Monday, July 13th, 2009 | Author:


Check out LYT’s ‘walking through walls’ on their myspace. These guys are definitely on top of the game. Very hardcore, yet very accesible and original. I love the interludes. These dudes have more musical maturity than their U.S. counterparts.  It reminds me somewhat of Glassjaw and similar sensibilities. Lets just say LYT is not a band to get hung up on Heavy or Pop inclinations. They bring it all together as a melodic emotional onslaught.

So what is going on within the rock scene? …Well I attended two battle of the bands in February and March and I got some behind the scenes (literally) footage. Have a gander at this short film I edited… I believe this scene is going to go places. There is a definate evolution, or progression of things. Observe the expression of attitude through sound and performance and it’s reception. There is real value within this music for Kenyans.

The major sensibility that is evolving ranges strongly between an emocore and metalcore sound, leaving out the traditional rock sensibilities of earlier bands. How interesting! Vestiges of punk remain although it is clear that screamo and metalcore provide the best medium for propagation of original compositions that strike a real chord with the audience. These sounds are embedded within a vibrant community of enthusiasts.

Last Year’s Tragedy, Iscariot’s Smile, Seismic, Jack The Hammer – the youngsters in these bands form the foundation of the hard rock scene. Oddly enough most of them are practicing Christians. The churches have provided major support for these bands yet it seems that most of them have gone their own way far beyond. Springing from the church steps these bands are thriving in non-christian public settings, battle of the bands, bars, clubs, social and environmental benefits.   When I interviewed Ken Odour, the manager of The Awakening, who I believe are a Catholic(?) Church based band he said that the band delivered a Christian message but not praise music.  This distinction is held amongst the other bands – but why has it become a common phenomena of vibrancy at the very center of the scene?

After the show of nearly 5 hours of various rocking bands the metal heads gather to drink and headbang. Who you thought was a hiphop DJ suddenly spins back to back melodic death metal. This is music that is impossible to purchase in Kenya but is thriving thanks to removable media. The headbangers even know the lyrics to these songs! What is going on?

Why is this extreme strain of music on the rise? Rock music is on the rise in popularity in Kenya due to exponential growth in music acquisition and media sharing/propagation. There is now a 24 hour ‘rock’ station in Nairobi, XFM 105.5 FM. However this doesn’t explain this undercurrent of extremity or emotive evocation that is the real engine for the live rock scene. These sensibilities have evolved from the formerly underground rock scene because people want to deal directly with the misery and uncertainty surrounding them through music. They are not sensibilities that are being mimiced into existence. Groups like ‘Metal to Midnight‘ on XFM 105.5 FM and ‘The Blackwall‘ on facebook reflect these associations by the thousands.

Clearly this is something unexplainable by the media’s paradigm. Just read the Nation’s Article ( Really READ IT. It is astonishingly bizarre. They just don’t get it…but who could ask for better notoriety? What more sensational a way to launch a music scene unto the mainstream!

Listen to L.Y.T.’s first demo EP – ‘Damnation of the Weak’ – recorded as live sessions in January 2008 (recently Mastered by Gearz). Yes, that was right smack in the middle of the chaos of the post-election violence. Listening to this session you can get a good sense of the brooding melancholy overcoming the good-time sensibilities of rock. I remember alot of drinking and people struggling to have a good time despite all the shit that was going down…but what do you do in a situation where even humor fails?

So what does Last Year’s Tragedy Mean?

“…everyone in the band has different interpretations of what the band name actually means, and coz we don’t like to sound preachy, we usually shy away from answering it directly…but the central idea is that we as human beings seem to be bound to repeat the mistakes of our forefathers, our parents, friends etc etc Moving on and starting on a clean slate is just a vague concept nowadays, and that’s what builds the deep resentment and distrust societies seem to be facing.If we can’t learn from last year’s tragedies, we are bound to repeat them…”

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