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It's the March of the Gods: Botswana Metalheads!

Movie Reviews Friday, 31 October 2014 18:05
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 It's the March of the Gods: Botswana Metalheads!

Yes, even the people from South Africa are also born to bang their heads. The heavy metal scene is excellently explored in March of the Gods: Botswana Metalheads and this documentary makes for a great primer into this world located deep south. But this land-locked country located between Namibia (in the west) and Zimbabwe (the east) with South Africa proper (south) has come a long way in a continent often plagued with internal strife. When this country’s economy is dependent on diamond mine production, what’s next will depend on what other trades will emerge as exportable.

In this documentary’s case, perhaps it’ll be the music. When South African photographer Frank Marshall made his name in chronicling the heavy metal subculture in Botswana, producer Natalia Kouneli and director Raffaele Mosca took notice. They crafted this essay length video that explores the cultural impact that Botswanians have for this musical genre. The people and musicians they interviewed see it more of a lifestyle than a hobby.

“The thing about Metal is that you can understand someone else who’s into metal as well,” said Marshall in this film, “or there’s kind of an unspoken understanding that sort of transcends race, geography … that’s one of the main things that I realized.”

Sometimes the accents are thick, and thankfully the video provides subtitles so viewers can follow along to the dialogue. The details are very informative in explaining how this musical subculture is still evolving in South Africa. The 21st century is kind with thanks to the Internet to expose to the world the uniqueness of the compositions that’s coming from this country.

From rock and roll to heavy metal, the gambit is everywhere. At least in this documentary, the emphasis is with the latter by interviewing bands like Wrust, Metal Orizon (which formed in the 90’s), Overthrust and Kamp13 to name a few. Their brotherhood is explored more than how this world’s folklore works into the lyrics of their tunes. This documentary primarily looks at Wrust and lightly glosses upon this topic from their point of view. If it went deeper into the meanings of the lyrics, a more cultural understanding can be taken from this product. The anthropological perspective is clearly being heard, and from the modern perspective, Mosca and Kouneli did an excellent job in explaining how this country is struggling to keep up.

The music featured in this documentary only teases at what's available. Some of which are available on Soundcloud. Pretty soon, bands like AC/DC or Black Sabbath may consider inviting Wrust to perform as their opening act. 

These musicians certainly have the talent to be leaders in world-class entertainment. When they make that final stretch and get noticed in the West, all anyone has to recall from cinema are breakout hits like District 9 that helped NeillBlomkamp gain national attention. It helped him make the sci-fi epic Elysium and currently, he’s working on Chappiewhich stars Hugh Jackman and Sigourney Weaver. 

Without unique visionaries like Wrust or Blomkamp, the world’s stage should not be limited to what North America or Asia can produce. Great material can emerge out of Africa because that’s where human civilization emerged!

 

 

Written by  Ed Sum

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