March 13, 2013


Hot talent on the streets of Austin.

Ready for part two of our SXSW previews? You know you here. Here, we cover the madness that will go down Friday and Saturday. For reference, here's our guide to Wednesday, Thursday, and eats.


Andy's sister turns 22. SHOTS! Luckily for us, Invisible Oranges' day party at the Jr. (aka the old Emo's, 603 Red River St.) has free Jameson. Death is our communion. Unlike most parties with free booze, where you have to sit through terrible music and resist the urge to clock the next dude who says they'd sleep with Mac Demarco, this one has good music. Pallbearer will be back for another round, as are Royal Thunder, Batillus, and Inter Arma. Canadian noise rock lords KEN Mode will also make sure that Jameson goes down extra easy. Headlining this are volume devotees Today is the Day. Steve Austin isn't stone cold, he's red hot. The Polyphonic Spree will be next door, so to everyone playing, turn it up and blow them out of town!

We normally don't do panel recommendations. The industry isn't us. This year, we'll make an exception. Kim Kelly, as well as our friend Laina Dawes, will speak on the panel "Women In Metal: Why Is This Still An Issue in 2013?" The title says it all. The panel will also feature Nathan Carson of Witch Mountain, Mel Parsonz of Royal Thunder, SirusXM personality Zeena Koda, and Tom Tom Magazine writer Caryn Havlik. It will be held at Room 11AB of the Austin Convention Center (500 E. Cesar Chavez St.) at 5.

At night, we're gonna play a game called "Who Will A Life Once Lost rip off next?" The site? March Madness at Club 1808 (1808 E. 12th St.). As headliners, they'll gaze at plenty of talent to crib their next sound from. Mutilation Rites would send them in a totally black metal direction. Grind? They've got their pick between Kill the Client and Call of the Void. Perhaps they'll embrace thrash once they see Power Trip tear it up. Maybe they'll see Whirr and go shoegaze. In short, A Life Once Lost are a bunch of fuck boys, but March Madness is going to be a whirlwind of good times.


Save SOME energy for Saturday, though. You'll need it, in part, to survive the all-day shred/chug/rage-fest that venerable skate rag Thrasher and shoe giant Converse are hosting over at the Scoot Inn (1308 E. 4th St.). Saturday caps the end of the four-day beer binge they host every year called Death Match, which, over the course of 96 hours this time around, will see sets (though "assaults" might be a justifiable term, too) by everybody from Wavves, Trash Talk and the Adolescents to The Shrine, The Black Angels and Merchandise. (For the record, the Friday appearance of Antwon is also a must-see.)

But it's the final 24 -- or more accurately the hours between noon and 5 p.m. -- that are shaping up to be the real clincher: Topping the outdoor stage are Maryland rock legends Clutch, coming off a four-year quiet spell, and long-running UK stoner doom titans Orange Goblin. Also set to destroy are Black Breath, Kadavar, Power Trip and Austin mainstays Hatred Surge. Catch Seattle's powerviolent Iron Lung and local heroes Mammoth Grinder, along with Royal Thunder, Ancient VVisdom, Baptists and Freedom Hawk on the inside stage.

So comb your beard, grab up your favorite Powell and Peralta and your best Wayfarer knock-offs and see if you have what it takes to survive what will no-doubt be a very aptly named blowout.

After five (more) hours of head-banging and beer-bonging, you might be tempted to pack it in. Don't do it. Sure, take a nap, drink some water, slam a couple tacos, then hitch up your britches for one last hurrah. After all, if South by Southwest is a marathon, there's no sense in stopping in sight of the finish-line. Good thing Fred Pessaro and the fine folks with newly linked blog behemoths Brooklyn Vegan and Invisible Oranges are there to see you through. They're hosting their first official SXSW showcase at the North Door (501 Brushy St.) starting at 7 p.m. and it's sure to be one for the books. And while the official running order has yet to be announced, the line-up is as stellar as you might expect given the taste-makers involved.

Coming off a year of near-universal acclaim that started pretty much exactly 12 months ago at SXSW 2012 Pallbearer are capping off an extended SXSW run before heading back the Natural State for a much-deserved rest (and hopefully some studio time!). Mutilation Rites and Pinkish Black, both coming off hot 2012s of their own, will also perform, as will Homewrecker and Full of Hell.

But perhaps the most anticipated set of the evening will be a solo set by Baroness' John Baizley, who survived a harrowing bus crash with his band in England last fall. No word yet on what his set will consist of, but the multi-faceted Baizley is as talented as he is sincere, so the song selection will likely be thoughtfully chosen and equally devastating. We're stoked.

But you REALLY wanna make trouble? Boiler Room and Ray-Ban's party (RSVP here) is the place. Noisy hip-hoppers Death Grips will make their only SXSW appearance there. We get down with Death Grips, fuck all the the bullshit with label droppings and penises and etcetera. "I've Seen Footage" is the crunk anthem for the 2010s. Zach Hill is always a pleasure to watch on the skins too. Controversial Chicago rapper Chief Keef will also be at the event, which will also be his only SXSW appearance. Allegedly, it'll be right after his sentence is over. Will he show? And what will go down if he does? The ratchet potential is high, and that's the shit we do like.


Nobody doing shit on Sunday. Do we have to tell you to stay in your hotel/friend's couch? You will either have a record-shattering hangover, any combination of the aforementioned, or you'll be dead.

We're also going to reprint the "Final Word" we offered in 2011, as it's sound advice: Pretty much every open space in downtown Austin -- street corners, alley ways, back rooms, patios, rooftops, parking lots, bridges, overpasses, bus stops -- will be given over to live music, in addition to the hundreds of bars, clubs, taverns, watering holes and speakeasies. If this is your first SXSW, do yourself a favor and take a few hours just to wander around. You're bound to come across something worthwhile -- whether it be a kickass band, a free beer or a cute girl or handsome guy. Bring some good walking shoes and drink it all in. There's nothing like it in the world.

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Austin's rich queso tradition in full bloom.

