Word Association PublishersEdward Banchs: Heavy Metal Africa:
Life, Passion, and Heavy Metal in the Forgotten Continent Paperback (2016)
There haven’t been much publications of rock music in Africa at all. Until a few years back it was almost unknown to foreigners. Some collectors already pointed me towards its scenes that especially in Zambia fuzz boxes were imported and spread and rock music became popular. Also Nigeria’s scene who knew many influences was given more attention. Less talked about is what records were imported to listen to that changed peoples or musician’s perspectives, at least not so much from the 70s onwards.
Edward Banchs deals in his investigation already with the next generation that grew after its first directions, after its lost scenes no longer were able to continue. In a climate of political and economic turmoil, this generation not always used the same tools to grow musical awareness and renewal. Out of chaos, traditions can be felt as old school and more global common features, different forms of rock escapisms are sought after because there’s already lost a true direct connection with the past and local cultures, and peoples in these situations were already too often put up against each other. It’s final expression is already that of a different world, which is metal.
Edward Banchs writes his book like a mixture of a diary, a passionate scholarship and a collection of information gathered from interviews, gathered from direct experience travels and meeting points with local musicians of the metal scenes in a couple of African countries. What he luckily does not forget is to show us the people’s experience of the political and economic climate. Metal also is faced with a struggle against for instance Christian religious suspicion as if metal is a call from the devil. What becomes clear most quickly is that metal had become the overarching area in which feelings and energy is united. It creates a so-called global togetherness in which all who can enjoy it together is united, without preference or discriminating viewpoint. It is music-for-the-music which does not allow much ability to fuse, (there are often little recognisable African elements, it is not the main interest to bring them in, when it does I still love to feel and notice them personally, because that(s the individual vision that makes people also so much unique if they can find that), except that it lives more purely in energy and in a style which its own and associated mostly to its full and more global community. It is something this book has made me understand best.
I a way, my own generation could still regret the qualities that no longer matter are a bit ignored now. I always looked for the moments where the creative mind fused tradition and modernity, a uniqueness found in combining the unexpected. This new globalisation move is a different kind of solution with a very direct effect. It is as if the wars of struggles have ended and are released and solved in and expression of what is nothing but pure energy with very direct effect and bonds. In the case of Edward Banchs experiences it is clearly how much this brought pure friendships along his trips.
An interesting read in which the reader is able to join these experiences well. There has been attention given to context and history too, but in the end, during a trip it isn’t always the goal that is the most important, but the experience that are gained during the path that one shares and makes. Metal music in that case is able to connect us directly.