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SXSW 2012 MetalSucks Metal Recap

Friday, March 16th definitely had the most running around of all the days; there was only so much time to see as many bands as possible. It was tiring but I’m glad I did it instead of being lazy and staying put, because there were some really killer shows including unexpectedly GREAT ones like Norwegian trad metallers Audrey Horne (feat. members of Enslaved). First, the recap:

Number of bands seen: 13 (Enabler, Vestiges, Young and in the Way, Audrey Horne, Nachtmystium, Andrew W.K, Last Chance to Reason, Primitive Weapons, Junius, Mutilation Rites, Holy Grail, Royal Thunder, Scale the Summit)
Hardest partier: Andrew W.K.
Second hardest partiers: Nachtmsyium
Biggest Surprise: Audrey Horne
Inspired the most headbanging: Scale the Summit

Friday started at the Longbranch Inn on the East Side, with free Franklin’s BBQ courtesy Century Media and Cvlt Nation. I’d just eaten breakfast, but who can turn down BBQ brisket in Texas? Glad I didn’t because it was fucking stellar, and that place had been recommended to me by many.

I caught a couple of songs by Enabler, but not enough to really make an impression; I remember thinking they were good, but that’s about it… sorry dudes. Vestiges, on the other hand, I do remember being fantastic. I’d written about Vestiges in an Unsigned and Unholy column so I was especially excited to see them in the flesh. Their doomy but energetic live show did not disappoint; this is a band that could perhaps use a little fine-tuning on their songwriting, but if they’re paired with the right producer next time around the sky is the limit.

Young and in the Way were something to behold — furious blackened death-grind led by a shirtless singer with a giant, wooden, upside-down cross dangling low from his neck. Intense! Not sure what to make of these dudes… but I’m sure we’ll be hearing more from them soon.

After quickly ducking into the convention center to work out some deals, I headed over to catch Audrey Horne — a much buzzed about band whose Twin Peaks-inspired moniker I couldn’t resist — at a small E. 6th St. bar called The Aquarium. BOY was I glad I did. Turns out the band features guitarists Arve “Ice Dale” Isdal (Enslaved) and Thomas Tofthagen (Sahg), but Audrey Horne is a far, far cry from black metal: one person at the show described it to me as “what happens when black metal guys get together to play their fathers’ rock music.” AC/DC, Thin Lizzy and Led Zeppelin riffs were in abundance, all high-energy, lots of twin guitar work. Vocalist Torkjell Rød/Toschie did his part too, turning a near-empty room at the beginning of the band’s set into one absolutely PACKED by random passers-by by the time the band finished. SXSW audiences are so, so jaded and it was awesome to see something like that actually happen.

As with Primitive Weapons yesterday, the second time was the charm for Nachtmystium; they were great at South by South Death on Wednesday, but even better back at the Longbranch Inn late Friday afternoon. Maybe it was playing in a smaller venue, maybe it was the audience energy, maybe it was the amount of beer consumed pre-show… who knows… but Nachtmystium totally killed it on Friday. “Addicts” really hit the spot for me; so intense, so extreme. Video of two songs via our friend Josh:

My interest in Andrew W.K. peaked with the whole conspiracy theory thing a few years back, and even then I was in it just for the curioso value; I admit, I was never really a fan. But what is there not to like about the guy? I certainly couldn’t turn down the opportunity to see him play in a 100 capacity venue with no real stage, especially not when I was already inside. And HOLY FUCK, what a party! My video of the mosh madness:

Dunno who the busty hype chick is, but she’s smokin’! Andrew himself is down on the floor somewhere in front of all those crazy moshers — you can see his white t-shirt pop up and hair flail around from time to time. Some photos via our friend Josh:

Onto the Prosthetic showcase at Valhalla. Last Chance to Reason and Junius are always good, and though I’ve seen them both so many times over the past couple of years I always enjoy their sets. Primitive Weapons once again knocked the socks off everyone in attendance; the performance wasn’t quite as strong as Thursday’s, but everyone I talked to seemed mightily impressed. Big things are coming for those guys. I stayed for two songs of Holy Grail’s headbangin’, guitar shreddin’ fury, then Corey Mitchell and I headed over to catch Royal Thunder at… some bar whose name escapes me.

I enjoyed Royal Thunder’s live set a lot more than I can remember enjoying them on record. Vocalist Mlny Parsonz really carries the show in front of the monolithic doom attack of the band; to hear such a powerful, searing female voice over such heavy music is quite the juxtaposition, but it’s one that really works and helps Royal Thunder stand out from the pack.

Lastly, I headed back to Valhalla to watch Scale the Summit; I’ve seen them three or four times in recent memory, but they are ALWAYS. SO. DAMN. GOOD! MetalSucks-chosen #24 Best Modern Metal Guitarist Chris Letchford is so much fun to watch; the calmness, the coolness, the confidence while banging out those deliciously tasty guitar lines. To say nothing of the rest of the guys in the band, who are all stellar musicians too.

A little wandering around town and a viciously pounded bottle of tequila later, we called it a night.

Tomorrow: SALT LICK BBQ!


The story so far:

Day 2
Day 1

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