SXSW is about to pop off once more. Old friends come into town. Bros become bros. Sweating your gotdamn perm out. Bands come here with the intent of being "discovered," despite that the bands who are scheduled for all the right parties win the battle before stepping on the field. Assholes moving here from other parts of the country who have the audacity to tell other assholes not to move here (FYI, Van hails from Waco, Andy from Galveston. They have the authority to deny.). Booze, while plentiful, gets more expensive. There are parties with free hooch, but that's so people can spend more money on coke. Coke makes people chatty -- too chatty. They'll blather if this is the year SXSW finally goes past "the tipping point." At the line for Tacodeli, they'll think out loud "What is mole?" Pedicab-on-pedicab aggression skyrockets. Yellow Cab's line is busy for a seemingly perpetual week. And that dude who used to drum for Nirvana is gonna be in town (we can't get you in, don't even ask, FOAD)? When will the madness end?

This is all just some grand experiment to see if man can live solely off of street sausage, Lone Star, and impromptu brass units, isn't it?

With all the incoming heat, it's hard to look right at you, baby. But here's our SXSW guide. Read it, maybe?

Part 1 covers Wednesday, Thursday, and the food you need to nom on. Our guide to Friday and Saturday will come later today.


SXSW does not start things off lightly. Show No Mercy's day party on Wednesday at the Mohawk (912 Red River St.) isn't about to buck that. Our boy Brandon Stosuy pulled it off. He got Little Rock's legends-in-the-making Pallbearer, industrial doomers Batillus, set-throwers Power Trip, mischief wizards Trash Talk, Virginia war-bringers Inter Arma, NY black metallers (but not THOSE NY black metallers) Mutilation Rites, power crooners Royal Thunder, Fort Worth synth-and-drum duo Pinkish Black, one-day TOMS endorsers Vattnet Viskar, and local degenerates Wet Lungs. Andy will DJ this event along with Handmade Birds' R. Loren, Kim "Thug Mistress" Kelly, and Fred "Mr. Bitches" Pessaro. Expect him to drop Flocka on these hoes.

After the Show no Mercy party comes the official Vans showcase, also at the Mohawk, with one very important band: IGGY AND THE MOTHERFUCKING STOOGES. We'll be the first to tell you, their new track, "Burn," isn't setting us on fire. BUT, this is the band that made Raw Power. The Stooges, in their first reunion with original Ron Asheton (R.I.P.), packed 'em in at Stubb's, which is quite a bit larger than the Mohawk. If you can get in, this may be the apex of SXSW. Metal-wise, there's also the Metal Wreckage showcase at Six Lounge (319 Colorado St.), featuring Boulder bangers Call of the Void, shoegazey Junius, Power Trip, Pinkish Black, and A Life Once Lost...who we'll bring up later.


Andy O'Connor here, the internet's laziest music nerd. While Thursday is pretty barren for metal, there's other cool stuff going on. For one, there's the Terroreyes/The Needle Drop day party (RSVP at Terroreyes for the address). Aside from the opportunity to schmooze with Anthony Fantano, there's a few good reasons to attend this. Chief amongst the acts playing is San Jose rapper Antwon, who we feel is gonna blow up after this fest. Seriously, go listen to his Dark Denim and End of Earth mixtapes. Also of note are electronic jazz weirdos Badbadnotgood. They do a really good version of My Bloody Valentine's "You Made Me Realize," but not shoegazey at all. Shave ya heads and get ya glasses on!

At night, Finland's Hexvessel will be the band to beat. They'll be at the Hideout (617 Congress Ave.) Folky, psychy, weird and awesome, they'll be the talk of the town for true warriors and dabblers alike. If their "Plant Trees, Worship Sagan" slogan can't win you over, you best leave the hall. You may see us (well, Andy) at The Spits show at Beerland (711 Red River St.) too.


Austin's constantly changing, and there's more food options than ever.

While most of listings from the 2011 edition still stand, we gotta emphasize one of them again: SMITTY'S MARKET (208 S. Commerce St., Lockhart). Pay no mind to simps and basic bitches who tell you to go to The Salt Lick. Those people should not be in your life -- you should not give them love, care, weed money, alimony, child support, royalties, your Hulu Plus password, NOTHING. When you walk into Smitty's, you'll see and feel the fire that's giving the meat life with smoke. That bitch is raging every day Smitty's is open -- brutal 40-degree winters, mild 100-degree summers, and everywhere in between. The pork ribs are unrivaled, the sausage is so good it might kill you with its fat, the prime rib is worth ballin' without a budget for, and the brisket ain't bad either.

Inka Chicken (1707 Wells Branch Pkwy.) is on the north side of town, but it's more than worth the drive. Their roasted chicken is succulent, almost making up for the fact that has no decent local fried chicken options. The sides, though, are where Inka really shines. Yucca fries make a great change of pace from the everyday potato. Black beans and rice are on point. Their fried plantains, though. HOLY SHIT. They are the side of all sides. You say no to fried plantains, Crustcake cain't. We'll make sure you cain't say no either.

Just need a fucking sandwich? There are Thundercloud locations all across town, but if you want to be where it's at, slide on over to Fricano's Deli (2405 Nueces St.). It's everything you want in a sammich, done better. Their Rocket Sauce will blast you off. Yellow Jacket Social Club (1704 E. 5th St.) also has one of the best Ham and Cheese sandwiches in town.

Tamale House (5003 Airport Blvd.) does not make tamales anymore, but they prove you can have breakfast tacos good, cheap, AND fast. They only take, and they close in the afternoon, but their tacos are hangover eliminators. Tacodeli (3 locations in Austin), who we mentioned earlier, is kind of a bougie place, to be honest. It's also pretty damn delicious. If they have the Delibelly, don't even slack. Torchy's (various locations) is also not the most, erm, "hardened" place, but damn if their queso isn't straight fire.

No fries are better than Casino El Camino's (517 E. 6th St.) Verde Chili Fries. Don't let the fact that Guy Fieri went there fool you. Every out-of-towner we've taken can't stop raving about them. Casino's burgers aren't half-bad either. If you want to go YOLO with your burger, Gordough's Public House (2700 S. Lamar Blvd.) will satisfy your dreams of encasing a burger in donuts. This festival is so goddamn gluttonous, you may as well be too. Gordough's other donut fares, from the Flying Pig (bacon and maple icing) to Nutty Valentine (Nutella, cinnamon, sugar, and strawberries) are worth saying fuck you to your nutritionist.

