May 212011

About five weeks ago we posted a feature on three South African metal bands whose music we’d recently discovered and liked quite a lot: All Forlorn, A Walk With the Wicked, and Bile of Man. Amazingly, it seems that U.S. metal blogs have been neglecting the scene in that country, because our post generated a lot of hits and a bunch of thank-you’s from SouthAfrican metalheads for, y’know, just paying attention. It also generated an avalanche of recommendations, via e-mail as well as comments on that post, about other South African bands that we ought to check out.

So, we decided to do a follow-up post — and we received so many recommendations that we’ll probably make this into a trilogy as soon as I can get my lazy ass in gear to do the next one. How did we pick the next group of bands for Part 2 of this feature? Well, we pretty much let the enthusiasm of our recommenders make the decision for us, because it’s not like we’re experts on the SA scene. Let’s be real — we live in fucking Seattle, which is approximately 10,200 miles from Cape Town (the country’s legislative capital). There must be cities farther away from SA than Seattle, but there sure aren’t many.

Based on the enthusiasm quotient of our recommendations, we’re focusing today on Theatre Runs Red, Contrast the Water, and Pledge Defiance. We picked those names without having heard the music, which is what we do for our MISCELLANY posts, and just as we do for those posts, I listened to a song or two from each band and then recorded my first impressions, while giving you a chance to listen for yourselves and make up your own minds. So dive in with us after the jump and give yourself a chance to make some new discoveries from the world of SA Metal. As it happens, all three of these bands are working on albums that should see release sometime later this year.


So — enthusiastic recommendations from the comments we received on Part 1 of this series: Rory from A Walk With the Wicked called Theatre Runs Red “easily the best black metal band SA has ever produced.” Sash wrote: “The best band in the world! i have never seen a live band out that much effort into presentation and presence in my entire gigging life . . . and that’s a long time!!!!” And others recommended this band as well.

The band is from Durban and appears to have been organized in 2008. They claim a range of influences, “from the most ferocious death metal to the dirtiest black metal,” and as one distinction, they’re fronted by a woman who goes by the nom de guerre of Ebony. They also appear to gig relentlessly in the country and have developed an extremely dedicated following.

We found two songs from the band available for streaming and download on SoundClick (here) — “Once Upon A Nightmare” and “Give Me Blood”. Sash’s comment in our previous post indicate that these are old songs, but not much else is yet available on the webz, so that’s where I started.

Impressions: “Give Me Blood” chugs like a rumbling freight train on fire in the night, keyboard atmospherics here and there, and deep, lion-like, roaring vocals (no hint that a woman is behind that brutal voice). It sets the hook pretty damned well. “Once Upon A Nightmare” perpetuates the atmosphere of menacing doom with isolated pounding percussion, creepy noise, and ghostly susurrations before transitioning to the song proper. This time we get unclean vocalization throughout the range, including some hair-raising shrieks, to accompany the pounding rhythms, rancid riffing, and morose keys.

Improved production quality would enhance these songs, but they still evidence a band with promise for the future. Here’s “Give Me Blood”:

[audio:|titles=Theatre Runs Red – Give Me Blood]

We understand that Theatre Runs Red are recording new songs for an album they plan to complete by close to the end of this year, and our informant Sash tells us that the newer music is “much darker and heavier”. We found this YouTube clip of a fan-filmed live performance in March that seems to be one of the new tracks, called “The Arrival”. The visual quality is not great, and the sound quality is muddy (as you might expect), but the blunt, primal power of the song still comes through.

It appeals to the reptile part of the brain, the part that controls the autonomous functions, the part that tells you when you need to feed and fuck and flee and fight. In other words, the part that does all my thinking for me.

To keep track of what TRR gets up to, click here for their Facebook page.


Contrast the Water is another band from Durban that came highly recommended from several sources in response to our previous post. They organized in 2006 and in 2008 released their debut album, Forge of Rage. They’re now working on a second album with plans for a release in the near future. According to their Facebook page, the recording is done and completion of mixing and mastering is all that’s left.

