Mongrel Records release 16th April 2021
The best of underground sounds from Africa, everything from alternative rock to metalcore, for fans of:
Whitechapel / Vulvodynia / Animals As Leaders / Fu Manchu / Opeth / Killswitch Engage / Nirvana / Linkin Park / Royal Blood
01. MYTHOS “UNLEASH THE KRAKEN” – Egypt’s Mythos play a heady mixture of groove metal and slammy deathcore, fuelling their love of classic myths and legends with sheer brutality and honed attack. The vocals on “Unleash The Kraken” are unearthly, the breakdowns meaty, the production clean and technical, and the overall effect aggressive and highly enjoyable.
02. RUFF MAJIK “SHRUG OF THE YEAR” – A highlight of the South African doom/stoner scene, Ruff Majik hit hard with lacings of psychedelia and damn good fun. “Shrug Of The Year” is groovy stoner madness with Pentagram-esque vocals leading a memorable chorus, held together with a thick, slippery riff and a guitar solo that eases into the melody without showboating. Let your freak flag fly!
03. HIRAETH “STRATA” – Hiraeth are a prog metal band from Gauteng that utilise their individual inspirations to take their music to a unique level. The chunky staccato guitar and clean legato solo on “Strata” lay a foundation for the vibrant blend of screams, growls, and soaring female vocals that both astound and amaze. Much like an ogre or an onion, there are many layers here to explore.
04. ACID MAGUS “PSYCHONAUT 1400” – A recent addition to the South African stoner/retro rock scene, Acid Magus are a band that relates to what came before and spices it up with a modern kick. “Psychonaut 1400” has all the distant vocals, psychedelic atmosphere, and 60’s production firmly in place, with a punchy attack and stoner riffage a go-go.
05. SUNDERGEIST “IT’S OVER, JEHOVAH” – Cape-based one-man band Sundergeist are a modern take on early 2000’s industrial nu-metal (think Static-X meets Powerman 5000 without the gimmicks), and it’s a breath of fresh air in 2021. This track is a prime example of what he’s aiming for: swinging groove in an electronic landscape; alternative twists on the harder sound; powerful intent; and topical lyrics that swing us right into the reality of today.
06. AMENTA “PANDORE” – Another Egyptian band on this comp (this time in the doom/death vein), Amenta come out the gate swinging on “Pandore” with an acoustic intro that evolves into an epic orchestral display before the metal takes over in full force. An angel/devil approach to the vocals (female and growled vocals intertwined) reminds the listener of The Project Hate, pure death metal with esoteric overtones that stretch far and wide, and it’s an adventure to experience.
07. ROBYN FERGUSON “GREY” – As a member of local black/death metal band Adorned In Ash, Robyn Ferguson was the focal point with her blasting growls and histrionic guitar playing, but we only really saw the person behind the corpse paint when she went solo a couple of years ago. Aiming her strengths in an instrumental prog/shred direction, her previous output has been stellar, and “Grey” merely adds fuel to the fire. Her tasteful melodic lines bristle with emotion, encased in huge dynamics, technical passages, and a heavy riff that will put you to the floor (with a smile on your face, natch).
08. RIDDLEBREAK “EYES OF THE WORLD ENDER” – Gauteng-based Riddlebreak have been on the rise in the SA scene over the past decade, honing their prog/metalcore punch and gigging endlessly. “Eyes Of The World Ender” is one of their finest new tracks, a song derived from a nightmare that highlights the dark realities of being in love through heavy djent without any emo puffery, a delicate mid-section, and a climax that can take the breath away. A band to keep your eye on.
09. EVERT SNYMAN “DUMB AND DEAD” – Alternative music has rarely been ‘alternative’ in the true sense of the word since it became a commercial darling in the early 90’s but, occasionally, some real talent shines through with something to say that works outside the mainstream. Johannesburg songwriter Evert Snyman hits all the right buttons with “Dumb And Dead”, a short kick to the nethers with urgent pacing, wailing guitars, and a close look back at the best that was achieved in Soundgarden’s early years with his own, personal viewpoint and voice.
10. THE AMBLERS “THE DAY I GAVE MY SISTER AWAY” – Sometimes all you really need to satisfy your musical cravings is some dirty, freewheeling rock & roll, and that is an area where The Amblers excel. Taking all the best elements from The White Stripes and re-arranging into a new kind of monster, “The Day I Gave My Sister Away” is crammed with bursts of fuzzy guitar and gargantuan drums that hold down the fort and allow the vocals to soar majestically. It’s what the doctor ordered.
11. SPRINGBOK NUDE GIRLS “BEST FRIENDS, BEST ENEMIES” – From the moment that Springbok Nude Girls emerged in the mid-90’s, the South African alternative/rock scene would never be the same. The poster boys for musical excess and writing a good song, they became (and remain) one of our top performers of all time, and “Best Friends, Best Enemies” continues the winning streak. This is big arena rock with balls – impatient riffs, driving bass, Arno’s manly vocals, and a climax that will leave you sweaty and satisfied.
12. FAR FROM WHO WE ARE “RISE” – Johannesburg’s Far From Who We Are make no bones about who they are, what they want to sound like, and what they want to say. This is melodic alternative rock that ingests many different influences and emerges with a winning formula, like classic-era Muse without all the drama. “Rise” has a mega chorus, fresh vocals, buckets of melody, and is so well-paced that it spins by almost too quickly yet leaves all the feels perfectly in place.
13. LAST YEAR’S TRAGEDY “VIOLATION” – Metalcore might be the last thing you consider when you think about Kenya, but Last Year’s Tragedy might just change your mind. “Violation” is warmly aggressive with well-toned vocals, a driving rhythm shaped by tasty distortion, balanced breakdowns with smooth transitions from melody to all-out aggro, and their big modern sound takes the ‘core trope to new dimensions of exhilaration.
14. YOUR CYNICAL SANITY “DOOM TOWN” – Few areas of extreme metal are as adrenaline-fueled as slam, and Durban’s Your Cynical Sanity have got that energy in spades. “Doom Town” is awash in double bass pummelling, violent streams of relentless distorted attack, delightfully elastic bass work, an overall epic outlook, and the brash mix of deathcore and slam will cuss you out, smack you around, and take your lunch money.