SXSW Guide: Metal bands you should see and fear

SXSW Guide: Metal bands you should see and fearAs the 2011 incarnation of SXSW approaches, much is being made about this year’s impressive metal delegation. Looking at the line-up, it seems like the general public is ready to welcome death metal, doom and grind into the fold with open arms. Who knows what took them so long.

“But Daniel,” you say. “I’m a super-hip omnivorous music fan who doesn’t want to miss some of my favorite non-metal bands! What am I to do?”

Fear not, brave soul. I cannot, in good conscience, give everyone on this list my wholehearted recommendation simply on the basis of their being a metal band in hippie land. I know that all these bands have some small degree of crossover appeal, and I have no problem with that. You’ve gotta start somewhere, after all. Instead, my intention here is simply to help avoid any, let’s say, embarrassing misrepresentations, of our beloved metal kingdom. Read on to find out who’s worth giving up your precious hippie drug dancing time.


Thursday, March 17, 11:45 p.m., Barbarella Patio

This show may be indoors, but if you can, find a tree to sit under and let these dark folk metaller’s brooding, shimmering epics worm through your body like the roots of Yggdrasil itself. Bring your gal and get your smooch on.

Animals as Leaders

Wednesday, March 16, 10 p.m., Habana Bar Backyard

If you have a child/sibling/loved one who once mastered “Sweet Child O’ Mine” and is now hellbent on pursuing a dead end musical career, here is the antidote. After five minutes watching Tobin Abasi shred the Christ out of his guitar, their spirit will break and they’ll finally get a haircut and take that mail sorting job down at the cracker factory.


Saturday, March 19, 11 p.m., Valhalla

Jackie Perez Gratz, the cello-toting journey-woman who has lent her talents to such diverse projects as Asunder, Neurosis and Cattle Decapitation, brings us Grayceon. Not exactly skull-pounding, but intricately composed classic metal that swaps out the bass guitar for the deeper, swooning tones of Gratz’s cello. Bring wine.

Iron Age

Friday, March 18, 1 a.m., Headhunters

Is there any better way to end a mellow day of DJ sets and indie rock than getting raucously drunk at an Iron Age show? Anyone? Didn’t think so. These Texas natives’ mix of thrash, hardcore and doom is practically tailor made for blackout binging and punching hippie onlookers in the back of the head.


Saturday, March 19, 11 p.m., Scoot Inn

Representing the fine (by which I mean merely acceptable) city of New York, Naam bring SXSW-goers a helping of slow doom spiked with some very potent kool-aid. If you have any drugs, this might be the best time to take them. Just don’t act surprised if you wake up a week later, butt naked, in the desert.

Slough Feg

Saturday, March 19, 1 a.m., Valhalla

First of all, why they shortened their name from The Lord Weird Slough Feg is beyond me. You might hear these traditional metal warriors referred to with the “celtic” tag, but I assure you, their old fashioned duel-guitar attack is nowhere near as annoying as Dropkick Murphy’s. Do yourself a favor and travel back to metal’s halcyon days, back before this somehow qualified as well.


Friday, March 18, 8:55 p.m., Dirty Dog Bar

What would a music festival be without a set of southern-fried stoner metal (Answer: not a music festival. Duh.) Would it help if I told you that Dave “Dixie” Collins once blew off his own toe with a shotgun? He might do it again.


Friday, March 18, 2 p.m., Headhunters

Probably the best grind trio ever to come out of Singapore. Maybe it’s the constant cultural oppression (When writing angry music, it helps to have something to actually be angry about), or the simple lack of competition, but these guys shred by any global standard. Bring your moshing shoes.


Thursday, March 17, 1 a.m., Barbarella Patio

If you have any drugs left. This would be a good time to take them. YOB will suffocate you with the weight of a thousand oceans and make you love every minute of it. It is the adventurous spirit who dares absorb their ten minute-plus epics of molten, cosmic doom without total soul implosion. Highly recommended.

That’s it for the “GO SEE THESE” portion of the guidebook. Got that? Good, as for this next batch. Do the opposite. If one of your buddies gets too hammered and somehow bumbles the words, “Hey, dudes…maybe we should go see Chelsea Grin…” Don’t hesitate. Punch their goddamn lights out. In fact, I’m going to go the extra mile here and NOT post their show times and venues. Avoid like the plague.

Chelsea Grin: If you iron your bangs and are looking to pick up some jail bait, this is the show for you.

Dagoba: Do you like Star Wars? Go watch that instead. There is no Yoda here.

Emmure: We either take a stand here and now… or we admit that Fred Durst was right.

The Faceless: I feel a little bad putting The Faceless on this list. I’m sure they practiced really hard to be able to play as fast as they do. You can take ‘em or leave ‘em on record, but live, you’ll have more fun watching a rendition of Punch and Judy.

Hull: How is it possible that these guys are as boring as they are, even with THREE GUITARISTS?!? They’re breaking some immutable law of physics here. Someone answer me!!!!

Mose Giganticus: Why they didn’t just book The Melvins instead of this shit cover band is lost on me.

Whitechapel: If you think lip-discing is the fashion trend of the future, head on over here to meet your new friends.

That’s about all the help I can give you. Now get out there and get your metal!


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