Whenever South Africa is spoken about in a heavy metal context, the first band to spring to mind usually is Seether, regardless of the burgeoning scene this country has... yet bands like Wildernessking and Crow Black Sky have been leading the next wave onto the international stage. On a wider scope, African Metal has been discovering it's feet in the past few years and has seen success in the likes of South Africa, Botswana, Tunisia, etc to name but a few.
However refocusing back on the South African Metal scene and arguably one of the biggest success stories is that of Post Metal quartet Constellatia signing with French record label Season Of Mist. GMA spoke to the group (conceived by Gideon Lamprecht and Keenan Oakes of Crow Black Sky and Wildernessking fame respectively); Keenan took on the duties.
"We would absolutely love to play other parts in Africa, potentially Botswana, Mozambique, Egypt and Morocco."
Hi guys, for those who do not know who Constellatia are, please could you tell us how you came together as members from Crow Black Sky and Wildernessking?
"Crow Black Sky released 'Sidereal Light Vol. I' in 2018 after Wildernessking's dissolution at the tail end of 2017. I really liked the record and reached out to Gideon in July 2018 because I wanted to make heavy, visceral music again and thought that we would work well together. We had a meeting in August at a cafe in Kalk Bay and discussed our intentions for this potential new project. Gideon sent me two chord recordings a day or so later, and after a week of listening to it and coming up with some ideas for the song (what would later become "All Nights Belong To You"), we met up and had our first writing session together."
Growing up in South Africa, can you tell us about how metal came to arrive in South Africa? How did you get into metal?
"Metal has been here for a pretty long time. Napalm Death came here in the 90's, long before we were even teenagers, so I am not sure that we are the most appropriate people to ask. I guess what we are saying is that it predates us, obviously, so it's hard to answer and say exactly when or how it came to arrive here. Carcass have played here, Iron Maiden, Entombed and a slew of other extreme bands. How does metal get anywhere? Tape trading, magazines, TV, radio and eventually the internet."
Signing to Season Of Mist must be the highlight for the band thus far, but also for the wider South African Metal scene?
"A highlight definitely. It's a real honour to sign with a label we respect so much."
What are the day-to-day challenges South African Metal bands have to face? Is Witchdoctor Records still going? What about metal festivals?
"That could be reframed as the day-to-day challenges for any truly alternative or fringe music. Lack of venues, infrastructure, consistent support. Witchdoctor Records went bankrupt we think? There are like one or two festivals, but things weren't so dire a few years ago."
It would seem African Metal is picking up the pace in producing bands; have you had bands from other African countries come play in S.A.?
"There have been some other bands from other parts of Africa who have come to play here, but it is uncommon. It's important to note that South Africa is not like other African countries. We live in a very Westernized society, although dangerous in places, we have access to almost anything that European or American bands will have access to... The challenges include touring and the things we mentioned earlier."
What can fans expect from your debut album? Surely you will do a tour in promotion of the album, aside from the usual places in Europe, the USA, etc, are there any African countries you would like to play in?
"A romantic and nostalgic musical trip. We are hoping to tour Europe this summer and the USA in 2021. We would absolutely love to play other parts in Africa, potentially Botswana, Mozambique, Egypt and Morocco."
What do your friends and family think of your music? What were their perceptions of metal at first?
"The ones who listen to this kind of music like it, and our families don't understand it. But that's like asking a European metal musician what their parents think of their music. I don't think Dark Funeral's vocalist's parents are fans of their music."
Aside from the album release (and possible tour), what plans do you have for 2020? Are there any greetings you wish to send out?
"Tour, a new record and tour again. Lots of videos too. Thanks to everyone who has supported our band so far."
Follow Constellatia on Facebook and Instagram.
Romania has a rather solid underground metal scene with perhaps Negura Bunget being the sole metal band leading the scene forward and onwards. Far from it's shackled Soviet history, Romania has emerged as a driving force within Eastern Europe and has offered itself as a rather promising nation on many fronts, metal scene included. One new band on the block is the Post-Black Metal entity Váthos, having only formed last year they have released two singles to date, both of which were met with appraise from the Romanian Metal community but also older, established bands, GMA spoke to the band about their scene, the future ahead, the band's origins and the best things to do in their dwellings, that is the capital city of Bucharest.
Could you give us the history of Váthos, where the members in previous bands? What does the band name mean?
