Musings on metal and its evolving demography

Bill McGrath – Metal in Botswana

Bill McGrath (I’m assuming that’s his name, as his blog is called billmcgrathmusic) wrote the following 3 articles, based on work he did for a paper about the metal scene in Botswana for the ‘Metal and Marginalisation’ conference in the University of York.

They’re a really interesting read – I’d love to get my hands on the paper that he wrote. There are many things mentioned which I thought stood out in comparison with the American and European scenes which are commonly covered by the media. For example, the metal scene there is unified, as opposed to the ones here being segmented by sub-genre; there’s no real thrash presence – the locals seem to have embraced NWOBHM-style metal and then death, for the most part; and there are parallels drawn between their experiences, lyrics and potential topics & themes with those of black metal, which has no foothold in the area yet. It makes me wonder if there’s a style waiting to emerge from the region that will let Africans put their own stamp on metal in the ways that Norway and Sweden did, or even like Vedic metal from India and Southeast Asia are doing now.

Its also encouraging to see that Botswanan metalheads pretty much ignore race. Their focus is on music. It remains to be seen if that will continue as they develop or if it will change over time and with exposure to some of the more hateful acts out there in the rest of the world. For example, will they encounter and maybe even create a reaction to NSBM or galvanize around a perceived cultural identity and begin to grow more prideful of it to the point that an African analogue to Viking metal or white hate metal is born? So far, it doesn’t look like the majority of the bands in the area mix in cultural influences – they basically produce the same metal that would be produced anywhere else. I’m hoping for some kind of distinctive sound to emerge from at least some of the bands though. I like seeing that stuff happen, as it adds variety and expands the lexicon of what metal sounds like.


2 responses

  1. Thank you very much for your kind words!

    I can email you a copy of the paper, if you like. I will shortly be posting another blog post on this topic, mostly based on having watched the March of the Gods documentary ( about the scene. Most of the views I had formed based on my earlier research were supported, but I gained some new perspectives as well. It’s well worth a look.


    January 9, 2015 at 5:32 pm

    • vishalicious

      I’d love to receive a copy of your paper. You can send it to doctrinal_expletives at I saw the trailer for March of the Gods on Youtube, but haven’t seen the documentary itself yet. I’ll do that soon. I actually want to watch it and Death Metal Angola together now. I have yet to see that one as well.

      Its funny, a few years ago, my wife wrote a paper about commonalities between the rise of black metal In Norway and afrobeat in Nigeria via Frantz Fanon’s work. Now that I think of it, it might make sense for me to link to it on this post, as it provides a similar evolutionary procession to what you describe between Botswanan cultural folklore and Norwegian/European folklore and their use as song material.


      January 9, 2015 at 9:21 pm

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