Two of the new songs are currently streaming on the band’s Facebook and ReverbNation pages — “Death Mirrors Mine Eyes” and “Washing of the Spears” — and both are available for free download here.

Impressions: A boiling pace, dynamic time signatures, fleet-fingered riffing, nasty wolfish growling and piercing shriekage, accomplished guitar solos that writhe and reverberate, and chest-thumping grooves. This is music for fans who like their death metal with a bit of technical flash to complement the blunt-force trauma and who prefer bloody meat in their diet. If you’re a fan of bands like Decrepit Birth, I think you’ll conclude this is some cool shit! Check this out:

[audio:|titles=Contrast The Water – Death Mirrors Mine Eyes]

For more info about Contrast the Water, their Facebook is here.


Pledge Defiance is yet a third band from Durban that also got high marks from commenters on our earlier post. The band has experienced more than its share of ups and downs, including the loss of former vocalist Andrew Keith Brecher to a brain embolism in 2008. But in 2009, they unleashed their debut album, ferociously entitled Painometer. Now, they’re busily working on recording a new one, to be entitled Leprotic Stew. The band characterizes their music as “technical deathgrind”, and so it is.

We found a handful of songs from Painometer to savor, but before we get to that, here’s a video of the band performing one of their new songs, “Eat My Spawn”, in their bandroom in Durban. This is no-fucking-around brutal death metal with hammering slams, squalling guitar blasts, and voracious vocalization. Think about Cannibal Corpse feasting on human carcasses with Dying Fetus. Yummy!

Now, here’s a ReverbNation widget that will allow you to stream three of the songs from Painometer. I’m especially fond of “Slaughtering Spree”. It’s lit up with grindcore-style mayhem but anchored with barbaric, tremolo-fused, guitar power and a demonic solo. There’s a lot of Deicide-al venom in this song. Seriously, ladies and germs, this is old-school meets new-school, but what they’re teaching is a kind of sweet sickness.

To keep abreast of what’s happening with Pledge Defiance, visit their Facebook page.

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That’s all for this post. Man, if this threesome is indicative of what’s happening in the South African metal scene, I’m surprised the whole fucking place hasn’t burned to the ground already and been reclaimed by all those predators roaming the savannah.

If you’re interested in exploring more South African metal on your own while you wait around for our third post on this subject (and by all means don’t be holding your breath while you wait), then here are a few places that seem like good doorways to the scene:




  87 Responses to “METAL FROM SOUTH AFRICA: PART 2”

  1. Thank you so much for this, your next feature should cover Tranquil, Empery, AoA , Mind Assault and Riddare av Koden, then you’ve covered all my favourite SA metal bands 🙂

    P.S-Durban=home to the best metal bands in the world! Screw calafornia and Finland 😉

  2. Great seeing SA Metal getting some international attention! 😀

  3. Always good to see South African bands get coverage abroad! As a member of V.O.D (Voice Of Destruction) we traveled to the UK in 1995/6 to record the “Bloedrivier” album (translated “Blood River”) for our German label, Morbid Records. Also did a full European tour with Katatonia and In The Woods. In that pre-e-mail & pre-cell phone era it was difficult as fuck to make your mark – tape trading & Xerox’d ‘zines!
    My current band TERMINATRYX is a female-fronted Industrial-Metal project.
    I love it when new bands appear on the South African scene – unfortunately too many of them disappear as quickly…

    • That is so true, Paul. Really good bands that i was booking for gigs last year have suddenly disbanded. it’s rather sad, but hopefully the bands that are pulling through these upheavals will go on to make South Africa’s mark on the international scene, thus opening more doors for us 🙂

  4. The band are going to kill me for recommending those songs, they hate them. But I once spent a gig playing those songs online the whole night… They no longer have keys, and adjusted their sound accordingly making them much heavier. Its awesome to hear the connotations that you put in the description of their music. I love their lyrics. They’re all about things macabre: vampires, witches, wolves, ghouls and mythology. Ebony (her real name, I swear) does really indepth research into the lyrics.

