South African rock bands are those bands that major in rock music. However, several rock bands in the country are not on the same level. So, who are the top 10 South African rock bands to listen to right now? Our list will serve as a definitive guide to the very best rock bands to follow or book for live performances.
Virtually all the bands on our list enjoy the loyalty of millions of rock music lovers and also have numerous awards under their belts. Interestingly, these rock bands have interesting success stories that will inspire you to follow your passion.
Best South African Rock Bands To Listen To Right Now
The bands below are the best of all the rock bands in the country right now. What particularly put all of them on this top 10 list is not only their songs but also performances, delivery, fan base, merchandise sales, reviews, and listenership ratings.
Virtually all of these bands have done international gigs independently and with some international bands. They have also collaborated with many local bands, toured across so many cities and regions globally, and performed at major festivals.
Here are the best 10 rock bands to listen to right now.
- Genre: modern Thrash and indigenous folk
- Number of Members: 5
- Active Since: 1994
- Number of albums: 7
- Most Famous Song: Destroyed
- Social Media Handles: Twitter: @agro_metal, Facebook: @agroband
Agro is a Johannesburg-based heavy metal band that has been active since the year 1994. The music band was formed by three best friends Phillip du Toit (Bass player), Grant Merricks (Drummer), and Shane Pennicott (Lead/Rhythm Guitar/principal songwriter). Other early members are David Kietzmann (Rhythm) and Cliff Crabb(Vocals), who is still with the band.
Agro had its first performance in Yeoville, Johannesburg, in February 1994, just two months after the band was formed. Their first studio album was subsequently released the following year, after several impressive outings at local clubs and music festivals.
The band’s second album dropped in April of 1997, a few months after Kietzmann died in a car crash. He was replaced by Daniel Lambinon, while Phillip du Toit was later replaced by Robbie Riebler in February of 1999 after the former and his family moved to the United States.
Several of Agro’s projects have charted on popular National Radio Stations and Satellite television stations. The band has also toured around the country and major cities globally, including Germany, and Botswana, where they headlined the annual International Aids Awareness concert.
Other places they have performed include Concorde2 in Brighton, UK, The Bassline in Johannesburg, GP, Klein Libertas Theatre in Stellenbosch, The German Club in Edenvale, GP, Sundowners in Alberton, as well as Sundowners in Johannesburg.
Their third album, released in Johannesburg in November of 1999, toured successfully in 2000 and featured in many notable publications, including the July 2000 edition of Rock Hard Magazine.
The Agro’s projects naturally receive massive listenership from rock music lovers in South Africa and outside the country. Their songs have won them praise and positive feedback from places like Australia, Japan, Argentina, and the United States.
Other past embers of the band include keyboardist Enoque Carrancho and Wez Hitchin. Agro joined the Armageddon Records label in 2006. And under the Germany-based record label, they could make more waves through their sounds and performances.
Agro’s current members
- Alex Temperley – Drums
- Cliff Crabb – Vocals
- Ian Gertenbach – Electric Guitar
- Robbie Riebler – Bass
- Martin Dugdale – Electric Guitar
Agro’s Albums and the year they were released:
- From Within - 1995
- Eyes – 1998
- The Tree – 2000
- Forthcoming – 2003
- Gouda Than Hell – 2004
- Ritual – 2006
- Rewriting History – 2010
- Genre: Hard rock, post-grunge, alternative metal, nu-metal
- Number of Members: 4
- Active Since: 1999
- Number of albums: 8
- Most Famous Song: Remedy from their Karma and Effect album
- Longest-serving member: Shaun Morgan
Seether, founded in Pretoria, Gauteng, in 1999, was formerly known as “Saron Gas.” However, after its relocation to the United States, the band changed its band name so that people would not mix up its stage name with the deadly chemical sarin gas. This idea was put forward by the American record label Wind-up Records, who discovered the band and subsequently gave them a record deal to begin releasing music in North America.
The founding members of the music group include drummer Dave Cohoe, frontman, vocalist, guitarist Shaun Morgan, and bassist Tyronne Morris (who was replaced by Dale Stewart in 2000). Seether released their first album, Fragile, in South Africa in October 2000 under Johannesburg-based independent record label Musketeer.