Got friends from Philly coming in? You want a delicious Philly Cheesesteak, but without the racism and blind cop worship of Geno's? Way South Philly (1104 E. 6th St.) is your new best friend. Side note: if food trucks aren't you thing, but you still want a great cheesesteak, Hoody's Subs (1205 Round Rock Ave., Round Rock) is the place to be. Via 313 (1111 E. 6th St.) is Austin's first, only, and best vendor of Detroit-style pizza. Thick crust, sauce on top, nothing but flavor. Best of all? They have Detroit's official soda, FAYGO! Have a little Gathering with your SXSW.

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February 21, 2013



When: Sunday, February 17, 2013

Where: Emo's East, Austin, TX

By Van Darden (TX)

On Sunday night, five men took the Emo's East stage in semi-darkness. Then, as the lights came up -- and stayed up for the duration of their hour-twenty set -- they proceeded to systematically dismantle, atom by atom, the near-sellout crowd who had gathered to bear witness to their own mutual destruction.

There was no fire, no flame, no pyrotechnics or video screens, no projected images or superimposed videography. Other than a few carefully selected samples and the intermittent squall of feedback and ambient noise that separated songs, there were no extraneous elements. There was no light show. No lasers. They barely acknowledged the audience at all.

There was nothing conceded, no graces granted -- nothing at all, in fact, to distract from the deceptively workmanlike delivery of a purified sound stripped down to its basest elements.

While a no-frills rock concert wouldn't normally be enough to warrant such hyperbolic exhortation, the simple fact that these five men have recorded and performed for more than 25 years under the name Neurosis -- a name that has become almost synonymous with lush visual spectacle (provided until recently by artist Josh Graham) -- is enough to warrant the preceding three paragraphs.

In the glare of the white-hot and immobile house lights, the five men, each with far, far more than 40 miles of bad roads under their respective belts, proved in the most literal sense that they have nothing to hide: Each scar, each wrinkle, each missing tooth was on defiant display; each note, each beat delivered with hammer-striking-anvil clarity and force, utterly devoid of pretension or artifice; their surety of action and naked presentation marks of hard-won confidence. 

It wasn't arrogance. It was utter dominance -- the kind that comes with a total mastery of craft.

Other, better writers can talk -- and have talked at length -- about what Neurosis means to them, or to the metal community at large. But the Neurosis of 2013 is traveling in new territory. Songs are turning inward, rather than raging out. Age and death are weighing heavier and heavier, and the stresses of the same are taking their toll. With this in mind, it shouldn't be a total surprise that they're stripping away every non-essential layer -- refining and reducing, rather than piling on and covering up.

And while it's impossible not to compare this older, bolder Neurosis to the decades-long, visually immersive spectacle that came before, the same violent, emotional metal catharsis they helped pioneer is just as humbling and revelatory today.

It may have taken 30 years for them to get there, but boy was it worth the wait.

Below is Sunday night's setlist, taken from

1. "Eye" - Through Silver in Blood, '96
2. "My Heart for Deliverance" - Honor Found in Decay, '12
3. "At the End of the Road" - Given to the Rising, '07
4. "Times of Grace" - Times of Grace, '99
5. "Distill (Watching the Swarm)" - Given to the Rising, '07
6. "At the Well" - Honor Found in Decay, '12
7. "The Tide" - A Sun That Never Sets, '01
8. "We All Rage in Gold" - Honor Found in Decay, '12
9. "Bleeding the Pigs" - Honor Found in Decay, '12
10. "Given to the Rising" - Given to the Rising, '07
11. "Locust Star" - Through Silver in Blood, '96

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By Andy O'Connor (TX)

Houston was poppin' over the weekend. Namely, because of the All-Star Game. Flocka was in town, as were Jay-Z, 2 Chainz, Pusha T, Birdman, and a whole host of ballin' luminaries. Of course, much as we get hyped over some quality trap, we (well, just I) hit up Bad Ass Weekend at Walter's on Naylor Street instead. It lived up to the moniker. Lots of quality grind and death metal to be had in Screwston.

In the spirit of the festival, I'm giving y'all bite size reviews of the bands that played.

SHITSTORM: Dudes from Torche -- specifically, drummer Rick Smith and bassist Jon Nunez (who plays guitar in this band) prove they can grind just as well as they can pop. Which is to say, VERY well. Vocalist David Smith was asking for codeine, but gettin' up on that drank would have slowed the grind down. Friday night could have ended with them and everything would have been all cool.

DESPISE YOU: This band looks like they'd get profiled at a bar on Dirty 6th, which is why I love them. When vocalist Chris Elder modestly suggested to get on stage, he soon found himself crowded out. Easily the most turnt band of the fest.

DROPDEAD: Fast and furious, just like you wanted them to be. Bob Otis keeps his rants more concise than Keith Morris. But really, though, can he expect marked change to bloom from this show?

WAR MASTER: Houston's finest in Bolt Thrower worship. Rahi, formerly of Insect Warfare and Hatred Surge, sings for them now, and he couldn't be a better fit. Coulda sworn "Cult of Greed" was played faster, guess to appeal to the punx. I'm not complaining.

TURBOKRIEG: War Master guitarist Benn Gott's project is just a little punkier, little rockier. With a name like that, they have to be. They delivered the goods.

HATRED SURGE: The trio has morphed from a very Despise You-influenced sound to a gnarly brew of doom, hardcore, grindcore, and pure hate. Lotta attempted murder in the front row, including one guy who kept trying to nap on stage. I think I may like them a little more than Mammoth Grinder now.

MAMMOTH GRINDER: Not to say that Mammoth Grinder didn't bang. "Total Extinction" never fails to whip up a mean pit. Wade Allison's hoodie/cap combo defines "mysterious guy hardcore."

CHURCH WHIP: Tumblr punks got it all wrong. Raging punk with a singer that has a questionable sense of balance. Oddly garagey/psychedelic in some places. I'm a total apoligist. [Former Crustcaker Sean Walsh's grindcrushing unit Skullshitter opened for them in NY, and Vice captured it.]

KILL THE CLIENT: Workmanlike, always crushing grind. Champ Morgan could have REALLY made good on his "Hall and Oates cover set" promise, but as long as they used that George Carlin's "a businessman can't hold a candle to a clergyman" sample, I wouldn't have minded.

IN DEFENCE: Cheap Dimebag jokes can't cover up that you'll never be as good as Pantera. Band is like the musical equivalent of God Bless America's William Hung parody.

FUCK THE FACTS: Canada? More chill than us? With these dudes? Hardly. Die Miserable, we didn't.

