The SAMMA Scripts: some more of the best

Johannesburg, South Africa: We continue our genre journey for the South African Metal Music Awards by looking at the remaining three categories. This year we see the Best Thrash category fall away and be replaced by the Best Old School Metal category. Along with this we look at the Best Core Metal and Best Alternative Metal category finalists.

Old School Fuel

Old School Metal and Old School Rock ‘n Roll have become almost interchangeable terminologies. Add in a sprinkling of Thrash and the musical meal is ready to be served. The Top 5 nominees this year for Best Old School Metal includes: Deadline, L.A. Cobra, Disarmageddon, The Slashdogs and De Wallen.

“What used to be metal or now old school metal is what everyone refers to as old school rock. (When rock and roll still had balls and Lorde didn’t win best rock song at the billboard awards).” ~ Pieter Bekker (guitar, De Wallen)

“No matter how people view these awards, for us and at this stage in our lives and in a scene as small as ours is in South Africa, any kind of recognition is great and it says that we are making all the right noises. If you further take into consideration that we play music that is viewed by many in the scene as ‘dad rock’, or hard rock, or whatever many call bands like ours then yeah, we will most definitely take these nominations and hope we can win at least one. Will be great continuity from where we left off last year.” ~ Jessy Switchblade (vocals, Deadline)

“The SAMMAs is invaluable to the underground music scene. All of the nominated bands are amazing at what they do and it is fantastic that the hard work and dedication to the industry is recognized and appreciated through an event like this. We are super excited to be nominated in two categories along with these great names.” ~ Slade (guitar, L.A. Cobra)

LA Cobra 2017 press photo
L.A. Cobra, from Pretoria

“We didn’t expect this at all. It’s obviously nice to be recognized for one’s contribution to the local scene, but for a band who has played more in the punk scene, it’s cool to be acknowledged by the metal scene as well. I suppose Slashdogs has always been a hybrid of rock, metal and punk, and this is a nice recognition of that fact.” ~ Paul Gioia (guitar, The Slashdogs)

The past year has been quite busy for the bands, playing some big shows, getting more exposure and making new fans. De Wallen played alongside Memphis May Fire and Intervals at Krank’d Up in 2017.

“What an amazing experience. The first time I heard about Intervals was when I saw them play at Krank’d Up. Their set captivated me due to the amount of math that was required to attempt to find the patterns in the music. To see such technical music played so flawlessly was breath-taking.” ~ Adriaan Jordaan (drums/backing vocals, De Wallen)

Deadline was featured in Fireworks Magazine (UK) whilst Disarmageddon spread past the SA shores. L.A. Cobra even took the No 4. spot on the annual Top 20 albums list.

“Well, it all came about with the help of Mr. Warren Gibson from Plug Music Agency. He did a fair amount of PR work for us and he was absolutely brilliant. We won a few free months of PR work from his agency when we won the best newcomer award at last year’s SAMMA’s and it was a pleasure working with Warren. He opened a fair number of doors for us. It definitely created some interest among some bands and some radio stations in the south coast of the UK. We have now made some decent connections with some other European bands who play a similar genre of music.” ~ Jessy Switchblade

“Disarmageddon was never intended to be a ‘South African only’ Thrash Metal band. With help from social media, we have come in to contact with a number of fans from countries like Finland and Canada. Perhaps after a thrashing 2018 and some planning, we will get our shot to show the international stage what SA thrash metal is about.” ~ Jay Troskie (vocals, Disarmageddon)

“We were a little surprised actually. We felt the album was good but we weren’t ready for the response it produced. The international community has really embraced the Cobra sound and it is exciting to see the reaction to the album. It is such an honour for us to be mentioned next to the other names on that top 20 album list.” ~ Slade

The Slashdogs 2017
The Slashdogs, from Johannesburg

The Slashdogs have been a staple on the SA music scene for many years, appealing to a wide audience.

“We have never really fitted neatly into any scene. Always being too punk for the metal kids and a bit too metal for the punk kids. Perhaps that has opened us up to a larger audience, but I somehow doubt that. SA is very ‘scene-y’ and I think we suffer a little for that. A deviation from a ‘typical’ sound can leave one a bit isolated, al be it, a lot more original and open to growth than a lot of bands that carbon copy their heroes. We have been together for 15 years and we have watched stacks of ‘sound-a-likes’ come and go over the years I think that that is our biggest strength: not giving a f*[email protected] about what any ‘scene’ is up to and writing the music we want to write.” ~ Paul Gioia

And after all of that, there is still more set to hit us in 2018

“Well besides the 36 Crazy Fists show and De Wallen’s European tour, we are also releasing our third studio album with Jaco Naude. I think we are mostly excited by the possibilities of the year as a whole. We have taken a very different approach to the year trying to do less and achieve more. Playing shows every weekend is great, but we are busy working on the bigger picture.” ~ Pieter Bekker

