Sep 8, 2022

Death Metal Angola (2012)

Death Metal Angola is a 2012 Angolan-American music biographical film directed by Jeremy Xido. Death Metal Angola received unanimous acclaim during its festival run. The Huffington Post's E. Nina Rothe called Death Metal Angola a "must-watch film" and "a cult-classic in the making."

Death Metal Angola follows a loving Angolan couple, Sonia and Wilker, whose love for death metal music is bringing hope to the town and children of Huambo, and Angola as a country.
Freddy and Krasnaya Movie Review

K: The third film of the week is Death metal Angola from the American director Jeremy Xido. When Freddie pressed play, I honestly rolled my eyes at the fact that I didn't feel like listening to death metal for 83 minutes. The film opens with horrifying statistics about the number of dead and wounded Angolans during the civil war. Then Wilker Flores appears. He is a death metal guitarist who uses the brutal sounds and rhythms "to clear out the debris from all these years of war" as says Sonia Ferreira. She's Wilker's girlfriend and takes care of 55 orphan children at the same time. I have no idea how she can manage this, I can only say bravo to this strong woman who gives her care and love to so many children. Together they try to organise the first rock festival in Huambo.

F: This has to be one of the most baffling, sad and at the same time life affirming documentaries I've ever seen. When I finished watching the documentary I had to immediately understand how the hell this guy from Detroit, Jeremy Xido, ended up in Huambo making a documentary about Death Metal bands and the first rock festival held in one of the most war-torn cities in Angola. Apparently Jeremy was in Angola doing research for a documentary about a railroad when he met Wilker Flores in a coffee shop, who told him that he had a band and invited him to watch a solo performance at the orphanage where his girlfriend Sonia takes care of a bunch of children who were abandoned or lost their families to the war.

This part of the film, where we see the orphanage Okitiuka in a terrible state of repair, with only one water pump, no plumbing, full of children and teenagers is heartbreaking. While the kids are certainly happy for the little they have and for their mother Sónia, it is truly heartbreaking to see what humanity is capable of producing through war. They destroy everything and leave nothing. Or as the greatest Portuguese musician of the 20th century says in his song "Os Vampiros" - They eat everything, they eat everything and leave nothing".

Wilker Flores GIF
It takes patience, I know!
K: Freddy, while watching this documentary, wondered why exactly death metal? It seems to me that the power and viciousness of extreme metal found such a response among African youth as it is a great way to express protest and all the pain that has accumulated in the heart from the chaos that was happening all around. Psychologists say that crying is one of the most important mechanisms of emotional discharge that a person has. And let these guys be inspired by music, rather than looking for a discharge of their negative emotions and childhood traumas in a criminal way. In Angola they have a lot of bands as we learnt from this documentary and the most famous one is Neblina. 

F: My brain is not able to process how in Angola you went from Kuduru to Death Metal and apparently with nothing in between! I think that part should have been touched upon in the documentary. Who were the founders of this genre and how did they gain this interest in such an extreme subgenre of heavy metal? Wouldn't a punk rock in between be easier for the general population to digest and make more sense for the usual themes exposed through their lyrics? I'm talking about anti-mainstream, anti-establishment, anti-commercial, very angry and always following that DIY attitude. I am also perplexed when they decide to call the music they play simply rock when they know perfectly well that despite being a distant relative of rock music, what they are actually playing is DEATH METAL!  Anyway, it's just a little bitchy thing that short-circuits my brain. That, and the many out of tune guitars we get to hear...

If I were a white bastard full of money, I would do my best to help organize the next rock festival in Huambo which seems to be on pause since its 10th edition that happened in 2020. In my eyes, this is one of the coolest scenes ever and I would love to experience such an event. I'm not a Death Metal fan as I don't identify with the nihilistic attitude, the mindless violence and gore expressed through their lyrics and the guttural voices don't really captivate my ear either. But I am always ready for a nice mosh pit during the drum blast beats, which resemble the sound of a Kalashnikov. Hmm, that makes sense!

Jayro Cardoso GIF
Jayro Cardoso from Dor Fantasma.
K: This film definitely deserves attention. I was touched by this desperate love for music and how zealously the guys want to heal their wounded country. And I hope that this first festival they put up, with a 5 hour delay, has made a huge contribution to the rehabilitation of everyone present there. I wish you all peace!

F: This documentary above all made me very sad due to the circumstances in which the participants find themselves, although music and culture are the medicine and the cure for all the pain that Angolans have been carrying, this genre of music imported from Anglo-Saxon countries makes me reluctant and distrustful of its potential beneficial power. Basically, my opinion is that this is a musical genre that always ends up feeding negative feelings. Everything manifests energy and I don't believe that this is the energy that Angolans need. I practically felt this in the room where the bands of the festival were gathered. One of the members of Dor Fantasma talked about unity to make good things happen, a comment that everyone laughed at. The vibe was not cool. In general, the music scene is very competitive and it only gets worse when it comes to metal.

Punk rock is more unifying. I want to sell this idea to any young aspiring musician from Angola that comes across here. Anyway, this is a must watch for every heavy metal fan, I think this will blow your mind and you will be surprised to find such interesting bands.

Angola Death Metal GIF
The light of the fu**ing party!
Freddy's Score: 70/100
Krasnaya's Score: 75/100





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