8 p.m. Downtown Music Hall. $5.
Dudes, this one is gonna be especially, epically ragin': Hailing from Peoria, Ill., the psychonautical metallurgists known collectively as Minsk have returned.
Apparently, the band, formed more than a decade ago, was on a sort of hiatus for a couple of years there. But that is over, and fans can rest easy in the knowledge that another key group of explorers has decided to continue voyaging into realms of cerebral heaviness. The band just released its most recent album, 2009's "With Echoes in the Movement of Stone," on a swank double LP, and apparently work on a follow-up album is under way.
"With Echoes" is an ambitious, sprawling work of psychedelic metal that combines numerous elements to create an imposing sound: the pounding percussion and stoicism of Neurosis; the deep-space psych-churn of Hawkwind (to whom Minsk paid tribute on 2010's "Hawkwind Triad"); the Sturm und Drang und clang of such industrial pioneers as Missing Foundation or maybe early Swans.
Also performing: The Sound of the Mountain, Mainland Divide and Enchiridion.
8:30 p.m. Revolution. $8.
Oh man, this all-ages show is gonna be a do-not-miss for metal fiends. You've got Snakedriver, the totally badass purveyors of crusty, metallic hardcore in the vein of His Hero is Gone or Despise You (though the band is becoming increasingly more musically complex). You've got 2013 Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase winners The Sound of the Mountain, bringing in the sweepingly cinematic and cerebral post-rock heaviness. You've got Memphis stalwarts The Dirty Streets with their amp-exploding power-trio psych-blooze damage.
And then you've got Rwake, who probably don't need much of an introduction in these pages. The band has released four albums, at least four of which are unquestionably classics of inspired, inventive Southern metal. This show will be the first to feature three guitarists, with former member Chris Newman rejoining the ranks for what's sure to be a triple-threat six-string metal meltdown. Rwake will be playing tunes off their most recent long-player, "Rest," as well as cuts from "Voices of Omens," including the epic "Leviticus" and "Of Grievous Abominations."
9:30 p.m. White Water Tavern.
The Body's been out on the road for a minute now, or, well more like several weeks to be accurate.
The dudes also somehow made time to stop off at their buddies' studio Machines with Magnets to record three full-length albums, including one that's going to be released on the Thrill Jockey label, which is also home to Barn Owl, Guardian Alien, The Skull Defekts and many other totally badass artists, so good work guys!
The Body's latest release, the EP "Master We Perish," is boss. I really dig how they go into some seriously Neurosis-esque territory for a sec on the last third of the nearly 10-minute closer "Worship." The whole thing is really killer though, and points to more great stuff to come. Oh yeah, for all of you The Body newbies, make sure to bring some earplugs. Openers Iron Tongue and Mothwind are gonna tenderize y'all. Should be a good'n.
7 p.m. Downtown Music Hall. $13 adv., $15 day of.
Dudes, y'all, this band Kvelertak? Have you heard them? For real, it's like this crazy mix of blistering, balls-to-the-wall hardcore, black metal, anthemic soccer-stadium rock, punk, classic rock, power-metal, pop-metal ... is there any genre of rock that this band is not ready and willing to throw into its ADD insanity blender? I think not.
You know what I like about them, besides the fist-pumpingly badass songs? They're sung in Norwegian. Because hell yes. I don't know about the rest of y'all, but I hear more than enough people screaming at me through my headphones in English. Is it time for some Norwegian screamin'? You know it is! Dig it! Get on board the train to Kvelertak (which means "chokehold" in Norwegian). Check 'em out after the jump.
The Body has a new three-song EP out this week called "Master, We Perish." Reviews have been positive, with Popdose noting that the three songs "aren’t just punishing but incredibly unique as well." CVLT Nation called the EP "clearly an example of the band revving their engine for the next full-length and it certainly lays down a haunting and invigorating gauntlet for things to come."
Its run of 500 CD copies sold out in probably about nine seconds. The vinyl version will be available soon. They'll have it with them on their upcoming two-month tour.
In other Body news, the duo signed to the Thrill Jockey label, which will release their new album this fall, which, right on. That's a good label.
Also, they've released two ultra-creepy videos, both directed by Richard Rankin, for songs from the new EP. After the jump, check out "Worship" and "The Ebb and Flow of Tides in a Sea of Ash." Probably you'll want to skip that last one of you're easily upset by imagery of awful things such as, say, a mass-suicide crime-scene investigation. Oh, The Body. Where will your fascination will all things horrific and gruesome take us next?