"We are a newly formed band and consolidated our line-up in 2017, when our vocalist and bassist, Radu Alexandru and Dany Ice joined the band to fulfil the remaining roles. As of 8th February, the official line-up is as follows: Ducu Rusul (solo/rhythm guitar), Alexandru Gainusa (solo/rhythm guitar), Gigi (drums), Dany (bass) and Radu Alexandru (vocals). We are fairly new, but the feedback that we received from our community was positive and really exploded as we launched our first single, "Curse of Apathy", it reached 4,000 views in over 4 months. We followed up with our second single, "Shape of..." that received positive feedback as we've tried to "bend" the black metal sound, to add even more of our influences.
We received positive and supportive feedback from local bands, and also multiple invitations to participate and support artists that have 15-20 years activity in the local scene (more about local bands, activity and the Romanian metal scene vibe below).
Our members had previous projects and/or bands but right now Váthos is our main band/project and focus as we strive to add our influences and ideas to project our vision in the black metal genre (more details about this bellow).
Our band name, Váthos means "depth" and it's of Greek origins; original word spelling: βάθος. We wanted to go with a name that reflects the depth and quality that we want to add in our songs, from guitars, drums, bass to vocals, lyrics and of course the image/artwork (that we are starting to work on)."
You released your first two singles, what has the reception been like? Will we see a debut demo / EP this year?
"We released our first single "Curse of Apathy" on 29th November 2017, and the feedback received from friends, family and the Romanian metal community blew our minds to a degree that we could not believe it. It shocked us to hear words such as, "bringing a fresh and unique sound to the black metal genre", "quality of the music and the live performance was on par to a old experienced band from the first live performance" (keeping in mind that we just started our live performances) and also the constructive criticism, words of wisdom if you will, from improving our sound and live performance, interacting with the crowd, improving our equipment and overall idea of presenting our songs and sound to the public, unreal and excited that empowered us even more, we want more it. Our second single, "Shape of.." was released on 3rd March 2018 following the vibe of our first single and we wanted to present more of us and as a follow-up on to our first single.
A brief description, "Curse of Apathy" was written drawing inspiration from the daily life in Bucharest as it reflects the vision in which each individual spawns the feeling of apathy, following the same routine, over and over again. "Shape of.." was written to continue the story of our first single. What would happen if an individual wakes up from their apathetic daily routine? They will see the shape of.. (things that revolve around them). This is where we wanted to leave it open for interpretation as each listener will have their own thoughts to reflect upon when they do wake up.
After our next concert on 18th of May (where we will have the honour to play along side Akral Necrosis and eterans of our local scene Mercy's Dirge) we will focus on our future album to be named "Underwater", from artwork to finishing the rest of our 5 songs as we would like to feature 10 songs in total on the album. We currently do not have a set date for release as our wish is to record the full length album at once when the songs will be ready and we are confident enough that the Váthos sound and vibe is perfectly mastered as we will not settle for less."
You play Post-Black Metal, what are your inspirations behind the choice of sound (bands and lyrics)?
"The post black metal sound came from each member of the band, through influences that our favourite bands inspired us to achieve a sound of our own.
Bands that we love are many and different in genre, a few of them would be, Belphegor, Harakiri for the Sky, Kistvaen (Romanian band), In Flames, Disarmonia Mundi, Kataklysm, Cradle of Filth, Taine (Romanian band), Rammstein, Paradise Lost, Dark Tranquility, Whispered, DevilDriver, Sopor Aeternus, Uaral, Between the Buried and me, Gojira, Carach Angren, Deftones, and so many other bands that are a big inspiration to us and if we continue, it will just make up the all interview of just our favourite bands.
Lyrically speaking, our vocalist Radu Alexandru came in with ideas that reflect the human nature of man, written in a narrative way, in some cases depicted in images that reflect the idea of each song, emphasizing on suiting the inner eye and not just the ear.
What are the challenges that most unsigned Romanian Metal bands face?
"The challenges that most unsigned Romanian Metal bands face are many, there aren't many labels that will sign a heavier sounding band. In our country, extreme metal is still seen as an "outcast" genre as the mainstream scene is filled with pop music that is heavily supported by our media, TV, radio and through heavy publicity.
Metal music is supported mainly through our underground scene which isn't that big to start with even though we have so many great bands and artists covering almost all genres / subgenres and lately the quality started rising up and up as with our favourite bands.
We highly recommend if you want to check some of our bands out, you can do so at the following, Browse bands by country - Romania - Encyclopaedia Metallum: The Metal Archives"
Would you agree that in Eastern Europe, Black Metal is well supported? What makes the Exteme Metal scene out there special?
