i spoke to Sievan Siewsarran of Trinidadian band Lynchpin, Willem Kamps of Curacao band Undercover and Emdeka Anubis of Barbadian band Conrad.
1. How long has the Caribbean Metal scene been going and who was the first band?
SS: Tricky question… I am unsure of the exact band names and dates… maybe more like the 1970’s… Bands like Warhead, Bloodshed, Transylvania Zoo, etc.
WK: Metal started to come around in the Caribbean about 25 years ago. One of the very first bands on Curacao anyway were “Sardonic” and “Aggressive Solution”, the latter being more New York Hardcore than Metal.
EA: I have very little knowledge on such things (they’re not remotely important to me). However, I can say that DARK CIRCUS (now ORISHA SHAKPANA) was the first metal output from Jamaica, and CONRAD; the first from Barbados.
2. Which Caribbean Metal scene is the most successful and how big is the overall regional scene?
SS: TRINIDAD & TOBAGO!!! Hands down, we have an avid scene, more genres and fans of Rock, from Alternative to Black metal!!!
WK: That’s hard to say. There’s not much communication between the scenes on the different islands. As Caribbean music is most popular, Metal is very underground on most islands. Most islands are small so there aren’t as many bands as for instance in Europe. That’s why when something is organized, there’s no strict distinction being made between different genres. It’s common to see a punk band open the show followed by a Deathcore act and it ends with a Thrash band for example.
EA: Arrrgh. Once again, I have little knowledge on these things. Generally speaking, the Caribbean ‘metal scene’ is lame, whiney & weak. The concept of ‘success’ is dead. Bands hardly write material & they keep performing the same tracks & covers continuously. They don’t even TRY to be of any substance at all, thus they end up being detrimental to themselves. Wimps.
3. What countries have a known metal scene in the Caribbean?
SS: Metal scene? Hmm they have bands in other countries that play metal… like Standing Penance in Barbados, but they have stated that there is no scene there… Again, it’s only TRINIDAD & TOBAGO with a METAL scene.
WK: Aruba has a solid scene, Curacao has an underground scene, Suriname and even Jamaica has at least one metal band that I know of, though I forgot the name. I know the Dutch Caribbean, not much about the rest of the Islands.
EA: Trinidad & Tobago, Belize & Guyana. Mainly home to rubbish bands. (ou gouuuude)
4. Are there any record labels and / or festivals based in Caribbean?
SS: Metal or Rock labels? Nope and if there are, please tell me. Lockdown in Trinidad is the biggest Rock show in Trinidad. It’s a yearly show with the best Original rock bands for the year.
WK: Once in a while there is festival being organized, but nothing steady really. I’m participating in a group of people/bands who are currently working hard to establish a solid (hard) rock and metal scene, by organizing gigs and small festivals ourselves. A regional festival would be nice, but as of now there isn’t any.
EA: There are labels, just not based primarily on Heavy Metal music (as far as I know…). Trinidad is well known for it’s rock/metal festivals. LOLWUT?
5. What language do most Caribbean bands use?
SS: English or Creole
WK: English is most common, although there are bands that use the island’s in question native language. In Curacao for instance there are bands that use Papiamento.
EA: SAIN THAT SOUND LIKE THIS HAY SO BAI! CAWBLEN. SKINOWT… blended with standard English.
6. How many active bands are there at present and who are signed?
SS: No bands are signed, except Oriksha Shakpana of Jamaica (only metal band from there)… most popular bands are Jointpop, Orange Sky and Insert Coin. Active Bands?? HUH!! Too many I feel…. ha-ha.
WK: None of the bands I know of are signed. Live performance only, although some bands do record demos. My guess is there are about 10 to 15 bands on the island of Curacao, of which half is active. I don’t know about the rest of the Caribbean.
EA: CONRAD has been recently signed to SATANICA PRODUCTIONS (NZ) & (I believe) ORISHA SHAKPANA is signed to LEGION OF DEATH RECORDS (France)
7. Is there any national media covering Metal music in the Caribbean?
SS: HAHAHAHAH… Nah… Always about Carnival and Soca . We are currently awaiting a newspapers report of which was a falsely created gig report of a show they didn’t attend!
WK: As far as I know there isn’t. Most scenes are pretty underground. The music industry is predominated by Caribbean music. Bands and fans mostly use the internet to communicate with each other, and mouth-to-mouth advertising. Also, (hard) rock and metal is being suppressed to a certain degree. Not only because Caribbean music is more popular, but also because many islands are pretty religious. The majority of the people still have this idea that metal and even rock music is something of the devil, although they don’t know the first thing about it. Talking about national media covering: there was this band on Curacao a couple of years ago who performed a song with satanic lyrics. This was all meant to be a joke but some people took it dead seriously. The next day it was all over the news papers and stuff. The kind of humour bands use sometimes in Europe and the U.S. is not widely appreciated here.
EA: Currently the only organization which caters to this is CARIBBEAN METAL ASSAULT which was founded and currently being managed by members of various Caribbean bands (including myself) and diehard fans of metal. I also have a store which is associated with this organization as well called CARIB METAL HORDE. Unfortunately, CONRAD is the only Caribbean band who has material up for sale, hopefully this will change as the year passes… ANYTHING out side of this organization is highly misleading & fallacious and consist of people who sit in their mother’s room 24/7 continuously inhaling the putrid stench of unwashed undergarments, hair gel & semen accumulated as time passes and prefer plastic pop rock orientated bands rather than Mercyful Fate & Bathory. So there. 0.0
Strangers are free to join the official website, but ye be warned: “If you are a false, no entry”.
8. Which is the most popular metal genre?
SS: I think it is Death Metal down here… I was lucky to be in one of the bands that made it popular, Necropollis and now continue to evolve the genre into Deathcore / Progressive Metal with Lynchpin.
WK: Well, in terms of listening I’d say Thrash, Skate Punk, Metalcore and Djent. Also bands like ABR, BMTH and that kind of thing. In terms of playing I’d say Metal/Deathcore. Djent is seemingly on the rise at the moment.
EA: Trashy Metalcore, if you even want to call that a genre of metal.
9. What other information can you give us about the Caribbean Metal scene?
SS: It’s really tough and you have to establish your name or that’s that! Also, we have to battle with fetes and carnival stuff constantly. But we have a nice scene… small in comparison to the world…
WK: Scenes are very island bound. It’s hard to talk about the whole Caribbean when you’re from one of the islands. If you wanted to know for sure, you’d have to travel a lot and go see it for yourself. As I said, there’s not much communication between the scenes. It’s mostly underground and it always has been. As we are trying to build something here on Curacao we found that there are some companies that are willing to sponsor monthly gigs and maybe even a festival. It’s mostly D.I.Y. although once in a while something is organized by some kind of organization with a little money, but not on a regular basis. We are working very hard at it to establish a solid scene where any heavy genre band gets a chance to perform. That goes from Punk, Hardcore to Thrash, Djent and Death Metal and what have you. I think the local scenes need to develop a little more before we can actually have regional festivals. The problem is that that there are enough fans, sufficient bands but no gigs. Nobody is organizing something real so we are doing it ourselves, and hope to consolidate it at a certain point. Nevertheless, the kids and grownups who love metal do stick together, and I found that the majority is willing to lend a helping hand in different ways. Metal is not #1 here, but since seeds were planted it never died! In fact it’s only growing!
EA: No additional information can be provided. SOD THE WORLD.