Johannesburg, South Africa: 2019 sees another opportunity for South Africa to prove its mettle at Wacken Open Air festival in Germany; hallowed land for metallers from every corner of the globe.
The Wacken Metal Battle is operated by the Wacken Foundation, offering opportunities to promising Metal bands. The foundation also provides prize money for the winning act in the battle, and, as being a part of the festival, national finalists from 30 participating nations get to experience an opportunity which many won’t repeat in terms of audience and media coverage. For some, the Wacken Metal Battle has proven to be a career springboard. Previous winners now enjoying prominence include Finland’s Battle Beast, and Hamferð from the Faroe Islands.
South Africa returns to the fold
There is limited capacity for participating countries in each year’s contest. This results in interruptions every other year for many participating nations, leaving room for others to join. For South Africa, such interruptions are every third year (2015 and 2018) since joining participation in 2013.
So far, South Africa boasts four international participants with Infanteria (2013), Red Helen (2014), Zombies Ate My Girlfriend (2016) and Megalodon (2017). In 2016, Cape Town band Zombies Ate My Girlfriend took the highest honour as international victor. South Africa is establishing a reputation for delivering high-caliber live Metal; as all local finalists have scored within the upper half of the total participants.
What is in store for 2019
Sashquita Northey, local representative for the Wacken Metal Battle, urges all local Metal bands to consider their priorities for 2019.
“For the South African finalist the Wacken Metal Battle is an amazing opportunity. Nowhere else will you ever get such a great space in which to network with bands, media and industry professionals from all over the world. Win or not, you can’t possibly lose.” ~ Sashquita Northey
Of course, there is local benefit too. In particular, newly established bands can gain valuable experience going head-to-head with more established bands, and; all participants can benefit even from local networking too, as well as receive constructive crit from judges.
If not for any other reason, performing at a Wacken Metal Battle local heat is always rewarding from an audience point of view, and attendance raises the funds which assist the finalist with travel costs to Germany. As a South African “moment”, the Wacken Metal Battle proves worth getting involved in at all levels from fan to performer.
Also see for 2018: Zombies Ate My Girlfriend: artwork, new album announced
Dates, cities, venues
The local heats will run throughout late January, February and March, with national finals in May. The finals in Germany are at Wacken Open Air in August; thus allowing ample time for travel and other arrangements. Some local venues have been tentatively booked. However, this information will be revealed once uptake from the bands becomes more clear. The reason for this is Sashquita’s desire to make 2019 more inclusive, if possible.
“We would like to expand to more regions, but it depends on financial viability and band interest. If we can’t succeed in hosting heats in new cities, we’ll definitely stick with the same formula of Cape Town, Durban and Gauteng.” ~ Sashquita Northey
She also tells us of thoughts to move the finals to another city, although for practical reasons it will most likely remain in Johannesburg. This city remains most central to many metal bands and fans from other regions such as KwaZulu-Natal, The Free State and Mpumalanga Province; of which all have sported participants previously.
Nonetheless, bands from all regions are encouraged to tender a submission. Funds raised from local shows often aid regional finalists with travel costs. If you and your band mates are interested, submit online via this link.