D-Fe was a band who had an 11-year run from June 1997 to October 2008. As far as I can tell from what little English-language writing is available, they were based in Paris. They created a kind of metal unlike anything else I’ve heard, fusing together Afro-Caribbean rhythms with extreme metal and adding stylistic elements from lots of other genres besides. Sometimes the music has a nu-metal vibe, but much of it sounds like a tribal form of death metal and grindcore.
The lyrics are apparently a kind of Caribbean dialect spoken on the island of Guadalupe, plus an African dialect spoken in Cameroon, plus French, plus who knows what else. I have no idea what the words mean, but the band’s now-dormant MySpace page (here) says “D-Fe was nervous and violent (and sometimes dark), because the band wanted to sensitize the public about different problems of the African continent and its Diaspora.”
As you can see from the photo above, they wore masks or African tribal paint and dressed in an assortment of styles, both urban and somewhat more traditionally African. They also had an exotic-looking female singer who shared vocal duties before the band ended their run. I got intrigued about this band as much by the visuals as by the music, and the two come together in a video you can see right after the jump. Don’t be misled by the music in the first minute and a half; the shit does get heavy and crazy after that intro.
In trying to find out more about D-Fe, I discovered that they still have music for sale on iTunes — specifically, two EPs called Ghostmodernizm (2006) and Bassicore (2007), a 2006 single (“Spacy Funky”), and a full-length album titled Rwanda (2008), which was D-Fe’s swan song. I was curious to hear more, and I found a second music video. This one is for a song from Rwanda called “Kemite”. Check this out:
After watching the two videos, I took the plunge and bought Rwanda. As I write this post, I haven’t finished listening to the album. But from what I’ve heard so far, it is one fucking wild trip. Much of it sounds like what would have happened if Napalm Death had been spawned in Cameroon. Check out this next song, “Twopikal Nazi”. It’s got fleet-fingered death-metal riffing, blast beats, thundering tribal percussion, and vocals that are completely off-the-hook.[audio:https://www.nocleansinging.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/01-Twopikal-Nazi.mp3|titles=D-FE – Twopikal Nazi]
Oh fuckit, here’s one more slice of D-Fe insanity — “Opérasyon-Enséktisid”:[audio:https://www.nocleansinging.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/03-Opérasyon-Enséktisid.mp3|titles=D-Fe – Opérasyon Enséktisid]
This band was technically proficient, wildly inventive, and charged with passion. The music is absolutely fascinating. It’s a goddamn shame they’re not still around.
If you know of any other tribal-sounding metal (Afro-Caribbean or not) that’s worth a recommendation, please leave a comment. And in any case, let me know what you think of D-Fe.
Oh yeah, Happy Thanksgiving to all you motherfuckers.
P.S. Credit to TheMadIsraeli for turning me on to the first D-Fe video in this post.
Intriguing, to say the least. First thoughts after the two songs? Well let’s start by saying I didn’t hate it, or even dislike. Actually the first song with all the different influences ends up becoming a pretty sweet bowl of goodness.
Also, dudes from Slipknot, take a look at that mask. It be da shit!
DUDE MAN!!! Frikkin awesome!!! I’ve been looking for a band like this for a long while. Here in Kenya, there are a couple of bands that have come from the underground punk movement and most are slowly crossing over to metal. I know of two other bands from Botswana; Wrust and Crackdust. They don’t have a great deal of tribal elements in their music though, but they’re good.
I heard about Wrust when I started writing about South African metal (3 posts so far). I need to check them out, and also Crackdust — thanks for those tips. D-Fe proves there’s a ton of musical potential in the combination of traditional African music and metal. I sure hope more bands there move in a metal direction. Metalheads are always looking for something new and original, and I bet they’d eat it up.
I liked the first video. Second video, not as much. However, the additional songs you posted don’t really do it for me. Still, 2 out of 4 for a band I haven’t heard before isn’ so bad, so I’ll probably check these guys out later when I have a bit more time. Sounds like a bit of Sepultura meets Skindred meets whatever else they can find, all without sounding derivative.
The Sepultura and Skindred references are spot on — definitely some of those sounds going on here, but with more besides. There’s also a clear difference in song style between the first video and the songs I’ve heard on Rwanda so far. The song on the video may be from one of the earlier releases. I was also told that they have a self-titled album from 2005, which I didn’t mention in the post because it wasn’t on iTunes.
I am at a loss for words. Its more than the fact that these guys are a phenom. Its more than the fact that this music strikes some deep psycho-social chords within me that Im having a hard time trying to sort out in my mind. Its the fact that NCS has once again blown my mind with it’s capacity to introduce me to some fantastic music that I might have never, ever heard of. I am fucking impressed.
No bullshit, this is seriously becoming more than just some random thoughts and sound clips on the internet; you’re starting to change the way people think. Next level bro.
Wow. Just wow. Thank you.
Great band. Its kinda Fela Kuti meets Sick of If All.
Very interesting. I saw a documentary a while ago where Bela Fleck took his (modern, Americanized) banjo playing style, and travelled all across Africa meeting musicians in various villages in a few countries. He studied how similar or dissimilar what they were playing compared with what he was playing. But his instrument and hus music can still be traced directly back to the music of Africa and the Caribbean – via a couple hundred years of separate growth on either side of the ocean.
Metal music also ultimately has roots in African-American music, and by extension, African music. Of course, there is a much larger generational gap here, so it is intriguing to see the juxtaposition between styles.
That documentary sounds fascinating. Will have to find it. Speaking of Bela Fleck, banjo music, and metal, I did this more than a year ago:
I couldn’t remember the name of the film, but I found it: Throw Down Your Heart. Available for streaming at Netflix, if you have that. http://movies.netflix.com/Movie/Bela-Fleck-Throw-Down-Your-Heart/70095166
Definitely the highlight (for me) was the scene where they put together this huge marimba, out of dozens of different-sized pieces of wood. It ended up at least as big as a grand piano, or bigger, and there was a whole team of people playing it all at the same time.
Thanks for that. I am definitely watching that film.
there is a documentary you can watch called “Death Metal Angola”….
Hopefully you all have found this band’s album Kemite, it is fookin amazing!!! I can’t find any info on where to find a CD and it doesn’t seem to be on iTunes, but I found it on SoundCloud.
Here are the names of the band members and production crew, accrding to the SoundCloud page:
Vocals – Mawsi Kahi Kaliste n’Toné / Guitars – Suti Gabeh Baf / Basse – Pol / Sratches Samples – Dj Ganesh / Drums – Kolia / Percussions – Khem Masta
Produced By Suti Gabeh
Mix by Gordon Cyrus
Visual Mawsi Kahi
Hopefully you’ve also found there seems to be a different band by the same name with seemingly no relation to this one, sort of a pop group with Spanish-sounding song titles. .
Thank you so much for this article!!! I discovered D-Fe only a couple of years ago when I came across the “Muziki” vid on a YouTube search for African Metal and I began a similar journey, scouring the web trying to find out who the f@#% these guys were! Alas, they had broken up years before my search ever began. I’d be interested to know what they’re up to, now, and hopefully others will pick up the torch of this style of music.
Thank you for this information!