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Money, Witchcraft And Beer – This Is Metal From Soweto

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It’s a midweek afternoon and I meet up with an old friend in Dobsonville, Soweto. We used to go to hip-hop shows together. Now Trevor ‘Paranoia’ Macupe is a black man who pounds out white music. He’s a member of a black metal band, from Soweto, the urban township to the south of Johannesburg; his music is kicking down barriers.

Black metal is fast, with high-pitched piercing vocals and distorted guitars. It grabs you by the gut. The artists often appear on stage with painted faces, looking like corpses; a dark look for black metal.

The members of this metal band have taken the aggressive guitar music from the northern hemisphere and made it their own.

Trevor ‘Paranoia’ Macupe playing guitar at Arcade Empire. (Photo by Motlabana Monnakgotla)

The five musicians met through skateboarding and hip-hop and now they spill black metal into the African night.

Macupe is the guitarist; Thapelo ‘Bellicose’ Mokoena, the bassist; Modiba ‘Belgaroth’ Rabothata, the drummer; Siyabonga ‘Thronum’ Mngadi is the other guitarist. Dreadlocked Sthembiso ‘Tyrant’ Kunene, the vocalist, lives up to his name on stage. They are known as Demogoroth Satanum and they are the first all-black, black metal band to come out of South Africa. They have been playing together since 2012.

The band’s technical skills have earned them fans in faraway places like Botswana and Germany. They didn’t have money, nor equipment, nor resources, to go to music school but they practised hard and taught themselves to rock hard.

“Upon discovering it, we didn’t understand it; we dived into it and upon exploring it we found the sound that we are known for today,” says Mngadi.

They acquired the taste while skateboarding and playing video games, with rock ‘n’ roll and punk music playing in the background.

The band usually meet at Mngadi’s room, in Zola, Soweto, sometimes to listen to what they have produced or to write songs before they head out to a community center to rehearse. Passers-by are stunned when they hear metal churning out in a place where township music is the beat of the streets.

“Not just our families, but the whole black community had a very negative view on what we’re doing because it’s not in the Sowetan comfort zone. They would say it’s witchcraft or Satanism with the corpse paint and the loud music and screaming,” says Kunene.

A fan takes a photo of Sthembiso ‘Tyrant’ Kunene. (Photo by Motlabana Monnakgotla)

Kunene says that the younger generation accuse them of playing “white-boy music” and say they are trying to be white people. The older generation just say it’s witchcraft.

Mokoena had a bad experience while sitting on a train bound for Johannesburg. He was wearing a black metal t-shirt with dark imagery and there was a gentleman sitting in front of him and staring.

“He eventually had the courage to say something. The first thing he said was that I am ‘evil and Illuminati, you’re the one poisoning our children’. He attacked me and didn’t get to know my name. I let him vent because it was a scary situation because of mob justice. If half the train thinks he’s right, I would have got my ass kicked for wearing a metal t-shirt. I didn’t want to engage him in case I incite a violent situation,” he says.

On August 4, the band was in a safer place. The gig was in Pretoria, the capital city of South Africa, about a 91-kilometer drive from Soweto – in cultural terms, it could have been on Mars – at a pub called Arcade Empire peopled by whites. On the night, the only black people there were the members of the bands, the waiters and myself. Nothing unusual for Demogoroth Satanum.

Trevor ‘Paranoia’ Macupe (left) and Sthembiso ‘Tyrant’ Kunene thank the crowd for its support. (Photo by Motlabana Monnakgotla)

Four bands are playing on the night; Demogoroth Satanum is the only one playing black metal. An ear splitting kerrang from the lead guitar announces them on stage with a swagger.

“This song is made out to two girls who tried to make it to hell but, unfortunately, they made it to heaven,” says Kunene before one of their numbers.

The audience cheers and the mosh pit – an area on the dancefloor where fans jump into each other as the aggressive music plays – comes to life more and more with every song. Before the song had finished I had to be careful with the camera; it was raining beer as the crowd jumped with bottles in their hands.

“As the mosh pit is happening and the crowd is going crazy, I know we’re doing the right thing,” says Kunene.

Fans show their appreciation for Demogoroth Santanum by making devil horns with their hands – a traditional metal symbol. Photo by Motlabana Monnakgotla)

The last song ends and the lights go up. It was like the calm after the storm. The guys had just performed yet another show for free and didn’t mind because they love the music.

