1.Metal Mayhem Visits Columbus, Ohio

1/11

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Last year, Mastodon, Neurosis, and a ton of quality metal bands launched the Scion Rock Fest in Atlanta. Saturday, the second annual party took place in Columbus, Ohio, with 24 bands from all over the country playing four venues along bustling High Street.

Death metal veterans Cannibal Corpse headlined the rainy evening at Newport Music Hall, but the truly fascinating stuff came from the smaller hubs of this hesher-friendly affair. Here is our take on the event's nine best and worst moments. Written by Reyan Ali

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2.Metal Mayhem Visits Columbus, Ohio

2/11

Share Gallery:

Share

Last year, Mastodon, Neurosis, and a ton of quality metal bands launched the Scion Rock Fest in Atlanta. Saturday, the second annual party took place in Columbus, Ohio, with 24 bands from all over the country playing four venues along bustling High Street.

Death metal veterans Cannibal Corpse headlined the rainy evening at Newport Music Hall, but the truly fascinating stuff came from the smaller hubs of this hesher-friendly affair. Here is our take on the event's nine best and worst moments. Written by Reyan Ali

Click here to begin the gallery >>

3.BEST LOVE SONG: LULLABYE ARKESTRA

3/11

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Ordinarily, you'd be hard-pressed to find a torch ballad at a metal extravaganza. But Lullabye Arkestra attempted to appease romantics in their early-bird show. Halfway into the garage-skronk duo's set, drummer Justin Small announced, "Kat and I would like to play you a love song." What followed was a lo-fi hardcore blast, with the married couple repeating "You're a fucking art liar" for about 15 seconds. Yeah, it's not exactly "Unchained Melody," but you take what you can get. Though the audience at the gloriously decrepit Bernie's was still sparse and apathetic, Lullabye was undeterred. When bassist Kat and Small (who could pass for Jon Cryer's cool greaser brother) finished banging out "Nation of Two," the low-lying ceiling was fixing to cave in.

4.BEST ANTITHESIS TO LADY GAGA: SHRINEBUILDER

4/11

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Before the fest's final gig, a handful of 30-year-olds congregated in an ultra-packed Skully's to testify how D.R.I. and Voivod ripped it up down the street. They remained psyched for Shrinebuilder, who'd go on next, and an opinionated 39-year-old believed that the current audience was ill-prepared for the impending decibels. "This isn't Britney Spears," he clarified to his choir. "This ain't Lady Gaga." It certainly wasn't: Shrinebuilder cranked out super-charged doom that was burly without being overeager. Opener "Science of Anger" soared with prodigal cool. Even for the tourists who just came by because the concert was free, the gilded gang of underground metal was skilled enough to warrant returning for more.

5.BEST CAREFULLY WORDED POTSHOT: MAGRUDERGRIND

5/11

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In keeping with Magrudergrind's brazen punk background, guitarist R.J. Ober preceded their Circus Bar performance with a jab at the expense of the fest's backers, Toyota. "This shit goes out to anyone who rides a bike and doesn't drive a car," he said with a smile. The trio launched into penetrating grindcore, working like a modest basement band that happened to end up on a metal bill. On this last date of their current tour, each member put themselves through the paces: ogre-voiced vocalist Avi Kulawy leapt and hammered his mic, Ober wielded his guitar with chainsaw finesse, and drummer Chris Moore spat full-throttle beats and sweated buckets. The only thing the excellent set was missing were audio clips ripped from '70s flicks.

6.BEST LITERAL NOD TO GENRE NAME: YOB

6/11

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Minutes before doom/stoner metal trio YOB went on at the sizable Skully's, a few folks took the latter half of their style to heart and furtively fired up joints. (Not the brightest move, especially since Ohio has an indoor smoking ban.) By the dimming of the red spotlight, the smell was unmistakable. Arriving front man Mike Scheidt raised a toast and declared, "We have three-and-a-half songs for you. And that'll be 50 minutes." Scheidt's music wasn't nearly as polite as he was: guitars lurched and drums rumbled without a shade of kindness. Midway through the first song, the packed crowd tightened. The venue switched on the strobe lights and the steady crowd grew hostile. With YOB scraping away, mellows were harshed fast.

