Photo: Portia T. Muigai/Rash.

5 Kenyan Metal Bands You Should Check Out

Here are five bands making Kenya's metal scene the best in East Africa right now.

The best of metal doesn't need all of the big recognition. Real metal is played in basements, under leaky tents and in warehouses. That's due to true metalheads, the truly committed fans chase the next head bang as the next high.

Nowhere does that real spirit of heavy metal ring truer than in Kenya's hard rock scene. The hardcore metal heads in Kenya are committed, fiercely loyal and rock harder than just about anyone on the continent.

Here are the five hardest hitting metal bands making Kenya's metal scene the best in East Africa right now.

Last Year's Tragedy

Sometimes all you want is a metal band without any frills or bullshit attached. That's Last Year's Tragedy in a nutshell: rock for hardcore headbangers, not for those who'd whine about catching an elbow in a Nairobi mosh pit. The band has been steadily hitting the Kenyan heavy metal circuit and growing their circle of followers since their founding in 2006. That kind of longevity has produced a loyal contingent of fans who always know they're in for some driving guitar and in-your-face lyrics when Last Year's Tragedy is taking the stage.

Check out their 2015 video for "March From The Underground."


The music coming out of Nairobi band Kanyeki is something you have to give your ear to. Known as the 'Kikuyu Rock Guru,' their lyrics definitely help to embody the sound coming out of Nairobi. They frequent the basement music haven of 'The Blues' in downtown Nairobi and are starting to make a name for themselves in the East African metal scene. This is definitely a band to be watching out for in the years to come.

They're definitely worth a serious listen, and you can dig on their unique Nairobi twist with videos like Murata and Ndingihota Gutariria.

RASH the Band

One could easily argue that RASH is the biggest, baddest and best metal band out of Nairobi right now. Theirs is a no-frills, no bullshit style, hitting hard and keeping at it. Lead singer Sam Mwangi has a voice that seems to be tailor made for a rock front man. RASH is a frequent headliner of Nairobi rock festivals and are expanding their loyal contingent of metalheads, one headbanging anthem at a time.

Simply put, to not nod for Nairobi being the rock capital of Kenya (and probably East Africa) would be to miss out on one of the best niche rock scenes would be a huge mistake and RASH seems to be poised to keep leading that wave into the future. One needs to look no further than their 2016 video ' Msafiri' to see how hard they hit.

Lust of a Dying Breed

Bands who can pull off speed metal are modern-day musical high-wire artists. They seem to be raining in the chaos and using it to propel the sound forward. That's what Lust of a Dying Breed is able to consistently pull off: hard hitting metal played at an utterly break neck speed.

They've become one of the mainstays of the Kenyan metal scene and you don't have to look further than this Soundcloud playlist of some of their heaviest jams to get your face blown off. There jam 'Cat of Nine Tails' is a face-melter that shouldn't be missed.

Irony Destroyed

Irony Destroyed is one of those bands that just seems to be gigging all the time. They can be found at almost any rock or metal festival in Kenya, bringing their brand of ultra-intense metal-core to the forefront. Simply put, their sound is utterly unrelenting and brash and with the over-the-top intensity of a band with the chops to back it up.

They released their debut EP in 2017 and have were one of the bands that brought down the house at the 2017 Nairobi Metal Festival. True headbangers will appreciate the decadently intense guitar work on their 2017 track "Dissolving A Bully." Check out their EP below.

Photo: Courtesy of Radswan

Freddie Harrel Is Building Conscious Beauty For and With the African Diaspora

Formerly known as "Big Hair Don't Care", creator Freddie Harrel and her team have released 3 new wig shapes called the "RadShapes" available now.

Photo: Courtesy of Radswan

The normalising of Black and brown women in wigs of various styles has certainly been welcomed by the community, as it has opened up so many creative avenues for Black women to take on leadership roles and make room for themselves in the industry.

Radswan (formerly known as Big Hair Don't Care), is a lifestyle brand "bringing a new perspective on Blackness through hair, by disrupting the synthetic market with innovative and sustainable products." Through their rebrand, Radswan aims to, "upscale the direct-to-consumer experience holistically, by having connected conversations around culture and identity, in order to remove the roots of stigma."

The latest from French-Cameroonian founder and creator Freddie Harrel - who was featured on our list of 100 women of 2020 - has built her career in digital marketing and reputation as an outspoken advocate for women's empowerment. On top of her business ventures, the 2018 'Cosmopolitan Influencer of the Year' uses her platform to advocate for women's empowerment with 'SHE Unleashed,' a workshop series where women of all ages come together to discuss the issues that impact the female experience, including the feeling of otherness, identity politics, unconscious bias, racism and sexism.

And hair is clearly one of her many passions, as Freddie says, "Hair embodies my freest and earliest form of self expression, and as a shapeshifter, I'm never done. I get to forever reintroduce my various angles, tell all my stories to this world that often feels constrained and biased."

Armed with a committee of Black women, Freddie has cultivated Radswan and the aesthetic that comes with the synthetic but luxurious wigs. The wigs are designed to look like as though the hair is growing out of her own head, with matching lace that compliments your own skin colour.

By being the first brand to use recycled fibres, Radswan is truly here to change the game. The team has somehow figured out how to make their products look and feel like the real thing, while using 0% human hair and not negotiating on the price, quality or persona.

In 2019, the company secured £1.5m of investment led by BBG Ventures with Female Founders Fund and Pritzker Private Capital participating, along with angelic contributions from Hannah Bronfman, Nashilu Mouen Makoua, and Sonja Perkins.

On the importance of representation and telling Black stories through the products we create, Freddie says, "Hair to me is Sundays kneeling between your mothers or aunties legs, it's your cousin or newly made friend combing lovingly through your hair, whilst you detangle your life out loud. Our constant shapeshifting teaches us to see ourselves in each other, the hands braiding always intimately touching our head more often than not laying someone's lap."

"Big Hair No Care took off in ways we couldn't keep up with," she continues, "RadSwan is our comeback.It's a lifestyle brand, it's the hair game getting an upgrade, becoming fairer and cleaner. It's the platform that recognises and celebrates your identity as a shapeshifter, your individuality and your right to be black like you."

Check out your next hairstyle from Radswan here.

Radswan's RadShape 01Photo: Courtesy of Radswan

Radswan's RadShape 02Photo: Courtesy of Radswan

Radswan's RadShape 03Photo: Courtesy of Radswan

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