    The Arrival is not a new track, but it is a fan favourite. The video was recorded on a cell phone, it’s a pity its so dark: you miss a lot of the effect.
    This is a clearer vid, little bit better sound too. Check the strings headbanging in sync at about 1:18 secs

    I must add, that I am not a spokesperson for TRR, I’m just their crazy fan girl that follows them like a religion 

  5. wow! Thank you so so much for taking the time to feature us on your site! it really means so much:) I must say however, that I am a little shocked that you still had such amazing things to say about TRR with only having heard those SHOCKINGLY embarassing tracks of ours. We cant even begin to describe how embarassed we are about those tracks, that was a demo recorded very quickly when we first started this band. We have since had three line up changes, dont have keys anymore and have learnt to actually write music properly! haha! 😀

    We have become alot more sinister and brutal and have rewritten all our music. Give Me Blood and Once Upon A Nightmare were about vampires, ghouls and macabre carnival monsters but we have decided with our new upgrade of song writing to base our track themes on mythology, corrupt religious history and an all round darker more sinister theme.

    Thank you for taking an interest in the metal we have to offer here in South Africa. Its not often underground music from this country gets much exposure. I just want to thank you again for being so gracious with your comments of us and once we have completed our album we would appreciate it if you could have a listen and give us your opinion of what we really sound like now:)

    • Well, it was my pleasure. Sash did warn us in advance that you might be a bit uncomfortable having those two songs featured as an example of TRR’s music, though I think you shouldn’t feel embarrassed about them at all! Having said that, I’m now very anxious to hear your new creations. So by all means, let us know when the time is right to listen.

      I think it would be cool to do an update on this post for all 3 bands as the new albums are completed and become available.

      • i’ll let you know how their recordings are coming along 🙂

      • well your kind words are very much appreciated! 🙂 we are still embarrased though! 😀 hehe, I would really appreciated it if you could do an updated review once our album has come out!! this would be great! thank you so much! I will pass it your way as soon as its complete:)
        Should be around November early December sometime… we plan on doing our album lauch tour in Jan Feb next year so yeah, the album and all artwork will be done around early December.

  6. Those 3 bands are amazing bands, and if u really wanna get into the local scene here, its probably gonna take at the least 5 m0re blogs to get in on all the go0d bands like BLEEDING SPAWN, DISPLEASED DISFIGUREMENT, INSTRAMETAL, SPECTRAL REALM and VENGEANGE RESIDES just 2 name a few of my faveroutes

    • Thanks for the additional names dude. If I continue to have as much fun exploring SA Metal as I’ve had with these first two installments, there won’t be any reason to stop after three of them.

      • At this rate it looks like the next few WEEKS are going to be filled with SA metal posts 😉

        …not that we’re complaining, mind you. All this coverage is much appreciated, since we’re all stuck on the arse end of the world and cash to get overseas is hard to come by. Hopefully if SA metal is given exposure, record companies might be more willing to explore down here and find out what we’re up to.

  7. I know this site is called No Clean Singing and everyone’s all brutal and stuff, but there are also amazing metal bands in other genres in sunny ol SA.
    Balyios is folk metal

    Symphonic Schizophrenia (who has the best guitarist in the country no questions) instumental madness

    And now for some shameless self-promotion: Strident – SA’s only running power metal band

    Great site, thanks again for the exposure! \m/

    • First, sorry that your comment didn’t appear immediately — when comments include more than two links, the software automatically holds them up for my review (an anti-spam barrier).

      Second, despite the name of the site, we do include what we call Exceptions to the Rule (music we like that includes clean singing). And instrumental metal automatically qualifies as No Clean SInging, because there’s no singing at all. 🙂

      Third, we’re quite familiar with shameless self-promotion, since it’s part of the NCS mission statement. 🙂

      We’ll check out all 3 bands (Balyios was mentioned through a comment on our first SA Metal post, too.)