P.L.F.: Pretty Little Flower. Pulverizing Lethal Force. Played Lovably Feral. Punching Loquacious Fucks. (Nobody talked that much, I just wanted to use "Loquacious."

CHEST PAIN: Godflesh stomp is never a bad thing, and that helped these dudes play first on the second day. Chris Dorner shirts did seem a bit opportunistic, though.

RAPTUROUS GRIEF: They probably had the nicest gear out of everyone at the fest. Furious grind with a pronounced low end went over well as people were starting to fill in on Friday.

PORKERIA: The lone 956 representative of the weekend. Lots of awkwardness ensured when a replacement guitar couldn't be found immediately, but Chest Pain's Brian Chamblee saved the day.

RUSTED SHUT: Didn't play. Bummer.

Oh, and IS also hit up Screwed Up Records and Tapes at its new location further down on the South Side. The store looked somewhat empty to be honest -- the CDs are kept behind the counter, and the floor just had a few clothing racks and a list of what CDs one could purchase. They really needed a drank fountain. Nevertheless, it was great to finally visit such an institution.

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January 15, 2013


Mostly musical, a few that aren't. If you want an albums list, you can find that at Metalsucks.

10. No Gang Colors

If I wasn't some hack who merely wrote about music and gets butthurt when people use that Teddy Roosevelt quote, I'd be No Gang Colors. The alias of Fort Worth musician and producer Joseph Ohegyi, he understands that hip-hop, metal, and noise aren't so dissimilar, and actually knows how to fuse them together. Seriously, "Money Screw Dead," from 666 Mixes For Cash, mashes up Swans, Scarface, and Juicy J together and should have a been a huge club banger. And who else is insane enough to put John Fahey, Insane Clown Posse, Prurient, and DMX on a mix tape, and make it work as he did on Hellawayne IV? No Gang Colors had two releases this year -- the Warez Internet City mix, dedicated to fallen DJ Matthew Africa, and the "audio documentary" Hacking Heaven. City is darker than his other mixes, weaving through Carl Crack, The Prodigy, and early Three 6 Mafia, among others. Heaven features a variety of interviews detailing the intersection of technology and culture, woven in with bursts of noise. Most explorations of that subject do not feature a ill chopping and screwing of the breakdown from Pantera's "Suicide Note Part 2." Anything this dude puts out in 2013 should be gobbled up furiously.

9. Prurient - "I Understand You"

I fucked up majorly in my Top 10 Albums list last year. Had I focused on just "albums" instead of "metal albums," Prurient's Bermuda Drain would have easily been my #1. No disrespect to Yob, but Dominick Fernow's bizzaro-world club music was simply the best music released last year, and in some time. It's one of the 2011 releases I still jam on a regular basis. Fernow was pretty quiet on the Prurient front this year, but more than made up for it with "I Understand You," from Worship is the Cleansing of the Imagination, his split with JK Flesh and Hydra Head's last release. Frail synths get eaten alive by ravenous hisses and squeals, leaving not a trace of carcass behind. It's that whole "everything you will ever love will die" speech without words. So fucking beautiful.

8. Swans @ Austin Music Hall, 9/14/12

This was beyond music. This was a full blood-and-soul transfusion. For more thoughts, read my review for Austinist.

7. The NPR intern who said he didn't like It Takes A Nation of Millions...

If he can make it in this biz, I will too. One day, I will be the king of listicles.

6. The original Bill Nye Tho

No Twitter account has brought me such joy. And no Twitter account's demise has been so heartbreaking. There are now just lesser parody accounts. A few are still up here and here. Science fact: I'm faded as hell right now.

5. "Lock in the fade"

Kerry McCoy of Deafheaven taught me this one, shouts out to him. "Lock in the fade" technically means meeting someone to engage in physical combat with them. Of course, being a stereotypical wigger (don't let my Sadistik Exekution and Impaled Nazarene shirts fool you, I REALLY wanted Birdman Lugz in high school), I use it in many other situations. Mostly, to announce my mere arrival. Or to simply meet with a person, no fighting needed. I use slang way too much. It's kind of a problem. Then again, most metalheads don't have the swag I do.

4. "Turnt up"

If you've held an awkward conversation (that is to say, any conversation) with me at least once, you've heard me say "turnt up." For those of you who don't listen to Juicy J, "turnt up" means to be high on whatever -- booze, pills, weed, good vibes, life itself. One should aspire to get turnt up as much as possible. My friends associate me with that phrase, and I am somehow responsible for metal dudes increasingly using "turnt up." I don't know why, but I'm willing to take credit for it. Besides, we says "turned to 11" all the time. Why not say "turnt to 11?"

3. Deftones -- White Pony and Around The Fur

I still haven't gotten around to listening to the new Deftones record. For that matter, I STILL haven't listened to the new Baroness! I suck at my job. Anyhoo. 2012 has been the first year in which I am not ashamed of my nu-metal past. Were it not for Limp Bizkit playing at the Compaq Center (now the Lakewood Church) in Houston many nu moons ago, I would have never gotten into Metallica, Burzum, Public Enemy, John Coltrane, Big Black, pretty much all the cool shit I listen to. I realize that the Deftones are the “acceptable” nu band amongst music snobs, but White Pony and Around the Fur have held up a lot better than a lot of the shit that came out around that time. Deftones were thinking on a whole different level than Limp Bizkit and Korn -- they knew chunky riffs weren't the be all end all. White Pony incorporated ambient music into its framework, fer chrissakes. Compared to most of the groups they came up with, they had some semblance of an endgame.


2. Lil Ugly Mane

If I'm going by "most listened to" metrics, Lil Ugly Mane dominated my 2012. How does a dude who used to be in power electronics and black metal groups make the best rap album of the year (sorry I'm not sorry, Kendrick Lamar, El-P, et. al.)? By rapping about fucking girls in churches, bags full of guts, cups full of "beetlejuice," and being lugubrious. No, really, he has a song titled "Bitch, I'm Lugubrious." Lil Ugly Mane's production, under the alias "Shawn Kemp," weaves between ambient treatments, psychedelic guitar loops, codeine-drenched vocals, industrial beats, and classic 808 steez breathlessly. Dude straight up invented funeral rap with "End Ya Whole Shit." He doesn't save all the good beats for himself -- check Antwon's "Lap of Luxury."

