* (Due to the ongoing issues surrounding the legitimacy of what is the true Northern Irish flag, GMA has instead placed a map of Northern Ireland in, instead of the theme of the national flags)
Usually when you think of Northern Ireland you think of the political and religious history shared with the bordering Republic of Ireland or on a more historical-majestic note RMS Titanic of which was built in the Belfast dockyards. However Northern Ireland also plays host to a vibrant metal scene as Andy from The Crawling explained to GMA, the topics of Brexit, the band's second album and sights / attractions there are in the capital Belfast; although the band are from Lisburn.
"We have a ton of bands, probably too many for what the scene can support"
For those who have not heard of The Crawling, could you give us a history of the band, what the band name means and why you opted to play Doom/Death Metal?
"We formed late 2014. It was all our bass player, Stuart’s, idea. He wanted to get together with a
few mates and jam out some death metal tracks, but it kinda escalated into a ‘proper’ band at some point - arguably once i got involved! ha, ha! We secured a line up and got to work. We released a single almost immediately, played some shows, released an EP, played a couple of fests, the debut album followed, played some more cool shows and now the sophomore is en route!
The band name was created by my younger brother (vocals from Strangle Wire). It was originally
one of his song titles for one of his more doom-ire tracks, but once i let him hear what i was doing
he was like - you have to use this name for that shit! I loved the name, and the fact my wee bro named us was even better; he’s always been so supportive of everything I've ever done. It suits the style perfectly, slow yet menacing.
The doom/death thing was a no-brainer for me. I’ve always written music in that vein, but my last
band had a clean vocalist. Once it folded i decided i would only do exactly what i wanted, and as a die hard fan of the early Peaceville bands i adopted the guttural vocal. Combined with the slow death, doom guitars i write, it kind of made itself."
You're due to release your second album 'Wolves And The Hideous White' in November, what will be different to your debut album? It seems there is a concept story going on?
"We’re still the same band, so it’s always going to have the same underlying vibe to it, but it’s
certainly got something else going on. It was more focused than the debut, as i had a very clear
vision as to how i wanted it to be this time. It’s more venomous, a much angrier tone, and I worked longer on the song structures to create a different type of listen from the debut.
I’m not sure if it’s a concept so much, but the album has a common thread throughout. Over the
last year i became fixated on people’s relationships. I watched how individuals behave in their effort to connect with others, and remain connected. As animals i think we are programmed to find a “mate,” a person that you can always be with; but society has fucked the natural process and people are forcing themselves into relationships as a form of expectancy, rather than just letting it flow organically. Each song on the album is a view of a certain type of connection, how it is created, developed, and subsequently fails; and they always do - people simply don’t realise.
Could you give us the meaning behind the album title and a break-down of the song titles?
"The title is simply my view of society’s acceptance of a “normal” life, and so many seek such a
thing without realising that’s not even close to what they wanted originally. Just because you get older doesn’t mean you have to forgo dreams, aspirations and life goals. You only live once, and no one is getting out of here alive; we don’t have to accept anything in life. Even if it goes horribly wrong - we’re going to die and it’ll all be over; but at least you tried.
The title track is a story of a man who comes home every day to a spouse that despises his existence, and children who don’t acknowledge he even breathes, draining any joy from an otherwise meaningless life. The children are Wolves, and spouse the Hideous White (bride).
I’m loathed to go into too much detail about every track, as i don’t want to ruin a listening experience. I recall reading a review of our EP, and the journalist got something totally different from what i was writing about and it was fantastic. I don’t want to interfere with that experience by giving a step by step critique if you follow me? Not to mention that’s a really long conversation! We’ll meet for beers and I'll talk you through the whole thing! ha, ha! :)"
With Brexit, are you concerned or not about what will happen? Both generally and of course regarding the Northern Irish/Irish border?
"I’m embarrassed to admit I'm really crap with politics, but yeah Brexit will have an effect at some
point I'm sure. I’m certainly concerned about how it will affect me economically, health care and that sort thing. From what i can tell currency has really taken a hit - my British pounds aren’t going as far as they used to when i travel.