Tour dates are posted after the jump as well.
8 p.m. Revolution. $17 adv., $20 day of.
If getting covered in all manner of fake blood, vomit and, uh, God only knows what other types of disgusting bodily fluids by some dudes wearing outrageous horror costumes and playing thrash metal sounds like a good time to you, odds are you're already a fan of intergalactic scumdogs GWAR.
If you're not familiar with Oderus Urungus, Balsac the Jaws of Death and the rest of the crew, let's just say you should probably wear some clothes you don't really care about to this show. So yeah, it's GWAR, which means that squares, prudes, scolds, nags, killjoys, wet blankets, stick-in-the-muds, prigs and other uptight sorts who get offended by things like coarse language, loud guitars and getting covered in gore probably want to steer well clear of this one.
Opening up are throwback thrashers Warbeast and party-metal practitioners Wilson.
JIM DANDY, RWAKE, PALLBEARER
9:30 p.m. White Water Tavern.
It might not seem real obvious on first blush, but Southern rock legends Black Oak Arkansas exerted an enormous influence not just on their home-state younger brethren who went on to form the foundation of the Arkansas metal scene, but also much of the sludgy Southern metal that soundtracks bong-bubbling around the country.
I mean, Jim Dandy and the rest of the crew in Black Oak totally set the template for that longhair trouble-causing, loud-amp rabble-rousing, backwoods attitude and outlook, if not necessarily note-for-note sonic influence.
Dandy will perform a set with acoustic guitar accompaniment, while Rwake and Pallbearer will play their usual scorched-earth electric sets. I'm told Pallbearer is going to be leaving town the next day, bound for the continent and Holland's highly respected Roadburn festival.
Dandy was a guest on Rwake vocalist CT's radio show last week. Check out this photo.
Pitchfork is streaming a new track from erstwhile Arkies The Body. It's called "Ebb and Flow of Tides in a Sea of Ash" and it's on the avant-doom duo's forthcoming EP "Master, We Perish," Out April 30 on At A Loss.
Oh, and dudes, it is a bruiser! It's got air-raid sirens, and also Chip King screaming, which sounds kinda like air-ride sirens. Check it out.
9 p.m. Juanita's. $22 adv., $25 day of.
According to my sources, the forthcoming Clutch album "Earth Rocker" is a more straight-ahead rocker, with any jamming tendencies reined in. I listened to the title track (the record's not out until March 19) and it's definitely a rocker. In their bio, the band members cite Professor Longhair as a big influence, along with Thin Lizzy, Motorhead, Fugazi and Bad Brains which, hell yes.
"Maybe people expected us to go more acoustic or bluesy, but this album definitely showcases a riffs-in-your-face kind of style," guitarist Tim Sult said. "These songs ended up being faster and a bit more rocking." Of course, it's still Clutch, so expect big, groove-heavy riffin' galore.
Openers are ultra-bitchin' British doom-meisters Orange Goblin, Lionize and Scorpion Child.
KNUCK FEST 2013
7 p.m. Downtown Music Hall. $8-$25.
In what is fast becoming a January tradition in Central Arkansas, Knuck Fest returns to transform the normally innocent confines of Downtown Music Hall into a vortex of anguished screams, guttural howls, ear-splitting amp-abuse and perhaps a lively moshpit or two.
Actually, I guess that would describe Downtown Music Hall on many nights, but these three will be especially loud and mosh-y, being overrun as they will be with punk, metal, hardcore and metalcore.
Here are the lineups: Friday features Bitter Times, Pose No Threat, Distiller, The Muddlestuds, Motives, Jungle Juice and Snakedriver.
Saturday has Soundcult, A Traitors Funeral, A Darkend Era, Strange as Fiction, Fallen Empire, Mainland Divide, Legions Await, Crankbait and Living Sacrifice.
Sunday sees brutal sets from Slamphetamine (killer name!), Rawhead, Deshoveled, Decay Awaits, Killing Souls and Fuck the Facts.
All in all, at $25 for a three-day pass, this is one of the best bargains in crushing, evil heaviness all year. And remember, all ye headbangers and mosh-maniacs — you can sleep when you're dead. The festivities continue at 4 p.m. Saturday and 7 p.m. Sunday.