1. Pallbearer

"Best dudes, best band." How many times have you heard that, and how many times have you wanted to punch the people who say it? Dudes are often the worst, and subsequently, they have the worst bands. Not the four guys in Pallbearer. They fucked the game up for everybody by putting out the best record of the year in January. Sorrow and Extinction is some next-level shit: doom isn't usually this gorgeous, this full of life. 'Twas also great hanging out with them at SXSW and FFF this year. Joe was totally getting down to Nicky da B at FFF, which proves just how much these guys rule.

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January 11, 2013


Pictured above and below are Ecocide's final moments, snapped in a cramped living room in a squat on San Antonio's East Side. Rainy New Year's Eve show capped off a string of Texas dates, marking the end of the blackened crust collective's five-plus-year lifespan. A poetic capstone for their uncompromising -- and all too brief -- career.

Out the way they came in, a scrappy DIY space called Tofu House bears witness to a damp and feral melee, the plaster cracking as the foundation lurches. Heidi's violin a desolate and lonesome wail above the heaving, swarming maelstrom below. There's a keg somewhere in the back and someone hands around a bottle of hot whiskey. It's cold outside but the walls are sweating. This is it and everyone knows it. A new year gets ushered in and a beloved band says farewell to the city that spawned it. A squall of feedback and its over.

Ecocide's final album, When Will it End, is available for streaming here and can be pre-ordered from Dallas' Tofu Carnage Records here. Merchandise, including their debut self-titled LP, can be purchased here.

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January 9, 2013


I didn't do a lot of writing about music this year. I've been working on a large-scale writing project that's subsumed a lot of my free time and, frankly, I'd kept the music crit candle burning too brightly for too long. The wick, as they say, was growing short. But in between manic, protracted binges of of murky ambient, witchy dub and dark jazz -- the interstitial soundtrack to a collaborative science fiction novel that will hopefully see the light of day sometime mid-2013 -- I managed to sneak in a few hefty helpings of heavy music that served both as an audial palate cleanser and a motivating kick to my brain's ass. Below are a few of my favorites from this year. I expect I'll see you 'round these parts here sooner or later. Until then, take care and listen to Mercyful Fate.

Cannibal Corpse

Cannibal Corpse
[Metal Blade]

After 2009's hit-and-miss Evisceration Plague, Buffalo's finest are back, carving out a standout entry in their already storied career. With age comes wisdom, and Torture benefits from the latter in spades -- songs are tighter, riffs more economical, direction more focused -- without sacrificing any of the gleefully vile and bloody filth that makes Cannibal Corpse, well, you know. Want proof? Just listen to the crawling chug of "Scourge of Iron" (a particular favorite) or the throwback jackhammer assault of "As Deep as the Knife Will Go." Do u even lift, bro?


[Southern Lord]

Ever since Tragedy launched themselves rudderless into an endless, Amebix-worshipping sea, Sweden's Martyrdöd have run up the slack, delivering the D-beaten, twin-guitar crusctore epic of the year. Kudos to Lord Greg for picking up these skinny, raw-throated punkers, despite the hard-sell of an album sung entirely in Swedish -- they deserve the wider exposure, regardless. And if there's one thing that's been proven over the last 40+ years, it's that headbanging is its own universal language. Skål!

The Howling Wind

The Howling Wind
Of Babalon
[Profound Lore Records]

With Mr. Crowley's Scarlet Woman guiding their (left-hand) path, guitarist/vocalist Ryan Lipynsky and drummer Tim Call have crafted a challenging yet surprisingly human slab of frost-bitten black metal that owes as much to Norway's Second Wave as it does to the duo's individual main projects, namely the psychedelic doom of Lipynsky's Unearthly Trance and the utter, crawling dread of Call's masterful Aldebaran. Of Babalon is yet another feather for Profound Lore honcho Chris Bruni's already decorated cap.


Three & Seven
[Profound Lore Records]

A couple witchy broads tossing off some half-baked retro rehash -- been there, done that, right? Wrong. The two lasses (and lad) in Occultation sound unnervingly committed in ways that some of those other trend-riders could only dream of sounding. Featuring Negative Plane mastermind Nameless Void on guitar, Three & Seven is a truly creepy, Hammer Horror-ready miasma of reverb-drenched proto-doom and occult psychedelia, woven through with spidery, Dick Dale-on-acid surf guitar licks, sepulchral organ runs and ghostly vocal harmonies. Play this at your next Halloween party. (Seriously.)

Aluk Todolo

Aluk Todolo
Occult Rock
[The Ajna Offensive]

The other Surf Black Metal album on my list this year, the cheekily(?) named Occult Rock is, to say the least, an odd beast. France's willfully obtuse Aluk Todolo are a black metal band in only the loosest terms, having more in common with Can or Amon Duul II than, say, Immortal, but this sprawling, 82-minute double-disc opus is raw in all the right places and infinitely addicting, each track revealing a more fractured version of some strange, depraved vision that demands return visits.

Pig Destroyer

Pig Destroyer
Book Burner
[Relapse Records]

The year's most-anticipated album dropped with all the grace of a lead brick to the forehead. Grind is, by its nature, a very un-subtle art, but riff wizard Scott Hull, electronicist Blake Harrison and new skinpounder Adam Jarvis have concocted a modern blasterpiece of noise- and sample-heavy mini-shredfests that underpin a plethora of vocal provocateur J.R. Hays' scary/smart short stories. The meaner, metal little brother to El-P's hyper-literate space boom-bap, Book Burner nails all of 2012's misdirected fears, frustrations and fantasies to the motherfucking wall.


With Hearts Toward None
[Northern Heritage]

In the four years since 2008's weird and wonderful Groza was released, Cracow black metal duo Mgła (pronounced "Mgwah," "fog" in Polish) have only gotten better, slowly constructing a landmark rebuttal to orthodox black metal's stale dogma and strict genre piety. For one, it's incredibly melodic -- compared to the atonal, buzzing roar of many of his contemporaries, guitarist/vocalist M. riffs in a singular thematic voice that's more Dissection than Deathspell -- and drummer Darkside's ride cymbal swings like groovy chick in a pair of tight-fitting bellbottoms. With Hearts is as khold as they come, but shot through with blood-warm humanity and real emotion. Song No. 2 (they're all named "With Hearts Toward None" and are sequentially numbered in Roman numerals) is so good I want to throw up.


