Thursday, October 8, 2015

...And Blast Beats For All: Botswanan Metal on the Universal Stage

Here is a paper I wrote for my African Studies class last semester. I had to jump through a few hoops specific to the class, so it's not exactly free thought. But still makes what I think is a valid point.

...And Blast Beats For All:
Botswanan Metal on the Universal Stage

I. Introduction

Metal, of both the heavy and extreme varieties, is a truly global genre. With the recent emergence of metal scenes in Africa, it would appear that metal has penetrated pretty much everywhere on the globe. At the time of this writing, there have been an estimated 102417 metal bands in the world, and while not all of them are active, it would be safe to say that as far as musical production goes, metal has done nothing but grow.1 The global metal scene, however, raises a number of questions: What does it mean to be a metal band from a place marked as culturally particular? What influence do cultural particularities have on the music itself? How do bands respond to these questions of cultural difference in the context of metal music?
I will proceed to answer these guiding questions in several steps. First, I will provide a brief section on methodology, justifying some ways of treating metal in an academic setting that might seem unfamiliar or senseless to those used to studying more typical mainstream popular music or western classical music. Second, I will present the Botswanan metal scene in general and the death/groove metal band Wrust in particular as a case study, one particular way the above guiding questions could be worked out. Third, I will draw out some themes from the case study and present them as a general theory of metal as universal, global genre. Thus it will be shown that metal exists as a universal possibility, and that it takes on the particularities of any given cultural environment only with not insubstantial difficulty. This universalist thesis will be tempered with the technical and economic demands of the given genre, a necessary particular-specific counterweight to the universal-general possibility of genre. Most importantly, the idea that anything automatically or always takes on the characteristics of its (almost always marginalized or colonized) producers or practitioners is shown to be a prejudiced and unjustified assumption.

II. Methodology, Literature Review, & Justification
Opposed to more typical artistic analyses, of the works of “high art” for example, the analysis of metal requires a particular and well-articulated methodology. There are a number of more or less typical ways to approach the study of music, erudite but especially popular music, but right from the outset most of these must be rejected as inadequate for extreme metal. To deal with these temptations, I propose a list of resolutions for the present study: lyrical or textual analysis cannot serve a major function (fans could often care less about lyrics, and the lyrics often cannot even be heard due to vocal techniques such as the “death growl”), but still imagery or themes could be important; a single song or track cannot be considered in isolation from the rest of an album or in some cases from an entire scene or even genre (hardly anyone listens to just one song from an extreme metal band, singles are extremely rare in the genre, and due to the extremity of the music casual fans are relatively rarer than in more mainstream genres); simple comparisons of extreme metal to pop music cannot capture the specificity of any band, scene, or subgenre (since styles as disparate as war metal and brutal death metal could be said to be brutal, utilize walls of noise, thrive on transgression, etc.); rock music cannot unproblematically serve as a basis for the understanding of extreme metal (rock and heavy metal are of one lineage, but extreme metal probably created a decisive evental break with rock music); and finally, there is very little written academically about extreme metal, particularly and most understandably within newer scenes and movements (extreme metal is rapidly evolving), so it is often neither possible nor desirable to rely heavily on previous scholarly work.
What little scholarly work on extreme metal there is typically bases itself on themes of transgression (e.g. Kahn-Harris's Extreme Metal), developmental genre history (e.g. Albert Mudrian's Choosing Death: The Improbable History of Death Metal and Grindcore), or sociological studies quite outside of any study of the music itself (Michael Moynihan and Didrik Søderlind's Lords of Chaos). Most distinctly academic scholarship on metal focuses on heavy metal and not extreme metal, for example Robert Walser's Running With the Devil. There is only a small amount of theoretical work on extreme metal which departs from the above themes, though most of it is for some reason on black metal in particular (e.g. Black Metal: Beyond the Darkness). While there may be continuities between heavy and extreme metal, I do not have the space to undertake a study of both, and they are indeed different enough to warrant relatively autonomous treatments, at least at first. In other words, they must be shown to be continuous and not just assumed to be so. Indeed, as Kahn-Harris notes of the relation between heavy and extreme metal, “The history of extreme metal music represents a radical and systematic process of removing metal from this kind of cultural dialogue [that typified by heavy metal]”.2 For my purposes, the heavy/extreme distinction is not necessarily of great importance, since I look primarily at particular elements within whatever given metal genre, however I do not want to overstep my authority and make claims about a movement and a style of music I know very little about (heavy metal). A number of papers in the edited volume Metal Rules the Globe would at first seem to be relevant to my own study, but it turns out most of them are either about heavy metal or focus on social or embodied categories of identity or affect. My study, in contrast, will focus on genre and universal-particular dynamics as it relates to global extreme metal. Thus, while there is some scholarship out there, none of it I found is directly relevant to what I wanted to say about (extreme) metal's universalism.
I take the Botswanan metal scene to be a reasonable case study for a number of reasons: it is quite small and therefore manageable, having only eight bands listed on metal-archives.com, perhaps the best and most up-to-date source on metal the world over; it is growing and therefore relevant, several of the bands releasing new or debut LPs in the past couple years; it is new, and therefore the dynamics of a young scene, which are often obscured due to too much cross-pollination, can be easily pinpointed. Further, the themes that I will draw out of Botswanan metal can reasonably be taken as universal, though of course much more work would be required to positively show this. Since the question is about possibilities of universality and the relation of cultural specificity thereto, in the end it makes no difference for my argument whether the culturally-particular aspect at stake is Botswanan, Argentinian, or Mongolian. Part of my argument is precisely that this cultural specificity must be incorporated and cannot be taken as given within the relevant metal band, album, or song. Still, though, the case study provides a useful illustration as well as some hopefully convincing data to back up the primary theoretical argument, which I do not present in full until section IV. The scope of this argument, it should be noted, is cautiously restricted to global(ized) extreme metal, with a little dipping into (once again global) heavy metal. While I suspect the conclusions could be extended, that would require empirical work that I do not have the space to do.

