It’s a quiet, winter evening in Observatory, Cape Town and touring bands Maximum Carnage from Pretoria and Anarchy all the way from Cairo in Egypt have just arrived for the second leg of their South African tour. Despite the steadily biting cold, spirits are high and after two successful shows in Gauteng, the bands are both preparing to play in the Mother City for the first time. Gear is unloaded, trailers are secured, cigarettes are stubbed out and as we ascend the steps to ROAR, the adhan from a nearby mosque echoes across the suburb, bringing an eerie familiarity for Anarchy despite being so far from home.
“We’re the first band from Egypt to visit South Africa. It is an honour,” says bassist, Hazem Sharif with a mixture of pride and trepidation in his voice. Even though Anarchy have already been in the country for over a week, road tripping across the country from Gauteng, it seems like the gravity of their situation has not fully set in yet. Travel between cities in South Africa is a chore in itself, never mind crossing the thousands of kilometers spanning the African continent.
Vocalist, Adham Kafafy elaborates, “being in South Africa feels great and being the first ones to do that, I really don’t think we are acknowledging that,” continuing boastfully that they will be able to stake claim to being first, should any other Egyptian bands follow in their footsteps.
Anarchy‘s pioneering spirit will quite possibly blaze a trail for other Egyptian bands to visit South Africa, and hopefully other places in the continent. “Every hard working underground band reaches a ceiling or boundary in their own country,” says Adham, urging bands to break down walls and bring their music to new territory.
The band’s blending of traditional metal riffing with progressive song structure recently came to light in the form of Scriptorium, released back in March of this year.
“For this album, it is a lot of mythologies”, explains Adham, “You’ll find Greek mythology, you’ll find stories from ancient Egyptian mythology, obviously, and you’ve got dragon stories and stuff like that. A scriptorium is the place where, a long time ago, writers used to get isolated in a place to write. So this is why the album was called Scriptorium, it contains a lot of tales and a lot of mysteries of the past.” Not resting on their current reportiore, guitarist Ahmed Raouf revealed that a new song was part of their touring set.
“Our main guitarist, Raouf couldn’t make it. A friend of mine was going to cover for him and then unfortunately this guy had problems with his papers.” says Adham, explaining why the band is touring as a four piece. When asked about how this has affected the tour, Hazem reacts positively, “we played a bit with the composition of the songs… We’ve managed.”
Speaking about the Egyptian metal scene, the guys from Anarchy were quick to point out that Cairo is at the center of it all. Faced with a conservative culture that doesn’t understand heavy metal is a problem that many other African countries face and according to the band there is only really one venue that will host metal gigs; “If there’s a gig every month, it’s a lot,” says Adham. Some bands travel from Alexandria – nearly a three hour drive – to play gigs, which are few and far between. Gear and all the requirements to be in a band are very expensive too. Perseverance is the name of the game in any small scene though and the fact that Anarchy has made it all the way to the other end of the continent shows the potential that sits within so many small scenes.
Strangers in a strange land and miles from home, Anarchy expressed their thanks to their touring partners Maximum Carnage, their families and the South African metal community for being so welcoming and hospitable. Despite arguing about which of the Pretoria and Jo’burg shows were the best and still with five dates ahead of them, spirits are high. To say that the tour was a resounding success would be a misnomer. For days after the final leg in Durban wrapped up the social web was full of pictures, words of support and horns held high! Anarchy, the South African metal community salutes you!
Did you catch Anarchy and Maximum Carnage on their tour? What did you think of the performance? Have you picked up a copy of Scriptorium? Tell us in the comments below!