The group has been making waves since their relocation to the U.S. The song that introduced them to the world is their single “Fine Again” in 2002. The band’s success continued to win them lots of fans, fame, and fortune, and in 2004 another of their singles, “Broken,” peaked at number 20 on the Billboard Hot 100.
The band has an impressive listenership rate even here in the country. Some of their hits that have made it to the Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks chart include “Wasteland,” “Dangerous,” “Bruised and Bloodied,” “Country Song,” “Remedy,” “Tonight,” “Fake It,” “Words as Weapons,” “Let You Down,” and many others.
Seether’s current members are :
- Shaun Morgan – lead vocals, rhythm guitar, piano
- John Humphrey – drums, percussion
- Dale Stewart – bass, backing vocals, acoustic guitar
- Corey Lowery – lead guitar, backing vocals
The titles of Seether’s albums are:
- Disclaimer (2002)
- Disclaimer II (2004)
- Karma and Effect (2005)
- Finding Beauty in Negative Spaces (2007)
- Holding Onto Strings Better Left to Fray (2011)
- Isolate and Medicate (2014)
- Poison the Parish (2017)
- Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum (2020)
The band has also won the following awards:
- MTV Africa Music Awards – Best Alternative Artist (2008)
- MTV Africa Music Awards Artist of The Year (2008)
- South African Music Awards Best Rock: English (2008)
- Billboard charts No. 1 Active Rock Artist (2011)
- Billboard charts No. 1 Heritage Rock Artist (2011)
- Billboard charts Active Rock Song of 2011 “Country Song” (2011)
- Canadian Hot 100 Active Rock Song of 2011 “Country Song” (2011)
- Mediabase – No. 1 Song of The Year (in terms of airplay) “Country Song” (2011)
- Revolver Golden Gods Awards – Best Live Band (2012)
- Radio Contraband – Indie Artist of the Year (2012)
3. Mind Assault
- Genre: Melodic death metal, heavy metal
- Number of Members: 5
- Active Since: 2004
- Number of albums: 1
- Most Famous Song: Death to all but metal
Mind Assault holds the record as the first band to use Afrikaans regularly in extreme metal while also infusing English in their music. The band’s decision on its language use was triggered by a re-emerging consciousness among young Afrikaans people through alternative sub-cultures.
At that time, bands such as Kobus! and Fokofpolisiekar were not left out. It was something that started after thorough observation of their cultural heritage. Mind Assault was formed in 2003 in Cape Town, but they started making appearances in 2004.
The heavy metal band is well-loved in South Africa because most people see them as a form of activism for political freedom on stage and in writing. Their lyrical content mostly revolves around social problems, political interests, issues of state, and even matters of personal frustration.
Here are the names of the band’s current members, including their three founding members.
- Patrick Davidson – rhythm guitar (2004–present)
- Jacques Fourie – vocals (2004–present)
- Donovan Tose – bass guitar (2004–present)
- Ryan Eberlin – lead guitar (2015–present)
- Andries Smit – drums (2007–present)
The titles of their works are:
- Stigma (2008)
- Social Engineering (2005)
- Metal Rites (2011)
- Single-track releases
- “Tiete” (2013)
- “Mag Verkrag” (2014)
- “Annihilation of Man” (2014)
- “True Force” (2014)
- “New World Disorder” (2014)
- “Corroded World” (2020)
- “Burn Down the Nation” (2020)
- Fear the Noise (2006)
- Innocent Blood (2006)
- Hammer The Masses (2007)
- Kopskoot (2009)
F*k Voort en Suip Baie DVD (2007)
4. Spectral Realm
- Genre: Symphonic Black Metal
- Number of Members: 6
- Active Since: 2010
- Number of albums: 2
- Most Famous Song: Cursed wonders of the beyond
- Lyrical themes: Darkness, The unknown, Fantasy, Dreams
Spectral Realm was formed as a full 6-piece band by Lord Onyr in June/July 2010, initially as a solo project. He began nursing the idea of starting his band in 2006 after he was overwhelmed by the performances of notable bands such as Dissection, Thyrane, Opeth, Death, Children of Bodom, and Old Man’s Child.
