It is an undeniable fact that Africa, along with Australasia / Oceania, are the last frontiers of metal music, with the exception to a handful of countries e.g. Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, etc. Of course in Sub-Sahara Africa and North Africa there are far more metal scenes than in West Africa. However with Gabon's Iron Sliver, Nigeria's Threadstone and Ghana's Dark Suburb making noise, it was only fair for Cameroon to join the metal music movement.
Roar Of Heroes are a Symphonic / Gothic Metal unit who are comprised of two musicians - Azra-Freyja and Anarchist 1st), formed from the ashes of a previous moniker - 'Silent Echoes', a six-piece band whose activities did not last long and thus gave birth to this new entity.
GMA caught up with the duo and asked them what it is like to be metal music fans in Cameroon, what challenges there are and where do they see the African Metal movement in the future.
"Our society has never stopped judging this amazing philosophy, they still think metal is one of the devil's creations."
Could you give us a history of Roar Of Heroes, how it started and what challenges you face as a band?
"Roar Of Heroes' story is so long that a message won't be able to tell you the entire story in detail, so we summarize: in the beginning, the band was called Silent Echoes and had 6 members; a complete line-up with 2 female vocalists. The band performed together twice in February and June 2016, but after the June show, the band split-up and 6 months later was reborn as Roar of Heroes, with only two members of Silent Echoes, and this has been the same since then.
The Cameroonian Metal scene doesn't seem to have been around for a long while, when did it roughly start and what is the scene currently like?
"Cameroon doesn't have a real metal scene. We had here, the "Festirock" which we believe started in 2014 and today it's at its 3rd edition. But the last one was more of a "simple live show" than "metal show", including all types of music. So we don't really know nowadays if we can still consider it as a metal scene. But, another scene is about to be born, "Silent Night", organized by A Black Card, the label which is producing our forthcoming album. We all hope this one will be great."
Are you aware of any other metal scenes near you? Would you agree that Africa is fairly young in terms of metal music being produced?
"Personally, we think Africa will have it's place in the future of Metal music (even though 90% of bands we know only do Death or Heavy Metal, excluding South Africa and the Arabic countries!! according to us). Of course, people do not really know about metal bands in Africa, but we are sure, when the occidental communication will give attention to this continent, things will quickly improve. People really have a metal soul here."
How did you become interested in metal music and what do your parents, friends, etc think of it? How does society perceive it? Have you played any local gigs?
"We used to say, "we didn't adopt metal, metal adopted us", meaning that we always had it in our soul. When you are young, and you have the "chance" to see Michael Jackson or Metallica on your parents TV, you definitely know that you won't do country or pop music in your life. Parents and friends encourage us just because they know that we play music, we prefer things to be this way, than them judging us too. Because effectively, our society has never stopped judging this amazing philosophy, they still think metal is one of the devil's creations."
What are your main influences for your music and have you released any EP's, albums?
"Influences? Revolution is for the moment our only influence. We think everyday that things should improve around us, not changing, but improving. We recently recorded an EP, and started recording our first studio album, but unfortunately, we had a "bad wind" in April 2017, which carried with him all our files, and we were obliged to restart everything... from nothing. We finally returned to the studio back in September, and we think all will be okay very soon."
Would you agree that countries steeped in devout Christianity would perceive metal music as a threat?
"Yes we do. According to us, we think that they are focused on past metal images, which was unfortunately dominated by Death Metal and other s (with the satanic side of the genre). But that's not our philosophy, we have one different from that. In our songs, we encourage people to build themselves, to go further, to be free, to exist and so on. We have a simple philosophy: The impossible is unthinkable."
Given the location of your band, have you had any fans emerge from overseas on Facebook? If so where?
"We sometimes receive greetings from Nigeria, South Africa, France, Italy, Belgium and USA. People telling us that they like what we do. So encouraging to read mails and sometimes messages on our Facebook fan-page. We will never thank them enough."
Where do you see the Cameroonian Metal scene in 5 years time? What changes need to happen to support the growth of the scene?
"We are convinced that, in less than five years, Roar Of Heroes will make the Cameroonian metal scene to be known in Africa and all over the world. First of all, people have to assume with a firm conviction their love for metal. Secondly, they have to eradicate every judgement, so according to us, the problem starts from metal lovers, only them can extend the philosophy. But, this is about to happen, our revolution started this way."
Finally do you have any hello's, greetings, etc you wish to send out?
"We would like to send a message to everyone reading this article:- "Firstly thanks for reading, secondly never forget guys that every second in your life is a chance to change your story!!! Never stop believing in what you feel! Revolutionary yours!"
