Cannibal Corpse & Behemoth Defile House of Blues

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Photos by Jack Gorman
The hair says it all: Cannibal Corpse's Corpsegrinder, mid-headbang
Cannibal Corpse, Behemoth
House of Blues
January 29, 2015

More than 25 years into their surprisingly rigor-resistant career, death-metal archetypes Cannibal Corpse still relish their status as outsiders. Thanks to their gore-soaked and gleefully offensive album covers and lyrics, the group has battled a long legacy of censorship around the globe, with bans on their work in Germany and Australia lifting only recently.

Even today, when Cannibal enjoys status as elder statesmen of a global death-metal scene that's as strong as ever, they're still rankling powerful gatekeepers. Just last year, the band had the plug pulled on them by the authorities at a gig in Russia and once again found their artwork and lyrics outlawed.

If that all seems like kind of a big fuss over a band that comes up with bonkers song titles like "I Cum Blood," you probably haven't seen the band live. The potency of the band's music and the sheer dexterity of their performances makes them easy to take seriously. As purveyors of death-metal spectacle go, they're pretty hard to top, and not just anybody is capable of sharing a stage with them.


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deadhorse Singer Mike Argo Ain't Going Nowhere

Categories: Metalocalypse

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Photo courtesy of deadhorse
Mike Argo, front, with deadhorse
When word spread three and a half years ago that deadhorse -- the undisputed kings of the Axiom back in the '90s -- were reuniting after a 20-year layoff, most local fans were elated. Most. Not all. There was dismissive grumbling from some quarters about former guitarist and songwriter Mike Haaga's non-involvement. And just to up the train-wreck factor, rumor had it that some dude nobody knew was going to be singing. Jesus! Would they even sound like deadhorse?

Well, come to find out, that dude nobody knew was named Mike Argo. He heard the bitching and the grumbling. And what's more, he understood it.

"I could relate to it," Argo says. "There were some nerves surrounding that first show, because being a fan myself, I knew how I would've felt: The new guy would have to be badass. It couldn't just be some joker getting up there. They were really going to have to tear it up and do a good job, is the way I would've seen it."

So, that's what Argo set out to do. When the band made its triumphant return at last, taking over the Warehouse Live ballroom and filming its first-ever live DVD, the skeptics got quiet pretty fast. The guy out front may have looked unfamiliar, but his voice undeniably sounded like pure, unadulterated deadhorse. You'd best believe that was no coincidence.


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Machine Head Powers Through 20 Years of Metal at Fitz

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Photos by Jack Gorman
The hair says it all.
Machine Head
Fitzgerald's
January 22, 2015

The line stretching around the block outside of Fitzgerald's on Thursday night was the kind that makes you wonder how the heck everyone is going to fit into the creaky, old place. It was a truly intimidating mass of people, shivering in black, and if anyone driving past wondered just who this lip-ringed throng had assembled to hear, they didn't have to wonder long.

"Machine Head!" screamed somebody, as he stared at his own breath. "Machine fuckin' Head!" hollered another. "Lincoln Durham!" yelled a third guy, pimping the night's downstairs act. But that chant didn't catch on.

After eight albums and 20 years touring the world's heavy-metal strongholds, Machine Head is just a little too big in Houston to be playing Fitzgerald's, even on a weeknight. The club was about to become uncomfortably full. As the long line slowly shuffled up the stairs, they were greeted by hellish red stage lights and the sobering realization that crammed-full crowd would offer no escape from the wild pit certain to erupt greeted fans.

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Spencer Sotelo Talks of the Juggernaut That Is Periphery

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Photo by Groovehouse
Spencer Sotelo singing for Periphery at House of Blues in 2013 on the Summer Slaughter Tour.
In the world of progressive metal, few names stand above Periphery these days. You've got your legends, of course, like Dream Theater, who will forever tower over their peers. But for a young vital band making original and relevant music, look no further than Periphery.

On January 27, they'll release their latest full-length, Juggernaut, and it's an epic sized package. Call it the Use Your Illusion of prog metal; it's two whole album's worth of material released as two separate albums on the same day. One album is called Alpha and the other is called Omega. They're concept records too, so you have to buy both halves to get the whole thing.

It might just sound like shrewd marketing, but this band is onto something big here. In advance of their show in Houston this Saturday night, we caught up with singer Spencer Sotelo.