Ireland wise, I'm not sure what will happen. I grew up in an era when there was hard border, and
it’s not something I'd like to see return. I can’t see it to be honest, but if there’s money involved ... and there always is, you never know."
Will there be a tour or release gig for the new album?
"Release show is all in hand, and a real big deal for us. We’re working with Shizznigh Promotions
and playing a release show in The Empire Music Hall, Belfast.
Thursday 15th November / Support from Conjuring Fate, Neahmni and Disconnect.
9PM / £3 in
No tours as yet, but we’re working on shows all the time.
Any music videos?
"Yep, we love our videos; it’s such an enjoyable creative outlet and experience. The title track
“Wolves and the Hideous White” is completed, and we are moving onto the next story board right now. Expect 3 at the very least."
Do you feel metal music tends to speak out against world and societal issues than any
other music genre does?
"I don’t really listen to other genres of music really, so I'm not sure i can comment, but i reckon rap would be more in tune with that kind of stuff. I don’t listen to any metal that has political undertones."
What is it that seemingly makes metal music rebellious or open-minded?
"Ultimately metal music doesn’t make as much money as other forms, well, certainly in comparison to rap or pop music. As a result i think it allows artists to be artistic, which allows an
unopposed voice or opinion as it’s not financially driven. Of course a record company will find a way to make money from it, but i think the original sentiment isn’t as affected as other forms of
music, if they even have a message."
Can you tell us about the state of the Northern Irish Metal scene, is it currently vibrant or in
"Northern Ireland music is a viscous beast right now. We have a ton of bands, probably too many
for what the scene can support, but it’s definitely vibrant. We have underground shows on a weekly basis, and touring bands playing in between. We’re also pretty lucky to get local talent supporting the touring bands, as tour support often remains on the mainland. It’s a great time to be playing in bands in Ireland right now."
For metalheads visiting Belfast, what sights / attractions would you recommend to them to
"Easy - head immediately for The Limelight, Belfast on Saturday afternoon as The Distortion Project runs show every week from 5PM - 9PM. Voodoo, Belfast is the other main venue for metal related pints and live acts. It’s an amazing venue and has recently had a re-vamp so well worth a visit. Touristy wise, i highly recommend the Titanic quarter for all their exhibitions, and get a look around HMS Caroline; it’s a decommissioned light cruiser from WW1. It’s a fantastic experience."
Finally are there any greetings, hello's or thanks you wish to send out?
"Thank you for chatting with us, and thank you to everyone that continues to support The Crawling, check us out live, and buy our stuff - we really appreciate it!"
With the exception of the South African Metal scene, the vast swathe of national scenes across Sub-Sahara have either come and gone or are on the rise just at a slow pace. Sure countries like Botswana might just be behind South Africa, but between them and the other scenes is a gap as wide as the African plains.
GMA spoke to Kenyan Metal musician Martin Kanja (Lust Of A Dying Breed and The Seeds Of Datura) about his native metal scene, which although isn't too far behind Botswana in terms of progression, still has a long way to go to make it's recognition internationally known; in doing so also sheds light on metal's spread across Sub-Sahara Africa.
So firstly how did you get into metal music? What do your parents think of metal music?
"I started out listening to rock and roll since high school. After I left high school I moved to Nairobi with the desire of forming a band as I am from Nakuru. I was just a teenager and I needed something heavier than rock. There used to be a show I would tune into called 'Metal To Midnight' hosted by one Shiv Mandavia, vocalist of Blackened Death metal act Abscence Of Light. I had started to formerly research about metal and I just got into it really good as I love the energy and positive power. My parents know I've always done what I love but the opposition was there. I can't fake so I just continue being myself."
Can you tell us the histories of Lust Of A Dying Breed and The Seeds Of Datura.
