Our review of the inaugural Nairobi Metal Festival

 Nairobi (enkare Nairobi) is Maasai for “a place of cool waters”.I believe that is why it is full of cool and hot rockers (the most amazing human beings on the planet). The bands that performed at Nairobi Metal festival can confirm this.Neem

For lovers of metal music, this gig was unmissable. The line-up was sick; three Kenyan bands – Irony destroyed, Straight Line Connection and Last Year’s Tragedy; Vale of Amonition from Uganda, Slander from Italy and In Other Climes from France Were also part of the billing. Also featuring was The Rock Doctor, Dj Tumz on the decks. He always lines up a great mix of songs on radio, and at shows too, keeping fans entertained in between sets.

There’s no doubt Kenyans know how to dress up for a metal gig band t-shirts were all over the place. I arrived at Alchemist just in time for the first act on stage, Straight Line Connection.    I had no idea this was a Kenyan band but these guys were awesome, especially since this was their first live performance. Everything was dope from the vocals to the instruments. They should do more shows and release more songs because they already have a number one fan.

The Ugandan doom metal kings, Vale of Amonition played next. I would call that performance a regional cooperation since dj Hueskillz was on the stage slapping the bass guitar. Whether one is a doom metal fan or not we all have to agree that that performance was amazing, these guys are passionate. I was jealously wishing that my vocals and instrument playing skills were that good.

Three months ago, in a dream, I saw Last Year’s Tragedy performing ‘Challenge Accepted’. In a strange twist, they were announced as replacement for Void of Belonging, who had to pull out following the tragic loss of their pianist Gloria Sangwa. Void was still represented though, with Colbert Akunga and George Atsula filling in on bass and drums respectively for LYT.

Last Year’s Tragedy are one of the pioneers of metal music in Kenya. I kept asking myself, “Why are these guys such great live performers?”

last years tragedy 1

Everything about this band is amazing I can write 50 pages describing how awesome they are. They are so energetic and the effect they have on the crowd cannot be explained. The moment they stepped on stage the crowd energy rose from 20-100 real quick the mosh pit was brutal. I have to say they outdid themselves on the Killswitch Engage- Rose of Sharyn cover. They promised us new songs they delivered on that day they unleashed the monster “Matiangi’s Revenge” that song is just as dope as its name.

In Other Climes were up next followed by Slander I cannot say much about the
performances since I was on and off that stage, all I can say is that it was amazing
those breakdowns are something else Micheal(vocalist) knows how to engage the
crowd that circle pit was crazy. He had a bottle of Jack Daniels which he poured into the pit before the launched off their set. But it was in the Italian’s (Slander) set that Christine brought her graduation cake to the pit. It was gone in a blink with what wasn’t grabbed being trodden under foot.

Irony Destroyed’s performance was amazing – I had to head bang from the stage to enjoy it. Skylar Lorena was not around but Lawrence pulled the performance without clean vocals you have to admire this guy he is a very good vocalist and a performer we witnessed the first wall of death of the night courtesy of him and Lenny (also producer of their Ep album) on those guitars is such a beast. My favourite part of the performance was the Suicide Silence cover where Martin Kanja (The Seeds of Datura) and Bizzaro featured on vocals.


I enjoyed all the performances but my favourite three were Last Year’s Tragedy, In Other Climes and Irony Destroyed. These three’s engagement of the crowd was what gave them that extra edge. But technically, all these bands played really great, especially Straight Line Connection, first timers and all.

That was one crazy night. The moshpit was the place to be – from circle pit, to wall of death, to headbanging and windmilling. During This is Africa Fest, Julius Mokaya unleashed ‘‘cockroach moshing’’ and this time he was ‘‘the human rope’’; being swung from left to right by his hands and feet. My question goes out to those who were not anywhere near the moshpit, what were you thinking? What is a metal festival without moshing?. Most of us were still nursing the awesomeness from that night days later but, we cannot complain since that’s the evidence of a night well spent.


Yvonne Ndubi @yndubi (Twitter)

Photo credits to the Alchemist Bar, Westlands and Mesmeric Wilber.

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