“Potential De Wallen music videos! We may or may not also have gotten permission to use visuals from the guys over at The Big Les Show for a music video. Hopefully we will have it done in a shorter time than it took for season four to release. Also, we decided that a cheesy 80’s style video needs to happen.” ~ Adriaan Jordaan

“L.A.Cobra is lining up a couple of national shows at the moment whilst sorting out all the paper work and logistics for our international shows. We would also like to release a couple more videos this year. We are in the process of starting with the next single’s music video. We have also started working on some new material for the next album. We absolutely don’t want as big a gap as there was between the ‘How Much Snake Can You Take?’ and the ‘Shotgun Slinger’ albums. Our first priority at the moment is to visit the places where the album is doing well and to keep writing as we go along. We can then hopefully bring out some new material in 2019.” ~ Slade

“Hopefully a new album or at least a live album of our set at the moment. The Slashdogs is focusing more on studio work and putting out better records. The live scene is so precarious at the moment that we are not really putting too much energy there at the moment. So, if you see we are playing a show, head on down because it will be a while before you see us again.” ~ Paul Gioia

More Core

Boargazm - Photo Copyright: Henk Steyn Photography
Boargazm, from Pretoria – Photo Copyright: Henk Steyn Photography

Representing Core Metal on the SA scene in the Top 5 includes: Red Helen, Boargazm, Truth and Its Burden, Treehouse Burning and 13th Empire. Some are new to nominations whereas others are returning finalists.

“The SAMMA’s are always a ton of fun and it is always an honour to be nominated! That’s a good question! We’ve always strived to be as hard working as possible, we do our best to never put half effort into anything! We work incredibly hard to be as musically tight as we can, trying to write the best music we can, rehearsing to put on the best shows we can. We’re also always looking at ways to improve our artwork, our merch designs etc. etc. So, I’d say our attitude of hard work, constantly striving to improve, grow and be the best that we can be has helped us to stay relevant! We also have amazing extremely supportive fans that we are so grateful to have! We always try our best to show as much gratitude and love to those fans as possible!” ~ Brandon Pratt (vocals, Red Helen)

“It’s the first time we’ve ever been nominated for anything at all to be honest. The fact that there is a SAMMA event in the first place says a lot, and I feel the alternative music culture has a lot to be thankful for. No other awards program would ever acknowledge heavier music genres over mainstream music, so essentially we really need to be thankful for the small victories, and a nomination for a SAMMA is certainly one of those victories.” ~ Ashley De Beer (vocals, Truth and It’s Burden)

“We’ve only been performing for about a month now! Our debut show was Metal4Africa’s Summerfest, and to date is the only show we’ve played. We believe we put far more time, money and effort into this than most local acts, and this is starting to show in the opportunities we’re being given this year.” ~ Jesse Kuhn (guitar, Treehouse Burning)

Truth And Its Burden 2017 press photo
Truth and its Burden, from Johannesburg

Truth and Its Burden has been going strong for over a decade.

“We’ve certainly always tried to break the mould in terms of our sound, our general band image and just how we carry ourselves as a band. We’ve been fairly consistent in releasing albums, touring and just being a constructive band. Obviously, our music is what we take most pride in, but yeah – I feel we’ve always tried to be true to ourselves in terms of how we approach writing a new album. Being creative and recording is an exciting aspect of being in a band, and the music you release should showcase that excitement and the journey… I like to think we’ve achieved that on our albums and continue to do so in our live shows.” ~ Ashley De Beer

Music Videos, Albums and plenty more, 2018 will be a year for Core.

“We are busy writing a new full-length album and can’t wait to record it and release it this year! We’re really looking forward to that as we know our fans are too. We’ve grown a lot as a band and we’re excited to write even tastier, heavier and more groovy songs. We’ll also be jamming a few last shows on the current material and then look forward to planning a tour around the new album and merch. Again, we’d like to thank everyone that has supported us so far and everyone involved in the heavy music scene and venues around the country! If you haven’t heard us yet, please give us a spin at” ~ Byron Hambly

“2018 is going to be a busy year for us! We’ve definitely got a couple exciting things up our sleeves so without giving too much we’re currently working on new music (yup, new music!), new tours to new towns and old favourites, new and improved merch and so much more! Keep an eye & an ear out!” – Brandon Pratt
“We are working on a music video currently, and we have 3 nationwide tours currently being planned throughout 2018. We might release a new single if we’re feeling up to the challenge and I know there’s been talk (mostly me begging hahaha) that we release a cover song. Something we’ve just never tried before so that would be great. It’s still a very fresh year so anything can happen.” ~ Ashley De Beer

“Plenty of new music, videos, merch and shows!” ~ Jesse Kuhn

Where Alternative and Metal collide

Last One Alive 2016 press
Last One Alive, from Cape Town

This is a genre that delivers a lit bit of everything and there is always a little something that appeals to both fans of metal and rock. The Top 5 nominees are Deity’s Muse, Dirty Moonshine, Aimed at You, With Dawn and Last One Alive.