"I formed LOADB together with its bassist Timothy Opiko soon after I moved to Nairobi. He came up with the name and I dug it and we wanted to play metal in a fashion never seen here before in Kenya, let alone the world. Abdalla Issa Khalid came through after 4 months of it's formation. He was a student at JKUAT (Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology) and he had passion like I never seen in anyone for metal. We got our permanent drummer Larry Kim after a lot of hardship as good drummers are so rare. We met guitarist Sam Kiranga sometime in 2011 and he settled in nicely as we loved his playing and dedication, and then year we went ahead and wrote the record "Cat Of Nine Tails" and released it in 2012; we formed LOADB in 2010.
We went into hiatus after its release due to various personal and economic issues in 2014. I Went into the sales and logistics end of the security industry until 2015. I became self-employed in 2015 and I could now relax and think what I wanted in life. I love metal and had always been writing music like everyday and every week. I met Dani Kobimbo as he wanted to interview me for a magazine he ran called 'Heavy And The Beast' that gives coverage on the Kenyan Rock and Metal Scene and our friendship took off. We found ourselves in studio one time in Kiserian ran by Last Years Tragedy's vocalist David Mburu, we jammed out and I was surprised how well he could sing. We decided to collaborate and and continue jamming. I went to manage my family's tourist camp in Masai Mara at the end of 2015 and I had a burst of creativity and I wrote lyrics like crazy. So I returned to Nairobi and we moved in with Dani and we wrote music and articles.
Our current drummer Lawrence Muchemi comes from my home-town and he had always hit me up, we hang out and he doubles up as the vocalist of Irony Destroyed. So we started hanging out looking for places to jam, just the three of us. Shortly after we went to Tigoni, to a studio called Realm Of Mist in June 2016. The owner Harvey Herr invited us to jam and chill at the studio and that's where we met our first guitarist Sultan Rauf as he worked there. On the same day we met Slammy Karugu whose is also bassist for the punk band Powerslide and our current bassist Mordecai Ogayo who was playing violin. We started regularly and Wilson Muia came through a few months later and we made a whole song the first day we met. The name Seeds of Datura came about one afternoon. To embody out our individual energies as one family and our thought provoking music for mankind."
What is it like being a metal musician in Kenya? What challenges are there? What is the public perception of metal music?
"First of all it's all about the degree of focus and passion you have for your art. It's not easy or anything but we don't do it for that. We do it for the love of it all. There are many challenges, Kenya being a dominantly Christian country has a negative perception towards Rock let alone Metal. Also getting equipment is also a challenge when bands are starting out. Shows don't happen all the time too and most times we have to organize shows ourselves. The scene is steadily growing and venues are steadily getting packed. The recording is also a part that musicians find a challenge in as getting the right sound for metal and getting a good producer who understands the music. They are a quiet few but The Powers have blessed us with always bumping into the right people. "
What do the authorities think of the music? Are youth encouraged to learn music?
"The authorities don't support our music of course because we embody a millennial counter-culture contrary to the popular. The youth have access to the internet at a very young age and they begin to get exposed really early. They are encouraged to do a lot of other stuff they don't like but they are seeing how much a waste it all is with all the corruption and extortion going on and they are choosing their own paths and thinking for themselves. At least from how I see things and what I've been exposed to."
How long has the Kenyan Metal scene been going? Do you know of any bands from South Sudan, Tanzania, Ethiopia or Somalia?; Could you see metal music reaching every African nation?
"The earliest I've heard that metal has been around must be around the early 2005's. Further back like the 70's, rock bands were In circulation. Yeah I know Threatening and Vale Of Amonition from Uganda. Haven't heard of metal bands from the other countries you've asked. Yes I do. There are very serious scenes in Mozambique, Nigeria, Botswana, South Africa, Egypt, Angola, Morocco, Guinea, just to name a few. Personally I think Africa is the most Metal place on Earth with how we are portrayed in international media and shit. It's quiet different, but the dark spirituality and ancestral roots tie very deeply with the real issues that metal chants about."
For metalheads visiting Kenya, what sights and attractions could you recommend? Are there any places that aren't generally safe to visit?
