SXSW showcase reviews

Live Shots
Photo by Aubrey Edwards


Spiro's Amphitheater, Friday, March 20

It was hard not to focus on guitarist Aethyris McKay as the house music leading into Absu's set came to a close. He stood stoically, hardly moving a muscle, with his arms wrapped around his jet-black axe as he awaited the chaos bound to ensue. The Dallas four gave no introduction more than Proscriptor McGovern's devilish growls emanating from deep behind the bellows of a drum set that would soon set fire to all of Spiro's Amphitheater. A mad-dash drum roll and it's on. Bassist/cryptic-howler Ezezu – eyes caverned from death-black make-up and hair halfway down his back – ripped the torch, hands racing up and down his five-string with reckless abandon as throngs of allegiants threw fists and horns in the air. "Swords and Leather" sliced; 2001's "Four Crossed Wands (Spell 181)" slammed but never with any indication that Absu's three standing horsemen get off on the fury. They rip unwavering, heads down. Longest-tenured member McGovern is the theatric; he howls and beckons, searing gothic through his headless microphone – the rock of the madness. Their set ended abruptly, likely one song earlier than the black-clad troupe had intended, but they'd made their mark. Absu left to a ringing chant of their name, thus making it clear that this 18-year pillar of thrash metal still reigns supreme in the land of the dark.

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