23 September 2023

29-07-2023 Chovu

Conjuring Kenya’s Dark Spirits: Chovu’s Black Metal Symphony
Location: Moov Bistro (Nairobi, Kenya)

Chovu, an enigmatic Kenyan black metal band immersed in the rich tapestry of their country’s folklore, rises from the shadows amid Nairobi’s busy music scene, where the beats of afrobeat and benga echo. On the 29th of July, the underground scene witnessed Chovu’s captivating performance, an event that left the audience mesmerized and craving for more.

Having followed Chovu for a long time, I was immensely excited for the show. Show night, I took a boda, motorbike taxi, navigating the dark streets of Nairobi to get to the venue located in a semi-secretive location. And let me tell you, it was all worth it! Chovu’s hauntingly captivating performance left me spellbound. Meeting the band members in person was a surreal experience. Witnessing their enigmatic stage presence and incredible energy firsthand was unforgettable. Chovu’s music has touched my soul in a profound way. Being part of that intimate gathering of metalheads in Kenya made the night even more special.

Before the dark enchantment of Chovu took the stage, the night’s journey began with the performance of Petrika. But the opening act of the evening will require another article.

Preston Samanda, Chovu’s lead vocalist, took the stage wearing a shuka, a traditional Maasai cloth, and wielding a rungu, a ceremonial flywhisk symbolizing spiritual authority. Samanda portrayed a spectral figure, adorned with a haunting, handmade mask, transporting us into a realm where ancient spirits danced between thunderous guitar riffs and the primordial rhythm of Babra Simaloi’s drumming.

The band released a musical alchemy that blended the dark mysticism of black metal with the origins of Kenyan folklore, with Brian Saibo on guitars and Charles Frank on bass. Their music was an audio voyage that went deep into Kenya’s myths and stories, conjuring evocative visions of haunting forests, vengeful deities, and mythological beasts stalking the savannah. Lawrence Muchemi of Irony Destroyed also joined Chovu on stage as a guest artist.

The atmosphere crackled with palpable energy as Chovu’s symphony swirled and soared, immersing the handful of die-hard metalheads of different ages present in a shared trance. I also had the great pleasure of meeting some of the members of other important metal bands’ from the region such as Vale of Amonition and Irony Destroyed.

In a music scene that gives in too often to the appeal of the mainstream, Chovu remains a strong force, channeling the spirits of Kenya’s past and attracting listeners curious about the country’s underground music world. As their melodies echoed into the night, it became clear that Chovu is meant for much more than underground. Their music is a sonic journey that crosses borders, inviting listeners to enter the mysterious world of Kenyan folklore-infused black metal.

They are the guardians of Kenya’s past and the pioneers of its future, weaving a mesmerizing web that ensnares all who dare to listen. As the final notes of their performance fade into the ether, one thing becomes clear – Chovu is a black metal revelation that deserves a place on the global stage.

Immerse yourselves in the haunting melodies of Chovu and embrace the dark enchantment that lies within!



photo credit: Adrian Jankowiak