"I'd recommend the Masai Mara, Tea Fields of Limuru, Aberdare Forest, Obsydian Studios, Sanctuary Farm Naivasha. Lol"
What plans does both bands have for 2018? and are there any greetings you wish to send out?
"Content, content, content, releases, releases, releases. Yeah shout out to all the real ones in the scenes doing their thing. Shout out to Tshomarelo Mosaka of the Botswanan Death Metal band Overthrust. Shout out to Austine Nwankwo of Nigeria's Audio Inferno. Shout out to Patrick Davidson of Metal 4 Africa. Shout out to Truka Kasser of African Metal. Got a lot of shout outs but I'll take all year. Keep it heavy my people. It's either a pinkie or its metal horns \m/"
Although metal music has been around for the past 4 decades (40 years), it is yet to fully touch every country in the world, and whilst Europe, North America, South America and Asia, with the addition of Australia and New Zealand have embraced metal music and it's culture (with the exception of the Vatican City and a handful of Caribbean islands), the African continent and Oceanian nations have yet to join the global legion.
However, there are a number of African countries who have metal music history established such as South Africa and Egypt, but, there are some Sub-Sahara countries like Uganda who are very underground and regularly get omitted from the New Wave of Sub-Saharan Metal.
Enter Vale Of Amonition, a Progressive Doom Metal band who have been romping the streets of Kampala for nearly a decade. Having released countless singles, 3 demo's, an EP, a compilation and their debut album, the Ugandan metal flag-bearers return with their second album "Those of Tartarean Ancestry", a solid effort given the slew of drummers who have come and gone over the last decade. GMA spoke to frontman Victor Rosewrath about Vale Of Amonition's current position, the Ugandan Metal scene and his thoughts on metal music.
"Metal has a rebellious energy attached to its ethos and construction... Metal will always find its people"
Vale Of Amonition and Threatening appear to be the only active metal bands in Uganda, what is new in the metal scene?
"There's probably a bit more underground or starting bands than we are aware of because we haven't really kept tabs on the development of the scene. I was aware of a few musicians trying to get things started here and there but I really can't say for sure."
How was 2017 for Vale of Amonition?
"2017 was one of the best years for the Vale. We released our long awaited second album, we headlined the Nairobi Metal Fest, I worked with an exciting new band called Doomcast with whom I released an E.P titled "Farewell To The Flesh" and we partied like crazy. It really has been thoroughly awesome."
You have just released your latest effort 'Those Of Tartarean Ancestry', what was the reception like?
"The reception for "Those of Tartarean Ancestry" has been great. We've matured tremendously as a band and we are in a much better position as songwriters to express the darkness of the Vale. I'm glad our fans and supporters are able to understand and appreciate what we are doing."
What do the Ugandan authorities think of metal music? What does society think of it? What do your parents think of metal music?
"They all hate it. But we never cared in the first place. We're not going to start giving a shit now."
Growing up as a musician, what challenges did you face? What challenges do you face these days?
"The challenges I faced were access to the equipment I needed until I realized there's ways around that and there's magic in making the most of what you have. I think my biggest challenge now is separating myself from the Vale and the Vale from me because I am really getting worried about my mental health."
There is a metal scene in Kenya, but do you know of any rock / metal bands from Rwanda, DRC or South Sudan? Do you envisage metal music to be present in every African country one day?
"Yes. I know metal will spread from one end to end of Africa someday. It probably won't happen but I'm an optimistic man despite what you might have heard."
What would you say attracts people to metal music? Living in war-ravaged areas? Corruption? Poverty? What are your thoughts on how metal has an affect on people?
"Metal has a rebellious energy attached to its ethos and construction. It's in the wiring of the music and the culture it has spawned...even the more depressive, introspective metal has a loner, me-against-the-world quality about it. That is very relevant today as it has always been. Metal will always find its people."
What plans do you have for 2018?
"More shows, more music."
Are there any greetings you wish to send out?
"Not particularly. I keep in contact with most people I care about. Maybe a shout out to Peter Steele in the nether regions. Thank you for the music, Green Man."