Wildernessking photo by Anke Loots
Heavy metal is such a global phenomenon that it's never really a surprise to see that places like Sri Lanka or Madagascar boast thriving local scenes, but it's always cool to see what heshers are getting up to far outside our North American bubble. There's been a lot of media interest in various African countries' metal communities, from the Death Metal Angola documentary to this Invisible Oranges series, and now a new compilation entitled Secret Ceremonies draws together a few of the Cape's heaviest to allow a glimpse inside South Africa's vibrant metal underground. Atmospheric black metallers Wildernessking—who are probably South Africa's best-known metal band at this point—feature alongside brand-new projects like psychedelic prog upstarts Ark Synesis, sludgy instrumentalists Strage, Peasant's crossover hardcore, Nihil's grimly melodic black metal, and the proggy strangeness of Aural Sun.
The six-track release was compiled by Wildernessking frontman Keenan Oakes, who explained, "I've wanted to showcase some heavy and niche South African bands, on whatever platform I could find. We have some great local music that I feel the world needs to hear. So I rounded up some of my favourites and got them to write and record a song exclusively for Secret Ceremonies. There'll be a physical release later in the year."
Oakes also enlisted the talents of several US-based conspirators to fulfill his vision for the project: Reuben Sawyer of Rainbath Visual created the cover sigil (which depicts a vulture atop a burning icon of old South Africa), Kevin Gan Yuen of Viraloptic handled the rest of the artwork, and the whole thing was mastered by Jack Shirley of The Atomic Garden Recording Studio. The final result is stunning, and an intriguing look into an underrepresented scene.
Stream it in its entirety here:
Wildernessking also recently posted a gorgeously-shot video of themselves recording their contribution, "Soundless Longing," in an old church in Cape Town.
Kim Kelly really loved that last Wildernessking EP, and she's on Twitter: @grimkim