[Handmade Birds/Pagan Flames]

The story is almost too good to be true. Dude mixes traditional Appalachian bluegrass with absolutely shredding black metal and everybody shits their pants because who would have ever dreamed to put the two together, much less to such stunning results? And he played all the instruments himself? AND THEN he donates the bulk of the proceeds to local Kentucky anti-coal nonprofits? I'll put it to you this way: if Austin Lunn ever starts a newsletter, I'll be the first to subscribe.


Sorrow and Extinction
[Profound Lore Records]

This is the FAQ I have written for first-time Pallbearer listeners: 

Yes, this album is as good as everyone says it is; Yes, it is their first record; Yes, they are from Little Rock, Ark.; Yes, like Bill Clinton; Yes, they are very nice and funny guys; No, it's not my problem you don't like doom metal; Yes, I mean like Black Sabbath-type metal; Yes, that kind of music is pretty slow; Um, '70s prog, '80s power metal, Candlemass, Ozzy, panel vans, beer, cheap weed; Yes, this is "one of those records that sounds better on vinyl in a dark room under a black light;" Yes, I mean that as a compliment; Yes, they kill live; Yes, the whole thing is pretty incredible.


Cancer 4 Cure
[Fat Possum Records]

As usual, the top spot on my year-end list goes to the record that takes up the most of my time, the one that connects most intimately with me throughout the year -- the soundtrack of my inner life for the better part of 12 months. This year, it's a hip hop record. Cry false and let loose the dogs of flamewar if you must, but them's the breaks.

I found myself on the go a lot this year, heading, invariably, to or from somewhere, always a minute or two late, reviewing what I had to do that day, fighting distractions or doubt and fretting over yet another deadline, plotting just how, exactly, I could fit everything together. It's a routine most of us are used to.

Brooklyn producer/MC El-P certainly gets it. After a five-year absence, Jaime Meline aka El Producto aka El-P has blown back into the public eye with a vengeance, producing and performing on of the most starkly realistic responses to a modern zeitgeist filled with escalating risks and graver consequences. I work for a major market network news affiliate and ply my trade in death, drought, rape, political strife and economic uncertainty on a daily basis. The facts of life, I've learned, are cold, ugly and brutish. The world is not a friendly place, but it's one that El-P seems intimately familiar with.  The darkly futuristic beats, synths and breaks that form the backbone of Cancer for Cure resonated with me in ways like nothing else did. Incidentally -- or perhaps not -- they became a reverse-image of the 2012 I came to know, a mirror to the polluted collective national psyche that continues to reveal itself, year after year.

If that's not heavy enough, even Cancer's fictional narratives are chockablock with too-close-for-comfort references to domestic abuse issues ("For My Upstairs Neighbor") and soldiers facing death on a battlefield ("Tougher Colder"), and are all the more provocative as a result. The subterranean bass (and Zola Jesus live cameo) on "Stay Down" hearken to the deepest, darkest Portishead crushers and the sci-fi samba beat and wailing chorus of "Works Every Time" plays like TV on the Radio on suicide watch. Cancer is a death trip, and one not for the faint of heart.

But it's not all doom and gloom. There are moments of brightness -- that "Firestarter"-esque stutter beat that kicks off opener "Request Denied" is pure sex, for instance, and standout verses from compatriots Mr. Muthafuckin' eXquire and Danny Brown on "Oh Hail No" both vie for Cameo of the Year awards.

But Cancer For Cure is, at its very core, a dark record for dark times. Gorgeous and immaculately constructed, sure, but reflective of the diseased and faltering world that bore it.

I don't know. Maybe 2013 will be the year it all comes together. We keep going to bed expecting a better tomorrow -- maybe we'll wake up to one.

But I'm not so sure. It's a cold world out there. Sometimes I feel like I'm getting a little frosty myself.


Aesop Rock - Skelethon

Agalloch - Faustian Echoes EP

Ash Borer - Cold of Ages

Asphyx - Deathhammer

Between the Buried and Me - The Parallax II: Future Sequence

Blut aus Nord - 777: Cosmosophy

Converge - All We Love We Leave Behind

Crystal Castles - III

DIIV - Oshin
Drudkh - Eternal Turn of the Wheel
High on Fire - De Vermis Mysteriis
Into the Void - Heavy 70's Metal Meltdown - Part III (compilation)
Killer Mike - R.A.P. Music
Killing Joke - MMXII
Krallice - Years Past Matter
Mount Eerie - Ocean Roar
No Gang Colors - Hacking Heaven
Rise and Fall - Faith
Sir Admiral Cloudesley Shovell - Don't Hear It … Fear It!
Velnias - RuneEater
Witchrist - The Grand Tormentor
Woods of Ypres - Woods V - Grey Skies & Electric Light
Wrathprayer - The Sun of Moloch
The xx - Coexist



Cerebrate - Mind's Eye in a Black Freeze
Falls of Rauros - The Light that Dwells in Rotten Wood
Graven Rite - The Summoner's Pit Demo
Hell - III
Innumerable Forms - Frozen to Death Promo 2012
Only Child - Demo Cassette Tape
Skullshitter - demo



Andy Stott - Luxury Problems
Burial - Kindred EP
Clams Casino - Instrumental Mixtape 2
Clubroot - III
Desolate - Celestial Light Beings
Flying Lotus - Until the Quiet Comes
Holy Other - Held
Raime - Quarter Turns Over a Living Line
Vatican Shadow - Kneel Before Religious Icons
Vatican Shadow - September Cell



Carly Rae Jepsen - "Call Me Maybe"

Bobby Tank - "Afterburn"
Calvin Harris feat. Ne-Yo - "Let's Go"
Ca$h Out - "Cashin' Out"
DIIV - "Doused"
Ellie Goulding - "Hanging On"
Jay-Z & Kanye West - "Niggas in Paris"
Kanye West feat. Big Sean, Pusha T & 2 Chainz - "Mercy"
Muse - "Madness"
Silent Rider - "Skin"
Swedish House Mafia - "Greyhound"
Tyga - "Rack City"
Wiz Khalifa - "Work Hard, Play Hard"



Mark Reale (Riot), Jim Marshall (Marshall Amplification), Trondr Nefas (Urgehall), Mike Scaccia (Rigor Mortis, Ministry)

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December 17, 2012


Your faithful and intrepid protagonists, Van and Andy, once again braved the seasonably-for-Central-Texas warm weather and choking dust of a November weekend in Austin to throw themselves upon the altar built yearly unto the god Fun. Three times is He named, and three days and three nights didst they sacrifice eardrums and livers in His honor. (Well, Van could only sacrifice for two, since he had to work on Friday.) But yea, the god Fun was hungry and the souls of two amongst a throng of thousands were mere drops in an ocean. The struggle was epic; their losses, profound. Sally forth then, good reader, and pay sombre respects for their sins.


