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Music / Vulvodynia

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Vulvodynia is a South African slam death metal/deathcore act. Easily their country's most famous extreme metal export, their status as one of the
Trope Codifiers of the "slamming deathcore" sound and general prominence in social media and the Bandcamp/Facebook group part of the deathcore scene elevated them from just one of many bedroom projects to a fast-rising new act.

Formed in early 2014 by Duncan Bentley (vocals) and Luke Haarhoff (guitars, bass), the band was initially a studio venture, though the two quickly recorded Lord of Plagues, their debut EP, and drafted Byron Dunwoody (guitars, bass, drum programming) as a third member after he helped them produce the EP. The three began playing shows at some point during the year, in addition to recording Cognizant Castigation, their debut full-length. The band began to play out more circa 2015, and Finis Omnium Ignorantiam, another EP, was recorded during the year, while Kris Xenopoulos was brought on board as a bassist and occasional guitarist. A deal with Lacerated Enemy Records was signed at some point around the beginning of the following year, and Psychosadistic Design, their sophomore full-length, was released in June, while Xenopoulos moved to the lead guitar slot. 2017 proved to be their biggest year yet, as they played their first shows out of South Africa and began hitting the European fest circuit. The upward trajectory continued into 2018, when they finally gained a full band after hiring Chris van der Walt and Thomas Hughes on bass and drums, in addition to several European tours and what would have been their first North American tour before it got delayed. 2019 continued in this path with more touring (including their first US run), as well as the release of Mob Justice, their third full-length and first with a full band. While their plans for 2020 have not been publicly announced, it is known that they plan to return to North America for a bigger run, as well as other touring ventures.



  • Lord of Plagues (2014) (EP)
  • Cognizant Castigation (2014)
  • Slashing Through the Snow (2014) (v/a Christmas song compilation)
  • Finis Omnium Ignorantiam (2015)
  • Psychosadistic Design (2016)
  • Anthropophagus (2019) (single)
  • Mob Justice (2019)
  • Societal Lobotomisation (2021) (split with Acrania)
  • Praenuntius Infiniti (2021)


  • Absentee Actor: Byron Dunwoody became this once they started playing out more before he eventually left completely, and Luke Haarhoff is also sometimes this due to his current school and work obligations; the usual setup whenever Luke can't make a tour or fest is for Lwandile Prusent to hop on. With Lwandile full-time, this is still sometimes true for Luke, though he has said that their goal is to run three guitarists live when they can now that they're a sextet.
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  • Ascended Extra: Byron Dunwoody started off as the band's producer and drum programmer before joining as a full member, while Kris Xenopoulos and Thomas Hughes started off as live fill-ins. Lwandile Prusent also started out as Luke's live fill-in before being brought on as a full member once he started writing.
  • Black Comedy: Their main lyrical approach pre-Mob Justice, with lots of Gorn and over-the-top violence and perversity.
  • Child Popstar: Luke Haarhoff was under the age of eighteen when the band got its start.
  • Darker and Edgier: Mob Justice, which abandoned a lot of the over-the-top violence and gore and generally meme-friendly elements of their lyrics and general style for an approach based around the uglier aspects of South African life.
  • Darkest Africa: The core lyrical theme of Mob Justice, about the ugly side of life in South Africa and the violence, poverty, drug addiction, economic stratification, and longstanding scars of apartheid that such a thing entails.
  • Deathcore: Along with Ingested, Signs Of The Swarm, Within Destruction, and Acrania, they served as a Trope Codifier for the "slamming deathcore" style that became active in the 2010s, and particularly for the DIY/bedroom branch of it. While they have progressively moved towards a more straightforward modern slam sound, they still have very prominent deathcore elements.
  • Lead Bassist: Chris van der Walt is types A and C, as he is known for his technical ability (with the band having cited him as a major factor in their decision to become a more serious band) and for his recording studio.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: They are notorious for their massive cast of guest vocalists.
  • Metal Band Mascot: Bob the Butcher, who first appeared on the cover of Psychosadistic Design and later became a central feature of Duncan's memeposting on the band's social media accounts.
  • Misogyny Song: A major part of their lyrics pre-Mob Justice. Duncan has since come to regret it, and the one song on Mob Justice that fits this mold ("Cultural Misogyny") deliberately depicts it as something horrible and disgusting.
  • New Sound Album: Several:
    • Psychosadistic Design was more technical and less deathcore-leaning.
    • Mob Justice further decreased the deathcore elements and introduced prominent Technical Death Metal elements and guitar solos.
  • Older Than They Look: Luke Haarhoff is 23, but between his slight stature and overall very youthful-looking appearance, could easily pass for his early teens.
  • Persona Non Grata: As per Duncan, they have a lifetime ban from a certain venue in Slovakia due to his own personal Alcohol-Induced Idiocy after he drank way too much absinthe for his own good (according to Duncan, it was the real deal and not a knockoff, and he was not prepared for how strong it was, and this was also after he had already been relentlessly slamming shots of borovicka), blacked out, got cut off, and kept trying to run behind the bar and was so belligerent that he got punched square in the face by a venue staffer and was knocked out cold before being dumped into a room and locked inside. He then wouldn't stop trying to break down the door, eventually got put in a hold by the vocalist of Blade of Horus until he passed out again, and then came to during loadout early in the morning (still blackout drunk) and didn't become lucid again until five in the afternoon and got a "what the hell is wrong with you" talk from most of the tour package, and permanently swore off absinthe and didn't drink for the rest of the tour as a whole.
  • The Sixth Ranger: Lwandile Prusent. While he didn't become a full member until late 2020, he had been Luke's on-call fill-in for a while and had played in various other bands with Duncan and Kris for some time before that, in addition to being a well-known figure in the South African metal scene and a very good friend of the band.
  • Slam Death Metal: Even at their most deathcore-leaning, they still have prominent slam elements, and they have moved more and more towards a modern slam sound with each release.
  • Special Guest: They are notorious for their gigantic cast of vocal guests on album. An exhaustive listnote .
  • Start My Own: They have many side projects between them, with XavlegbmaofffassssitimiwoamndutroabcwapwaeiippohfffX (Duncan, Byron, Lwandile, and Kris' "meme grind" project, typically abbreviated as "Xavleg"), Technopath (Kris, Lwandile, and Tom's instrumental prog/djent project), Corps Fleur (Luke's post-black metal/blackgaze project), Sinners (Duncan and Chris' horrorcore project with Duncan's fiancee), and Cryoplegia (Lwandile's one-man slamming deathcore project) being among the most notable. Wormhole also started out as one of these between Duncan and Sanjay Kumar back when Perihelion was still Sanjay's main band, but they gradually grew into their own entity as Perihelion was enfolded into them, and no longer have any real association with Vulvodynia (though Duncan and Sanjay are still very good friends).
  • Technical Death Metal: They began to include elements of this on Mob Justice and made it a major part of their sound on Praenuntius Infiniti.
  • True Companions: With Cognitive (as Rob Wharton is their manager) and Wormhole (Duncan was an early member back during their bedroom project days, and has continued to be very good friends with the band and particularly Sanjay Kumar).
  • Wolverine Publicity: Duncan Bentley, thanks to his numerous other projects, prolific guest appearances, and the screen printing shop Crowdkill Apparel, which he runs. To put it simply, Duncan has his hands in so many things that it is honestly difficult to name a part of the South African metal scene that isn't connected to him in some way.

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