Atlas Hoods

Botswana's Cowboy Metalheads

By Frank Marshall

"Steel Panther"
"Steel Panther"

"Death Squad"

The photos show a world that's at once familiar and strange to anyone acquainted with metal. Yes, there's an obvious novelty in seeing a black African guy in an Angel Witch tee surrounded by savanna, but there are other things here that don't fit, like  the cowboy hats and leather gear adopted from biker fashion. So much attention to detail goes into the costumes. The Botswanan metalheads stand tall, proud, and aloof. It's all wonderfully homoerotic.

"Apothecary Dethrok"


"The costumes are like an arms race amongst the scene members," says Marshall. "There's a competition between them to see who can look the most brutal. When I was in Botswana, I was carrying around a few of the previous metaller portraits I'd done. The locals admired the guys in them. But they also felt compelled to raise their sartorial games."


Giuseppe Sbrana is the lead guitarist and vocalist with the band Skinflint. He's also one of the few white metallers in Botswana, and reckons that the scene's dress code is 'old school.' "A good example of where we get the style from is Motorhead's Ace Of Spades cover," he says. "Also, many metalheads in Botswana are cowboys from the villages and farms, so they mix the cowboy image with a biker metal look. Many wear hunting knives and parts of dead animals. We drink from the hollowed-out cow horns."

"Venerated Villian Kenosi"
"Venerated Villian (Kenosi)"

Tshomarelo "Vulture" Mosaka
Tshomarelo "Vulture" Mosaka

Tshomarelo Mosaka – AKA 'Vulture' – is in the band Overthrust. Their Facebook page says he is responsible for "bass and growlings".