The SAMMA Scripts: some of the best

Johannesburg, South Africa: Following on from an introduction to the Top Newcomers to the SA Metal Scene, let’s take the opportunity to get to know some of the Top 5 genre nominees. Here we look at the bands that are featured in Best Black Metal, Best Death Metal and Best Progressive Metal. These are some of the genres which are gaining more and more prominence in the SA Metal scene and keep the fans coming back for more.

The Best of Black Metal

This year the Top 5 ranks for Best Black Metal go to Adorned in Ash, Nebula Disrupt, Sinister Superstar, Spectral Realm and Wildernessking. Some of these bands, such as the established Adorned in Ash, are already quite familiar with being in the Top 5 whereas others, such as Sinister Superstar, are new to the nominations.

“I think we’ve shown an approach to writing and honing songs, and a work ethic to go with that which might not be shared across the board. That said, so many SA bands are bringing it and we’re glad to be part of this particular wave of increased effort in the South African Metal scene; which also helps with motivation and inspiration, knowing that we’re all pulling together to get this beast up the hill!” ~ Leon van Rensburg (guitar/backing vocals, Adorned in Ash)

“Whilst it may be an unpopular thing to say because Black Metal artists are usually known to have strong feelings against music awards and so forth but those involved with the music of Sinister Superstar are quite fond and extremely humbled to be a part of the SAMMA’s this year. I know for a fact I did not think SS will ever be nominated. It was a former band member who brought it to my attention that SS was nominated. I think it is a huge compliment from the entire scene just to be in the top 5 no matter the results.” ~ Vernon Eksteen (vocals, Sinister Superstar)

“As always, it’s a great privilege to have been selected again for the SAMMAs this year. Getting recognized as one of the Top 5 Black Metal bands in South Africa really makes us feel proud to be recognized in the scene.” ~ Lord Onyr (guitar, Spectral Realm)

Nebula Disrupt 2017 press pic
Nebula Disrupt, from Cape Town

Black Metal has steadily been gaining popularity within the SA Metal scene and definitely delivers.

“I think bands like Behemoth and Rotting Christ touring here in recent years, among others, has brought the most against-the-grain of metal music into the spotlight and rightfully so. We also have some really solid Black Metal acts right here on our shores. Previous winners Theatre Runs Red and fellow nominees Nebula Disrupt being some stellar acts that even countries like Sweden and Norway would be impressed by.” ~ Vernon Eksteen

2017 was a year for albums, with work in progress across the board.

“Our next album has been a surprisingly large amount of work and we are extremely proud of the material. It’s taken influence from, I think, all our combined entire musical preferences and has grown into a being of its own. We’re a little worried that playing the full recording for the first time might cause it to become self-aware and take over the interwebs… More seriously though, the theme surrounds ideas including self-awareness in life and faith, situations which befall us, the decisions we make, the external influences to our daily and spiritual lives and the concept of being aware and fully experience the events when it all comes to an end. This all coupled with the Grace that’s been made available to us, relief in knowing what fate holds and a relinquishment of angst and despair.” ~ Leon van Rensburg

“We will be releasing a new album hopefully by the end of the year through Swedish label, Testicular Records. This time it will be myself and Nicholai recording all the songs. It is pretty solid and we want it to sound just right, and therefore it’s been a painful experience to create the new record. I will also be doing vocals for a new Black Metal band that has members from well-known local bands. Should be a good year.” ~ Vernon Eksteen

“We are about halfway completing our second album which we can say is really going well. We’ll be joining forces once more with Allen Purkiss as our sound master. The album is a concept which will be revealed on a later stage, as well as having a few surprises. Lyrically and musically it won’t stray too far from our debut album, but hopefully we’ll bring a fresh take on the Spectral Realm!” ~ Lord Onyr

Adorned in Ash returned to Botswana for the Rock the Nation event and entered a distribution deal with the Metal Onslaught which has helped in achieving extra exposure outside of South Africa.

“IT (Rock the Nation). WAS. NUTS! Long drive, long night, crazy rock-n-rollers, amazing performances by a bunch of bands – Norbormide! Good grief!! – and heaps of energy until the sun comes up. Get your fitness levels up before going there!” ~ Leon van Rensburg

“We are grateful for the opportunity to have an outlet in the UK to have our album sold. Currently we have it online in the USA, Norway, Sweden, Australia and now also in the UK. These outlets are great to get physical copies of the album – and sometimes merch too – into the hands of people from other nations and expand the fan-base outside of the continent. It serves as great exposure and we are very pleased with these opportunities.” ~ Mark Ivey (drums, Adorned in Ash)

Death Becomes Them

The Fallen Prophets 2016 press picture
The Fallen Prophets, from Cape Town

Next up in the genre journey is the Best Death Metal, with Nerve Zero, DevilSpeak, My Columbine, The Fallen Prophets and Maximum Carnage making the Top 5 cut. It is appreciated and, in some cases, a surprise, to these bands that they have made the Top 5.

