Metal is everywhere, well at least it's working towards that potential fact. Let's face it, Africa is perhaps one of two final frontiers for the music genre to emerge, the other being Oceania with the exception to Australia, New Zealand, New Caledonia, Papua New Guinea, Guam, French Polynesia and Hawaii.
But with our attention turning towards Africa, a continent known for its vast deserts, indigenous tribes and cultural differences from the Arabic north to the Afrikaans south, one band that has caught our attention is genuinely the first from their nation. Who are they? They are Iron Sliver from Gabon. [Watch their latest music video 'Keep The Faith' above]. GMA spoke to the group briefly before guitarist Dani Bat took over interview duties due to technical issues our end, what was said was highly interesting and truly historic given that no other metal scene borders Gabon; with the exception to Cameroon's first short-lived band (click here).
Click below to listen to the full interview as it happened.
Heavy Metal started in Gabon through Iron Sliver because prior to the band's formation, metal music in Gabon did not exist and so they are aiming to establish the sound as a movement in the hope that fellow countrymen embrace the metal music sound and form their own bands. As for Iron Sliver, they owe their existence very much to the internet and in particular YouTube and social media. Through YouTube, Iron Sliver discovered the likes of Linkin Park, Motionless In White and Asking Alexandria and have aspired to those bands in creating their own music. Iron Sliver means 'Iron Ribbon', which in the bands words means that they are unbreakable, with the aim to create stories they hope to expose their music to the international metal scenes.
Iron Sliver comprises of Dani Bat (guitars), Crow's Carter (vocals), Tuck Panther (drums), Tony Horse (bass) and Dave Hawk (guitars); Dave was not present for the interviews as he was back in Gabon studying whilst the other four members were in France at the time of the interview.
Focusing on the African continent, when asked about knowing any other West African Metal scenes, Dani replied with "no, only Angola and South Africa", so now you can begin to imagine how segregated Iron Sliver and their respective newly-founded metal scene is from the rest of the world, if not Africa. In fact it has not been an easy ride for them because "in our country we don't have the same culture that you can find here in Paris, in France, in Europe, in the United States. In our country, metal culture does not exist", so without any doubt it would be seen as a threat to the established culture of Gabon and with said lack of metal culture, comes a lack of affordable instruments and gear.
Meaning Iron Sliver travel to places like France to buy instruments and gear to take back to Gabon due to that "in our country it's very expensive", despite this they have taken their new-found art form to heart and performed live; with no nervousness present. Furthermore despite gaining some fans from their live shows, it was not easy for them to explain their music choice to their parents owing to the band knowing that "it would be so hard to install this culture and to share with fans and people from Gabon".
But this did not come about without encountering any problems, one of the first problems was the lack of good studio-recording equipment; results wasn't satisfactory, hence the band would not record in Gabon and instead have opted for France. But on a more personal level, problems arose between family and friends, "they think that we are crazy you know?!?! Then yes, we had more problems on the recording of videos and making songs", but the band pressed ahead and made their music video "Keep The Faith", which as Dani explains "is not about God or religion, it's about us, our dream, we believe in us and do everything to become what we want to become", accentuating the virtue of trust through the song.
The video itself was recorded in Gabon as was the song, but the band are in France recording their first album, leading to subsequent videos and shows to showcase to people after they've heard the songs. For the remainder of 2015, the group are recording songs for their debut album in Paris because in Gabon it was not possible to record there owing to the said lack of metal culture; the band had learned how to play simply through watching YouTube lessons.
So their game play is to record their debut album, then aim to play live and make music videos. With this planned, the band hopes to lead the way for the Gabonese Metal scene to develop and expand. At present the festivals that happen tend to orientate towards other types of music and not metal, Iron Sliver hopes to change this through their passion. Metal for them is something different, "you can do what you want, you can scream, you can sing and every emotion are put inside, like you feel it", metal is a way to express yourself and Dani admits this is why Iron Sliver plays metal.
He does hope that through this freedom of expression that people across Africa contemplate about setting up their own metal bands, in fact he was surprised to discover how vast metal has become across the African continent (and the world) through our "Global Domination Vol1" compilation, "we didn't know the bands who were included around the globe, around the continent", with the exception of one band called "Before Crush, because they contacted us when we made our first video and they was surprised to discover we are a band from Gabon, because they thought they were the only one in Africa" and this clearly poses a big problem for the African Metal scene with the exception of Egypt, Tunisia, South Africa, Botswana and to a certain extent Algeria whereby metal is vastly becoming more established with (again) the exception of South Africa where metal has been around since the late 1980's.
If metal grew more and more over the next decade, the need for more metal festivals (including outside South Africa) would become more relevant, Dani admits he wants Iron Sliver to become a part of this, "if we become popular and known by everyone all over the world, I think that everyone can set their eyes on it [an African Metal festival] you know? And, we could help organize this kind of event, talk to bands from different African countries so yes I think that one day, maybe, metal culture in Africa grows and therefore allowing us to do it".
In terms of metal music in Gabon, the Government does not know it exists and despite this metal "is a new thing, it's increasing but before us [Iron Sliver] there were no metal bands and the Government does not know we exist, they are focused on other styles of music including rap, R&B, Hip-Hop, not metal" and this would therefore become a challenge for Iron Sliver to face in terms of getting the Government to accept Metal music and not see it as the 'devils music' as Dani explains, "we have faced criticism with everything the band has done by the media, by the people because they are from a religious-country, they all believe in God, they go to Church every Sunday and when we put our video out on TV that was crazy for them, and faced criticism as a result", it was because of this that their families tried to understand why they play metal, and by releasing their forthcoming album, Dani hopes that people will accept their musical choice.
Despite the negative criticism, the band collectively feels that they can channel this through their music and produce something that will bring more positive responses towards them. After the completion of the album, the band will look to "make more things, more shows, we are going to do everything to share our music around the world, we want to show that Gabonese metal exists, so lets see what happens after the album is finished", for the band the lyrics are personal and reflect what they see, their emotions and "speak about the problems faced in Gabon"; so everyone takes a part at writing the lyrics as a whole.
Plans for a documentary are 'possibly' on the table as Iron Sliver can show "our music and what we experience in Gabon and how we live, so if we did a documentary about our band, it's going to be a trip about our history, our culture and it's going to be a good thing because people will know how we began to start a band in Gabon", so this is something to bear in mind.
As a whole the band wishes to send out the greetings to the following: our families and friends because they are the very first peoples to believe in us (don't give up guys, we are going to create something different and original), Metal Africa, our American fans, our Gabonese fans, our Japanese fans, also thanks to Global Metal Apocalypse because that was the first time we saw our song in a compilation.
Check out Iron Sliver on Facebook:- https://www.facebook.com/ironsliver13/timeline?ref=page_internal