7.WORST INSTANCE OF RECORD BEING BETTER THAN LIVE SHOW: PELICAN

7/11

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Pelican's atmospheric instrumentals are known to crib as much from elegant post-rock as they are raw sludge metal. In person, the fusion doesn't pay off. Likely the most docile-looking of the bands of the night (hardly a bad thing), the four-piece showed great promise at the outset. Unfortunately, their rugged riffs repeated for ages, making it to tough to discern when songs would feel like they would be changing. Without a voice or dominant element to lead the way, the Skully's crowd was similarly subdued, mostly nodding along and waiting to figure out where things were going. Pelican doesn't add any theatrics to give direction to their luxuriantly large scapes live, which is definitely a bummer as their recordings (especially "The Creeper") are still sensational.

8.WORST CHAIN REACTION: TRAP THEM

8/11

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Ryan McKenney got the jump on everyone (literally): Before his band mates struck their first note, he dove into the crowd at Circus, inciting others to soon do the same thing. This wasn't cocktail-sipping music. No, Trap Them's high anxiety hardcore wanted you pissed off and in the trenches, ready to mosh for dear life. The skinny, ink-covered McKenney slinked and darted in the spitting image of Converge's Jacob Bannon, stirring the bloodthirsty crowd. The anger wasn't of the positive variety. Beers were hurled from and toward the stage. One diver came up and apparently kicked out a cord by the kit, frustrating the drummer. A couple of tall guys almost fought, with the alpha male declaring, "I'll kill everyone!" If you were caught up in Trap Them's tough crowd, you were probably thinking the same thing.

9. BEST CHICAGOAN MUSICIAN/BRITISH SLAPSTICK COMEDIAN CROSSOVER: BRUTAL TRUTH

9/11

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At the forefront of Brutal Truth, Kevin Sharp was a sight, what with his big smile, cowboy hat, Blood Duster T-shirt with drawn-on saggy breasts, and bare feet. Richard Hoak, his drummer, looked even better. Outfitted only in matching black boxers and socks (plus nipple rings), he gnashed, squirmed, or lip-curled every time he smacked his drum kit. The fits looked like a combo of Steve Albini and Mr. Bean somewhere between climax and regurgitation. But his musical skill propelled Brutal Truth's guts-shaking grind at Circus Bar, which riled up a few audience members enough to reach onto the stage and violently rock the amps. Hoak worked even in downtime: when bassist Dan Lilker snapped a string and the songs paused, the drummer offered a chilled-out solo, showing a strong sense of composure.

10.BEST INAPPROPRIATE ICEBREAKER: LIGHTNING SWORDS OF DEATH

10/11

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Lullabye Arkestra's "Thanks for dealing with your hangovers and getting here at 5 o'clock" was a nice warm-up for the Bernie's crowd but nothing topped the announcement from the ensuing act. Upon confirming Lightning Swords of Death's (preposterous) moniker, stoic vocalist Autarch bellowed, "We are from the cunt of a rabid jackal called Los Angeles." True to their apparently lurid origins, Swords pushed out pulverizing, vindictive black metal with enough volume to threaten the most experienced ears. Instruments raged without mercy, but the real draw was The Autarch Show. Clad in beard and black jacket, the demonic doomsayer dominated the stage, roaring and raising his arms. He fearsomely arched back for especially relentless portions, exposing his belly in the process -- probably the least metal thing he's capable of.

11.WORST CASE OF MISSING JE NE SAIS QUOI: ACRASSICAUDA

11/11

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Acrassicauda, Iraq's most famous metal band, started at Skully's earlier than expected and steamrolled straight through a barrage of fine-tuned thrash. The quartet was musically proficient but there was something lacking. The internal chemistry was off: Singer/guitarist Faisal Talal alternated between contemplative (during songs) and cheery (between songs), whereas the other string-players mostly looked spaced-out. Plus, that thrash might was too fine-tuned; it would do well with a ragged, off-kilter element. Dissenters to this POV were definitely at the concert (like the guy who shouted, "I can't feel my face!") and "Garden of Stones" did get a good-natured pit going. Still, Acrassicauda's back-story is currently more compelling than its output.