“We love what we do as a band, whether it brings us success or not, and we’re really enjoying whatever it is we’re doing collectively as DevilSpeak with no hidden agendas. Success has never been the primary goal. I think, we just want the opportunity for our music to be heard by your ears and let you judge if you like it or not, and when we do get that opportunity people seem to respond to it with positive enjoyment. Can’t ask for much more than that and we appreciate it every time it happens.” ~ Derrick Leppan (bass, DevilSpeak)

“It feels great to be honest. While we seriously would love to lock down a win, the nomination is the real prize. The SAMMA’s work to legitimize South African metal, and therefore a nomination – especially consistent nominations – help give bands like us some additional brand clout. A person would be more inclined to listen to a band they’ve never heard of if there are third party accolades backing up the band.” ~ Sven Borgstrom (bass, My Columbine)

“We are so honoured and excited. Yes, three nominations this year and it’s really amazing that our hard work is being recognized. The SAMMA awards is growing every year and it gives bands a benchmark to constantly evolve and improve so that they can get nominated.” ~ Kevin Kirkland (guitar, Nerve Zero)

2018 looks like it will deliver more Death for the fans

“In the very near future we will be releasing the EP physical CD with a unique gatefold design as well as an EP themed shirt which is planned to use a glow in the dark print. In the live space you won’t see us much this year as we’re taking a break from that all for a while. We’re going to be experimenting in other aspects of being a band in the modern age while writing new material and chewing on our crazy ideas to see which ones we can afford to do.
You can also look forward to another live stream live event in late 2018 which we’re aiming at making bigger and better, and again, if you don’t tune in for it at the time you won’t be able to watch it later.” ~ Derrick Leppan

“The biggest request we get from our fans is that they want more new music out of us and we’ve been listening! With Ritual Violence out in the world we are now able to spend more time focusing on writing new material, so fans can definitely expect to hear a few new songs creep into our live shows on the coming months and maybe even a surprise or two.” ~ Sven Borgstrom

“Well, besides a very cool album, we will be writing fresh material which is much needed. We will also be releasing another Music Video. Other than that, we intend to destroy as many stages as possible.” ~ Kevin Kirkland

Aggressive Progressive

Kings Of Improg 2017 press photo
Kings Of Improg (aka: KOI), from Johannesburg

Rounding up the genre nominees in this discussion are the Progressive Metal Top 5: Ohgod, Megalodon, Kings of Improg, Mezzanine Floor and Technopath. The fusion of sounds with this genre brings always aims to pleasantly surprise the listener with the unexpected.

“It feels great to be nominated and acknowledged for the work we put into our debut album, it’s an awesome achievement for us and we welcome any recognition for our craft.” ~ Lloyd McKeen (guitar/bass, Kings of Improg)

“It feels great and we’re very humbled to have received four nominations.” ~ Louis Henn (guitar, Megalodon)

“It’s incredibly humbling to be honest. We threw a lot of ourselves into Architecture of Aeons; we lived ourselves into it and, in the end, it was a highly personal project and experience that affected us all on a level that neither of us expected was possible. In turn, that passion and the emotions transferred over to the live shows, and every time we perform these tracks, we find ourselves transported right back to that place where they originated from. To be nominated last year for Best Album and Best Prog Metal Band meant the absolute world to us and the night of the ceremony was a true celebration of this very special time in our lives and the life of the band. To receive that recognition again this year in the form of SAMMA nominations for Best Music Video for Behold! Luca – which incidentally was the first track that we wrote for the album – and for Best Prog Metal Band is otherworldly and we are just so incredibly thankful to everyone for the continued support of this thing we do that we hold so dear.” ~ Dylan van der Merwe (guitar/vocals, Mezzanine Floor)

“It’s very difficult to describe the feeling, but the closest would be grateful. Grateful to our fans, fellow musicians and industry professionals. It is mind blowing and extremely unexpected that we qualified for five different categories. It’s such a pleasure to know that the community recognizes the effort we go through to do what we do and it really makes it all worth it at the end that we have people supporting us through this journey.” ~ Danny Harris (drums, Ohgod)

The current year is set to be one of new delivery and experiences.

“We have some awesome gigs coming up. We’ll be on the Misty Waters Festival stage at the end of April, and we have a great Prog show lined up at Rumours in June. We are busy writing new material for our follow up album, which we should be in studio to record by September, hopefully for release either end of the year or early next year. We are loving every step of this journey and just want to keep writing, recording and gigging for as long as we can, adding our own unique brand of music to the already thriving and ever growing underground rock and metal scene here in sunny SA!” ~ Lloyd McKeen

“We will continue to play live shows and visit Johannesburg if/when the bank balance allows for it. We like to usually release a single or two after an album for our fans to gauge the direction we’re going into for the next album… But that is not going to happen this time and possibly not until album 3 is ready. All I can say is it is a massive project and even more difficult and time consuming than before as we’re going to attempt something that shouldn’t work – but if it does, is going to be very worth it.” ~ Louis Henn

“2018 is going to be another busy year for us. We are heading out to Europe in just under 2 months to play a couple of shows in Germany supporting Jinjer (Ukraine) thanks to Turning Tricks Entertainment, and festivals (Dunk Fest, TBA) thanks to our own Calvin De Swardt who initiated this whole tour. We have joined forces with Turning Tricks Entertainment through an international booking agreement and they will be representing Ohgod on an international level, so there are lots going on that we cannot quite reveal right now; but its surely going to be a great year for South African Music in the international sector.” ~ Danny Harris

Mezzanine Floor have also gone through a line-up change recently following the departure of long time vocalist Dixen. Clinton Brown has now taken up the vocal reigns.

“I guess it’s always a tricky period when you lose a member and we had been the same group of guys for 7-to-8 years, there’s a mountain of memories as well as the feeling of being in your comfort zone. Clint immediately came in and put our minds at ease the moment he lifted that microphone. He is so full of emotion and his delivery is so big and impactful that it just screams for your attention. He has an incredible work ethic and we find ourselves so driven because of that. There is a new zest for life and more than ever we are pushing ourselves to expand on our sound. He’s an asset and we are so fortunate that prior to joining we already have this great history and friendship with him which is one of the most important factors for us. We have always taken a lot of pride in the Mezz family unit and he was already a part of that family. We cannot wait for everyone to hear these new tracks and to share in and experience them with us on the live platform.” ~ Dylan van der Merwe

Regardless of Metal genre tastes and preferences, everyone can appreciate the caliber that our local acts are delivering and we look forward to continued delivery from these bands.

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.