III. Botswanan Metal: Musical Analysis
In this section, I will first present an analysis of Wrust's Intellectual Metamorphosis (2013) and then move on to discuss other Botswanan metal bands, namely Crackdust and Skinflint.
Wrust is a metal band with international ambitions, playing shows with bands as popular and influential as Kataklysm and Sepultura, and even touring Italy in 2013. Beyond this, they have released two full-length albums (2007's Soulless Machine and 2013's Intellectual Metamorphosis), one EP and one demo, and two music videos (for “Kill Or Be Killed” and “Hate'em All”). Wrust play a metal reminiscent of the aforementioned Sepultura (Roots but with less nu-metal) and Pantera (in the aggressive grooves) on top of a sometimes-present death metal base, such that they are somewhere between groovy death metal and death/groove metal depending on the song. We might say Wrust play not just one but several styles: groove metal, death metal, and distinctively-marked African music, most prominently in “The Day of the Sacrifice” and “Caress the Soul”. Each of these types should be taken into account and their relation determined.
Wrust describe their music (in English) as follows: “We like to think Wrust music is post thrash metal music of the mid 90s with a newer sound. We also try to incorporate African beats and rhythm to our music. Song like Caress the soul and day of Sacrifice are typical example. Other songs like Brain Spasm and Gravedigger are more Death Metal songs even the lyrics.”3 Post-thrash is indeed a good descriptor, as Wrust play a groovy metal with minimal aggression (compared to typical death metal bands) and a distinct lack of faster sections, mostly content to rumble along at medium tempo. The fastest the album goes is maybe around 360 BPM in “God of the Insane”, a death metal track, but not very fast by the modern style's standards, especially for a blast beat (eighth notes no less). This, however, is quite an exception, and 150 BPM is more like the average tempo. Blast beats, as it turns out, are few and far between. Slower death metal bands are not uncommon, but they typically incorporate doom metal influence or play in a murky, claustrophobic style, such as Autopsy or Incantation respectively. Also prominent is playing extremely fast double-bass drum over a slow, “crushing” guitar riff, but Wrust doesn't seem to do that either. In any case, the tempo is slow for modern death metal but fast by hard rock or traditional heavy metal standards, fitting in rather nicely, however, with most groove metal (which can semi-reasonably be thought of as thrash metal played at a slower tempo).
This groove element is probably the most notable thing about the band, as evidenced by a number of reviews. Referring to “Hate'em All”, one reviewer wrote, “The song is a badass mix of Pantera-style strut and stomp and death metal aggression, and sort of reminds me of Sepultura, too.”4 Pantera were, of course, the biggest exponents of groove metal (groove is sometimes also called post-thrash).5 Sepultura were originally a death/thrash band from Brazil, but in the mid-90s began to play groove metal (on Chaos A.D. in 1994) and then a death/groove/nu-metal amalgam (on Roots in 1996). Wrust, for their part, are definitely more death metal than Pantera, and definitely way groovier than, say, Cannibal Corpse. Further, they clearly see themselves in the lineage of mid-90s groove metal, though with more death metal elements.
