The Kenyan rock scene has undergone an evolution over the past decade. I wouldn’t compare our scene with the Scandinavian metal scene or American arena, neither would I with the European scene or Asia-Australia scene. The New Wave of British Heavy Metal had a massive influence on many bands in the world and technically speaking if there would be a formal ranking, Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, Motorhead and Judas Priest would be the top four bands to have had the biggest impact on modern metal, but that’s a story for another day.
The Kenyan rock & Metal scene has had great bands doing awesome stuff. Arguably some of our Metal bands deserve spots in festivals such as Wacken Open Air, Sophomore festival, Knotfest, the list is endless. The range of bands hailing from this beautiful East African country varies widely from classic rock bands to death metal bands. Fusion of both genres with our Swahili language gives a mix of our East African heritage while maintaining the true sound of both genres. While most bands do English, some infuse Swahili in their jams leaving a seamless touch of sonic awesomeness.
From Douglas Kihoro’s In Oath guttural growls to Martin Kanja’s LUST OF A DYING BREED screeching screams right to Jillian’s DOVESLIMME mellow sweet sound the vocal variation of Kenyan bands is rather wide. Genre-wise, most Kenyan bands are Metal based although this is debatable.
In the metal arena, we have bands doing Deathcore, Death Metal, Extreme metal (which technically isn’t a genre on its own), Progressive Metal, Alternative and Heavy Metal. For Deathcore, we have Aphasia (which fuses prog elements) and Lust of a Dying Breed. The Death Metal list would be incomplete without mentioning In Oath, right to extreme metal where we have Absence of Light.
Lone Post-Hardcore/Metalcore band, Last Year’s Tragedy are a force to reckon with David Mburu leading with his amazing vocals.
In the heavy metal subgenre Mortal Soul, Rash (who fuse the genre with classic + hard rock elements and won Best Rock Video at the recently concluded ARMA), SVNL (who infuse tribal music with metal producing a distinct sound) and Irony Destroyed, all populate the scene.
In the Alternative Metal realm, Moment of Silence (who infuse post-hardcore) and Cause of Death all rule the scene. Something had to be done about my favorite subgenre Melodic Death Metal, and as a result we have Satin for Relieve (an upcoming MDM band), after all The Black Dahlia Murder aren’t Scandinavian! A rather big contingent of metalheads in Kenya gives these bands all the support they need, including turning up for Metal concerts. Mosh pits are the order of the day in such concerts. You should attend some! Especially, if you’re in Nairobi.
The rock genre is deep-rooted among Kenyans. Zealous groups of rockers can never fail to be seen in concerts in Nairobi.
Sub-genre wise, Indie rock wins numerically with bands such as A Truth Once Known, Koinange Street Avengers, The Claymore Project, Culture Horizon, Seismic and Simply Tomas nourishing our ears with sonic bliss.
Dove Slimme and Murfy’s fLaw (**drools) are what I would coin ‘technical rock infused with pop’ with their work being nothing short of breathtaking.
Murfy’s fLaw has a bevy of female rockers with their lyrics being emotionally deep. Stars, stars, that’s all I can see shining!
We also have bands spreading the gospel of Christ with Bloodshed and Rock of Ages leading the way. They are one of the oldest Kenyan rock bands (formed in 2002& 2001 respectively), older than BABYMETAL (pun intended). Both are not known to disappoint.
Conspicuously present in the Kenyan rock scene is the solo artist, Rish. Our princess’ sweet voice would make any sane man’s heart melt and even the darkest of hearts would light up instantly if not spontaneously. She is doing great things and ‘Hate Song’ by her was among the best 2015 songs. Don’t be surprised if Linkin Park comes around requesting for guest vocals in their upcoming album.
Regarding our airwaves, Kenya has several rock stations. X FM is a 24 hour rock station playing all genres of rock with the occasional dosage of Metal. Capital FM plays rock and heavy metal on weekdays from 10am-2pm. The stations make sure the music-thirsty fans are quenched off with a sublime playlist each day. Not leaving our clubs behind, some such as Club Mojos in Nairobi have rock nights on Tuesdays where a break of mainstream music is usually observed and rock music leads the way.
CONCERTS!!! Enough for today that will be another topic for another day. Stay tuned to AudioInferno for more on the Kenyan rock and Metal scene!
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this post are entirely the opinion of the writer and do not show the views of AudioInferno.
This post is written by Robert Keli, a nerd with a big love for the Nordic vibe, Melodic Death Metal being his core poison. He is currently studying (about Vikings) well, telecommunications engineering, and can be found wandering the streets of Nairobi, air drumming to In Flames and occasionally sailing in his custom made Viking ship inland.
He can be reached on social media via:Facebook: Robertkn1 (Robert Kelly Ndung’u)
Twitter: Robertkeli (@RobertKeli)
Remember to support your local rock acts and rock on \m/
A Truth Once KnownAbsence Of LightAphasiaBloodshedCalabash BandCause Of DeathCulture HorizonDoveslimmeIn OathIrony destroyedKenyaKoinange Street AvengersLast Year's Tragedylust of a dying breedMoment Of SilenceMortal SoulsMurphy's FlawParkingLotGrassRashRishRock Of AgesSatin For RelieveSeismicSimply TomasSVNLThe Claymore projectThe Kenyan sceneVoid Of Belonging