Heavy Metal Africa. Three words that for many of us in the western world may not normally see together. For the past couple of decades however, metal music has been slowly finding a place in the lives of many across the continent of Africa and continues to grow in popularity, challenging stereotypes and cultural norms.
Helping to bring the stories of metal fans and musicians from the continent to the global stage, Edward Banchs might not initially appear to be a likely suspect when you think of someone who has an extensive knowledge of continent of Africa. Equipped however with a BA in Political Science from Florida Atlantic University, and an MA in African Studies from the University of London's School of Oriental and African Studies, Edward has been able to use his formal education and love of metal to bring these important stories to a larger audience in a way that gives a deserving and appropriate spotlight to those sharing them.
The challenging stereotypes that many metal fans have had to face over the years are commonly shared in Africa as well. Not only are there local issues of perception but also awareness and opportunity to listen and perform music. Metal musician specifically in Africa have the additional battle and debate surrounding whether to incorporate cultural music influences into their songs or push more toward a global sound to avoid being seen as a novelty which is a constant hurdle.
Edward's trips to Africa over the years has seen him interact with some incredible people. In Heavy Metal Africa, Edward finds himself in countries such as South Africa, Kenya, Botswana, Madagascar and Zimbabwe which only begins to scrape the surface when it comes to the impact that metal music is having. The book goes into great depth and touches on the personal successes as well as struggles of those who live in parts of the world that many of us have never experienced.
When I caught up with Edward we spoke a great deal about the book, his background and where his interest in African culture comes from. We talk about some of those first metal encounters that Edward had in Africa and like any good conversation about the genre, we trade some of our personal favourite moments in metal.
You don't need to be a fan of metal music to enjoy Heavy Metal Africa. The way Edward has documented his journey in the continent is presented in a way that opens up the various cultures and ways of life that these metal fans and musicians are living. It's a real fascinating read and certainly fires you up if you call yourself a bit of a metal fan.
You can grab Heavy Metal Africa in both paperback and kindle via Amazon. All links to the book and videos from some of Edward's favourite African metal bands can be found in the show notes.
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Check out Heavy Metal Africa via Amazon | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram |
Skinflint photo by Portia T. Muigai | Photo of Edward by Ashley Reynolds