Author/metalhead Edward Banchs decided to combine his education in African Studies and his love heavy metal into a single book he called “Heavy Metal Africa: Life, Passion, and Heavy Metal in the Forgotten Continent”. Like a hardcore Dr. Livingstone, Banchs’ book is part travel diary, part historical diagram, and part anthropological survey. Banchs weaves socio-economic history of Africa into the rise and maturation of the African metal scene.
The book sent Banchs to South Africa, Botswana, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius & Reunion Island, and Zimbabwe where local bands gave him tours of their hometowns, explained to him the history (both metal and all encompassing, one interviewee recounting the time Nelson Mandela commented on his lip ring) of their region, and they also thrash! At times it feels like what American metalheads deal with; police harassment, religious intolerance, finding a rehearsal space but these pressures are taken to a degree we couldn’t imagine. In his short visit Banchs, “leaves one country in tears, avoids fisticuffs with someone convinced he was spreading Satanism, visits Africa’s largest slum, and contracts malaria.”
Metal Insider was able to talk with the author briefly while doing press for the book.
“I was made aware of the metal scenes in Africa during a vacation in 2007 and found myself screaming along to a Refused record at a bar in Zimbabwe! That opened a few things up for me. A chance encounter at a record [store] in Cape Town also led to my meeting of… more metal heads, which, led to a metaphoric open door.”
“Once I decided to push forward with this, I learned just how deeply rooted this music was in Africa; and it had been for years. I never knew how many bands existed and how long they had been around for. Also, there was a deeper emotional connection that I made while traveled. I had studied Africa for so long and had taken a few trips to the continent already, but to put experience a true connection with people brought me down to earth.”
When asked if he could recommend an African band that everyone should look into he had a hard time picking just one, “Wrust, Zombies Ate My Girlfriend, The Drift, Facing The Gallows, Juggernaught, Warfield, Amarkartus, Behind The Mask, Last Year’s Tragedy, Skinflint, Dividing The Element, Overthrust, and did [I] mention Wrust!”
Aside from African Metal, we were curious as to what Edward was listening this year. “Abbath’a record is fantastic. Also a post-punk band from Florida ‘Frameworks’ released an album this year called “Smother” that is great and the new Oathbreaker. Also, a black metal band from Maryland called Athame put out a new record this year that is great!”