With every dark beat pulsating through my body, I morph more and more into a vampire. And not of the sparkly variety. The Anne Rice sex-on-wheels variety. Walking through the misty darkness, the venue, The Capitol Theatre in Pretoria, actually feels like a living being, encapsulating you. It was one of the first atmospheric style cinemas in South Africa built in the Italian Renaissance style, and it was the perfect venue for Ghosts of War.
Ghosts of War, hosted by NDE Productions, aimed at uniting goth and metal with 2 dance floors and special acts to cater to whichever side of the genre fence you found yourself on. For me, metal was on the menu and the bands that left a lasting impression would be Agro and Spectral Realm.
Being one of the oldest metal acts in South Africa, Agro
is so tight that it feels like a brick wall hits you as soon as they open the sluices to their melodic music. Old school is most definitely cool, and the passion with which they performed a tribute to Ronnie James Dio was palpable. The way with which the twin guitars and bass created a melody, contrasted but also enhanced by the violin, made for an awesome time in the moshpit, and many people enjoyed their set.
The journey to the Spectral Realm is taken through a ride on the hypnotic wave of ambient keyboards, whilst the bass offers a strong layer of support and the rhythm and lead guitars awaken intense feelings within. This six piece act from East Rand “is here to unleash the metal beast.” Their music deals with the afterlife, the unexplained and unexplored as well as past, present and future, and the trance that the keys put you in, accompanied by great guitaring and strong, forceful vocals captures the essence of their themes. Septic Septre and Lord Onyr have intense stage personalities, and although the turnout wasn’t wonderful there was headbanging to be done.
Coming back to feeling like a vampire or alternatively, as if you are in a horror movie, the models in the fashion show for the label CHAOS R US definitely looked the part. As with everything in life there were people who felt that the fashion show was lame but art is subjective and therefore there were many people who enjoyed it as well the music that accompanied it. The show wasn’t run of the mill boring, but instead had a distinct concept and theme. It was aesthetically pleasing and very creative. The concept was of a small and weak man who has lost his faith and is afraid of going into war. He consults the Ghosts of War and also tells them that he doesn’t want to die, but he doesn’t realize that he’s already dead. He is awakened from his death to realize that he’s no longer alive. The Ghosts of War then reappear to make him a soldier to fight in the war between Good and Evil, Heaven and Hell.
The turnout didn’t appear as huge as I had expected which could be because people felt entry was too expensive, or they had other plans. A definite no-no was that the bar ran out of beer and other drinks and had no change, although this might mean there were more people in the huge venue as could be seen. What people felt about the event seemed divided with some loving it and others thinking that it was a superficial, image-driven event. What I can say is that I loved the venue, there were a lot of give-aways, beautiful people and brilliant firedancers; a fabulous fashion show and that they aimed at catering for both goth and metal fans. Although the entry might have been a tad expensive for many people, it was clear that the considerable effort towards a quality show was worth it. The drinks debacle is not something any metal head should deal with, and it was a relief that organisers acted quickly to restock the bar.
Photography by: Ryan James Shaw