“The Soaring Underbelly”, Thoughts on the Cape Town Metal Scene

Keenan Oakes is no stranger to the Cape Town metal scene, having fronted seminal death metallers, The Horror Cast and now handling bass and vocal duties for one of the more innovative bands on the Cape Town metal scene, Heathens. Below he shares his views on the Cape Town metal scene, and more exclusively, bands that have crept out of the city’s Southern Suburbs in recent years.

Beneath the fading lights, in the darkest alleyways, even gutters of the local music scene, an underground movement of quality and aggressive music looms and lingers, as an answer to the trends of more popular musical sub-cultures. Heavy metal is unfavourably reputed for so many reasons, blatant ignorance being the most common. This is tragic, as the local talent within this sprawling genre is immense yet resounds in venues that seem like empty halls.

A Walk With the Wicked
A Walk With the Wicked - Photo by Werner Ryke

One of the bands spearheading this movement is A Walk with the Wicked. Working with Dean Bailey (Sabretooth, The Horror Cast) and none other than Mr. David Castillo (Katatonia, Bloodbath) on their recently released debut EP entitled Architects of Sadism, this death-groove outfit is a welcome change to the silly “brutal” bands that have taken a dump on the heavy music scene over the last few years. A Walk with the Wicked continue to blaze their own trail, slaying audiences time and time again with their blistering live set. One of the tightest and more professional bands playing locally.

Sabretooth - Photo by Robin Bernstein

Sabretooth have emerged as a technical yet musically gifted throwback to the glorious debauchery and sometimes cheesy meanderings of the 80’s. Fingers fly across fret boards and keys at a rapid pace, industrial fans blow their hair on stage, and vocals soar as Sabretooth achieves a distinct balance between musical prowess and top-notch songwriting. The band is finishing up the recording sessions of their full-length at Cloud Studios, and the album will see a 2011 release.

Crow Black Sky
Crow Black Sky

Inspired by seminal metal giants Opeth and Amon Amarth, Crow Black Sky is a progressive blackened metal band with acoustic and classical elements. Late 2010 saw the release of their first long player entitled Pantheion. The album is being greeted with big and kind words by Metal fans the world over (just have a look at their Facebook page). A follow-up release is now on the cards as the band looks to foreign shores.

Heathens - Photo by Janine Megan

Lauded by Angry Metal Guy and Lurker, Heathens rose to prominence in 2010 with their strong work ethic and unique take on their respective genre, playing rock-inspired black/post Metal. The band’s debut album is due in the winter of 2011, and will be mastered by organic wizard Magnus Lindberg (Cult of Luna, Khoma). There really is no limit for these wilderness dwellers as they churn out their nature-veiled compositions.

Certainly, this steam engine of resistance and non-conformity can only go unnoticed for so long. Whether you like it or not, South African Heavy Metal is headed in an upward and ultimately strong direction. Shun by most and revered by a few, there is no denying the brilliance of some (and I do mean some) of our inter-local (see what I did there?) bands. Yes, great Heavy Metal is on the resurgence in our tenderly small scene, and oh what a relief it is.

Catch A Walk With the Wicked and Heathens, joined by Suiderbees at Mercury Live in Cape Town on the 21st of May 2011 for the triumphant return of metal to Mercury’s stage!

Mercury Metal Massacre - 21 May 2011 - Heathens, A Walk With the Wicked, Suiderbees