Spain has a very vibrant metal scene that sometimes gets overlooked when it comes to what bands emerge from the sun-soaked nation, so when the Symphonic Metal 'forajido' group Diabulus In Musica joined up with Finnish Neo-Classical Metal exports Amberian Dawn, it was only right for GMA to grill this five-piece ensemble and interrogate them as if they were our amigos (of course they are!).
Having been around for a decade and only two founding members remaining in keyboardist / growler Gorka Elso and vocalist Zuberoa Aznárez, it was the latter who stepped up to the plate to share their thoughts on their tour, the critique of their latest album "Dirge For The Archons", music, politics and the much 'beloved' Eurovision...
Hi guys, firstly how was your UK / EU tour? What were the highlights?
"We had a blast! We really enjoyed every show, but we keep special memories of London, Pratteln and Haarlem. In general they were very enthusiastic about us playing there. We had lots of fun with our label mates Amberian Dawn and our great crew."
You released your latest album 'Dirge for the Archons' last year, what was the reaction like?
"The reviews were really great! And the fans wrote us several messages telling us 'DFTA' is their favourite album so far. We are also very happy with it. We also have had the chance to play some of the new songs live and the reactions of the audience have also been great."
How did you gain inspiration for your band name Diabulus In Musica? Who came up with it?
"I founded the band and chose the name. “Diabulus (or Diabolus) In Musica” is a Latin medieval word which means ‘The Devil In Music’. It was like that as they called the triton or the interval of the augmented fourth. The medieval ear was used to hearing perfect fourths and perfect fifths, (early music instruments are tuned different, in mean-tone tuning). The augmented fourth, being half-way between these two most common intervals, was about the worst discord imaginable. That’s why they thought that the devil was inside the triton.
The reason I chose this name was because of my music studies and my passion for early music. I studied classical singing but I’ve been above all focused in historical singing. The name was perfect for us not only because of the meaning it has to me, but also because it sounds a bit dark, as our music sometimes. We like this ‘dark romantic aesthetic’ as well as early music (actually we have included these elements in our music more than once), so we thought Diabulus In Musica was the name that fit us the best."
With Eurovision coming, as a band would you ever put yourself forward to represent Spain?
"I don’t think any of us would dream about going to Eurovision, but if we were proposed to go we would probably accept because it is a good way of promoting ourselves. However we all know Spain always ends up in the low-scoring positions hahah so it probably would not be a good idea. We all know all the results are manipulated, so it’s not a very “fair” contest. Anyway, I admit I usually see it, it’s a good moment to gather for a dinner with friends and have a good time and some laughs."
With Brexit impending, as a band are you concerned about touring the UK or fairly calm about it?
"For the moment we are calm and we hope it will not be a problem in the future because the UK is one of our favourite places to tour. We have only played twice, but the reactions have always been so great. The best part of our European tour last year was the one in the UK. It was a pity that last year our guitar player couldn’t come because he is from Russia and he couldn’t get his visa to enter UK.
This year he finally got a visa and could come with us. It’s weird and a backwardness that nowadays it is still so important to get papers and papers, bureaucracy is really annoying, above all when you go just to play a couple of shows. I’m not going to give any opinions about politics, but I only hope things are easier and faster in the future."
What is the Spanish Metal scene like right now? Any bands you would suggest to your fans to check out?
"Well, I honestly don’t follow the Spanish scene, so I don’t really know very much about it. What I can say is that the metal scene like in every country is a small one and here, people prefers to listen to the typical “Spanish Metal”, which is generally heavy music from the 80’s sung in Spanish. That’s what you get in every metal festival in Spain. There is also a new scene, but it is not supported enough to grow, at least for the moment."
You hail from Pamplona, home of the famous 'running of the bulls', what are your thoughts on the tradition? Have you ever participated?
"No and I will never do so. I’m personally totally against the bullfights and I hope they are forbidden one day. I simply cannot understand that any human being can call that tremendous brutality “culture”. Regarding the running of the bulls, well, that’s different because bulls and people are on the same conditions and bulls don’t get harmed. It’s a very settled tradition in our city and in that case the bull doesn’t suffer, so I don’t have problems with that, but of course I have strong feelings against bullfights."
Finally what are your plans for the year ahead? Any greetings, thank you's that you wish to send out?
"We are headlining three festivals here in Spain in spring and we hope to play more until the end of the year. We will also start writing new material. Thanks a lot for the interest and your questions and thanks to the readers also for taking the time to read. We hope to meet you all on the road!"
Halloween is once a year, or is it? Not according to American quintet Eternal Halloween whose demonic stature is sure to garner attention from overseas as arguably the States answer to the UK's Evil Scarecrow. Moreover this Los Angeles (or as they might call Los Hellos), California-based horde have only been around a year and are already causing a buzz across the American Metal underground, let's just hope their name is not a reference to the Aiden song otherwise things could get quite confusing. Eternal Halloween were happy to spare some time to answer some questions GMA had in store for them...