“Hate'em All” is a standout track of the album as well as the best example of Wrust's groove style. Of all the songs on the album, “Hate'em All” has the sole distinction of having a music video, and it is what plays automatically when the 'play' button is pressed on the band's bandcamp, so we would do well to give it special attention.6 The song title may be a play on Metallica's debut album Kill 'Em All (1983), which would make sense with Wrust's lineage (thrash to post-thrash), but this is speculation. The track opens with a brief militaristic beat on the snare drum and toms and then a stomping but somehow laidback riff begins, like Pantera but bouncier. This quality is due to the relatively clean-tone but messily-picked tremolo picking on the lead guitar and the alternation of down- and up-beats for note changes, as well as the bouncy pull-off at the end of the phrase. The rhythm guitars play syncopated, extremely distorted and down-tuned riffs, and the drums play a similar but distinct rhythm—there is much groove to be found in the bass drum here. The lead guitar stops and the vocals come in around 12 seconds in. As one Youtube commenter on the music video put it, “Vocalist reminds me of Max Cavalera...”, to which another replied, “There is a big Sepultura influence in this band as a whole”.7 The video includes images of mass protests and molotov cocktails spliced between shots of vocalist Stux Daemon's face as he sings “Set us / set us free”.8 While there is no proper chorus in the song, the insistent repetition of those words and the change in music while they are sung serve a similar function. There is a heavy groove that begins around 1:32, which gets more minimalistic each time around until 1:52 when a faster syncopated part begins, extremely groovy and complete with pinch harmonic, first on the guitars and then joined by drums and (presumably, since it's almost impossible to hear) bass. This riff is the background for the short solo around 2:08. After this the vocals re-enter, the verse-like part repeats a few times and then the song is over.
A standout death metal track is “God of the Insane”. It is the fastest song on the album, including blast beats, tremolo picking and palm muting on the guitars. However, it also has a standard song structure of verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge/solo and so on, something with which much death metal has done away. It is not particularly brutal, nor is it particularly melodic (it is probably closer to the genre of “melodic death metal”, something only loosely related to death metal, than death metal itself). Overall, it is rather typical though tame death metal fare, fitting neither in the current OSDM (old school death metal) revival, nor a representative of current global trends in “modern” death metal (e.g. brutal/slam death metal, the cavernous death metal inspired by Incantation, technical death metal, etc.).
The remaining style is the “African” one. Distinctively (or rather explicitly) “African” parts appear in the tracks “Caress the Soul” and “The Day of the Sacrifice”. These elements exist as introductions almost exclusively. In “Caress the Soul”, as soon as the metal starts, the African elements (chants, some sort of stringed instrument) make their exit. There is no integration between the two sounds. In “The Day of the Sacrifice” things are a little more connected, since during the chant at the beginning of the track an electric guitar plays a slow, distorted melody and rock drums enter in quietly and keep the beat over the hand drums. However, the guitar, though distorted, is not really playing something identifiable as a “metal riff”, and the drums are there simply to keep time. Suddenly the track hits a turning-point and the metal enters. The extraordinary difference of the two sections should convince that the African elements are not truly integrated into the rest of the music. Indeed, they do not return throughout the rest of the song. This lack of integration is also the case in the Botswanan heavy metal band Skinflint, who have a primarily Iron Maiden-inspired NWOBHM sound: tracks like “Blood Ox Ritual” appear to have some “African” influence, actually including a metal guitar solo over hand drums, but this soon stops to be replaced with pure heavy metal.
Wrust frontman Stux Daemon claimed in 2010, before Intellectal Metamorphosis was released, that the band's African influence is present primarily in their use of non-standard time signatures:

