Kobus! - Swaarmetaal

Francois Breytenbach Blom (of VOD) and Theo Crous (of the Nude Girls) have concocted a brutal and rebellious record that should show most younger metal bands a thing or two. It looks like these guys plan on growing old disgracefully, but that's the way we like it, right?

If you've ever dreamt of hearing an Afrikaans Motorhead with a wicked sense of humour, then Kobus! Is the band for you. If you have ever dreamt of hearing a good South African metal band, then Kobus! is the band for you. They kick ass live, and they have finally captured that raw energy on their third full length album.

Not to say that "Swaarmetaal" will get much radioplay. It is a pretty rough album, and refreshingly free of horrible turntablisms, sappy emo whining, and anything approaching band wagon hopping. It is this honesty that makes them so likeable, and ensures they stand out above the mass of SA copycat metal bands swamping the landscape. They're not the pinnacle of originality to be sure - there are clear nods towards Motorhead, Slayer, and most of the metal greats - but even when they're thrashing out over an all to familiar riff though, their character comes through clearly. The downside to "Swaarmetaal" is that about half of the songs sound rather samey, in the vein of album opener "Honger" and the single "Witman". They all charge along at full tilt, with meaty guitar, and Francoise's gruff sermonizing, but they lack anything to distinguish them from one another. .

The good news is that there are a number of standout tracks on the album, like the blasting "Witman", the shout-along "Huigelaar", and "Kinderhel", which has a touch of the slower more atmospheric side of Rammstein. The production is great as far as thrash metal goes, with thick chunky guitars, heavy non triggered drums, and a dry vocal sound. In fact, their production compares favorably with many overseas releases in this style, and blows most SA metal CDs out of the water.

The problem with writing a review like this is deciding whether to compare Kobus! to their local, or international competition. They're suitably old school and should appeal to a wide range of metalheads, but at the same time, the Afrikaans vocals provides a whole added context, especially in the light of the darkly humorous songs about anger and alienation.

“Swaarmetaal” is ultimately a breath of fresh air in SA metal, even though it has a familiar sound. It has energy, rage, and humour, and is free of all the pretence and wanna-be stylings of the majority of the SA scene. If you’re feeling patriotic, crack open a Black Label, chow down on some biltong, and give this a spin.

- Ivan Sadler