Gig Review: Metal Night at the Winston

Friday the 19th of October saw metalheads from the greater Durban area unite for Metal Night at the Winston and as seems to be the norm in Durban these days, you make mention of a metal gig and all hell breaks loose with the weather. We’re talking torrential rains that should last days being condensed into a matter of 3 or 4 hours. Not letting this stand in my way, I moseyed on down to the Winston to catch up with Rob Topping (drummer for Divine Affliction) and J.P. Burger (one of the founding members and drummer for In The Mouth of Madness), who gave me a heads up into why the event was organised and to fill me in on their struggles as metal musicians in South Africa and more specifically Durban.

As some of you may or may not have noticed, the Durban metal scene has taken quite a knock. I’m not sure if it is the dissolution of some of our bigger named bands or just a combination of factors, but for some time now the Durban scene has lagged behind that of the Johannesburg and Cape Town scenes. The Durban area has a number of alternative clubs but no all-metal all-the-time type venues. Furthermore, metal bands have nowhere safe to practice with Divine Affliction being just one such example, not having had a proper jam session in around 2 months.
Lack of suitable venues highlights another problem; currently metal shows only take place in bar type environments. This means that a whole market segment of young (under 18) up-and-coming Durban metalheads are not being catered for. This poses the question – how can our metal community grow and evolve without the addition of new blood?

The Metal Night at the Winston festivities kicked off with opening band In The Mouth Of Madness taking to the stage. The metal monster came into being early in 2010, as the brainchild of siblings J.P. and Nashenka Burger (J.P on drums as mentioned, and Nashenka on lead guitar). They are joined on stage by Andrew Dicks (handling rhythm guitar), Preston Kayzo (bassist) and last but by no means least, Mickey Smit, who more than adequately handles the blend of growls and screams necessary for the band. In The Mouth Of Madness are still a fledgling band, only really having grown into their sound towards the end of 2011 and they are yet to successfully record an album – plans are however underway to begin working on an album recording towards the start of 2013.

In The Mouth Of Madness hit the stage with a set list of 6 decidedly brutal numbers that have an interesting blend of hardcore, metalcore and death metal influences, more than sufficiently all out balls-to-the-wall to get everybody into the mosh pit. Fearing for the life of my iPad I found it a safe spot to hang out while I took to the pit.

The headliner, Divine Affliction, is the phoenix born from the ashes of two of Durban’s best offerings, Conclave and The Terrorkings. Their current line-up includes Wesley Price handling all death growls and screams, Deven Phillips and Grant Scrooby on guitar, Matthew Allen on bass and Rob Topping on drums. Divine Affliction took to the stage with a set list of 6 songs and instantly you could see that they have crowd appeal, the stage feels like home to them, they know their instruments, their comradery is addictive, they’re full of fun and truly love creating music. This ‘whirlwind of destruction’ has strong melodic death metal elements blended with some metalcore but they’re not about the genre; with Divine Affliction it’s just about playing as hard and as violently as they can and getting everybody out into the mosh pit, head banging and having fun with no bullshit – just the way metal should be!

Divine Affliction are in the process of DIY recording their first EP, with Rob handling all the technical issues. Following their own recording, Rob indicates he has plans to work on a recording with openers In The Mouth Of Madness and then new death metal project Desolation.

Divine Affliction have the following gigs lined up for the remainder of 2012:
3rd November 2012 – Live the Venue (Durban)
9th December 2012 – The Red Door (Pietermaritzburg)