On My Playlist: Top 5 Raptorbaby songs

Raptorbaby is one of South Africa’s most progressive metal bands with live performances that overshadow what they put out on record.
This is a brilliant thing as the heart of Raptorbaby truly lies in its ‘in the flesh’ manifestation on stage. If you have ever been to one of their sets, you will know what I am talking about. It’s a mixture of loud metal, soothing instrumentals, blaring screams and consummate vocals with lyrics that get your mind into a spin.
Raptorbaby is no spring chicken in the local metal scene and has won a lot of critical acclaim for their interesting, progressive styles, fusing different styles of metal into a growling Raptorbaby sound.
The band was a big winner at the 2017 South African Metal Music Awards (Samma) where they won Best Single for ‘The Group’ and was named the ‘Best Progressive Metal Band’ in the RSA.
Raptorbaby currently consists of Doug Jenkinson (guitar), Craig Borrill (guitar), Paul du Plessis (bass) and Lolke-Louis Claassen (drums). The band parted ways with the former vocalist, Vincent van Niekerk, last month. For this playlist, I will refer to his performance on the tracks.
Honourable mentions: ‘The Lost’, ‘Soul Matrix’, ‘The Dancer’, ‘The Arena’.
5. Resonance Cascade
This is the perfect way to start the countdown – with a hard-rocking metal riff in the intro that gets your head banging from start to finish.
The distorted opening is the perfect foil before the guitars get to work with Borill and Jenkinson giving a master class in progressive metal shredding.
The song then shifts to an audible quote from the movie, ‘Network’ with its look at how society has changed us into human beings living in fear. The breakdown at the outro is also one of the better parts of the song and is well worth listening to.
The music fits the overall message of the track perfectly as the band explores various social and political ills that are still relevant today.


4. Masters of Reality
This is one of Raptorbaby’s crowd favourites that have been a staple of their live sets for a number of years. The intro guitar riffs from Craig Borill and Doug Jenkinson move you to a melodic utopia of some sort before the intricate drumming of Lolke-Louis Claassen adds a few extra nuts and bolts to the musical landscape.
Van Niekerk takes this epic number up a notch with his long-winded growl taking on seismic proportions before he screams some short, sharp lyrics in the first verse.
The guitar and bass work on this track is absolutely brilliant with a lot of offbeat time signatures that encapsulate the Raptorbaby sound.
This song focuses on how we are the masters of our own reality and how we can also be the masters of our own destruction in the same breath. Its frenetic pace slows down to a softer note at the end. In a sense, this provides structure and something different to the song.


3. Emperor
The ominous audio effect combines with Vincent van Niekerk’s dark growling to send this track on its way.
It is an absolute aural explosion in the opening minute, with some insane high squeals and thunderous riffing and drumming added to the mix.
This is definitely a good depiction of the raw, raucous Raptorbaby sound – which might not appeal to everybody. But if you want to bang your head, then this should be perfect for you.
The song breaks down to a spoken word from Van Niekerk that focuses on society and its tendency to establish deceit. The screams and squeals from Van Niekerk are on point in this track and just showcase what he brought to the band. Everything, from the instruments to the vocals and progression, works like clockwork here.

2. Sleepers Awake
The guitar intro riff is one of the band’s best and the build-up to the opening verse is absolutely fantastic.
‘We are, we are the voices you hear when you are asleep. We are, we are the dreamers, you know we count the sheep,’ screams Van Niekerk with frenetic guitar playing supplementing the interesting lyrics. This track has a bit of ‘System of a Down’ in it, with its frenetic non-structured approach and unique melodies.
The guitar riffs are truly crushing in ‘Sleepers Awake’ and will get you moving to the beat in no time.
A really mean track that works perfectly to present the message that we, as a society, are sleeping while, in a sense, we feel awake.
The bridge and outro are also beautifully constructed with repetitive clean vocals supplementing a clean guitar melody. The song ends with another bang as the metal influences come to the fore once again.

1. The Group
This, in my opinion, is the best track from Raptorbaby as it captures the essence of the band and adds some elements from different genres that colour in this great piece of music.
The frenetic guitars in the intro, the punk-styled vocals in the verses, the metal inspired riffs and solo melodies and the crushing breakdowns propel this song into overdrive.
In essence, it is an amalgamation of everything that is great about Raptorbaby, the haunting stop-start spoken word and the harmonic clean vocals all squeezed into one. Claassen’s drumming is on point as usual and he demonstrates his various beats and rhythms that take the song forward.
‘Wasted chances left to greedy monsters. Starving children famished left to squander, Blatant disregard, dimming all our stars,’ is just one example of the powerful lyrics in this track that will definitely make the listener think.

  AUTHOR
Wouter Pienaar
Sport Journalist

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