Napalm Death, Cattle Decapitation/Pack of Wolves, Lions of Tsavo

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Cattle Decapitation
Cattle Decapitation (Photo by John Anderson)

Napalm Death, Cattle Decapitation/Pack of Wolves, Lions of Tsavo

Emo's/Red 7, April 26

South by Southwest Sabbath, 2009: Red 7 hosts a metal assembly longer than your average workday as headlined by Chicago instrumentalists Pelican (at Emo's May 19 with Isis and post-SX bill mates Tombs) and stolen in swirling red smoke and candelabra fury by Olympia, Wash.'s Wolves in the Throne Room (Emo's also, June 7). A month of Sundays later, Red River hosted a measly seven hours of metallic shitstorm, starting with a free dinner and show at Red 7. Locals Curse the Heavens demonstrated the efficacy of three, the density of the trio's lumber balanced by its modulation of speed and tempo. Austin quartet Lions of Tsavo upped the ante exponentially with two guitarists pushing a sonic firewall powered by drummer Josh Dawkins' punishing assault, which brought to mind early Mastodon. More agro, Pack of Wolves goes for the throat with frontman Trey Ramirez's larynx shred, the River City fourpiece debuting new material that relegated current LP Betrayer to mere warm-up for vicious bursts of convulsive rhythm kitted by pounder Adrian Carrillo. Closer "Swine Flu" killed. Emo's could only muster nine bands on two stages over five hours, not including the Anarchy Championship Wrestling beat-down in the venue's courtyard beforehand. Swine Horde, "the only local band on the bill" according to one of the under-21 quintet's two singers, excelled at nascent bolt-throwers screaming butchery. Louisville, Ky., trio Coliseum opened the outside stage in an oft-galloping metallic punk paradigm, while back indoors, Ohio's Woe of Tyrants practiced Euro metal arpeggios. In the big room, early faves Toxic Holocaust pumped classic 1980s thrash (Megadeth, Exodus) retrofitted for contemporary headbanging by the Portland, Ore., trio's bedroom-mirror hair god Joel Grind on "War Is Hell" and "Nuke the Cross." Cincinnati scream mongers Rose Funeral and Montreal's generic death metalers Kataklysm only delayed their respective stages' headlining sets. Inside, San Diego quartet Cattle Decapitation pancaked speed prog into the evening's most arresting execution of ear-shattering metal madness. That left the last set to uncontested gig schoolers Napalm Death, whose patented grindcore shuddered with mouthpiece Barney Greenway shaking and jowling like Richard Nixon as the Birmingham, UK, quartet compressed wood-chipper metal with Black Sabbath underpinnings and lyrics "95 percent written in South Austin." New track "Life and Limb" sacrificed nothing less to an annihilating night shift.

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Napalm Death, Cattle Decapitation, Lions of Tsavo, Pack of Wolves

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