Houston's 10 Best Metal Bars and Clubs

Cecil's cranks on more than just the cheap drinks.
This West Gray institution is best known for its cheap drinks on Mondays and gigantic, covered patio, but its darkened, Bohemian charm and bitchin' jukebox have long made it a favorite among Montrose metalheads. Expect to hear a healthy dose of the heavy stuff inside, especially on weekends, when the old-school juke is pumping out everything from Iron Maiden to the Deftones. Keep an eye peeled for fresh gig flyers, and don't be afraid to strike up a conversation with a few of the longhairs puffing away outside.

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What Songs Should Metallica Play on The Late Late Show?

Photo by Craig Hlavaty
Metallica at Toyota Center in 2008
Tonight Metallica will begin a week-long residency on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson as a sendoff for the departing late-night host. It marks one of the highest-profile television appearances the band has made since the '90s, all at the request of Ferguson himself.

During the residency, they'll have a sit-down interview and five nights to play. Anyone who has been watching Ferguson's last few months has discovered that he basically no longer gives a fuck and is putting anything he wants on the air. That means good news for Metallica fans, since the band should be free to play whatever they want to.

That leads us to the obvious question, though: what should their set list look like this week?

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Anthrax's Scott Ian Spins Tales From the Thrash Side

Photo by Clay Patrick McBride/Da Capo Press
He's the man who was caught in a mosh: Scott Ian today
Like many men currently in their mid-to-late forties, Anthrax co-founder/rhythm guitarist Scott Ian was a huge, practically obsessive KISS fan growing up.

"My KISS window was about '75-'78, when I was 11 to 14 years old," Ian says. "The older kids all hated KISS because they thought it was only about the costumes and makeup and effects. But I heard and loved 'Rock and Roll All Nite' before I ever saw the band!

"And as someone who was into rock and horror movies and comic books, now I had all that wrapped up into one package," he continues. "And I loved the music."

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Slipknot Is Back...But Who's Buying?

Photo by Victor Pena
Slipknot stopped by the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion during Rockstar Energy Drink's 2012 Mayhem Fest.
Last month Slipknot rose from the ashes, releasing their first new record since 2008 and their first since losing drummer Joey Jordison and bassist Paul Gray. .5: The Gray Chapter is currently being praised as a return to form for the band, going back to the roots of their more successful sound on the album Iowa back in 2001.

This renaissance for the band is surprising, to say the least. For their fans, it's welcome and overdue. For the rest of us, it's just raising all kinds of questions. You see, full disclosure: I always hated Slipknot, growing up in the era where they were at their peak. But could that change? Could all these years have melted my icy heart?

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Thanks But No Thanks, The Contortionist

When the Contortionist released their first full-length record, Exoplanet, in 2010, they were one of the most exciting things to come out in the realm of progressive metal for a long time. Where the genre so easily verged into tired cliches or overused tropes, as in the later releases of bands like Dream Theater and Between the Buried and Me, the Contortionist had the right mix of heavy-ass death metal and progressive tendencies.

Now it's 2014 and their third album Language is hitting the stores and online distributors. However, after hearing the first two singles, I'm about ready to throw in the towel on this band. This has all been done before, and better.

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Crowbar at Fitzgerald's, 10/10/2014

Photos by Nathan Smith
Crowbar, Revocation, Havok, Fit For an Autopsy, Armed for Apocalypse
October 10, 2014

The last night of a long tour can be a tough gig. Oftentimes, the musicians arrive in town broken down and tired, their eyes already glazing over with visions of home. Maybe the men of Crowbar were feeling their age a tad when they rolled into Fitzgerald's on Friday, but when you've got to headline a stacked bill in front of a blackened horde expecting the burliest mosh of the year, there ain't much choice but to deliver the goods.

And deliver they did, with plenty of help from their friends. California sludge troupe Armed for Apocalypse warmed up the early birds, and by the time New Jersey deathcore upstarts Fit for an Autopsy blasted their last beat, the floor at Fitz was pretty well full of large metalheads ready to tear into each other for real. They wouldn't have to wait long for the chance. Denver's thrashing maniacs Havok hit the stage next with a whipping set of speed metal tailor-made for aggressive moshing.

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Revocation's Riff Factories Just Can't Stop Shredding

Categories: Metalocalypse

Brett Bamberger, left, with Revocation
Revocation is not a band that likes to keep its fans waiting. A little more than a year after the release of their last album -- a self-titled monster that propelled the Boston-based technical death-metal wizards onto the Billboard charts for the first time -- they're back again with another. Next week, the band drops Deathless, its fifth full-length and the first for the venerable label Metal Blade. And folks, it's a ripper.

Like its predecessor, Deathless threatens at times to bury the listener in a furious blizzard of notes. Led by the punishingly precise riffage of guitarists Dave Davidson and Dan Gargiulo, the new record is a comprehensive slab of brutal death metal and intricate thrash, stitched together with the same grace and fluidity displayed by Davidson's fellow Berklee College of Music grads in Dream Theater. It's complex enough to wow metal nerds, yet plenty heavy enough to tickle the meatheads.

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Guess the Fake Death-Metal Band Names!

Categories: Metalocalypse

Well, it's just about that time of year again: the time when it turns dark and cold and everything that's good and green and living in Houston begins to wither and decay. Not due to the weather, obviously -- we ain't got but one season in this town. No, that creeping rot that you can smell faintly in the air comes not from autumn, but from the impending, annual arrival of Building Temples From Death Fest, the sickest, reeking death-metal congress yet known to our state.

These aren't "melodic" death metal bands, folks. There will be no deathcore. Building Temples From Death Fest (which would be, uh, BTFDF) plays host only to the truest of the true believers. Headlined by the brutal old-schoolers Internal Bleeding, this will be a day's worth of the metal that you still have to hide from your mom -- especially if you're an adult. The evil practitioners on display from noon 'til close at Fitz on Saturday still relish the genre's power to offend, pumping out ear-shattering thunder dripping with gruesome art and obscene lyrics.

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The Brief, Bizarre Wave of Good Synth-Metal Bands

Photo by Joe Dilworth
Enter Shikari
Earlier this year, I wrote about the wave of dubstep metal that is ruining everything. That might have led some readers to believe that I'm fundamentally against the idea of mixing synthesizers and other electronics into metal, but that is absolutely not true.

The problem with dubstep metal is that it's horribly executed, but the concept itself could be successful. Back in the day, a lot of bands actually used synthesizers to great effect in a brief wave that unfortunately ended way too soon. These five managed to get it right.

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Goatwhore at Fitzgeralds, 9/15/2014

Photos by Nathan Smith
Goatwhore, Venomous Maximus, Demoniacal Genuflection, Legion
September 15, 2014

Of all the days of the week, none are less metal than Mondays. The domain of alarm clocks and rent payments, Monday must necessarily be the sworn enemy of middle fingers and Jager shots. Nobody applies KISS makeup on a Monday. No one has ever gotten a skull tattoo on a Monday. If you're listening to heavy metal on a Monday, it's only because you listen to heavy metal every day.

It was these everyday-metal types who showed up to Fitzgerald's on Monday night, with not a part-timer in sight. The black-clad die-hards came to see Goatwhore, the long-running New Orleans headbangers who draw upon the entire, vast universe of metal to arrive at a sound forged in the rank heat of the Gulf Coast. But they were also treated to a fairly stacked bill of local talent on a night when, by all rights, they should have been at home in bed. And they weren't about to just stand around and clap politely.

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