I think a music writer is heavily influenced by the environment he lives in, and we are no different. Radio stations here, as you would expect, play music that is more African. As much as I love listening to metal, more than half the time I hear shit that I don't wanna listen to; but whether or not I like that shit, it's gonna influence my writing. Our traditional music here is mostly based on the 6/8 and 3/4 time signatures which is what we have a lot in our rhythm sections. We don't try and over do it, it comes out naturally and then we blend with the normal 4/4 rock time signatures. Some tribes here have music with odd time like 5/4 and the 7/8 and when you hear their music and imagine it as a metal riff - God!!! It's a killer and that's what we love to capture...hence the African influence.9

Indeed, it might be an understatement to say that Wrust don't overdo it, since most of their music is solidly 4/4. Extreme metal is known for its varied and complex use of time signatures, including of course all the ones listed by Stux Daemon. Again, Wrust's style is typical for a groove metal band rather than death metal. However, those listed time signatures do occur on the album, alternating in “The Day of the Sacrifice” in the metal section, for example. But, besides perhaps genealogically, they are not particularly “African”.
Still, one characteristic of African metal remains these thematic references to African folklore, mythology, religion, and culture more generally. “Traditional” African musical elements are utilized as cultural or ethnic markers by many Botswanan metal bands. Both Wrust and Skinflint incorporate musical parts coded as African. As Skinflint frontman Giuseppe Sbrana says in an interview, “[Heavy metal] is the rejection of the mainstream, as well as embracing African spirituality by honoring the traditions of warriors and ancestors. As a lot of these traditions have been forgotten in modern times, buried beneath the popularity of other religions such as Christianity!”10 Here we see how metal can be made to fit African culture and even religion, exactly like it fits Norse paganism – a sort of ethnoreligious anti-christianity is quite common in metal. Or again from the same interview: “[African mythology and culture] has always been a natural thing to write about, as most of our inspiration comes from our experiences living in Africa!” Writing about it is, importantly, not to incorporate it into the asignifying character of the music itself.
A final few band mentions must be made. Crackdust play a sort of melodic death metal. Stane play a light, melodic, unaggressive death/heavy metal, with some tracks sounding like slowed-down melodic death/thrash in the riffing and vocal style. Of the two, Crackdust is the more brutal and technically proficient, actually having what sounds like some Cannibal Corpse influence. As far as I know, neither of these bands attempt to include “African traditional music” in their sound. There is also War-Tog, who played thrash/groove metal before their breakup. The guitarist/vocalist BG was at various times a member of War-Tog and Wrust, and is currently a member of Crackdust.11

