Entertainment One (eOne) has announced their 2016 SXSW Metal Showcase, christened eOne’s Austin Occupation. The event will take place at Elysum, on Thursday, March 17th. Doors will open at 7 PM and will be FREE for SXSW badge holders. SXSW’s musical showcases will run from March 15-20 in Austin, Texas.
The inaugural metal year will include a line-up of eOne Music artists, spanning the gamut of hard music genres. NOLA sludge masters Crowbar, currently working on their new, untitled album, due out later this year, will headline the event. The band has not performed at SXSW since their appearance on the 2011 Metal Alliance tour. The band just announced a Broken Glass 20th Anniversary Tour as well. Follow Crowbar on Facebook for additional tour dates.
Crowbar’s influence looms over every doom band started since, even stretching to NWOAHM bands like Unearth, Chimaira and Killswitch Engage. The sludgy, swampy, boundary pushing, ball-busting spirit of Crowbar and their extended family is as synonymous with New Orleans as Black Metal is with Scandinavia, old-school hip-hop with the Boogie Down Bronx and hair metal with Hollywood’s Sunset Strip. The resilience of the hurricane hardened populace, the scent of slow-cooking seafood, the horrific haunts of The House of Shock and the ferocity of the never-sparkling, grim killers of Anne Rice’s old-school vampire books all lurk somewhere within the Crowbar sound, oozing with the primitive weight of Black Sabbath and Saint Vitus.
The Contortionist, currently on tour overseas with Tesseract, will return to the US for the showcase before beginning on their own headline tour with Monuments. Drowning Pool, who are enjoying the success of their brand new LP Hellelujah, will be making their first appearance at SXSW in the band’s 20-year history. Black Fast and Black Crown Initiate will also be appearing at their first ever SXSW.
The Contortionist is a musical collective, achieving a coveted level of self-realization, creative execution and sophistication with their adventuresome, cosmos evoking progressive rock. The band owes some of its sound to some degree to iconic progressive metal masters like Rush, Cynic, Meshuggah and Dream Theater. But on the steady climb from Exoplanet ( 2010) to Intrinsic (2012) the band has crystallized their own unique sound with Language (2014), The Contortionist lay claim to a genre within a genre all their own. The Contortionist has attracted a legion of dedicated fans who obsessively listen to each tone, each time signature, each transition, and each note. The band’s fans also include listeners who have no interest in playing or theory at all, but rather, are exhilarated to put on headphones and embark on the journey of the albums. The Contortionist has taken their patented blend of trippy atmosphere, dense conceptual storytelling and jaw-dropping technical proficiency on the road, joining forces with Deftones, Protest The Hero, Hatebreed, All Shall Perish, The Faceless and more. The men of The Contortionist remain in awe of progressive titans like Yes, and King Crimson. At the same time, the music they are creating will not only build bridges between different genres and different scenes; it can even send younger fans to dig through their parents’ LP collections look for albums by old legends. Language is more than capable of launching The Contortionist to the top of the progressive realm and into the creative stratosphere.
Giant riffs, crowd moving grooves and monstrous vocals are the tools with which Drowning Pool build triumph out of tragedy, steadily evolve without compromise, and remain true to their supporters with over a decade’s worth of remarkable fortitude and attitude. The platinum-plus conquerors from The Lone Star State deliver their heaviest batch of hell-raising anthems, each burning with fiery adrenaline destined to light the radio ablaze and ignite crowds into impassioned sing-alongs. Drowning Pool have scorched the stage alongside a who’s who of genre legends, upstarts and everything else on the spectrum, including Ozzy Osbourne, Mötley Crüe, Papa Roach, System Of A Down, Kiss, Korn, Sevendust, Seether, Hellyeah, P.O.D., Five Finger Death Punch, Black Label Society and stints on Ozzfest with Metallica, Rob Zombie, and Marilyn Manson. Big sonic slabs of muscular power with a taste of the dark melodies of post-grunge remain Drowning Pool’s stock and trade. Their music is an unapologetic celebration of life’s joy and pain, able to swiftly maneuver between defiant declarations of resistance. Each distinctive era of the band’s history is represented onstage, where the band bashes through an arsenal of anthems all delivered with precision strength. The Hellelujah songs (with more contributions from all four members than ever) pulse with the power of all that’s come before and a reinvigorated hunger for the future. Drowning Pool celebrate the past while firmly focused on the present, coalescing into a brightly lit artistic future.
Armed with the independently released, four-track and 22-minute Song of the Crippled Bull EP and a coveted spot on the Metal Alliance Tour, Black Crown Initiate steadily built a name for themselves with a DIY ethos. While many bands pay lip service to that concept, Pennsylvania’s Black Crown Initiate, who craft thinking man’s hard rock heavier than granite but is also smart without being esoteric, have been too busy doing it instead of just saying it. They caught the attention of several labels with their potent and unforgettable extended play release, eventually signing with eOne in 2014. Their label debut The Wreckage of Stars was the next step for Black Crown Initiate and one that will further put them on the metal map. It’s a sonically thrilling, 10-song opus, drafted by musicians who embrace the darkness and who masterfully craft mini-epics; most songs exceed the five-minute mark. Guitarist/clean vocalist/lyricist Andy Thomas reveals that his band, which formed in February 2013 and experienced minor lineup changes before solidifying into the unit it is today, chose to put their debut EP out via Bandcamp and iTunes, letting it marinate and find an audience and industry buzz organically, as opposed to pounding the pavement to secure a deal. That approach allowed Black Crown Initiate to retain their artistic integrity.
Speed demons and hell-raisers, take heed! Circle-pitting, beer drinking, hair-swinging, spider-fingered goodness, that’s the name of the game for Black Fast, America’s newest neo-classic riff masters. Ripping pages from Death’s technical death metal guidebook, the St. Louis foursome conjures the spirit of the late, great Chuck Schuldiner while channeling the viciousness of Megadeth’s young-and-hungry Dave Mustaine and blistering aggression of Kreator’s Mille Petrozza. Creating a modern twist on the energetic riffs of metal’s glory days, Black Fast harness the spirit of their metal forefathers, whether exploring hand-cramp-inducing riffs or blazing through straightforward thrash. Black Fast songs have a hungry ferocity reminiscent of the Bay Area thrash scene, the likes of which haven’t been this raw or hyper-charged in decades. The band released their 2015 debut Terms Of Surrender to a hoard of fans who were ready for it. Black Fast has the musical chops to move seamlessly between the progressive licks of Voivod and the scorched-earth devastation of vintage Megadeth with reckless abandon and a bleak but empowered vibe as wrought by the Midwest. Both guitarist Trevor Johanson and bassist Ryan Thompson have jazz degrees. Drummer Ross Burnett has been playing since kindergarten while Akin knew he wanted to be in a metal band very early in life. Since 2011 Black Fast has fit right in on lineups with thrash revivalists like Havok, Battlecross, Revocation, Toxic Holocaust and Warbringer and modern metal merchants like Cavalera Conspiracy and Shadows Fall. Black Fast’s soundtrack to society’s collapse is relentless. Possessed by unbridled energy and a palpable desperation, the band has a fierce vitality that will not go unnoticed.
You can follow SXSW, Crowbar, The Contortionist, Drowning Pool, Black Crown Initiative, and Black Fast on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.