Spectral Realm is unique because its music has some sort of special blend of thrash metal, symphonic black metal, and even melodic death metal with a dark yet enthralling presence on stage. The band’s name was inspired by the afterlife.
Some of the events the band has covered include Black Apple Productions events, Emalyth events, and Bonethrone Production events. They have been featured on Polish Radio Station Radio Revolta and interviewed with Metal4Africa.com.
In addition to banding together with Italian Metallers Fleshgod Apocalypse, Spectral Reams occupies a spot on African Metal’s “13 FUCKING AWESOME EXTREME METAL BANDS FROM AFRICA YOU SHOULD CHECK OUT!” list.
Spectral Realm has millions of fans in South Africa who listen to their songs. The Johannesburg-based band has been doing great since they started performing rock music in the country and other places in the world.
Spectral Realm’s current members are
- Calvyn Drums (2014-present)
- Ethorius Guitars (rhythm) (2010-present)
- Neville Cameron Shield – Keyboards
- Septic Septre Vocals (2010-present)
- Lord Onyr Guitars (lead) (2010-present)
- Andrew Wald Bass (2014-present)
The band has released two albums with amazing songs so far.
- Voyage to Spectral Realm (2015)
- Cursed Wonders of the Beyond
- Oblivious to Matter
- Drowned Ashen Departure
- Entrapment of Spirit and Flesh
- Secrets Tearing Sanity
- Voyage to Spectral Realm
Spectral Witch of the Hex River (2020)
- Petals Reflecting Moonlight
- A Tragic Tale of a Spirit’s Creation
- Phantoms and Silhouettes
- Attachment of Her Possession
- The Ambiguous Quest
- Genre: Melodic Death Metal
- Number of Members: 5
- Active Since: 1992
- Number of albums: 5
- Most Famous Song: Stronghold
Sacrifist is a South African rock band formed in 1993 by Andre Liebenberg, Sammy F. Simegi, Paul Verster, and Michael Kiefer. The band and the materials they wrote were greatly influenced by prominent bands such as In Flames, Children Of Bodom, Dark Tranquillity, At The Gates, and Slayer.
Sacrifist’s first album, “The Tides Have Turned,” was recorded in 1995, but it was released a few years later. Their second album was released in 1999, after which Sammy F. Simegi, Michael Kiefer, and Paul Verster collectively brought back the band to its original sound and heaviness in 2002. Being one of the longest-running metals bands in South African history ever, Sacrifist has done well for themselves.
They enjoy huge support and listenership even across the shores of the country. They have embarked on several tours worldwide, both as a group and with other bands, including Mind Assault. In 1997, they went on the “Agony and Ecstasy Tour” with Metalmorphosis and Jaded Jane.
They also joined Agro on the “Death Before Disco” tour in the same year and then embarked on a headlining tour of South Africa, “The Summer Blast SA Tour,” in December 1997. 2005 saw the band performing in various cities such as Pretoria, Durban, and Nelspruit, which earned them an overwhelming number of fans locally and across the globe.
SacriFist is doing great in metal music. Their songs online are favorites and have been downloaded by thousands of people. Today, the band has some of the highest-selling album and merchandise sales in the SA metal industry. They have also taken part in all major metal festivals across the country.
Sacrifist’s current members are:
- Sammy F. Simegi – Guitar
- Michael Kiefer – Drums
- Dwayne Coetzee – Vocals
- Tiens van Zyl – Bass
- Wayne Colley – Guitar
The titles of the band’s albums are
- The Tides Have Turned (1995)
- Liquid Seasons (1999)
- The Well Of Sacrifice (2004)
- Surrealist Plague (2008)
- Tyranny (2016)
6. The Hammer of Redemption
- Genre: Metal, Hardcore, Metalcore
- Number of Members: 5
- Active Since: 2007
- Number of albums: N/A
- Most Famous Song: The Sky Is Falling
The Hammer of Redemption, also known as T.H.O.R., is a Johannesburg-based Metal band entertaining music lovers since early 2007. The metal music group is very popular in South Africa and beyond the country’s shores. T.H.O.R. remains one of the most respected rock bands in Mzansi land.
