Angola, one of the Portuguese speaking nations of the African continent and host to one of the most bloodiest wars seen in this countries history. What director Jeremy Xido has done has taken then dark past of this African nation and shown it in a light the general public would not look Angola in, a light that consists of one music: Heavy Metal. The sheer brilliance behind this work of art comes in partnership with two key figures in the Angolan Metal scene Sonia Ferreira and Wilker Flores, who run the Okutiuka orphanage in the war-ravaged city of Huambo and set on a path and dreams to mount the first-ever national rock concert.
In recent years Angola has become an honored metal music nation, with bands like Before Crush taking their place in history and shaping their future before them. The documentary takes you apart, it makes you realize what the Angolans went through and what the metal musicians are fighting for otherwise not proving to be problematic in western society. As many viewers will noticed when Before Crush band practice / play the songs in the film, you will notice that they are ingeniously referring to the past war and how it has affected their society, ideally singing as such that they recognize each other as brothers, fighting for stability, peace, freedom and most importantly their lives.
In some respect although most of the African continent is dogged by corruption, poverty, poor sanity and poor standards of living, the Angolan metal scene somehow ironically proves wrong otherwise, as such seeing musicians afford such luxuries as striking electric guitars, but the salient point is it seen as a musical revolution and revolution towards more gratified unification. It seems that the Angolan musicians themselves have come such a long way to get where they are and it goes to prove that if you have dreams, you can build on those dreams to develop and produce something that can be as revolutionary as new technology or as symbolic as being united under one banner, Heavy Metal.
Because Huambo's culture disappeared after the war, it seems that the conflict wiped the settlements identity, but what this documentary symbolically instates is a new modern identity, that said given the radio programme "Volume 10" on Luanda's radio station 96.5FM has been playing rock music ever since 1995, really asks the question, how did rock and metal music arrive in Angola and as it approaches its 20 years existence, much has changed in the music scene. Prior to the war, the documentary states that the music has been coming and going, much like the Namibian metal scene in modern times, but as the war finished bands were getting heavier and far more brutal and as fellow Angolan Yuri Almeida made a blog about Angolan rock music, this is seen as the point where one could say Angola become an integrated network for today's modern musicians.
Yuri is also the founder of the Angolan Association of Rock, so perhaps the western society during the 90's might have underestimated some goings on in the African nation. Sonia Ferreira believes that rock music can heal the distraught and saddened people of Angola and so it seems that rock music is steadily becoming part of their cultural identity. Playing Death Metal seems to transmit some positive energy to the listeners and as such gives them belief. What the unique point about the documentary is, is the troubled journey to setting up the first rock/metal festival in Angola's history, something that many westerners don't seem to apprehend, in that they accept metal for what it is, but for Angolans its about channeling their feelings, as if they are fighting for something more than music and it is this reason to why global metal fans should pay more attention to these bands who are fighting for something they believe in, not believing in becoming international superstars. Wilker Flores states that he is more interested in rock music than money, so from that it would seem that he feels rock music has no financial valuation on it but rather a value of its own kind, the value might be correlated to the freedom that is being pushed for.
As far as the preparations for the festival were concerned, the bands travelled from all across different parts of Angola, via bus and other modes of transport, this is rock and roll at it's very core, no fancy coaches, no jetting about, basic and well organized transportation. That said it seems that society in Angola is very lapse-daisy, as Wilker stated that everything arrives late in Angola, well to the extent of Luanda, the capital, because of the hefty traffic and congestion brought with it, he said that was justifiable. But it gets worse! The festival gets delayed by two hours and that was down to a technical fault and the worse thing was that the guy who owned it was not there anymore, finally after 5 hours before the scheduled time the festival kicks off, this started at 11pm - in the UK festivals would finish just before midnight.
The line-up featured bands such as Dor Fantasma, the Deathcore group Before Crush, Black Soul, Nothing To Lost, Neblina, Instinto Primario, Fios Electrico, Amnesia, Dos Anjos, Singra, Mental Grave, Last Prayer and Paralelo State. But the soul point is bringing a whole unit of rock and metal fans to one place to unite and build on bringing this beloved music to the masses, miraculously a year later the festival happens again and gets covered by media, asking the fans what they think of the festival, one claiming that they thought it would never catch on in Huambo. The festival is now known in it's Portuguese translation of 'Rock will never die', true to it's meaning its growing and will continue to grow as demand grows for it and as rock and metal has spread internationally, it will conquer and begin to breed in every country it touches, meaning that the Angolan rock and metal scene has developed from a dream to evidential reality and with the Huambo 'rock will never die' festival giving the country hope, Angola will in years to come become an internationally recognised rock and metal scene.
Directed by Jeremy Xido
Produced by Joseph Castelo
Executive Producer: David Callagher
Photography Director: Johan Legraie
Editor: Todd Holmes
Original Score: Christian Frederickson
Art & Animation: Molly Schwartz
Sound Recorder: Oswald Juliana
Sound Design & Mix: Timothy Bright
Written by Rhys Stevenson