Infanteria to Thrash Cape Town

With the launch of a debut album by Infanteria just days away, Metalminded Darkfiend guzzled a few beers with Chris Hall, the band’s axe-wielding front man, for a little insider’s perspective on the band and what to expect from the album.

If not for a typically ruinous South Easter gusting about, it would have been a beautiful Summers day in Cape Town, South Africa. Instead of benches beneath a luscious canopy of leaves on the riverside patio, we retreated to inside my favourite ‘meeting den’ for cold beers and a little ‘digging’. I wanted to explore and share in the life and soul of what I have long regarded as one of the Cape Town metal scene’s best kept secrets. In fact, the other ‘secret’ is also set to reveal a debut album soon and my fingers are crossed that it will be before that bands appearance at RAMfest in March, so please anticipate with bated breath! However, in the meantime, Infanteria has beat this other mystery band to the chase, so our attention now falls squarely on Chris and the gang.

As it turns out, the story of Infanteria began as early as 2005 and in the somewhat surprising setting of Montague; a tiny town which serves as a bit of a gateway to the Klein Karoo region of the Western Cape. Furthermore, this beginning featured two founding members who remain with the band today: Chris and his brother Rob Hall on drums. At that time, still in school, the guys were just playing some covers of their favourite music and even managed to swindle their way into their schools talent production where they performed “Seek and Destroy”. The family moved to Table View in the following year and already with two members strong, they were able to quickly pick up others and welcomed Barry Pieterse on guitar, along with Jarrod Firmani (departed Infanteria in 2009, but present vocalist for Sexodus, a side project in which both Chris and Rob are involved) on bass. It was with that line-up in 2007 when Infanteria was the opening act at the very first of the now-legendary series of events hosted by in Stellenbosch. “I was the only one legal to drink” confessed Chris, reminding me of just how young these thrashers were at the time.  Speaking for myself, I’m very proud of how the band has developed over the years and am thrilled to see them all as grown adults and co-headlining next weeks show at SummerFest’13.

The rest is short term history. Infanteria have climbed steadily and fairly consistently over the years to become a well respected name in the Cape Town metal community, albeit somewhat covert. They’ve snatched up a new bassist since with Mark Pote, and added a new contemporary dynamic to their otherwise traditional Thrash with the inclusion of Jared Philips on keyboard. Despite the bands relative youth, their audience appeal has remained largely with a slightly older crowd; a phenomenon which I suspect is a result of their remaining true to those Thrash roots. Of course, since the advent of The Big Four, there seems to be a sort of renewal of thrash worldwide. With bands such as Warbringer and Evile injecting new life into the genre, echos of the noise have already reached South African shores and we can see our own youth taking an interest which seemed previously reserved for the more contemporary sounds of metalcore. This bodes well for Infanteria whose time it now is to shine. In fact, it seems like almost perfect timing that their long awaited debut album is finally ready. Chris was even speculating “if we released this two years ago, it probably wouldn’t have had the impact we’re anticipating for now”. With that, I wanted to find out why it is, actually, that we’ve had to wait so long for a release from the band.

“It basically began in 2009 with the tracking of a single song to be released on Dualine Records Hammer The Masses II compilation album. It was all done at Burning Tone Studios and we enjoyed working with Louis so much that the project evolved into recording for an EP, and then again into tracking for an entire album”, Chris revealed. Although tracking for the album was essentially finished, the band suffered a bit of a set-back with the departure of Barry who moved to East London in 2011. This was a stumbling block which the band needed time to deal with. “He and I worked very closely together. Barry is an awesome writer, and although the current band has had time since to do a lot of polishing and re-tracking, some of his leads were just too good to mess with”. Although I’ve not heard enough of the album to hear if I can determine where, Chris assures me that some of Barry’s original pieces remain. As for timing: “I think it was just meant to be,” Chris said, “with most of us being quite young, finances for recording was always an issue, and with what has been going on in the world of Thrash lately the delays will probably serve us well.”

With that all concluded, I wanted to hear about the bands plans for promotion of the album, apart from launching at SummerFest’13 next week where they will be co-headlining. Isolated Existence is incidentally also the debut release from Burning Tone Records, a newly established enterprise by Louis Henn of Burning Tone Studio and other remnants of Dualine Records. “We’re looking to try and hit some different venues from our usual circuit, and hopefully a tour not too far down the line,” Chris revealed, “We’re talking with the guys at Burning Tone Records every day”. When I asked him what his personal highlight of the whole experience of recording was, he simply said, “when we finished the mix, Louis and I went down to Buckleys in Bellville and got a brandy, saying ‘cheers dude; last 4 years of our life… done!'”

Check out the early-release single “Cataclysmic Oppression” available on the M4A SummerFest’13 sampler compilation, courtesy of Burning Tone Records

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