Converge still got it. Not that they ever lost it, but they've managed to mellow down about zero percent over the years. How Jake Bannon keeps his throat intact, or how Kurt Ballou manages to sound so organically heavy, or why Nate Newton even bothers with Doomriders, we'll never know. The lack of stagedives was weird, but there was still plenty of rumbling on the ground.

Liturgy. No, seriously. As talented as Greg Fox is – that Guardian Alien LP is really something else – Liturgy might be better off as a drum machine band. Now a duo comprised of Hunter Hunt-Hendrix and Bernard Gann, the pair were freed of the shackles of mere mortal ability and were able to explore all the crazy nooks and crannies in Triple H's bulbous noggin. Andy caught them at the Nites show with Black Tusk, Van caught them during the day on Sunday, but we both left with similar impressions. Each song played like a different vignette, but like Burroughs' Junky, uncomfortably out of order. Shredding, hyperspeed black metal gave way to sleek, almost ambient noise excursions and back again. It was confounding, to say the least, but never once was it boring. A competent stage mix put weight behind what could have been tinny and shrill. No matter your feelings on this self-styled philosopher-cum-metal-musician (and ours are as varied as they are passionate) it's undeniable that Hunt-Hendrix is reaching, Icarus-like, for something brilliant and perhaps a little dangerous.

Black Tusk got the mouth of the south. The Savannah, Ga. trio immediately followed Liturgy's Nites performance, and they were painfully good. We use “painfully” because their recorded self will seemingly never, ever match their buck wild live show. That floor got good and greased from PBR and hesher sweat. As much as we want to create a myth that the floor nearly came down, I can't go that far. Hyperbole is our spice of choice, but it only goes so far. Also, shouts out to Lord Dying's singer for repping the Crowbar life.

12:55 p.m.? Pallbearer can handle that. After all, they did play Rites of Darkness. An early start did not compromise their majesty. No, spitting in the face of their truncated set time, the boys from Arkansas took their time, letting each note unfurl in its own time. Theirs is a sound not to be hurried. A warm, rich mix translated their mournful cries with devastating clarity, surprising for an outdoor festival, which can usually be a dicey proposition for doom bands. If they were on an all-night bender beforehand -- and their wry, if sparse, stage banner certainly alluded to that fact -- you couldn't tell from their renditions of “Foreigner,” “Devoid of Redemption,” and “An Offering of Grief.” Quite frankly, Pallbearer couldn't give less than pure excellence if they tried. Also, it was fun seeing some good ol' American trad doom delivered like a dumptruck to the skulls of a few unwitting pop-punkers who managed to wander over to the Black Stage expecting a late set from Cheap Girls.

No Big Freedia? No problem. Nicky Da B was the bounce representative for Fun Fun Fun this year, and real talk, he may have given the Queen Diva of Bounce a run for her money. The New Orleans rapper got the crowd twerkin' in the middle of the afternoon, when some were just shaking off their hangovers (or, if you went to Black Tusk the night before, bangovers). There was a flood of asses onstage not too long after Nicky Da B set it off, and all dat azz led to some serious energy. Like, “energy crisis solved”-energy. “Express Yourself,” Nicky Da B's breakout single with Diplo, was a torrent of rumps on rumps on rumps. Pallbearer bassist and bounce enthusiast Joespeh Rowland was headbanging right next to Andy. Not surprising, given that they've played together before at Chaos in Tejas' SXSW party at Hotel Vegas.

Torche brought the sunshine. If there is a metal band that is actually appropriate for the daytime, it's this trans-Southern crew. Hooks are bigger than the riffs, and that's cool with us. They picked their brightest cuts from Meanderthal and Harmonicraft to bang out on that Friday afternoon. Towards the end, they got their sludge on with “Charge of the Brown Recluse.” Steve Brooks had, by far, the sunniest swag out of the Black Stage with his orange tropical scenery buttondown. He embraced the fact that this was a vacation for music folks.

Rich Hoak's drum faces. Brutal Truth had a sluggish set – more on that later – but Hoak held it down. Something made that dude go into O-Faces, caveman stares, and pussyhound tongue-wagging. Was Kevin Sharp farting on stage? Did he get trippy with Bun B the night before? Whatever the cause – and mystery ain't always a bad thing – he was an absolute grind-joy to watch.

Can heshers get into Girl Talk? Answer: When Gregg Gillis mashes up Metallica's “One” with Lil' Jon's “Get Low,” the answer is a verifiable Yes. The hour-long, confetti/strobe/sweatband/hotpants/booty-bounce/disco/death-metal/rump-shake/sing-along mashup dance party meltdown -- which, let's face it, is the only fair way to describe a Girl Talk "show" -- was the triumphal end-cap to a pretty fun(x3) Saturday and validated Van and Andy's existence as avid appreciators of both metal and ignorant hip-hop.

Turbonegro may not have Hank, but they've still got it Granted, their set did lean heavily towards Sexual Harassment, their comeback-but-not-really record, but Tony Sylvester, aka The Duke of Nothing, more than filled out the butt-hugging denim recently occupied by long-time singer Hank von Helvete. Dicks planted firmly in cheek, Euroboy, Happy Tom and the other Turbodeviants delivered a hot-n'-heavy load of turgid cock-metal anthems into the gaping maws of every Turojugend member present -- and a whole host of curious peepers and looky-loos, too. Fan-favorites like "I Got Erection," "All My Friends Are Dead" and "Back to Dungaree High" went over like the Second Coming (pun most definitely intended) and had fists in the air like a fascist rally (if the fascists were all eyeing each others packages and licking their lips.) The perfect end to a near-perfect fest, the re-animated Turbonegro put the Lord's Day to bed with a nod and a wink and a playful slap on the ass.