Tags: Knuck Fest
While we at the Times have been singing the praises of Little Rock's Pallbearer all year, it's worth noting that, as predicted in our 2012 A-Z list, the band ended up on several more best-of-2012 lists, including a highly coveted No. 1 spot on the best metal albums list over at Pitchfork.
Branson Stosuy, who helms Pitchfork's Show No Mercy column, wrote: "Upon its release in February, the Little Rock, Ark., quartet's debut Sorrow and Extinction immediately felt like a classic" going on to note that "close to a year later, Sorrow's five extended tracks — uplifting vintage doom fleshed out with psychedelia, prog melodies, and subtle ambient keys — are as fresh as they were on that first spin. Piloted by Brett Campbell, a singing vocalist/guitarist who straddles a sweet spot between young Ozzy and Geddy Lee, Pallbearer have a rare ability to write emotionally resonant guitar parts and epic dynamic arcs that don't lose their ability to give goosebumps, even after you've worn out your vinyl."
To put this ranking in perspective, it's helpful to note how many truly great metal and hardcore albums came out this year, many of which were on Stosuy's list. At No. 2 was Converge's "All We Love We Leave Behind" (here's our interview with Converge vocalist Jacob Bannon). Fort Worth duo Pinkish Black (who were at Downtown Music Hall this month) released an awesome debut that came in at No. 6, just ahead of "Honor Found in Decay," the the 10th studio album from metal gods Neurosis. There were also fantastic albums from Royal Thunder (with whom Pallbearer toured this year), Samothrace (who were supposed to be on the tour as well, but were forced to cancel) and Bell Witch (who played Downtown Music Hall). The list also included some of the Times staff's personal favorites, including Horseback's hypnotic, otherworldly "Half Blood" at No. 25 and Black Breath's bruising riff-a-geddon soundtrack "Sentenced to Life" at No. 18.
"Sorrow & Extinction" also came it at No. 2 on Spin's best metal albums of 2012 list, with the magazine noting that "doom-rock's newest Drab Four play metal as if the only bands who ever existed were Black Sabbath, Saint Vitus, and Candlemass: suffocating atmosphere, downtrodden and downtuned funereal bleakness, heavy guitars, spooky vocals, and more hooks than should fit in that coffin. But unlike other pretenders to the crypt, these downer-rockers sell it convincingly, and Pallbearer's sincere, weirdly melodic hopelessness served as a perfect antidote to the 2012 pop charts' ubiquitous cheer: Their answer to Carly Rae Jepsen would be 'Call Me Never.'"
Entertainment Weekly's music blog put the album at No. 5. According to writer Kyle Anderson, "Profound Lore is one of the best labels for any genre of music working today, and the centerpiece of their unbeatable 2012 (which included an amazing album by Witch Mountain that just missed inclusion on this list) was the debut of Pallbearer, who take the Black Sabbath model of guitar sludge and slow it down even further. With that magisterial heft running underneath, Pallbearer are free to drop in some delightfully doomy vocals and flashes of orchestral swoop. Sorrow and Extinction is the sound of your brain melting one thrilling drop at a time."
The album made both the metal top 10 and the overall top 50 at NPR. Lars Gotrich — who's been kind to other Arkansas metal bands in the past, and whose taste is pretty right-on, IMO — wrote that "On my iPod, on my turntable, in melodies hummed to myself on the way to work, it's one of the albums that just stuck with me all year."
PALLBEARER, PINKISH BLACK
8 p.m. Downtown Music Hall. $7.
Pinkish Black hail from Fort Worth (my old stomping grounds — shouts out to West Creek Elementary, Kincaid's Hamburgers and the Tandy Subway [R.I.P.]). Their self-titled debut full-length came out earlier this year on the Handmade Birds label and they recently signed to Century Media.
The shorthand on this duo is that they play doom metal with synthesizers in lieu of guitars. That's true, but this is doom metal with a host of other sinister sounds clawing their way into the mix, e.g. the buzzing evil of Suicide, the narcoticized droning of Spacemen 3, the sturm und drang of Joy Division at their most alienated and furious and the outer space shoegazing of maybe Bailterspace. Bursts of black metal filth rip to the surface occasionally ("Tell Her I'm Dead," for example), and there's a coldwave/goth streak throughout the record. The band has a penchant for the darkly dramatic.