They have been featured in several mega festivals in the country. To their credit, they have also collaborated with top-notch bands in the country to deliver amazing sounds. Gauteng and Free State are some of the regions they have frequented mostly since inception.
Other notable venues they have also performed include but are not limited to Sundowners, Alberton, The Black Dahlia, Boksburg, Schivas Rock, Pretoria, Rumours Lounge, Weltervreden Park, Club Downstairs, Welkom, The Doors Night Club, Edenvale, Boston Rock lounge, Edenvale, and The Bohemian, Melville.
Others include Roxy’s, Melville, Monument High School, Krugersdorp, Stormvoel High School, Pretoria, Back 2 Basix, Melville, Tempos, Kya Sands, Cool Runnings, Four Ways, and Zeplins, Wonderboom. T.H.OR. has also entertained audiences at festivals such as Slam Fest, Faithfest, Thornfest (3 and up and Thornfest: The Camp I), Encounter Fest, SaltFest, Deathfest, Spring Fest, and many more.
One of the band’s career highlights is T.H.O.R. supporting great international bands such as the U.S.A. metal band Becoming the Archetype. Many South Africans love listening to the band, and their songs are always received with positive reviews and criticism.
- Genre: Punk rock, pop-punk
- Number of Members: 6
- Active Since: 2003
- Number of albums: 4
- Most Famous Song: Komma
Fokofpolisiekar band is also known as FPK or Polisiekar due to the obscenity in the name. The Afrikaans alternative rock band was established by a group of friends from Cape Town in April 2003. This group of five friends had one thing in common – a passion for art and music.
Not long after Fokofpolisiekar came into existence, these gentlemen five friends decided to produce an EP in their way to stand out from other bands in the local music scene and to promote the Afrikaans culture. The band’s works reflected strong symbolism of the Fokofpolisiekar lifestyle and their perspective on everyday life and insight into the band’s personal lives.
The target was to pass across a style of music they and their generation could relate to. Members were not entirely newbies in music when they started. In fact, they were popular faces in local underground music circles due to their work in the bands 22 Stars, New World Inside, and 7th Breed.
The band has also banded with some other notable bands such as Van Coke Kartel, aKING, Die Heuwels Fantasties, Die Antwoord, Jack Parow, and De Wallen. Thye have a huge fanbase as well as an amazing listenership rate. FPK’s music can be classified as alternative rock, varying between albums and songs. Komma is one of the songs that pushed them to the international music frontline.
List of Fokofpolisiekar’s Albums
- Lugsteuring (2004)
- Swanesang (2006)
- Selfmedikasie (2017)
- TBA (2023)
The names of the members of the band
- Francois “Van Coke” Badenhorst – vocals
- Johnny de Ridder – lead guitar
- Hunter Kennedy – back-up vocals and rhythm guitar
- Wynand Myburgh – bass
- Jaco “Snakehead” Venter – drums
- Justin Kruger – Touring drummer
8. The Parlotones
- Genre: Alternative rock, indie rock, post-Britpop, post-punk revival, pop-rock, new wave
- Number of Members: 5
- Active Since: 1998
- Number of albums: 11
- Most Famous Song: Push Me to the floor
One of the most talented rock bands in South Africa, the Parlotones have been making waves since it was formed in the year 1998. The indigenous indie rock band’s early sound was rooted in Britpop, but it began to incorporate a wider range of musical genres as time progressed. It was Kahn Morbee who started the move for the formation of the band after he failed to start a band in high school.
He was introduced to his former high schoolmate Neil Pauw at the University of Johannesburg, and shortly after, they realized that they had a lot in common, music-wise. From there, the duo decided to start a band. Paul Hodgson later joined the group after he and Kahn were sent off the library for playing their guitars inside.
The next person that joined the band was bassist Glen Hodgson who was still in high school then and was Paul’s younger brother. The Parlotones’ early sound was influenced by R.E.M, The Cure, and The Smiths, while their lyrics mostly focus on personal themes of love and everyday life. The Johannesburg-based group is one of South Africa’s best-selling music artists of all time, having enjoyed multi-platinum success over the years.
