Your Next Great Listen: An Afrobeat and Metal Mashup
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE
This fusing of two styles that typically wouldn’t be caught dead in the same record store together is deliciously catchy.
By Skot Thayer
It all started with the riffs. Thick, furry things that wrapped themselves around the caveman metalhead part of my brain as soon as the album started. But as the rest of the first track kicked in, that primal satisfaction quickly gave way to a quizzical sense of wonder and I said aloud, “What the hell is this?” Immediately the band became a cosmological constant in my playlists.
Here Lies Man isn’t a rock band in the familiar sense. Vocals howl over fuzzed-out overdriven guitars and pounding percussions like heavy metal legends of old. But when meshed with psychedelia and deep rhythmic roots that reach back to ancient African traditions, it’s a fusing of two styles that typically wouldn’t be caught dead in the same record store together. Think Afrobeat meets Black Sabbath (at least that’s what the band’s founder was thinking). Music that results in simultaneous booty-shaking and head-banging.
The result is music that is heavy and dense, but also fresh to ears grown weary of traditional rock ’n’ roll percussion.
Guitarist and vocalist Marcos Garcia initially conceptualized Here Lies Man in 2005, but the project remained unrealized until 2015 when he moved to Los Angeles and joined up with his former bandmate from the Afrobeat group Antibalas, drummer Geoff Mann. The pair released a self-titled debut album in April 2017 to critical acclaim. Rough Trade included it in its prestigious Top 10 albums of 2017 — a list that also included Björk and Ryan Adams.
Garcia describes their creative process as stacking simple arrangements on top of one another, layering common metal and rock riffs and applying a rhythm rooted in the ancient clave pattern that originated in sub-Saharan Africa. The result is music that is heavy and dense, but also fresh to ears grown weary of traditional rock ’n’ roll percussion.
“The first record is a proof of concept,” Garcia says. “It was really just to get this idea across.” That idea came to Garcia while he was noodling around with Afrobeat pioneer Fela Kuti’s track “Yellow Fever” on guitar, imagining it being played by Black Sabbath guitarist and heavy metal progenitor Tony Iommi. Here Lies Man’s second album, You Will Know Nothing, will be released in June. It was recorded simultaneously with what will be their third album — Garcia describes the previous and future releases as a trilogy that goes “together thematically and aesthetically.”
Here Lies Man has a sound that combines two styles that, on paper, shouldn’t work. But listening to catchy, psychedelic tracks like “You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere” or “Fighting,” you’ll wonder how it’s possible that merging heavy metal and Afrobeat wasn’t done sooner.
Here Lies Man are touring across the southern U.S. with psychedelic rockers Earthless this summer, and performing at the Desert Daze festival in California in October.
- Skot Thayer, OZY AuthorContact Skot Thayer