Meet the Botswana Band Reshaping Heavy Metal
By Maya Acharya
Heavy Metal is often associated in popular culture with young, white males, but a swell of metal scenes from the African continent are turning this myth on its head (bangers).
Bands like Skinflint, a three piece from Botswana, are transforming and expanding the genre though their blend of classic Heavy Metal with African lyrical concepts. The band consists of Guiseppe Sbrana (guitar/vocals), Kebonye Nkoloso (bass) and Alessandra Sbrana (drums).
Alessandra says her journey into metal started when Giuseppe one day gave her a couple of metal CD’s to listen to.
“I was converted,” she says. “We started playing together in our late teens, Giuseppe and myself were jamming in studio for a few months when we decided to start looking for a bass player. We met Kebonye at a rock festival in Lobatse; he was playing for another band at the time.”
Since they started out in 2006, the band has rocked onto the international radar, touring abroad, headlining festivals and attracting plenty of media attention. They also recently released their newest album, Chief of the Ghosts and are working on a new track for their fans.
Although Skinflint characterise their local metal scene as quite small, they also describe it as unique, and one that has grown a lot since its inception. “There are also quite a few metal bands that have come up recently,” Kebonye says.
“We are trying to reintroduce metal into a society that is slowly forgetting about live music/musicians,” Alessandra adds. “We would love our local community to experience the energy and excitement that comes from watching a live metal show.”
Alessandra defines the band’s music as a combination of classic metal inspired by African percussions, rhythms and mythology.
“We have a wide range of musical styles throughout our albums from heavy metal, to hard rock to punk and blues. We each enjoy different types of music, and usually get into the studio with an open mind, which allows us to explore various musical styles,” she explains.
Guiseppe further points out that their style of incorporating African musical elements and lyrical themes, mostly focusing on African mythology, allows them a certain freedom. It allows them to “breathe new life into the genre,” as he puts it.
When asked what Metal means to their personal identities, Alessandra reflects that “Metal is a sort of rebellion against the norm and the expected. It is a symbol of individuality for us, and allows us to express ourselves in unique ways, allowing us to push musical boundaries. It is a powerful genre of music, and we really love how versatile it is.”