Harare, Zimbabwe: Using the recent Metal United World Wide series of shows, with Zimababwe also participating in the global event, Dividing The Element live-launched its debut album on 5 May. A digital release of Dividing The Element went live last week.
The metal band from Zimbabwe is the first from that country known to have produced a full album. Dividing The Element is also celebrated for its dominant use of the Shona language in its songs rather than English.
Dividing The Element, 5 years in the making
Our first encounter with Dividing The Element was in 2015 when it released its first single, ‘Upenyu’. Frontman and lead writer, Chris Van, tells us that the band’s origins trace back to 2012. In those years, himself and Sherlic White – Sherlic now resides in South Africa and plays for Creating The Godform plus The Alpha Sequence – were merely a writing collaborative and had little hope for assembling a live band; such were the poor conditions for a metal community to thrive in the isolated nation.
“We had no drummer; no nothing; but the shit was cool and had serious potential.” ~ Chris Van (vocals/guitar/composition, Dividing The Element)
With Sherlic already relocated to South Africa, perseverance on the part of Chris eventually led to a full band; which by 2015 spearheaded the first known heavy metal concert on Zimbabwean territory.
“It was a rocky start at first. I knew I wanted to write my own heavy music and not fall into the same death trap of so many Zim bands before playing cover songs at some shitty restaurant at $50 a pop to a white minority. The other lads in the band were on the same page too, which was very important and also very cool.” ~ Chris Van
Armed with passion and determination, Chris and the gang show us that anything is possible. Recorded in a garage, Dividing The Element sent the material to fellow Zimbabwean, Gary Stautmeister, for mixing and mastering. Gary writes and records for his own project, Nuclear Winter.
“The metal community in Zim has grown a lot since then. At that time it seemed Heavy Metal was unheard of for the most part. The metalheads who were around at the time thought they were the only ones around.” ~ Chris Van
The use of Shona as the dominant language
To our knowledge, Dividing The Element is the first recorded African Metal band to use a Bantu language as primary medium. Shona is not only referred to as a language, but represents a nation of ethnic African people spread throughout the Southern region of Africa; largely centered in Zimbabwe today.
“Singing in Shona was an idea my fiancee actually spoke to me about some years prior to the conception of Dividing The Element. Because Shona is the mother tongue of Zimbabwe, the idea had the potential to bridge the gap between the large populous who had never heard of metal before and the small populous who had. So when we finally formed and we got to writing songs, there was already an idea and a sense of purpose in mind.” ~ Chris Van