Africa’s metal scene has been quiet compared to its counterparts on other continents. Duma rectify that, and loudly. Vocalist Martin Khanja (aka Lord Spike Heart) and guitarist and producer Sam Karugu hail from Kenya, and they relocated to Uganda to release their self-titled 2020 debut album on Kampala’s Nyege Nyege Tapes. That label is known for harsh polyrhythmic electronica that borders on noise—many acts on its roster, including Tanzania’s Sisso and DRC’s La Roche, make grimy dance music out of electroshock ear bleed in the tradition of Kinshasa’s Konono No. 1 and Durban’s gqom artists. Duma take things a step further, leaping out of the club and into the mosh pit. The duo’s beats are so distorted and frenetic they verge on blown-out black metal or the chain-saw squall of grindcore, and their piercing, feedback-laden screams hit with the pummeling cyborg intensity of industrial power electronics. Duma’s most recent release, the 2021 single “Cannis” (Sub Pop), ups the intensity. In the best metal tradition, Khanja screams like evil spirits are trying to claw their way out of his larynx, and on the B side, “Mbukinya,” the crazed drum programming feels like a cross between the frantic pulse of footwork and a ceiling fan to the face. Duma’s music is true to metal and to the modern sounds of East Africa, and their combination of the two make them one of the most exciting heavy bands anywhere on the planet.
Duma, ONO, Fruit Looops, Thu 3/24, 8:30 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, $15, 21+