IV. Genre: Universal & Technical Possibilities
This section will explore two theses: first, that genres (at least metal subgenres) in a globalized musical world are inherently universal, for all, universal possibilities; second, that this universality must nonetheless manifest, and the rules of this manifestation include technical ability, population, popularity, and other such factors. I will build up the first point with reference to how metal deals with cultural particularity, a discussion of the subgenre known as “folk metal”, and a philosophical exposition of the meaning of “universal” in this context. The second point will be developed through the use of interviews, geographically-based data, and an argument about the conditions of possibility for the relevant genres.
Folk metal is a subgenre of metal, sometimes straddling the line between non-extreme and extreme, which incorporates elements of regional folk music into metal in a relatively coherent way. Examples of folk metal bands include Finntroll, Korpiklaani, Ensiferum, and Primordial. Folk metal as we know it today was primarily developed from black metal, and indeed many there are many folk/black metal bands, for example Panopticon (on 2012's Kentucky, for example) and early Ulver (prominently on 1995's Bergtatt: et eeventyr i 5 capitler). Since regional folk musics can be quite different, there are really a number of different sub-types within folk metal: Middle Eastern folk metal (e.g. Melechesh from Israel), Celtic folk metal (e.g. Primordial from Ireland), American (bluegrass) folk metal (e.g. Panopticon from Kentucky), American (non-bluegrass; mix with “contemporary” folk) folk metal (e.g. Alda or Agalloch from the pacific Northwest US), “Anglo-saxon” folk metal (e.g. Forefather from the UK), and most prominently Scandinavian folk metal (Korpiklaani, Finntroll, Ensiferum, Windir; the number of bands in this style is enormous). Importantly, folk metal bands need not “come from” the region whose folk musical traditions they incorporate – there are, for example, “viking metal” bands from pretty much every part of the world, and Scandinavian folk metal can be found everywhere.
Importantly, folk metal is not just metal with various folk elements – a good example of this is the US band Nile, who play technical death metal with Egyptian musical elements. These elements include scales (harmonic minor as well as its fifth mode), actual Egyptian traditional instruments (played by guitarist/vocalist Karl Sanders), lyrical themes, and overall atmosphere or “sound”. However, no one would call Nile a folk metal band, not even “technical death/folk metal”. Folk metal has a certain particular relation between the folk and the metal. Nile's folk instruments are not typically used in the metal sections but serve as introductions or interludes. The Singaporean band Rudra is another example, incorporating Indian classical musical influences (scales/raagas, imagery) into their black/death metal base. Still, they are not a folk metal band, at best having “folk influences” or something of the sort. Or again with Chthonic, who incorporate Taiwanese music and history into melodic black/death metal – but it is not folk metal. Folk metal is something more than folk influences. Indeed, as a designation of a subgenre it must be significantly different from its “base”, which in all the above cases is death or black metal. Simple influences, in other words, do not designate a significant musical shift but are rather garnishes, icing on the cake of extreme metal. Importantly, each true folk metal is from a region either with great global musical exposure (the Middle East, for example, has a huge amount of perhaps stereotyped or caricatured musical exposure in movies, on TV, etc.; people have an idea of what “Middle Eastern” or “Arabic” music sounds like) or with highly developed metal scenes (the United States, Scandinavia). There are also, finally, bands who do not play folk metal but who incorporate folk elements from regions with developed folk metal – Wolves in the Throne Room (Washington state), Bathory (Sweden; inventors of viking metal), and a huge number of power metal bands.
It would be a mistake, then, to consider Wrust (or any African band I've heard) folk metal. Wrust incorporate regional (I presume) folk music in the songs “Caress the Soul” and “The Day of the Sacrifice” from Intellectual Metamorphosis. But these elements are present mainly (only?) as introductions, making their exit as soon as the metal begins. In “They Day of the Sacrifice”, for example, there are electric guitars and drums playing during the folk elements, but they are not playing metal by any means. The logic which above applied to bands like Rudra clearly applies here – in fact, Wrust have even less folk influence than do Rudra, who are usually not considered a true folk metal band. Even those two folk-influenced songs are not folk metal songs, the band's other tracks aside. This stands not only for Wrust, but also for another Botswanan band, Skinflint. They play traditional heavy metal but include elements of the region's folk music as well (as for example on the track “Blood Ox Ritual”); still, they are a heavy metal band.
