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Suffocation Headlined Day Two of HHFF While C.O.C. Stole The Show

Photo of Corrosion of Conformity

Band Photo: Corrosion of Conformity (?)

Day two started at the Holiday Inn. The 7th floor of the Holiday Inn hosted the film portion of the festival. There were also a number of vendors associated with the films there. Angelcorpse guitarist Gene Palubicki was one of the vendors on hand. He starred in the movie “American Guinea Pig: Bloodshock,” the second film in the “American Guinea Pig” series. This film had a major buzz about it. Many fans I talked to expressed a desire to see this film and according to Palubicki the Zombie Room wasn’t big enough to accommodate all interested parties. The event featured a Q & A with director Marcus Koch and producer/screenwriter Steven Biro and was moderated by Bill Moseley (“Texas Chainsaw Massacre II, House of 1,000 Corpses).

The band schedule for both the Aztec and Korova was different than the night before when Korova started early in the day, ended, the Aztec started and then the Korova hosted the last band at 12:30 AM. Today, the Korova started at 6 PM and ran concurrently with the Aztec. Austin d-beat punkers Krigblast opened Korova. More punkisms came via Chicago, Illinois’ Kill It Again and many fans gushed at seeing veterans, Fang. The Aztec hosted a day filled with punk rock, too, starting with Poison Idea, Dropdead and Negative Approach. And the grindcore of Agoraphobic Nosebleed and Cripple Bastards also fit into the punk’s gnarled family tree.

I was at the hotel conducting interviews for Metalunderground.com. I did not arrive at the Aztec Theater until after six when Crowbar took the stage. Along with Eyehategod, who played the day before, Crowbar mucked up San Antonio’s River Walk with NOLA sludge metal. Standing in the photo pit, I could not hear Kirk Windstein’s pain-filled voice, but could hear it from the balcony during their fourth song. Whether it’s melancholy clean harmonies or skin-clawing harsh voices, the live setting really puts into perspective his anguished tales of personal strife. This was “sonic excess in it’s purest form,” feeling the amps push their sadness and frustration through crawling harmonies, as well as the teeth-gnashing anger of their cinder-block textured hard chugs. And each member bounced these heavy vibes off each other. The group felt the power of their riffs bounce off each other in face-to-face jam sessions in the ultimate fuck-yeah-raise-your-horns moments. A personal highlight was their harmonious rendition of Led Zepplin’s “No Quarter,” which appeared on their classic self-titled album.

Negative Approach rounded out the punk rock faction during day two of Housecore number 3. Influenced by bands such as Black Flag, Minor Threat, SOA and fellow Detroiters Alice Cooper, the Detroit sect helped put the Midwest on the map for hardcore punk. I reported their set in 2011 at Fun Fun Fun Fest. While there wasn’t as much of a response from the crowd compared to Crowbar’s set, many in attendance weren’t even alive in the band’s heyday in the early ‘80s, their aggression was felt and pits were formed. They took punk rock and made it much faster and nastier. It was like a manic-filled Ramones. John Brannon is one of the most vicious singers in hardcore and can still scream with the best of them after thirty-four years. Kudos to Phil Anselmo for featuring such an influential act at his festival.

Corrosion of Conformity could have been the second night’s headliner. They certainly boast the most radio hits of any band on this day, and the crowd response reflected that. Housecore probably meant to honor the horror aspect as Suffocation headlined. This was the third time I caught C.O.C., each time with a different lineup. The first time was at SXSW with the power trio lineup that constituted their “Animosity” lineup. The second time was with Karl Agell on vocals performing as the "Blind" lineup. This time they came forward with their most popular lineup featuring Pepper Keenan on vocals and second guitar, Woody Weatherman on guitar, Reed Mullin drumming and Mike Dean playing bass. Keenan’s voice was flawless as the group grooved their way through stoner metal classics from their most popular album “Deliverance” and it’s follow up “Wiseblood.” Opening with “Broken Man,” the band played “Albatross” and closed with their mega-hit “Clean My Wounds.” The title track from “Wiseblood” made it into their set as did the first song featuring Keenan on vocals, “Vote With a Bullet.” Like Crowbar before them, they harnessed the power of their grooves in face-to-face jam sessions. C.O.C. was the highlight of day two’s Aztec stage.

Agoraphobic Nosebleed performances are more rare than being struck by lightning. This performance marked only the second live appearance by the steadfast Relapse recording artist. Led by guitarist and drum programmer Scott Hull, the group contained two vocalists, usual screamer Richard Johnson and Katherine Katz of Salome and of course, a drum machine. Katz and Johnson traded off tortured screams, both possessing impressive lung power. Having a collection of brief songs, their set included many tracks. Speed was not the only facet of their set, as hulking, powerful riffs were often their desired route of playing as were industrial segments.

There was uncertainty regarding who was going to growl for Suffocation. The last time this NYDM pioneering act came to Austin it was with Disgorge’s Ricky Myers at the helm. All doubts were put to bed once Suffo original Frank Mullen walked onto the stage. Frank was in top form, too, hitting those abysmal lows. Other than journey man Kevin Talley on drums, replacing original drummer Mike Smith, the rest of the lineup included the consistent members from the past decade, Terrance Hobbs, Guy Marchais and Derek Boyer. The band opened its set with the murderous “Thrones of Blood” from their classic “Pierced From Within” album. They also played the title track from said album. Along with a couple new songs, the group played early material such as “Effigy of the Forgotten” and closed with the slam-tastic “Infecting the Crypts.” There is nothing like a good slam song to get the crowd moving and Suffocation innovated this style.

Once Suffocation completed their set, the large throng of death metal supporters in the crowd made their way to the Korova to watch one of TXDM’s most visible and best bands, Disfigured, who was connected to Phil Anselmo in that their guitarist Mike DeLeon is the new guitar player in Philip H. Anselmo & The Illegals. I didn’t make it to their set, but a fellow journalist said he didn’t remember the last time he got so excited about a death metal band’s performance.

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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