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Betrayer, Static Tensions, Winter Hours, Absu, Please, Please, Sorry, Thank You, Black Cascade, Live at Roadburn

Pack of Wolves, Kylesa, Tombs, Absu, Megazilla, Wolves in the Throne Room, and Earthless

Reviewed by Raoul Hernandez, Fri., March 20, 2009

SXSW Records: Metallurgy

Pack of Wolves

Betrayer (Arclight)

The rising fury of 2007 debut EP Wall Crusher splatters on POW's first LP for Austin indie Arclight. "I am nothing!" fissures ex-At All Cost axeman Trey Ramirez on "The Here and Now," the local quartet screaming for vengeance at a machine-gun gate. Maiden harmonies ("Betrayer"), cathedral guitars ("Wall Crusher"), and the piano-closing "Evaders" add up to a 35-minute epic. Sweet meat: marble-colored vinyl. (Wed., Spiros Amphitheater, 12mid.) ***.5

SXSW Records: Metallurgy

Kylesa

Static Tensions (Prosthetic)

"We downtune so much that it's super heavy," admits Kylesa co-guitarist/vocalist Laura Pleasants of her Savannah, Ga., quintet's fourth LP, Static Tensions, which, while not as compositionally right-angled as 2006 Prosthetic disc Time Will Fuse Its Worth, liquefies massively ("Perception") and even psychedelically ("Unknown Awareness") into a multiton Teutonic corkscrew ("Only One"). Artwork by Baroness' John Dyer Baizley. (Fri., Red 7, 12mid.) ***

SXSW Records: Metallurgy

Tombs

Winter Hours (Relapse)

High-lonesome doom cracks the battering tension wrought on Tombs' first crypt-kicker for Philly grave robbers Relapse. Lead-off leviathan "Gossamer" pounds an arctic whaling expedition that trails off into a glacier-blue echo, while "Filled With Secrets" knocks the inner hull of a lumbering behemoth whose hardcore convulsions end on a Dresden bomb run. Once this Brooklyn trio's mausoleum sets in stone, look out. (Fri., Room 710, 7pm.) ***

SXSW Records: Metallurgy

Absu

(Candlelight USA)

A lightning storm of industrial shred and kick-drum retribution spews fire atop Necromancer vox and shattered glass arrangements on Absu's fifth studio LP and first since 2001. The Dallas cell – band constant Proscriptor on vocal holocaust and Dave Lombardo beatdown, guitarists Zawicizuz and Aethyris, plus new bassist Ezezu – incinerates on all fronts. Notes the CD: "Absu arrogantly executes mythological occult metal ... still." (Fri., Spiros Amphitheater, 10pm.) ****

SXSW Records: Metallurgy

Megazilla

Please, Please, Sorry, Thank You (Australian Cattle God)

Tracheal scrog here serves only as melodic guideline, but when this local trio convulses In Utero on "Dead Sun," all becomes Southern Albini. "Grave Robbing in Texas" beats time with prehistoric guitar depressions, and "Shanghaied" stabs a rusty blade into equally angered "High Hard One," post-punk prog beat into dirt-metal plowshares with a radioactive blip. Six songs, 29 minutes: No, thank you. (Wed., Room 710, 9pm.) **.5

SXSW Records: Metallurgy

Wolves in the Throne Room

Black Cascade (Southern Lord)

A Birmingham, UK, quartet once opened its gothic, 1970 debut in wet undergrowth, and on its second curse for L.A. metal crucible Southern Lord and third overall, Olympia, Wash.'s Wolves in the Throne Room rain black metal. Ambient fatale off 2007's Two Hunters withers to nil in Nathan Weaver's cremated hiss, brother Aaron's epic thunder, and nü guitarist Will Lindsay's corrosive haze ("Ahrimanic Trance"). N.I.B. (Fri., Emo's Annex, 12:05am.) ***

SXSW Records: Metallurgy

Earthless

Live at Roadburn (Tee Pee)

Lift off in five, four, three, two ... "Blue," which arrives at Cream's crossroads in three minutes and continues for another 17. Accompaniment "From the Ages," a sandblasted vortex of metallic psychedelia evolved over millennia, fades out the first of two discs at almost a half-hour. One small step for the San Diego trio, one Hendrix Hail Mary ("Sonic Prayer") for mankind. (Thu., Room 710, 1am.) ****

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