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Periphery Preview New Double Album, Debut New Sound

Categories: Metalocalypse

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Photo by Groovehouse
Periphery at House of Blues in 2013.
For the last few years, Periphery have been virtual figureheads of the progressive and technical metal scenes, growing in popularity and notoriety over time. They practically invented the entire "djent" subgenre, but just as quickly as the sound has picked up steam, it seems they've jumped off the bandwagon.

Instead, they'll release a double album in January, one half titled Juggernaut: Alpha and the other titled Juggernaut: Omega. It's a collective project, rather than being written solely by guitarist Misha Mansoor as previous albums were, and it's a concept album. More importantly, the first single, "The Scourge," shows them charting a completely new musical path as well.

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Are You Finally Ready for New Ion Dissonance?

Categories: Metalocalypse

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Ion Dissonance's cover for "Ill Will."
The genres of deathcore and grindcore have had a strange, mixed evolution. They have intertwined in odd ways, seemingly died, come back bigger than ever and now are dominating the metal scene. Newer deathcore bands like Chelsea Grin and Attila have been among the top-selling metal acts in the country this past year.

But they owe it all to the deathcore pioneers who paved the way for this style to come to prominence in the early 2000s. Enter Ion Dissonance, one of the earliest bands to play around with it, who have been revered as one of the greats of the genre since day one. They have been largely inactive since 2010's release of Cursed, their fourth album. Now we finally have a new song and hope for a new album.

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10 Metal Shows to Get You Through the Bleak Midwinter

Categories: Metalocalypse

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Photo by Groovehouse
Cannibal Corpse at Fitzgerald's, 2013

The temperature is dropping, the Texans are regrouping and the Trans-Siberian Orchestra has come and gone. It's really winter now, folks. Not exactly the greatest time of the year for live music, since the weather keeps most of the biggest acts off the road. Takes most of the fun out of a snow cone, too. Winter sucks.

Heavy metal, on the other hand, rules. That's why your pals here at Rocks Off have assembled this handy list of the best metal shows in town between now and when your ball-sweat returns. Should be plenty enough head banging and hellfire at these to keep your warm at least until crawfish season begins. So write these dates down in your calendar, or just carve 'em into your flesh: These are the best metal shows in Houston for the next two months.


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Fulgora Transcends Grindcore With Face-Melting Stratagem

Categories: Metalocalypse

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The cover of Fulgora's debut full-length album, Stratagem.
It's only been two years since grindcore warriors Pig Destroyer released their last album, Book Burner, but fans might be waiting a little bit longer for the follow-up. They should be okay with that, however, because in about a month, on February 3, Pig Destroyer's drummer and bassist cousins Adam and John Jarvis will be releasing the debut full-length, Stratagem, from Fulgora, their new band with newcomer guitarist and vocalist B.L. Mayew.

The band debuted in 2013 with a two-song punch-to-the-face single release containing the songs "Risen" and "Artifice." This past October, they released a second single with "Splinter" and "Crutch." Now, they've premiered a new song from Stratagem called "Meridian." Predictably, it rocks.


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Malevolent Force Slams Into Fitz Saturday Night

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Photos by Nathan Smith
Houston's Malevolent Force stirred up plenty of hair-whipping Saturday night.
Malevolent Force, Legion, Annihilist, Thraxis
Fitzgerald's
January 3, 2015

For some folks, cold and rainy weather is just another convenient excuse to skip out on a local show -- even a free local show. For true heavy-metal disciples, though, the cold and the wet of a Saturday night in January is merely an opportunity to dig more and more leather out of the closet and cinch it tight with an ammo belt or two.

It was the latter sort of people who took over the upstairs portion of Fitzgerald's two nights ago when local power-thrash maniacs Malevolent Force assembled a sturdy lineup of like-minded longhairs to help celebrate the release of their debut full-length, Descent Into the Abyss. A great many beers were consumed, and a few thrown, as Houston's lively crop of thrash-meisters convened to get gnarly together.

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Check Out This Badass "Grindcore Grandma"

Categories: Metalocalypse

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The newest grindcore vocalist who will save us all.
Grindcore fans, rejoice. Your savior has arrived in the most unlikely of forms. Have you or your friends lamented lately that there just doesn't seem to be any great grindcore left anymore, much less great vocalists? It seems like the genre has taken a real nosedive in recent years.

That's all about to change, thanks to the band Corrupt Leaders. They're an upcoming young grind band out of Canada who have finally found the messiah to lead their genre back to its rightful place atop the throne of metal subdivisions: their mom.


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