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Midnight and Toxic Holocaust Injected Fire into Fans Veins, While Winter Froze Onlookers' Blood at Chaos in Tejas 2012

Saturday, June 2, 2012 offered a much different pace than the previous night. Where Friday night’s lineup played deliberate rhythms and struck chords that hung in the air like an ominous fog, Saturday’s day show at Beerland focused on speed. D-beats, blast beats, double picked chords partly characterized the crossover minded bands such as Midnight and Toxic Holocaust who packed a house of enthusiastic punks and metal heads.

Packing Beerland’s sloped construction did not take long. I arrived at the venue around opening time at 3:30 to find their small smoking area nearly full. I was not at the venue for long before their staff started turning away people. When someone left, someone entered. Once again, due to the staggering amount of attendees, the stuffiness of the club and humidity, I took numerous breaks from watching each band.

Hardcore punks, Stick Together were the first band on my radar. Their furious energy and groove made a strong impression on the punks in front of the stage. I enjoyed their music, although I lost much of my attention after the singer gave a Straight Edge rant. If I knew I was attending a high school assembly on the dangers of drugs, I would have brought my crack pipe.

I missed Gas Chamber’s set, but caught another Texas-based band, Power Trip. The first chord in a triplet of thrash metal, Power Trip brought the metal fast and hard. The group channeled the groove of Megadeth with the speed of Dark Angel and hardcore-metal blending of Nuclear Assault. I wish I had more to say about Power Trip, but this was the first time seeing and hearing the band, so I can’t list any song titles or other pertinent information. The group recently signed with a public relations company I work with, so this will not be my last words on these thrashers.

Midnight was one of the most buzz-worthy bands of the whole festival. I assume some of the fans attending witnessed their performance at Rites of Darkness Festival III back in December. Not only does the band play punk-addled thrash metal smelling like Lemmy’s breath, they also display an eye-catching wardrobe—black hoods draped over black masks. I would have told the band something positive and encouraging after their set, but I was at a loss to their identity. The Hells Headbangers recording artist played a set heavy with tracks from their recent (and only) full-length recording “Satanic Royalty.” The Celtic Frost flavored title track and the NWOBHM/punk hybrid “Lust Filth and Sleaze” were two highlights from their set. Not to take anything away from Toxic Holocaust, but Midnight took this show!

Continuing the tradition of the bands (early Slayer, Venom, Celtic Frost, Sodom) that influenced what we call black metal today, Toxic Holocaust came to Austin in fine form. Much like its stage predecessors, Toxic Holocaust focused on recent material from their “Conjurer and Command” album. While newer tracks such as the chugging guitar track “Bitch” received a pumping fist, banging head and swinging limbs salute, “In the Name of Science” and “Nuke the Cross” filled the void of necessary older material.

Toxic Holocaust finished their set around 7:30, in time for their fans to walk over to a night show. I chose Mohawks to witness the band, Winter. One person who probably didn’t make it to another show was a drunk guy in the audience. During Midnight, he stumbled around me, feel into a person; thus, resulting in my standing on some guy’s feet. A commotion led to a staffer running in to find this same dude lying sprawled out on the concrete floor. When the staffer asked him to get up, he just stared with a shit-eating grin and laughed. A fellow muscle-bound journalist could only lift the tall drunk up on his butt. The inebriated one scratched his back rolling around on the concrete, and left a bloody impression on my journalist friend’s Morbid Angel T-shirt.

After re-energizing for the night, I entered Mohawk in time to watch Japanese grinders Zyanose. Grind’s hardcore punk roots always fair well with punks. Zyanose possessed the energy of a hamster running on its wheel—they never quit. The show took place at Mohawk’s open-air stage. Part of this venue’s charm is the multiple levels to watch the stage. I found a choice spot right above the stage where I took note of their blistering drums. Bands like Zyanose are fun to watch live, but I would never purchase their albums. The spastic nature of Zyanose, especially vocally, would only keep my interest for a couple of songs.

Earlier in the day, Midnight asked the crowd if they were going to watch Deviated Instinct. I did not raise my hand to be counted because I did not know they were scheduled to play the Mohawk show. I did not know anything about the group, to be frank. My first impression was “wow!” Deviated Instinct started in the early eighties and one were one of the first bands signed to Peaceville Records. Their blend of crust punk and death metal proved the surprise find of the festival. Punks and metal heads couldn’t resist slamming into each other when the band’s hard groove and Bolt Thrower-like heaviness throttled their ears. Judging by the vocal exultations, here was another band reliving the greatness of Celtic Frost.

The next band in line for the stage, Winter, would have had to punch fast forward to move at Deviated Instinct’s medium tempos. Winter only released one full-length album, “Into Darkness” (1991) and then broke up shortly afterward. They reunited in the past couple of years to play festivals. The band’s scarce presence and contributions to the death/doom scene made them a highlighted artist on my concert calendar. The three-piece sounded great in all areas from growls to city-shaking bass and drums. From the creepy experimentations on “Oppression Freedom Opression” and “Power and Might” to mid-tempo, Celtic Frost-homage songs such as “Servants of the Warsman” and “Destiny” to string-warping manipulations of “Goden” and “Eternal Frost,” the band played long enough to cover most, if not all, of “Into Darkness.”

As stated above, Winter sounded great. It was awesome witnessing such an influential act. However, Winter’s performance suffered in the same way as many other down-tempo artists in the live arena. Staying focused proved difficult due to their crawling paces. The fans up in front of the stage started pits during the few times the band pushed the tempo. I think it was just a response to get out of their tepid mode.

I stayed to watch a few songs of Anti-Sect because of their legendary status, but left before their set ended. Chaos in Tejas 2012 had one more day to go, but Sunday’s show was a repeat of some of the acts I witnessed today. Chaos in Tejas 2012 offered a diverse platform of bands. Even though it’s a punk oriented festival, the promoters included enough metal to keep any head banger happy. Here’s to hoping for an even better lineup next year!

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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