  8. Check out more South African videos on Youtube!!!!

  9. Riddare av koden ?!?!?!?! are u serious? they are so shit its not even funny….. Seriously…. The Hollow and Erebus, go listen…

    • Dude, your opinion is your opinion but calling local bands shit when we do get some exposure is the type of thing that is driving the metal scene apart. Weren’t they responsible for bringing one of the only decent metal bands ever to our shores? Have your opinion just don’t be a dick about it. Unless your being sarcastic… 😛

      • They weren’t responsible for bringing Ensiferum over? I agree with the exposure, but imo its like taking brokencyde and promoting it for america. I mean really are they even still together, ensiferum was the last time theyve gigged if im not mistaken. There are alot of s.a metal bands that are working their asses off and are hungry for some recognition, shouldnt they be the bands we are pushing to the front lines? Just my 2 cents….

        • They gigged Thornfest…. and they playing deathfest

        • P.S there is nothing wrong with a band that only gigs every few months…

          • and they are still together, they lost Daniel on drums, but he has been replaced by Nikola (old Deane Cres drummer, trained by Ant Kaledis) put that in your pipe and smoke it!!!

          • if u dont mind your scene falling apart because gigs a far and few between, its sad really… durbans hitting a very dangerous point where our bands are packing it in… 3 bands in the last month… and yes the bands that are still around are only gigging every few months… ive watched our community run at a steady decline over the last year and this saddens me. Bands need to play and ppl need to support these are the fundaments.

            • thats coz durban people just dont go out to gigs and pay money at the bar… then you get us from up north who drive 6 hours for gigs down there. iv been to several gigs in durbs, with your brilliant bands and the club is not packed…. then you wonder why your clubs have to go commercial to survive….

              • I takes me more than an hours drive to get to places like burn and the winnie, and im there pretty much every weekend. You are right durban people need to support gigs more… but at the same time having a decent metal gig or metal bands that only perform live once every 3 or 4 months isn’t helping either, people are losing interest and its sad… Both the community and bands need to pull together and create that same awesome community we all know and love.

                • Bands dont play coz there are no fans and only two venues. it takes me over an hour to drive to all the metal venues in gauteng, but do you see me bitching? no. support your bands and they will play.

                  • I’m not bitching… and i do support my bands every single gig, but obviously this isnt the general consensus. Besides for that i cant really blame any1 either. 3 bands last couple of months. Theres like 3 decent metal bands left in durban now… and i fully understand they cant gig every weekend… but people seem to be losing interest… and this is hurting the bands hectically and all the ppl that trully love metal and are out every weekend supporting

        • Tsk tsk tsk… ‘Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.’

          Bravo dude bravo. If you weren’t personally involved how could you possibly know if R.a.K. wasn’t responsible for bringing Ensiferum over?

          Oh and bands who work their arses off eventually get to the front lines, that’s how R.a.K. got to where they are today and if your awesome list of bands are still stuck doing shitty little gigs with absolutely no fan base or very little, starving for recognition it isn’t anybody’s fault but their own AND! If they don’t have any fan base or very little after doing their gigs and trying to expose their music and aren’t the talk of the town, what does that tell you about the audience’s reaction to their music? Come on dude we all have some form of logic, why don’t you try and use it? We all also have some want to actually do research, why don’t you try that too before listing whatever your finger can pull out of your own arsehole?

          • nice rage typing, i actually do know that from a personal level that R.a.K werent personally involved… and also i am there every weekend supporting… so really saying what i feel from a hands on perspective is just fine and dandy… also if u are gonna insult sum1 atleast make valid points and dont ramble on… good day

            • Dear Moonshine… go do your homework about the Ensiferum tour, then – come say sorry lol

            • Hahahahahaha!! Dude why did you bother replying? Is it really that hard to admit how right I am about everything, including your retardation and foolishness? And rage typing? Didn’t your mummy ever teach you to not put emotion behind text? It’s rather quite a relaxed comment, just pointing out how ignorant you are… Like this one. 🙂

              Again… If you weren’t personally involved (and you weren’t and clearly don’t know anybody who was… Believe me, I know!!) What honestly makes you think you’re gonna be the slightest bit convincing? And why take a chance on an arrogant and clearly ignorant assumption? I hope you do realise you are speaking to someone who was involved…

              • jaaaaaaasus!!!! for real guys? lets stop the ninja typing. So the world knows we have great metal, but now they also know what poeses our metalheads can be!!!!

