The Rocking Dead: Six Musical Zombies Who Survived Their Own Deaths

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Photo by Groovehouse
Ozzy Osbourne at the Woodlands, 2013
Rock and roll can be a scary thing, and not just on Halloween. The music industry is populated by more sunken-eyed ghouls than a dozen haunted houses, and most of them will not hesitate to fuck your girlfriend. Some of the best of 'em die way too soon -- and all too often. Others, like Keith Richards or Lemmy, keep coming back for more like a horror-movie slasher, seemingly impervious to decades of drugs, alcohol and STDs. Whatever these people are, they aren't human.

But there's a certain class of rock star that's even more disturbing. These are the men who have stared death in the face and made the Reaper flinch. They've crossed over to the other side, sometimes more than once, and somehow made it back again to tell the eerie tale. They are the guitar-slinging undead: Real-life rock and roll zombies.

How do they do it? Hard drugs and 911, in most cases. The reasons why any of these people remain amongst the living when so many haven't is anybody's guess. But it's hard to escape the notion that somebody, whether in heaven or in hell, is a fan. So gaze upon these living corpses with wonder and awe, but beware! For given a half-melted spoon and a defibrillator paddle, you too could share their fate:

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GWAR at Warehouse Live, 10/26/2014

Photo by Jack Gorman
GWAR, Decapitated, American Sharks
Warehouse Live
October 26, 2014

GWAR is alive and well, folks. That was the most important takeaway from the band's performance at Warehouse Live on Sunday. It was something that didn't seem quite possible when Dave Brockie, the man who fronted the band for 30 years under the foam-rubber guise of Oderus Urungus, passed away in March. He'd been the shock-rock troupe's memorable face, voice and id for so long that it was practically inconceivable that GWAR could exist without him.

But as Oderus was always happy to tell anyone and everyone who'd listen, GWAR is immortal. The scumdogs will always soldier on, and in hindsight, it seems silly to have doubted it. The very respectable Sunday night crowd that filled Warehouse Live showed up curious to see what GWAR would look and sound like post-Oderus, but confident that their favorite costumed freaks would still deliver the goods.

And deliver they did. Sunday night's show was chock full of all of the obscene violence, sexual innuendo and bodily fluids that audiences have learned to expect from GWAR over the decades. The most experienced and devoted fans were easy to pick out. They wore white T-shirts; the better to show off the gory aftermath of blood and bile pouring off the stage. But before they could be soaked, before they could properly pay tribute to the fallen Oderus, they'd have to survive the opening acts.

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GWAR's Vulvatron: "Ebola Is Not Doing as Well as We'd Hoped"

Categories: Mostly Metal

Vulvatron, rear, with GWAR
When Dave Brockie --the human avatar of GWAR's hideous, hilarious front-thing, Oderus Urungus--passed away last year, it was only natural that many fans assumed that it would be curtains for the band. After more than 30 years of blasting worldwide audiences with various bodily fluids, GWAR's face, voice and only constant member was no more. Who on Earth could fill his shoes?

No one, of course. But maybe two! At Brockie's epic Viking funeral earlier this year, GWAR raised eyebrows by debuting a new singer: the fetid Blothar, an ancient Scumdog warrior only recently thawed who belts out the band's heavy-metal ditties wearing the carapace of a spectral moon moose. But in September, they really popped some eyeballs out of skulls with the introduction of a new front woman: the busty, beastly Vulvatron!

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Mötley Crüe at The Woodlands, 10/11/2014

Photos by Violeta Alvarez
Mötley Crüe, Alice Cooper
Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion
October 11, 2014

Could this really be it? Was Saturday night really, honestly the last time Mötley Crüe will ever darken the door of a Texas venue? Can their claims of calling it quits really be taken seriously? Pretty hard to predict, one way or the other. After more than three decades of shocking behavior, nothing much the Crüe can do would surprise us anymore.

Vince, Nikki, Tommy and Mick swear up and down that "The Last Tour" is just that. But no one in the very large crowd that showed up to see them in The Woodlands on Saturday night seemed to be in a particularly somber mood. It felt hard to believe a band that can still reliably draw tens of thousands every time they step off a plane in this day and age has had enough of the spotlight. Doubly so when their set was preceded by Alice Cooper, the living embodiment of nostalgia-tour immortality.

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8 Metal Bands Made Better by Switching Vocalists

Photo by Groovehouse
With all the drama that surrounds singer/screamer changes, you'd think it's the end of the world and it has never worked for any band. The reactions across the internet any time one vocalist leaves and another joins are always less than enthusiastic, thinking change is bad one hundred percent of the time.

