With the eyes of the metal world often fixed on South Africa, or Botswana, it is sometimes forgotten that other Southern African states are producing some great headbanging tunes as well. In the case of Namibia, on the Western seaboard, we have caught wind from time to time of metal bands from the inland capital city of Windhoek or the only other large urban center of coastal Swakopmund. So it fills us with pleasure when news breaks of some heavy metal activity from these remote locations (see 2014 Windhoek Metal Festival here).
The Hunt For Higher Ground are an instrumental progressive metal band from Windhoek and have been releasing self-produced tracks periodically to the public for the better part of two years. The latest of which, titled ‘The Tusk’ was unveiled yesterday. Being a band without a vocalist, we wanted to find out more about the writing process:
“Most songs start off with ideas played badly, whistled, or vocalized into a cellphone or some sort of recording device. It’s when that ‘sit-down-and-work-on-stuff-time’ rolls around that we try and figure out what we were actually trying to do. The end product is usually very different from the initial idea, but without that shitty cellphone sample, there would be no song. Also, because there are no lyrics, we try and push the music a little more when writing, but without trying to just throw a million notes into a song for the sake of it.” ~ Jacques de Vries (guitar, The Hunt For Higher Ground)
The band’s releases to date are all self-produced. Whilst Jacques describes it as not being ideal, he explains the benefit of being able to spend as much time as required to explore ideas. Of course, we wanted to know how the band titles their songs, given that there is no lyrical theme. Is there still a context at all?
“The names for the most part end up being inside jokes, or something that somebody saw and it got stuck in their mind. ‘The Tusk’ is taken from both a piece in a Deadpool comic where he gets impaled by an elephant tusk (here), coupled with an unhealthy over-listening to Mastodon‘s Leviathan…” ~ Jacques de Vries
In a previous article (here), we asked about the fact that the band has no vocalist, and if this was their intent or just a matter of circumstance from living in such a remote location. Jacques expanded on this explanation today:
“We’ve never decided specifically against getting a vocalist. There are some great, albeit few, singers in Namibia; but we just haven’t found what is right for us. We feel that it is more important to find somebody who is right for us, musically and on personal levels, than getting somebody in just for the sake of having a vocalist. Our bassist Ramon tried singing once… Once!” ~ Jacques de Vries