    • YES! The Hollow and Erebus!

      Do eeeeet!

      • The new erebus album is top notch stuff! I would say its mosprob one of the best albums ive heard(including international bands)

    • The Hollow have disbanded. RaK is AWESOME!!!!!

      • One more gig…. Wednesday, June 15 2011 at the Winnie… if you’re in/around durban come support this great band at their final show…. undoubtedly there will be a pit \m/

  10. Kickass! Some sick shit here. LOVE Pledge though, they’re heavy and different…and fuckfunny too!!! I’m a fan of a band called “Abominor” on Facebitch…I recommend checkin’ ’em out! Cant believe nobody’s suggested em yet, get back to me on that shit man!!!

    • Abominor is the shit! I wear my “progressive blackenned death metal” shirt with pride \m/ Damn i miss marc on vocals :'(

  11. Thoroughly enjoyed reading this article and I look forward to the next installment. Was really glad to see one of my favourite local bands (Pledge Defiance) featured in your article. I’m a relatively new fan to Pledges fan base, but I am already completely blown away by ther technical skill – I believe they are a band to be watched. I can’t wait to get my hands on Leprotc Stew!

  12. Check out Ark Synesis, they hail from Cape Town South Africa, some of the most awesome psychedelic prog metal the world has ever seen!!!!!!!

  13. Ah good to see SA bands getting the recognition they deserve…TRR are a great black metal band, another good SA black metal band is WARTHANE…must have a look at them to..HAIL SA Metal!!!

  14. This coverage of SA bands is much appreciated and needed, thanks guys for the amazing mentions! The SA metal industry definitely has a lot of talent to show to the world and it takes people like you to notice us and give the bands the recognition they deserve!

    • Thanks so much for those nice words. And I just saw on your Facebook page the news about the Detonation Tour for spring 2012 — Fleshgod Apocalypse, Bile of Man, and A.O.A. so far. That sounds like it will be a badass tour. Long-term readers here know that I have a particular fetish for FA — awesome that they’re coming to SA. I will be seeing them this summer in Seattle for the first time.

  15. Well, this is fuckin’ cool — I’m keeping a list based on comments from this post, from the first one, and from e-mails I’m getting, and now I’m up to 24 recommendations! Let’s, see, at 3 bands per post, that would take us from Part 3 through Part 10. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised — it is a whole country whose music we’re talking about here. Thanks to everyone who’s weighing in with their opinions.

  16. i have a couple of recommendations, hopefully they get featured 🙂

    crow black sky

    heathens (now known as wildernessking)

    imperium of man

    architecture of aggression

  17. Follow S.A Death Metal Facebook page, promoting South African Metal, more band links have been updated in info on this page,

    Enjoy Stay Brutal

    Valgar Entertainment
    S.A Death Metal

  18. S.A Death Metal

    Valgar Entertainment

    The Detonation Tour ft. Fleshgod Apocalypse, Bile of Man, Bleeding Spawn,more to be released!

    • Sorry your post didn’t appear immediately. When someone includes more than two web links in a comment, it gets held in a queue for me to approve (a spam avoidance mechanism).

      • No problems dude, thanks for the support!! Looking foward to the next review

        S.A Death Metal

  19. Shout out to Autumn Sun! Always amazing, never remembered. Great SA metal band

  20. 3rd installment?? we’re gunning for it!

    WELL DONE TO CTW for getting a US Record Deal… no more chase of bass for the Sashness, but a great initiative for an OSSUM band!!!

    • (Gulp) — I am so far behind on so many projects, Part 3 of this series being one of them. I blame my day job, life in general, and the fact that I am a half-assed fucktard. I sincerely hope no one has been holding their breath waiting on me, because they would be dead and cold by now.

      There definitely WILL be a Part 3. I have started it. But I have not finished it yet.

    • Sash, I finally finished the 3rd installment. Look for it tomorrow morning (Aug 15).

  21. Autumn Sun is brilliant! They’ve played with some top bands in Europe, they’ve been in Metal Hammer magazine representing SA metal. Pity they were never asked to play Thornfest and the like. Keep fuckin shredding it guys

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