In plain terms, the reason for this is that already-established musical styles such as death or black metal are easy to appropriate since they pre-exist any particular band and its work. It is easy to play death metal because the formula is already there – thousands of death metal bands exist to hear, emulate, and draw influences from. On the other hand, there is no pre-established fusion of Botswanan folk music and metal. In fact, it wasn't until the late 90s that Scandinavian folk metal (now considered the standard template for folk metal) emerged as a distinct style—several decades after metal's founding. This is not to say that a distinctly Botswanan (or any sort of African, Asian, or South American) folk metal cannot be developed, but only that as of yet it does not exist.
Thus we have an interesting inversion of what might be expected: the countries marked as the most “ethnic” in fact play a metal that is not coded as regionally specific, in other words that is not “ethnic”. This makes sense, though, if we think of metal as a sort of universal accessible to everyone. The particularities of any folk music must be made to fit metal, or vice versa. This is a process requiring time and collective striving, since it is nothing short of the birth of a new subgenre. Any African folk metal could not just follow the template of, say, Northern European folk metal because the folk to be incorporated is of such a different character. In any case, established non-regionally-specific forms of metal, metal-as-such, can be more easily and directly appropriated by pretty much any society, as evidenced by the mass of metal bands that exist in nearly every country and which are now popping up all over Africa. So to be an “African” metal band, at least as far as genre is concerned, is to partake in the universal—indeed, it is more likely for a European metal band to play an “ethnic” subgenre than a band from Africa, Asia, or South America. The question is not, then, the usual one of “In what way did these culturally or ethnically marked people appropriate metal and transform it based on their own unique experiences? In other words: in what way did they get it wrong, producing something inferior and failing to live up to the universal?” but “Did they transform it? Are they trying to? If so, what labor went into that transformation?” The answer to this second set of questions is “so far, not really”. These questions have the merit of investigating the transformation instead of assuming it – an assumption indicative of a certain prejudice. There is no “Black” or “African” essence that is automatically transmitted into the music when performed by Blacks or Africans – there is no essence and there is no transmission.
We must be careful to distinguish precisely what is meant by “universal” in this context. Metal is obviously not universal in the sense that it applies to everything, nor in that it has no local being and exists free-floating, an omnipresent reality. It is universal, however, in its openness, in its existence “for all”. More precisely, metal is a universal possibility rather than actuality. It is generic (in a technical sense) such that there are left-wing and right-wing bands, fast and slow bands, European and African bands. And it is really adaptable, not imperialistic (like I would argue western pop music is). So there are two theses here, which together comprise the universality (or perhaps better, the universalism) of metal: metal, as an established musical genre in a globalized musical world, is a universally possible one; and metal, as a generic form music can take, is adaptable to whatever local conditions. As universal possibility, metal as such is accessible to the people of every region. As generic, metal can become jazz-fusion metal (see Cynic, Atheist), blues metal (aka stoner metal and doom metal), pop metal (see recent Freedom Call for one example), and of course various folk metals. Metal's genericity guarantees the possibility of African folk metal – there is nothing in metal to prevent such a subgenre, least of all a sort of metal border police that would keep out culturally particular elements. There is no limit condition for metal, only a minimal condition (the generic elements or instruments required), such that adding elements to a generic metal genre does not corrupt or destroy that metal. This addition may be successful (interesting, listenable) or not, but as long as the base elements are there it cannot easily fail to remain metal. The only hard cases to decide are those having to do with metalcore and grindcore, but only in these cases does a sort of border policing become relevant.
