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Metal Injection Metal Guide to SXSW 2012 Part 1: Stoner / Doom / Sludge

It's that time of year again: throngs of long haired metal devotees will soon descend upon the bewildered city of Austin – we really should change our motto from "Keep Austin Weird" to "Still Bewildered After All These Years" – where they will reluctantly mingle with fashionable hipsters, unwashed hippies and twice-baked buskers in forced confinement. Clusterfuck doesn't even begin to describe it.

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Truthfully 95% of the shit talk I hear about SXSW comes from people who simply can't hack the congestion, the long lines, the maddening compulsion to continuously second guess the schedule that you spent weeks putting together… it's high intensity shit, to be sure, and not at all for the meek, but for those willing to brave the insanity there are ample rewards: free booze, 2000+ bands, free booze, a euphoric vibe of camaraderie and bacchanalia, free booze… and if that's not enough the weather in Central Texas this time of year is nearly always glorious (JINX!).

So welcome to the virgin installment of Metal Injection's Guide to SXSW 2012. We're going to be breaking this down into manageable chunks by genre, so to kick things off we'll tally a bit under the vaguely defined shade offered by the stoner / doom / sludge umbrella.

MANDATORY DISCLAIMER: by nature this is not going to be an all-encompassing pursuit. Did I mention there are going to be 2000+ bands at this thing? Yeah, I don't have time to do individual write ups on that many bands (although this fucker is making us all look bad by attempting exactly that), even if only 10% of them are actually metal or hardcore. Further muddying the waters is the fact that there will be unofficial parties announced every single day from now until the start of the festival, so no matter how much you may have your shit together there's no such thing as being truly comprehensive here. We simply strive to point out a handful of must see bands with semi-broad appeal and the rest is up to you. If you are unhappy with any of the bands recommended here after seeing them, please seek me out and I will cheerfully buy you a piss warm Lone Star (while supplies last).

We're also doing a little bit of rubbing it in to those of you who can't be there, so really this totally works on two levels. We're multifaceted like that.

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Black Breath

When you have 2,000+ bands on the bill there is bound to be a certain amount of overlap from one year's SXSW to the next, but surprisingly this is Black Breath's first rodeo. I wasn't entirely sold on the band's first album, feeling like they had a good sound but the songwriting and overall energy wasn't quite there yet, but I'm happy to report that I have the follow up on hand (review coming shortly) and they've since "fixed" every concern I had about the debut (or taken it to the next level if you already dug the debut to begin with).

Brooklyn Vegan is announcing that the Power of the Riff showcase will be Black Breath's only appearance at SXSW, which is kind of a rarity – many bands book multiple shows each day for the duration of the festival – so if there are any conflicts with other shit you want to see you'll probably want to arrange your alternate plans using this gig as your centerpiece:

Scoot Inn (map), Friday 3/16 @ 7 PM – 2 AM


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Black Cobra

Southern Lord always go hard in the paint when it comes to SXSW, and 2012 is no different. In addition to Black Breath, they'll also have Black Cobra in tow. Unlike their aforementioned label mates, Black Cobra are no strangers to SXSW, but this time around they're supporting their best work to date, Invernal.

Dirty Dog Bar (map), Wednesday 3/14 11:30 PM – 12:10 AM

Scoot Inn (map), Friday 3/16 Noon – 7 PM (FREE SHOW!)

Black Tusk

Finally, a non-Southern Lord band, although Black Tusk would certainly be a good fit if their deal with Relapse ever fell through. A key band in the famed Savannah, GA sludge scene (see also: Kylesa, Baroness), these boys will be a beer swigging fave.

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Barbarella patio (map), Wednesday 3/14 9:45 PM – 9:15 PM

High on Fire

What needs to be said here? High on Fire have a new album – De Vermis Mysteriis – on the way, so expect to hear some new shit. Also expect phenomenally large crowds, so if you don't have a wristband I'd get in line EARLY!

Barbarella patio (map), Wednesday 3/14 12:15 AM – 1:15 AM at the Metal Sucks/Metal Injection/MetalInsider South By South Death Showcase

Scoot Inn (map), Friday 3/16 Noon – 7 PM (FREE SHOW!)

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Brooklyn's finest, Hull scored mad street cred last year with their magnum opus to date, Beyond the Lightless Sky. And on March 15, they'll be opening for none other than the legendary FEAR!

Red 7 patio (map), Thursday 3/15 11 PM – 11:40 PM

Lovejoy's (map), Saturday 3/17 Noon – 7 PM


Also making a swift return to Austin, Rwake are usually on their grind for the entirety of their stay. Touring on the back of their critically acclaimed 2011 effort Rest, I would expect a significant number of additional dates to be added in the next two weeks. Multiple shows per day are not unusual during SXSW for these Arkansas bad boys.

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Dirty Dog Bar (map), Wednesday 3/14 9:30 PM – 10:10 PM


Did anyone raise their profile last year more than Saviours did with their top 10 list-frequenting breakthrough, Death's Procession? I think not. Gonna be excited for this myself as I haven't actually seen these guys live yet, shamefully enough. Plus this Tone Deaf showcase just looks sick as fuck.

Dirty Dog Bar (map), Wednesday 3/14 7 PM – ?

Well, that's all for now. I wouldn't be surprised if other stoner mainstays like Yob, Red Fang and/or Crowbar end up making the trek as well.

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Be back in a couple days with another installment. Stay tuned!

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