“Any form of recognition is always quite welcome and we’re just happy to be included again this year. As they say, ‘Out of sight, out of mind’.” ~ Wayne Boucher (vocals/guitar, Deity’s Muse)

“Once again, we are very surprised, but super excited for the event. Always a fun evening. Award or none we always appreciate any recognition for the hard work we put into this.” ~ Roy Epstein (vocals/guitar, Dirty Moonshine)

“It is actually quite an awesome feeling to be even nominated among some of SA’s finest acts. The best alternative category has some very stiff competition that any one of these bands deserve the title. In the end, for us really, it’s more about getting that recognition for the hard work we’ve put into this band over the years and we couldn’t be happier with the nomination.” ~ Kevin Rule (guitar, With Dawn)

The stage is a second home to these bands, having played some great festivals last year – Deity’s Muse took on Europe at the Euroblast Festival in Germany, Dirty Moonshine attacked the dust at Oppikoppi and Last One Alive took the local stage at Metal4Africa SummerFest ‘17.

“It was a surreal experience to say the least. Being included on a bill with some of the world’s most relevant prog rock and metal acts was an honour we’d not soon forget. Our show went down really well and we definitely gained lots of new fans from the experience.” ~ Wayne Boucher

“I’ll sum up the roller coaster of a ride that was our Oppikoppi experience last year in seven words – wet, dirty, rocking, an absolute party and EPIC! In short, we had a blast of a time, can’t wait for the opportunity to play there again.” ~ Allan Lancaster (guitar/back-up vocals, Dirty Moonshine)

“Metal4Africa’s SummerFest’17 is such a coveted event among local musicians, and it was incredible to play alongside such a dynamic selection of SA’s finest metal bands. We had a righteous time with Deadline when they came out here and dropped their album, and FaceMelt was just as enjoyable as the previous year. I reckon the most pivotal show for us, however, was our EP launch. Mercury Live have always been good to us and to have Reverse The Sands and Atlantic South helping us rip the place apart while we gave our material a proper send-off was such a terrific milestone.” ~ Ric Shields (guitar/backing vocals, Last One Alive)

Deitys Muse 2017
Deitys Muse, from Johannesburg

Deity’s Muse had the opportunity to be showcased on Metal Injection.

“We were incredibly humbled and surprised to be showcased on such an important website read by millions worldwide. 2017 really proved to be quite surreal for us.” ~ Wayne Boucher

It is great to see SA Metal bands starting to tour more nationally and Gauteng was able to experience some Cape Town Metal earlier in the year when Last One Alive graced the City of Gold.

“I’m nervous to admit this at the risk of annoying people, but Joburg provided us with the most receptive, engaging, high-energy crowd we’ve played to! It’s just different up there. People are waterproof, they come out no matter what the weather’s doing. What’s more, they have no qualms about experiencing a band they’ve had little to no exposure to. Our first song kicked off to a relatively empty Rumours, and by the third song the place was seething. It’s so invigorating to have that two-way power-transaction, and we all agreed that show was the best we’ve ever delivered. Cape Town will have a chance to steal our hearts back at some exciting shows we’ll be playing from next month onwards!” ~ Ric Shields

And finally, 2018 has a lot in store for the fans.

“Music Videos, New Singles, and FINALLY our debut album. We are literally finishing up the last few bits in studio now with the legend Clint Watts from Watts Audio. Busy looking at planning some tours to support the launch of the album as well, so yah, we got a lot coming for everyone.” ~ Dave Freedman (bass/back-up vocals, Dirty Moonshine)

“The Metal United World Wide show in Cape Town in May is going to be the highlight of the year for sure. Our drummer Josh has been working very hard behind the scenes managing all the little spokes that are making this event what it is. The fact that we are able to turn it into something with a greater cause the sum of all the parts is what really will make this even a huge success. We are writing new material again… I can say that the next release will be very special as well as a bit bitter sweet.” ~ Kevin Rule

Whether you are a fan of Old School, Alternative or Core; what is certain is that South Africa has plenty to offer, both on a local and international level and we look forward to what next they deliver.

Be there when it happens!

Catch the SAMMA‘s official awarding ceremony on 7 April 2018 at Rumours Rock City starting at 18:00 to find out who takes top honours To see all final nominees in each category following the public participation polls, visit this article.