Metal's universalism, however, must be at least tempered in some way by the particular, this operation not negating that universalism but rather providing a necessary instantiation; metal is not ahistorical by any means, its universalism having been constructed. Furthermore, the realization of the universal possibilities of metal are subject to historical laws of development. These laws are nothing but the technical level of development of any particular region or scene. For example, it took Scandinavian folk metal a relatively long time to emerge as a distinct subgenre (the earliest example of it is probably folk/black metal albums like early Ulver). This is because Scandinavian folk music had to be added to the generic core of metal in a coherent fashion, something not always easy to do given the level of development of metal-as-such (what had come before, on which to base new musical production) and the technical level of the band, country, or scene (what equipment was accessible, money for production, studios, etc.). The level of development of metal-as-such is thus a measurement of the actual inclusivity of the universal, as against the possible inclusivity signaled by metal's genericity. This actuality is of course historical, but still does not undo the universal; the possibility is, once metal came to exist through admittedly historical processes, a sort of platonic Idea, an abstract truth.
The second level of development, that which is really a technical one, is perhaps most important to take into account for African metal and other metals of the periphery, so to speak. This is expressed by a member of Wrust, who spoke of the particular difficulties facing Botswanan metal: “Population in this country is the most challenging aspect; we just don't have the numbers. Plus Metal is an underground entity which makes it worse when it comes to the numbers”.12 Number of musicians, fans, interested parties – this is one aspect limiting African metal's expansion. For example, there are only eight metal bands on metal-archives.com listed from Botswana, half of them being heavy metal and the other half mixes of death, thrash, and groove.13 This reflects a certain rootedness of the Botswanan metal scene in hard rock, since heavy metal is the next “step up” on the metal scale. As of yet there are no black metal bands from Botswana, but this makes sense since black metal is the most extreme major subgenre by some standards (as in, it is the “furthest” from rock music not counting certain smaller subgenres like brutal death metal, war metal, and drone). Oddly, the development of regional scenes would seem to follow the grand historical development of metal (from rock to heavy metal, to thrash and death, to black). Another aspect would be economic, since the equipment for playing metal, in particular of the extreme variety, is often quite expensive. This of course includes experienced studios, promotion, and booking. In Botswana, the infrastructure for these sorts of things is small but growing if we take Wrust's breakout tour of Italy and opening performance for Kataklysm as any indication. Unfortunately, their opening for Kataklysm was in Johannesburg, South Africa and not Botswana, which gives credence to the diagnosis of regional infrastructural problems.14 One symptom of this is of course difficulty getting exposure: “Leaving Africa, I think, is the hardest battle we have ever encountered since the formation of WRUST. Believe me...we have had a lot of obstacles... Moreover, the costs are insanely expensive”.15 Further aspects might include political and economic (in)stability, exposure to global media, cultural taboos (an odd limiting case), and of course many more. For this analysis, the particularities of the given region's limiting factors are less important than the fact that they exist, since the focus is on universality.
While bands like Wrust are perhaps not doing anything really new, they are working to increase both levels of development. While unsuccessful perhaps at expanding metal as universal (this would require an event, an invention), these bands are raising the technical level of development of Botswanan metal as a whole. Wrust, for example, have improved their technical musicianship skills immensely in the time between their first and second full-length albums. They are getting bigger and better, nurturing the scene and preparing the way for more to come – more bands, more venues, more fans. This sort of progression cannot be ignored, since it is the opening of future possibilities. This is the precondition for the new to emerge, new articulations and concretizations (distinct from particularizations) of the universal, simultaneously the historical grounding and necessary mode of development for what is itself eternal Truth (in the Badiouian sense) – metal.

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Witchdoctor Productions. “Kataklysm.jpg.” Tour Poster. Metal4Africa. March 2014. Web. 21 April 2015. <http://metal4africa.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/Kataklysm.jpg>.

Wrust. “Intellectual Metamorphosis.” Bandcamp. n.d. Web. 21 April 2015. <https://wrust.bandcamp.com/>.

WrustMetal. “Wrust - Hate 'em All - Official Video.” Video clip. Youtube. 10 July 2013. Web. 21 April 2015. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gsDy9-Mqq4U>.


1http://www.metal-archives.com/stats
2Kahn-Harris 30
4http://www.nocleansinging.com/2013/07/10/seen-and-heard-grave-pelican-wrust-and-sheol/
5http://www.allmusic.com/artist/pantera-mn0000005441/biography
6https://wrust.bandcamp.com/
8Ibid., at about 1:20
10http://www.egmnow.com/digitalnoob/interview-with-giuseppe-sbrana-of-skinflint/
11http://www.metal-archives.com/artists/BG/52909
14http://metal4africa.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/Kataklysm.jpg

15http://www.ankhesen-mie.net/2010/05/at-bar-with-stux-daemon-of-wrust.html

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