The band wants to play more international shows, especially in Europe, where metal is popular.

Demogoroth Satanum sustain themselves with day jobs. Mngadi works as a retention agent, Kunene trades online, Rabothatha recently left his job as call center agent to focus on the music, and Macupe freelances shooting and directing videos. When he is not playing the bass, Mokoena does street cleaning and sweeps bus stops.

“Metal is not one of those genres you’d get into for the money, because you going be sorely disappointed. Trust me, you’re not going to make money for free, not in this country,” says Macupe.

Just as well. With all the negative commentary from the township and stereotypes about the genre, the boys have turned their most unlikely fans; their families, into their greatest supporters. Their long-term aim is to get more black people into the mosh pit.

Sthembiso ‘Tyrant’ Kunene. (Photo by Motlabana Monnakgotla)

Life

Here Are All The Crazy Things People Are Betting On In The Absence Of Live Sports

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TOPLINE With most live sports suspended during the coronavirus pandemic, online gamblers have turned to different contests like Russian table tennis and Korean baseball, while also betting on everything from video games and reality television shows to political news and even the weather.

KEY FACTS

  • “[English] darts and esports have had big increases in betting volumes, along with football [soccer] leagues that have kept playing like the Belarusian Premier League,” says Pascal Lemesre, a spokesman for U.K. betting exchange platform Smarkets. “Horse racing remains our most-traded sport and has made up two-thirds of volume since the lockdown began.”
  • Many betting companies, like DraftKings, had to really dig and get creative with new offerings during the pandemic, says Johnny Avello, head of sportsbook for DraftKings. “We went out and found whatever we could… we wanted to keep our customers engaged.”
  • A charity golf match with Tiger Woods, Peyton Manning, Phil Mickleson and Tom Brady, for example, has drawn massive interest and could surpass the betting volumes DraftKings saw in last year’s major golf tournaments.
  • Betting on esports has also seen a huge uptick and has really “made its mark,” he says: Virtual NASCAR races proved to be immensely popular, along with daily fantasy for video games like League of Legends and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. 
  • There has also been a lot of interest in betting on politics, including who will win the 2020 U.S. presidential election, who Democratic nominee Joe Biden will choose as his vice president and how long UK prime minister Boris Johnson will stay in office. 
  • According to data from Smarkets, almost $2 million has already been traded on the election, with Donald Trump retaining a 5% lead over Joe Biden; Kamala Harris is frontrunner to be Biden’s VP, slightly ahead of Amy Klobuchar.
  • Since the Democratic debate between Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders in mid-March, DraftKings has offered free-to-play betting pools around many political events, along with reality television shows like Survivor and Top Chef, and even the weather in certain states.

SURPRISING FACT

Bettors have certainly shown interest in gambling on the outcomes of their favorite TV shows: According to data from BetOnline, there was even a flurry of betting on the final episode of The Last Dance, with odds on things like whether Michael Jordan would cry while being interviewed or how many people would be shown with a cigar in their mouth.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR

Sportsbooks are seeing huge pent-up demand as some major sports like NASCAR and German Bundesliga soccer start to resume. Soccer, which normally makes up 45% of the Smarkets’ betting volume, fell to 23%, maintained largely by interest in the Belarusian Premier League and Nicaraguan soccer, both of which continued to play games amid the pandemic. With the German Bundesliga resuming last weekend, betting volumes increased 428% compared to the previous round of fixtures before coronavirus, according to Smarkets.

CRUCIAL QUOTE

“When you don’t have all the normal content, customers will migrate,” Avello says. “That’s the positive that’s going to come out of this—we’re always looking for additional content.” 

KEY BACKGROUND

DraftKings reported record betting during the NFL Draft last month—13x the volume from last year—and has also seen strong interest in the recent return of Ultimate Fighting Championship events, the company said. “We got good action on the stuff we did, but now that we’re starting to get back to core events, demand should rise even higher,” Avello predicts. If the NBA and NHL start playoff seasons this summer and the MLB returns, for instance, “it could be one of the bigger summers that we’ve ever had.”

Sergei Klebnikov, Forbes Staff, Markets

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Life

Quote Of The Day

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“There are decades where nothing happens; and there are weeks where decades happen,”

–  Vladimir Lenin, Russian Political Theorist

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Life

Quote Of The Day

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“Dreams don’t work unless you do.”

–  John C Maxwell, American Author

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