Chief of the Ghosts – Oh my Sword!
It’s always a pleasure to receive some African metal in my reviewers inbox (It’s been barren for some time now). Last week, Skinflint sent me a copy of Chief of the Ghosts and I’ve basically been listening to it on loop, drinking in it’s raw, deliberate energy. Skinflint, unlike their Botswana contemporaries, do not sway into the realms Death or even Thrash metal. This is pure First Wave Heavy Metal, viewed through the lens of African folklore. Think: The Sword-meets-Black Sabbath on the salt pans of the Kalahari. This album, unlike it’s predecessors Nyemba  and Dipoko , drifts more easily into stoner-metal territory. It’s those crunchy bass grooves, mixed with the often macabre lyrical content, which basically creates an aural mirage – as though you’re hallucinating in the desert. Perfect for summer, then!
The album opens with ‘Borankana Metal’, which may be the most overtly African intro I’ve ever heard, blending the sounds of clapping and melodious guitar riffing. It sets the tone for the album, and what a tone that is! The next suite of tracks, ‘Ram Of Fire’, ‘Iqungo’ and ‘Anyoto Aniota’, give me a very creeping darkness type of vibe; it’s like the album is growing towards a groove-cendo which pays off during the chorus chant of ‘Anyoto Aniota’. ‘Rainbow Snakes’ is where The album takes a sweeping turn into a more “early Maideny” sort of territory. It’s hard to describe, but try to imagine if Iron Maiden grew up in Botswana; ‘Rainbow Snakes’ is what ‘Killers’ probably would have been.
‘Milk Fever’ is a standout track for me, blending that old-school riffing and almost twangy bass. I’m not entirely sure, but it may be about mad cow disease. That’s fun! Also, one helluva guitar solo.
All in all, I like this album. It’s pure Skinflint, which I’ve learned to appreciate over the years. If you’re not yet a fan, give this one a spin. It’s a ripper!