UNITED! FORCES! UNITED! FORCES! UNITED! Billy Milano, best known as the vocalist of S.O.D. and M.O.D., is the owner of Headhunter's (which is now Metal and Lace, as of this writing), the bar everyone in Austin loves to hate. Denizens of the Live Music Capital of the World put aside their personal feelings during Municipal Waste's Friday set, however, as he and former bandmate Danny Lilker teamed up for a cover of the S.O.D. classic “United Forces.” Hey, we were hoping for “Celtic Frosted Flakes” too, but “Forces” was a banger. You bet the circle pit raged on for that. It was a supreme masters-teaching-the-students seminar. Surprisingly -- and thankfully -- Milano didn't have a word to say about the election. Despite all this, Headhunter's, er, Metal and Lace is still a dump. Crustcake Click ain't repping Titty Tuesday.

Har Mar Superstar is the white Prince. OK, that might be pushing it a little, but like the Purple One, Har Mar can flounce his way around a stage, preening and pursing his lips and pushing the mixed-gender crowd into a sex-crazed frenzy. Unlike Prince, Har Mar -- better known to his mother as Sean Tillmann -- is built like a young Ron Jeremy or the human version of Jay Sherman, Jon Lovitz's character on the Critic. But his pipes are impressive, his dance steps nimble, and his song choices impeccable. For the final song, he pulled the entire Yellow Stage audience close to his hairy, sweat-streaked bosom and belted out a note-perfect (and oddly moving) a cappella rendition of the Boyz II Men's classic, "It's So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday." It's those kinds of funny, tucked-away moments that make Fun Fun Fun Fest, well, you know.

AraabMuzik's MPC masterclass. Here's the pitch: One dude, one Akai MPC sampler, 45-minute set. Sounds like a drag, right? Tell you what, go watch any number of the YouTube videos featuring the young, Rhode Island-born DJ/producer live on stage, and get back to us. Boasting freaky-fast finger dexterity and an array of sick beats broken down to their individual elements, AraabMuzik weaves a dizzying number of popular music samples into his break-neck braindrill of hip hop, techno, dubstep and dance beats. His musical cadence and delivery was so fast and technically complex that his hype man was relegated to the wings for most of his set, waving a white towel and barely uttering the occasional "Damn!" or "Oh shit!" The audience, for their part, were driven to either dance their asses off or stare in gawping amazement. Like a 45-minute Yngwie solo for the Millenial Generation, AraabMuzik's set was as electrifying as it was bewildering.

Bun B did H-Town proud. So much so that Andy was able to overlook that he was wearing a Texas Rangers cap. (Even the sports-uneducated should know that the 'Stros closed out last season in the shitter.) Bun B cranked out banger after banger Friday night, including such classic Third Coast anthems as “Get Throwed,” “Sippin' on Some Sizzurp,” “One Day,” and “Big Pimpin'.” Except for a minor DJ sputter at the beginning of the set, all went smoothly. As expected, there were many tributes to fallen Houston legends Pimp C and DJ Screw, most notably by pouring liquor on stage. The purple was strong on Friday evening.

Free Slurpees. It was strange seeing the convenience store behemoths' green-and-orange trucks near the taco trucks and beer tents, but 7-Eleven is one corporate sponsor we might be OK with. It ain't DIY, but when's the last time Ian Mackaye made you a tasty orange Slurpee? Thought so. Now, if they were only spiked...


Napalm Death's drum sound. Was Danny Herrera hitting on paper? Seriously, that kick drum sounded fucked up. Other than that, Napalm Death had an ace Friday afternoon set. Barney Greenway still does his shuffle, children were suffered, and they're still enemies of the music business. What was the closer? Rhymes with “True Stuffer.”

Poor Danny Lilker and his bass. Brutal Truth's Saturday mid-afternoon set was plagued by technical problems, mainly concerning Lilker's equipment. First, they thought the cord was shorting out. Then they had to bring out a new bass, which soon popped an E-string. Turned out it was the head all along. All of this killed Brutal Truth's momentum, which sucks, because Kevin Sharp and Hoak were doing their damn best to turn lemons into limoncello. “Forces” was the highlight of Lilker's weekend, for sure.

Turbonegro are not Lamb of God. An otherwise delirious performance -- and reception -- notwithstanding, the naughty Norwegians have no business attempting a Wall of Death. "Walls of Deathpunk" are just as awkward as their name. This is 2012, not 2005. And Happy Tom claimed to get it from Korn? For shame.

It really is tricky, isn't it? Run DMC were the most hyped act of the festival. They hadn't played Texas in 12 years. There were billboards highlighting their storied return to the Lone Star State rented out around Austin, fer Chris'sakes. But honestly, they were somewhat underwhelming. DMC and the Rev. didn't perform full songs sometimes, and while that's understandable in the case of Bun B and his loss of the great Pimp C, it's not like Jam Master Jay (RIP, for real) had any major verses. Some of the stage banter got sappy, too. They played “It's Tricky” and “King of Rock” early, so Andy bailed to beat the rush to the Fight Amp aftershow. Not bad, just not Nicky Da B.

It's hard to get turnt on $7 cocktails. We should have brought flasks. Security was kinda lax anyway.

Long-ass lines at Kebabalicious. They've been doing the food truck thing long before it was cool, and their food is leagues of many Johnny-come-latelys, so props to them for stacking that paper. Alas, they were one of the only above-average food options at the fest, so nearly everyone hit them up. They needed a second stand, preferably in the homie/media tent. Once again, Lucky J's can FOAD.

Fuck you to the douchebag who kept using his flash during Earth. It's not some primma donna bullshit on Dylan Carlson's part – dude suffers from epileptic seizures. The yellow stage had plenty of lighting too, so there was no real need for flash. Some people just don't fucking listen. At least Earth closed with “Tallahassee.”

Are headbangers really that exotic? Photographers really like headbangers. So much, that whenever a hesher was really windmilling, at least one (probably from-out-of-town) camera darted towards the action. It was weird, to be honest. On one hand (of doom), FUCK YES, headbanging rules and should be documented. On the other, we're not albino tigers. We're human beings. And, as it turns out, Andy was featured in Thrasher's Fun Fun Fun coverage, raising his horns high for Napalm Death.

Nites missed a great metal opportunity. Black metal legends Absu and Inquisition were in Houston on Saturday for the seventh(!) Destroying Texas fest at BFE Rock Club. They couldn't fit in a Friday or Sunday show in Austin, too? Maybe Transmission couldn't get enough Bud Ice for the fest.

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