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Saint Vitus and Church of Misery Lead Doom Metal Cast at Chaos in Tejas 2012

For some reason, Austin, Texas loves the good-time-party vibe of stoner rock and its sour faced, miserable brother, doom metal. These two related styles have a family reunion at SXSW, but the punk themed Chaos in Tejas is a less likely host. June 1st, the second day of Chaos in Tejas 2012, featured a doom metal dream lineup. Legends Saint Vitus took top bill, while Japan’s stoner-doom, serial killer fanatics Church of Misery made a rare North American appearance. Hail! Hornet, Magic Circles and The Gates of Slumber provided support.

We missed The Gates of Slumber, but arrived at Red 7 in plenty of time to catch Hail! Hornet. The North Carolina-based act generated a deafening amount of buzz following their sophomore release “Despise the Curse,” via Relapse Records. This buzz is valid based on their lineup alone. Hail! Hornet members consist of members from popular sludge acts such as Buzzov?en, Weedeater, Bongzilla and Sourvein. Full of groove, Hail! Hornet functioned more on the faster end of sludge. However, the group didn’t forsake the down-tempo side of their sound. Bassist “Dixie” Dave Collins’ imbued their set with undeniable metallic bottom. I enjoyed their set, but wished for more shades of doom.

Near the end of Hail! Hornet’s set, I took a walk to soak in all of Red 7’s renovations. The club’s cosmology still includes an open-air room for smokers, a room with an inside stage and an outdoor stage. The club moved its indoor stage to the adjourning wall. The stage now faces the bar, which sports a Red 7 sign made of light bulbs. Even though we faced scorching heat outside, the outside stage offered more room, so there was less body heat. The sweltering heat and claustrophobia of compacted bodies and homeless-punk body odor forced me to intermittently move to areas of freer movement.

While the press has surely felt Hail! Hornet’s sting, Magic Circle could easily rename their band to Magic Triangle, because like the Bermuda Triangle’s mysterious powers, this group is invisible. Their unknown presence doesn’t have negative attachments, though; the group does not have anything for the press to report. In fact, they had no products to sell other than their self-titled, debut 33 RPM record, which dropped the day of the show. Apparently, the group has enough material for a full-length because they played enough songs for a full (opening) set. Magic Circle’s traditional doom metal style fit closest to the night’s headliners, Saint Vitus. With a singer whose voice resembled Ozzy Osbourne and Messiah Mercolin and riffs that spurred a sea of bobbing heads, Magic Circle’s set was epic, to say the least. Their tour with Hail! Hornet, The Gates of Slumber and Church of Misery is a great start for this group. I expect Magic Circle to usher in a new generation of excellent doom metal artists.

Church of Misery took the indoor stage after Magic Circle. The Japanese band has gained a strong following with its unique blend of psychedelia, sludge and doom contained within album covers depicting famous serial killers such as John Wayne Gacy and Ted Bundy. Considering this was a rare North American performance by the band—I can not recall another North American tour—finding room to breath proved difficult. Bassist Tatsu Mikami was the only original member on hand, but this was not a performance to miss. Cathedral’s days may be over, but Church of Misery is still here. Front man, Hideki Fukasawa presented a 1970s swagger in movement and in dress. He energized his band’s big riffs and drum fills. The roadhouse blues of “Born to Raise Hell (Richard Speck)” from their “Houses of the Unholy” album and the noisily composed “I, Motherfucker (Ted Bundy)” from “The Second Coming” album were two set highlights.

The purveyors of Black Sabbath, Saint Vitus, made their way to Austin for the second consecutive summer. In a Metalunderground.com interview, Wino divulged information about his first album with Saint Vitus in seventeen years. At that time, we were treated with only one new song, “Blessed Night,” which had become a common sight in their set list over the pasty few years. That was not the case tonight. Since it was only released a week before the show, many of the attendees heard songs from “Lillie: F-65” for the first time. “Let Them Fall,” “The Bleeding Ground” and “Blessed Night” brought the crowd up to date on Saint Vitus’ material.

Saint Vitus only played three to four new songs; however, I heard a few friends say they wanted more classic material. I can not fathom why this complaint arose because the group played a familiar set of material. “Saint Vitus” was the only track missing from their usual set list. Before launching into “Clear Windowpane,” Wino asked the crowd if anyone was tripping on acid. A couple people raised their hands. Saint Vitus mastermind, Dave Chandler (read his interview) performed his usual guitar tricks (playing with his teeth, whammy bars, feedback, Wah Wah Pedal, etc). The group played an encore of “Born Too Late” songs—“Dying Inside” and their namesake track. One of Chandler’s best tricks came during this period when he played a solo by bouncing it off the head of one of Church of Misery’s members.

The lineup for Chaos in Tejas 2012 was more inviting for a metal head than the previous year. Autopsy was the lone band of interest for me last year. This year’s lineup held four days of shows worthy of attending. Unfortunately, I only attended two days, but those two days were packed full of quality acts. Day one lived up its expectations. Check back in tomorrow to read about an even fuller day two.

Rex_84's avatar

An avid metal head for over twenty years, Darren Cowan has written for several metal publications and attended concerts throughout various regions of the U.S.

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