoyed my education in a systems approach to designs and designing for multiple contexts. But I wanted to explore a different side of the design world, so I began exploring the skill and context of material flows, and how technology and futures fits within this framework of how we design.

For my own work and my practice, not having a scientific background made me try things based on what I understood about materials and what I understood about the interactions in which those materials existed in society. I'm interested in a political lens, an economic lens, and how textiles perform in reality. That's not necessarily the approach that a scientist would have taken. Now that's not to say that science isn't important—it's vital. But innovation can occur in that intersection.

Did you go into this thinking, "Oh, I'll figure it out. There must be a path to make this work"?

To be honest, when I started off, the field was not defined. I think I found something really interesting, which was about how biology was becoming a realm of design, and I just explored that as best as I knew how as a designer and non-scientist. It just so happened that around me there was a context that was imagined but enabled me six years later to say, "That's the industry where this work belongs" and stakeholders who give me a space to further my work in a creative and experimental. The path was never anything clear at all. I learned as I grew.

There's a phrase that is often repeated today: "You can't be what you can't see." But you have really created a niche for yourself. What are the benefits of entering an emerging space?

I think what's amazing is not having anyone or anything telling you that what you think is impossible. If you're carving a new territory then you must trust in your instinct and vision to effectively push where the work can be and where it exists. You're not asking permission to do anything. Of course the flip side of that is you have to bring people with you, and so part of you being able to do the work is convincing people that your vision has legitimacy and it's worth exploring, worth taking a risk to look outside of that box.

It's often quite challenging to figure out how to find the strength to push something that hasn't been done before. There's no precedent or rulebook to my work, but sometimes it's really nice to have a rulebook. [Laughs] However, I think it's made me a person who doesn't see challenges as obstacles that are in the way, but more as problems that can be solved. And I think that's the good thing.

Much of your work is about biopigments. What color excites you?

It's not really the colors that excite me. It's color as a cultural context that really fascinates me. I'm really interested in if a microbe is almost like this living factory that produces this pigment, and the technology can be shared and deployed with people as to how you work with it across the world, then what are the cultural interventions that can happen in South Africa versus in Argentina versus in the United Kingdom, based on this common microbe. I think that's always been what interests me the most, the context in which our materials exist. I think a really good example is indigo, and how from Japan to West Africa, indigo is just this really, really rich material, and the process and the craftsmanship that goes into it. I'm interested to see how the future ecology of making arises in response to biotechnologies across the world.

Where do you see yourself and your work evolving in the near or long term?

I'm sort of going through that growth moment where you've been working toward something and then you've arrived at that and you're like, "Right, what's next?" I think I'm fundamentally somebody that wants to use design as a discursive tool to understand how our technologies proliferate. My focus is really on the imagined life sciences and how they're going to become very much a part of all of our lived experiences, and particularly in the context of really urgent changes that are happening from a local level to a global level. From global warming and climate change to resource scarcity across regions, our response to what I think being able to design with living systems, can afford us in the future. So my work really is about understanding how to engage stakeholders across different sectors to grow a consensus around how we're going to leverage these sorts of technologies so that they can be technologies for good. That's really where this is going.

This article appears as part of OkayAfrica's 100 Women 2018—a project highlighting the impactful work done by African women across the globe. Throughout March, we will be publishing a series of profiles, videos, interviews and feature stories on these inspirational women.

Click here to see the entire list of 2018 honorees.

Maia & The Big Sky LP cover.

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The Nairobi-based artist is now sharing the new music video for "Pawa," the album's leading track, which we're premiering here today. Directed by Chris King, the beautiful new clip sees Maia & the Big Sky taking over the TV airwaves and minds of all of those watching, freeing them from the "power" that controls them.

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Photo: Mídia NINJA

The Assassination of Marielle Franco and the Dawn of Brazil's New Civil Rights Movement

Marielle Franco was one of a new generation of black activists trying to overturn Brazil's entrenched and violent racism

The violence in Rio de Janeiro right now is akin to a war zone, with per capita death tolls resembling those from Afghanistan and Syria. Two weeks ago I traveled there for business and stayed in the relatively safe and trendy neighborhood of Santa Teresa. Each night of my stay, was abruptly awaken by long streams of gunshots and also fireworks from the nearby favela of Falett. The fireworks—as I learned from my local friends—were not a result of any celebration, rather a signal that either drugs, guns, or the police have arrived. This is the norm for many of the 763 favelas in Rio which houses nearly 25 percent of the city's population.

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