That's not true though, especially in a genre like metal where it has worked to great success so many times for so many different bands in different subgenres. In light of the fact that we're about to hear Suicide Silence's first album with a new vocalist, as well as what As I Lay Dying can do as Wovenwar without the stigma of Tim Lambesis, let's take a look back at some of the most successful metal singer switches of all time.

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Tool at Toyota Center, 3/25/2014

Photos by Jim Bricker
Tool, Failure
Toyota Center
March 25, 2014

Among perhaps the shyest Grammy winners in history, Tool has a history of avoiding the spotlight for as long as possible, even onstage. It's been eight years since the band released its last heavy, psychedelic opus, 10,000 Days, and a solid Olympiad since they last darkened the doors of Toyota Center.

As the band strolled leisurely back into town on Tuesday night -- lasers and video screens in tow -- fans packed the arena to the rafters, eager to take part in the rare and transformative rite of rock and roll passage that is the Tool concert.

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Heaven Needed a Scumdog: Remembering GWAR's Dave Brockie

Categories: Mostly Metal

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Photo by Francisco Montes
Dave Brockie performs with GWAR at Warehouse Live, 2013
If you never caught a GWAR show in the band's improbable 30-year reign, your failure is now officially complete. Dave Brockie, the often-hilarious, always-obscene front-thing better known to fans as Oderus Urungus, returned to the stars from whence he came early Sunday morning. He was 50.

Though a slew of musicians have put in work under the foam rubber over the years, it's hard to imagine GWAR continuing without him. As the hideous face, voice and only constant member of GWAR for three decades, Oderus Urungus became a well-known, much-loved personality in the underground metal scene. Given life by Brockie's rapier wit and politically incorrect creativity, Oderus was always at the forefront of the band's mythology, which cast GWAR as omnipotent alien overlords banished to Earth millions of years ago, who accidentally created the human race by raping a few of the apes cluttering up the place.

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Omotai at Fitzgerald's, 2/21/14

Photos by Nathan Smith
Omotai, Lions of Tsavo, Baring Teeth, Chipped Teeth
February 21, 2014

Whenever the topic of Houston's heaviest bands comes up, it's tough not to place Omotai somewhere near the very top of that particular pile of bones. For three years now, the trio has offered up the city's most thoughtfully crushing racket with its moonshine blend of post-punk, sludge and grindcore. The volume has only increased in recent months with the addition of a second guitarist, Jamie Ross, making the group's sound all the more hazardous.

The band has a new 12" out, and it's called Fresh Hell -- a title befitting the kind of thing that local extreme-rock fans would hope for from a new Omotai offering. On Friday night, the band brought Austin buds Lions of Tsavo over for a free show to help celebrate the record's release.

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Power Trip Returns for Another Badass Weekend

Categories: Mostly Metal

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Photo by Nathan Smith
Riley Gale of Power Trip
If you're heading out to the 2nd Badass Weekend festival downtown this weekend, don't forget to bring your earplugs -- the ones that go in your ear canals, not your earlobes, dude. Matter of fact, a mouth guard not be a bad idea, either, because Dallas' Power Trip is playing the extreme rock fest's second night at Walters on Saturday.

Hey, if you've never been kicked in the face at a Power Trip show before, it's because you weren't there.

The thrashy, five-piece hardcore outfit is coming off its most successful year ever in 2013, highlighted by the release of its debut full-length for Southern Lord Records, Manifest Decimation. The record is now in its third pressing. The band toured relentlessly to support the release, setting out with hardcore big-timers like Bane, Terror and Fucked Up on treks that took them across the U.S. to Europe and back.

After five years of building momentum, Power Trip now find themselves at the very top of the Texas hardcore scene. How can we tell? Because no other band in the state creates as much violent havoc wherever they go. It's not quite fair to call what Power Trip fans do at shows "moshing" or "dancing." Somehow, it feels more like the Running of the Bulls.

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What the Hell Is Djent Metal Anyway?

Photo by Groovehouse
Periphery, early founders of djent.
Metal has so many subgenres and classifications it can be impossible to keep up with them all. It's so complicated at times that some bands don't even know what kind of music they play, and some self-described fans of certain subgenres have no idea what they're talking about. Not to mention all the bands who play versions of a certain subgenre but aren't considered "true" bands of that genre; looking at Deafheaven and black metal here.

With that in mind, it's a fool's errand to try to define any subset of metal with any sort of certainty. What do you do with all the bands that incorporate some parts of the genre and not all of them? What do you do with the bandwagoners and trendy bands who just want to get in on what's popular right now? What about crossover bands?

That being said, I'm going to try to elucidate here what's really going on right now. The biggest trend in metal these days is djent, a new-ish form of technical, progressive metal that's really captivating audiences and musicians alike. But what the hell is it anyway?

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