The Parlatones released their first album under the record label Sovereign Entertainment. The Parlotones have ten studio albums and nine prestigious South African Music Awards under their belts. They made history in 2009 when they became the first South African band to headline at the Coca-Cola Dome. One interesting thing about the band is that they always give back to society.
The Parlotones have championed many philanthropic causes, including the Africa-Unite campaign, the Anene Booysen Foundation, and The Little Wing Music Foundation. The Parlotones are fan favorites. Millions of people also follow them across their social media pages, and their songs are more like anthems among rock music lovers. The song “Push Me To The Floor” is the song that announced them to the world.
The names of the current members of the band are
- Kahn Morbee – lead vocals, rhythm guitar (1998–present)
- Paul Hodgson – lead guitar, keyboards (1998–present)
- Glen Hodgson – bass guitar, piano, backing vocals (1998–present)
- Neil Pauw – drums, percussion (1998–present)
- Rob Davidson – keyboards (2018–present)
The titles of the band’s albums are:
- Episoda (Sovereign Entertainment, 2003)
- Radiocontrolledrobot (Sovereign Entertainment, 2005)
- A World Next Door to Yours (Sovereign Entertainment, 2007)
- Stardust Galaxies (Sovereign Entertainment, 2009)
- Eavesdropping on the Songs of Whales (Sovereign Entertainment, 2011)
- Journey Through the Shadows (Sovereign Entertainment, 2012)
- Stand Like Giants (Sovereign Entertainment, 2013)
- Antiques & Artefacts (Gallo, 2015)
- Trinkets, Relics & Heirlooms (Gallo, 2016)
- China (Gallo, 2018)
- Strike the Harp (Gallo, 2020)
- Genre: Rock
- Number of Members: 4
- Active Since: 2007
- Number of albums: 5
- Most Famous Song: The Dance
aKING is a South African melodic rock band formed in November 2007 by Jaco ‘Snakehead’ Venter and Hunter Kennedy. They were members of the Fokofpolisiekar band, alongside Hennie van Halen (bass) and Laudo Liebenberg (vocals and guitar).
The band has toured numerous cities in South Africa and also performed at major festivals such as Coke Zero Fest and Oppikoppi Music Festival. They have also performed on the same stage with international talents such as Oasis, Snow Patrol, and Panic! at the Disco.
They have collaborated with notable artists and brands, including Cape Town-based production company Ghetto Vibrations, Fokofpolisiekar, Khayelitsha United Mambaso, Die Heuwels Fantasties, Van Coke Kartel, and the Thokozani Brothers. 5fm, Kfm, and campus radio stations nationwide also play their songs regularly. The band has also been featured on the SABC 2 soap opera 7de Laan.
The names of the members of the band are
- Laudo Liebenberg – vocals, rhythm guitar (2007–present)
- Hennie van Halen – bass guitar (2007–present)
- Jaco “Snakehead” Venter – drums (2007–present)
- Andrew Davenport – guitar (2010–present)
The titles of aKIng’s works are:
- Dutch Courage (LP, 2008)
- In The Twilight (EP, 2009)
- Against All Odds (LP, 2009)
- The Red Blooded Years (LP, 2011)
- Morning After (LP, 2014)
10. Van Coke Kartel
- Genre: Alternative Rock
- Number of Members: 4
- Active Since: 2007–2017; 2019–present
- Number of albums: 6
- Most Famous Song: Goodbye Tonight
Van Coke Kartel, also known as VCK, is an Afrikaans alternative rock band from Bellville, near Cape Town, South Africa. The band was formed in 2007 after Fokofpolisiekar went on hiatus by Francois Van Coke, Wynand Myburgh, and drummer Justin Kruger.
In 2010, the band welcomed two new members – guitarist Jedd Kossew and drummer Jason Oosthuizen as full members, but the latter left four years later. He was subsequently replaced by drummer Dylan Hunt in the same year.
VCK is one of the best rock bands in South Africa right now. They have been breaking boundaries with their electrifying performances and sounds across the country and beyond. Between 2011 and 2014, the band won 11 enviable awards, including the Band MK Music Awards and the Ondier Kom MK Music Awards.
Members of the band include
- Francois Badenhorst
- Wynand Myburgh
- Jedd Kossew
- Dylan Hunt