"We have our share of black metal bands and the scene is rising in Eastern Europe, that is true and we get more and more exposure and support as we are known for our Folklore, eccentric sounds and instruments. The extreme scene gets bigger and bigger through outdoor festivals and concerts."
What do your parents think of your style of music? Are they into metal too?
"Well, all the members of the band are fully grown adults, each with their own job and responsibilities. Our parents were very surprised and supportive of our band, live performances but had no impact on our decision of making and playing what we love."
For metalheads visiting Bucharest, what sights or attractions could you recommend?
"One of our country's forte would be the beauty of nature, landscapes and our festivals, so why not combine them? We know and recommend a lot of outdoor metal festivals, Rockstadt Extreme Fest (Rasnov, near Brasov County) Dark Bombastic Evening (Alba Iulia Fortress, Transylvania), Ghost Gathering (Rasnov, Valley of the Fortress), ARTMania (Medieval Fortress of Sibiu), OST Mountain Fest (Busteni, Romania) and so many more. Also, we have many indoor festivals in the capital alone."
What plans does the band have for the rest of the year (that have not been mentioned above)?
"Our future plans for the rest of the year, finishing up the album, recording it and creating the artwork that will bring the visual aspect to life. We are currently debating on which of our songs to do our first music video and many live shows as possible as we love to interact with the public and our audience's reaction is really important when presenting new material.
We would like to thank Metal Global Apocalypse Team and Rhys Stevenson for the support and implication in the Metal community, not just in UK but all around the globe."
Ilenkus are a Progressive Post-Metal quintet from Ireland, the lads have recently released their latest album "The Crossing" (15/09/14) and have also unveiled their latest music video "Over The Fire, Under The Smoke" which in total honesty is a rather special video, no visual effects, no gimmicky tricks or fancy stuff, just one lad by the name of Chris Brennan strolling through the streets of Galway, singing to the song to bemused onlookers.
You can watch the video further down.
GMA managed to catch up with the lads and talk to them about both the new album, their music video, what they think the Irish Metal scene should have and whether or not they should ditch the euro.
Hi guys, a lot has happened in the Ilenkus camp, can you give us the background behind your new album?
We recorded the album in different locations in Ireland but we wanted to go with an engineer who understood our goals and the sonic real estate in which the album would sit in. We spoke with many engineers about making the album and eventually Chris Common (Chelsea Wolfe, These Arms Are Snakes, Pelican, Chelsea Wolfe) agreed to take the reins, he does not mix music as heavy as ours for the most part but we knew we needed a unique approach.
What inspired you to opt for a Progressive / Post-Metal approach? Do you feel it lacks representation as a genre?
That is the style of music that we play as a group, and there was no conscious thought about it when it came to style on this record. I don't feel that this genre lacks representation but it is a hard style to pigeon hole, and some people are scared of doing that.
Focusing on the Irish Metal scene, what do you feel lacks in the scene? What could be improved?
Wild West themed metal festivals. (Ed: are there even any Wild West metal bands?)
How nervous was Chris Brennan when recording the music video? What did the public think of the production? Who came up with the idea and do you feel this is a great way to promote Galway, Irish culture and connect yourself with the city?
Chris is the only person i know with the right temperament and bottle to have done this, he was cool as a cucumber and there was a very mixed reaction from the public. We chat a lot of s*** in the van and on the road and come up with all sorts of crazy ideas. Josh came up with that idea while we were recording the drums and bass for "The Crossing" in Limerick. The video does promote Galway I guess, but that wasn't our intention - we just felt that it was most appropriate to shoot the concept in our home town.
What plans does Ilenkus have for the rest of the year and into 2015 besides the tour?
We have plans to write some new music.
Since joining the Euro, do you feel Ireland has gotten worse or better off? What are your thoughts on the euro and E.U.?
It's convenient with the money but Ireland has plunged into recession since joining the Euro. Probably would have happened anyway, who knows?
How do the three vocals differ? Could you explain why you have three musicians covering vocal duties?
They were all arguing about who should do the singing and then the voices in the argument turned from speech into singing and even further into screaming, I was scared but the melodies were soothing.
Individually, what song off of 'The Crossing' is your favorite and could you explain your choice of song?
I don't have a favorite song because i have not heard the record, the lads wont let me hear it.
Finally are there any hello's, greetings etc you wish to send out to friends, family, etc?