Singer Daron Beck has a haunting baritone that often is stacked up on top of itself in multi-tracked walls, sounding like the chanting of the world's most bummed-out monks. Droning synths and a fiendish Theremin-like tone create huge waves of sound, reminding me at times of an evil, bad-trip version of Silver Apples. Every once in a while though, as on "Passerby" and "Tastes Like Blood," a ray of major key sunlight cuts through the dense clouds of hateful darkness for a moment.
Despite the preceding litany of comparisons, Pinkish Black really does possess a distinct, cohesive sound, one that's a good deal more than the sum of the band's influences.
Pallbearer, by this point, needs little in the way of introduction in these pages. The band has had a huge year, releasing a universally adored debut album and touring the country with some of metal's leading lights.
Opening the show are Russellville post-rockers Sound of the Mountain.
Check out "Tell Her I'm Dead" by Pinkish Black:
9 p.m. Juanita's. $17 adv., $20 day of.
Ah Cannibal Corpse, one of the longest-running and most successful death metal bands ever. Besides earning the enmity of Sen. Bob Dole and a cameo in "Ace Ventura: Pet Detective," the pioneering New York-based death metal group is probably best known outside of metal circles for its gruesome, controversial album covers, nearly every one of which has required some toned-down version to pass muster with The Man and make its way to record store shelves, tucked somewhere in between Candlebox and The Carpenters.
I've got to say, though, that its album covers don't seem quite as shocking here in 2012, in the wake of years of generic, gory network procedurals and AMC's "The Walking Dead." On second thought, the cover for "Butchered at Birth" is still pretty foul by nearly any standard. The band's song titles, too, aren't exactly dinner table conversation: "Meat Hook Sodomy," "Hacksaw Decapitation," "A Skull Full of Maggots" and trust me, those are some of the tamer ones.
The band's latest, the simply titled "Torture," is another chapter in the ongoing story of Cannibal Corpse, one of death metal's true survivors.
THE SWORD, GYPSYHAWK, EAGLE CLAW
7:30 p.m. Downtown Music Hall. $15 adv., $17 day of.
Gary slammed the door shut on his now ex-girlfriend and strode across the parking lot of the fleabag motel they'd been crashing at. He opened the back doors of his purple '71 Ford Econoline and tossed a satchel containing two kilos of pure, uncut Plutonian Nyborg into the hidden compartment he'd cut out of the panel above the back passenger wheel well.
The Nyborg's street value was 20 large. Just gotta boogie out to Albuquerque, hook up with Stash to make the sale and then head down to San Miguel for an extended holiday. Stay down there long enough to sort things out, forget about the last year and get his head straight. With that in mind, he pulled out the jernt he'd tucked into his bandana and fired it up as he was passing the city limits, endless highway stretching out before him. Adios, Wichita. Vaya con Dios.
Some tunes, man — that was what he needed now. He reached into the glove box and rifled around for an 8-track, pulling out one after another. James Gang? Good stuff, but eh, not right now. "Houses of the Holy?" Nah, been playing that one too much lately.
The next one hadn't been opened for some reason. "The Sword," he said aloud, eyeing the outer space warrior chick on the cover. "Huh, don't remember picking this up." He bit into the shrink wrap, tore it off and ka-chunked the tape into the player.
As the sun faded from the sky, Gary cranked the stereo. The Sword's bitchin' riffs and cosmic grooves washed over him. "Yeah man," he thought as the darkness fell around him, "things are gonna be all right."
9:30 p.m. White Water Tavern.
Little Rock's Snakedriver kicks up a brutal, misanthropic hybrid of hardcore and sludge metal. They've got a split album out now with Tennessee's Laser Flames on the Great Big News, who played at Mutants of the Monster II a few weeks back (pick it up at the show for $8).
Over three songs, Snakedriver showcases a broader, bigger, meaner sound that's a step up from the demos the band recorded last year, which were already impressive. The band still essentially welds Southern sludge groove onto hardcore thrash violence, but these newer songs are more dynamic, with an awesome slow build on opener "Apex" that reminds me of late great Memphis legends His Hero is Gone.
There's some clean singing that crops up alongside the shredded-throat screams. It's a contrast that works well, partially because it catches you off guard. I'm excited to hear where Snakedriver goes from here.
Also playing are Little Rock hardcore mainstays God City Destroyers and Dakhma, a newer outfit that specializes in "cosmic sand metal."
Check out "Apex" by Snakedriver:
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