10 African metal bands that are challenging heavy metal as we know it

African metal bands
(Image credit: Press/Edward Banchs)

Metal Hammer issue 367

(Image credit: Future)

In the latest issue of Metal Hammer, we spoke to author Edward Banchs about his new book, Scream For Me Africa!: Heavy Metal Identities in Post-Colonial Africa (Advances in Metal Music and Culture). Banchs is no stranger to the subject of course, having previously written Heavy Metal Africa, a book which explored the history of metal bands on the continent.

Banchs envisioned his new book as a way of exploring how African metal bands are expanding the boundaries of heavy metal, and how they are using metal to explore complex social and political themes. That in mind, we asked Edward to pick out ten bands that are leading the charge for African metal. 

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Arka’n Asrafokor (Togo)

Arka’n Asrafokor’s 2019 debut, Zã Keli, is a journey into a pre-colonial Africa unlike any other unleashed in the metal world. As raw as it is refreshing, metal’s rise in the continent had yet to hear such a full embrace of the pre-colonial experience that assaults your stereo, both lyrically and musically. 

The relationship this band has with their post-colonial life is front and centre in their music, notably the dialogue they are having with Western listeners, asking them to reconsider their relationship with the planet and the impact that life in the Global North is having on the citizens of the Global South.

Hear more: https://arkanaa.bandcamp.com/album/z-keli

Overthrust (Botswana)

Raw, gritty, punk-influenced death metal without compromise. Botswana’s Overthrust may already be on your radar for good reason. The band has made their way through Europe twice, including a stop through the legendary Wacken Festival, and rightfully so: Overthrust play death metal done right!

Hear more: https://overthrust3.bandcamp.com/music

Dark Suburb (Ghana)

Identifying more as an alternative, hard rock band and less of a metal act, this sextet of masked skeletons writes hook-laden music with a purpose. As a voice for the unseen and unheard, those that live in the recesses of the most dire slums in their hometown of Accra, Dark Suburb’s lyrics are a call for not only their government but global citizens to look at how desperate the situation of poverty has become for many, not only in Ghana, but around the world—especially during the post-Covid era.

Skinflint (Botswana)

Another band that may already be familiar to Westerners by way of a few international tours is Skinflint, a trio that hails from Botswana’s capital city of Gaborone. The band perform a style of metal with a strong NWOBHM influence—minus the twin guitar attack—alongside lyrical themes that journey into various phases of their home continent’s past. African history never rocked this hard.

Hear more: https://skinflintmetal.com/home

Seth (Madagascar)

Madagascar’s Seth is a metalcore quintet that absolutely pummels. Though they have kept a low profile outside Madagascar, their live energy and hook-soaked ferocity—brought home by vocalist Jennyfer’s punishing throat—have made this band one of their country’s stand outs. Without a doubt, this is a band to keep an eye on.

Hear more: https://www.reverbnation.com/tsilavina

Chaos Doctrine (South Africa)

South Africa’s metal scene has been a great beacon of upward mobility for the continent for some time now. With bands garnering global exposure—a few even touring internationally—the bar has been set rather high for bands. 

Composed of longtime scene veterans, Johannesburg’s Chaos Doctrine are yet another act elevating South Africa’s metal scene behind their industrial-tinged, groove-infected thrash that comes to life on the band’s second album, 2021’s And In The Beginning…They Lied.

Hear more: https://chaosdoctrine.bandcamp.com

Deadline (South Africa)

Pretoria-based rockers Deadline put their old school heavy metal sound right up front, while vocalist Carlos Sanches’ soaring vocals will strap you into the passenger seat and take you on a ride on a rocking, metal-paved road. 

Prolific, the band shows no sign of slowing down with another release planned this year (their fourth in as many years). The band's live shows and ripping tunes have helped them amass a nice following within their borders. The sky is high for Deadline, and it’s easy to hear why.

Hear more: https://deadlinehmc.bandcamp.com/

Last Year’s Tragedy (Kenya)

These longtime Kenyan meal stalwarts have held their own for well over a decade now, and they do not appear to be slowing down. With the release of 2021’s Amongst Lions, the band has shown why it is time for the world to see what Nairobi has been buzzing about for so long now.

Hear more: https://lastyearstragedy.bandcamp.com

Vale of Amonition (Uganda)

For those with a taste for the dark, Vale of Amonition is a blackened doom duo whose music leaves no room for light. Their lyrics are a journey through the horror of African history, and a tale of their lives in a country notorious for warlords and steady conflict. 

Their 2019 release, Ancient, Evil & African is a reach into the tragedy of Uganda, and yet a little grasp of hope for what else could be possible. Everything about this band is excellent.

Znous (Tunisia)

A quick search on this band’s website reveals an ugly truth about life as a metal band in this north African country—“All Znous merch in Tunisia has been confiscated by the police force.”

A stiff reminder that not all metal bands live and breathe the same air, especially when the country you call home recently voted to cement the rule of longtime president, Kais Saied. The politically tinged hardcore band does not mince words, referring to local police as “snakes” and leaders as “pigs”, while shining a light on the marginalized populations in their country, notably women and the poor.

Hear more: https://www.znousland.net

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