Metal Mania: See you in the darkness

Metal for ravenous headbangers: Floating Goat, Black Cobra, and more

While Oakland's metal elders continue to thrash despite the odds, a new generation of bands is poised to augment the Bay's already fearsome reputation. San Francisco's Animosity was founded in a summer school classroom, where 14-year-old Leo Miller found the accomplices he needed to start gigging with his local hardcore heroes. Although Miller lists NorCal skull-crackers like Hoods and Sworn Vengeance as inspirations, Animosity's goals were clear: "If you listen to our first demos, as pathetic as they were — we were 14 — we were trying to play extreme metal, from the beginning."

Their fall 2007 album, Animal (Black Market Activities), is a maelstrom of frantic leads, limber blast-beats, and guttural roars, produced by Converge guitarist Kurt Ballou. "We didn't want to make an overproduced, studio death-metal record," explains Miller. "The trend nowadays is to have everything doctored, triggered, and quantized." The band begins a North American headlining run on April 7.

Likeminded Oakland death metallers All Shall Perish have raised eyebrows with their chunky syncopation and eerie guitar parts, working alongside Animosity to establish the Bay Area as a flashpoint for metal's most extreme permutations. The group is currently in the studio smelting a follow-up to 2006's The Price of Existence (Nuclear Blast), and the lockstep interplay between drummer Matt Kuykendall and guitarists Ben Orum and Chris Storey is sure to yield thunderous breakdowns and furious shredding, with singer Hernan "Eddie" Hermida glass-gargling over the top. Expect the album in late 2008.

The region's extreme contingent might pile on the beats per minute, but there's also a groovier game in town. If you think that San Francisco's stoner story starts and ends with High on Fire, prepare to be blown away by Floating Goat. Drawing on the best of Pentagram, Sabbath, C.O.C., and a host of others, the outfit's surging, sinuous riffs are infectiously heavy. Vocalist Chris Corona's soulful singing and dive-bombing hammer-ons soar above the fray, while bassist Ian Petitpren and drummer Aaron Barrett comprise the rest of an extremely powerful trio. The band is currently unsigned, plying 2006's self-released album The Vultures Arrive on the Northwest touring circuit.

Even more thunderous than the swung hum of Floating Goat are the volume-addicted San Francisco duo Black Cobra. Eschewing the classic rock roots of stoner metal in favor of tectonic doom and clattering thrash, Los Angeles expats Jason Landrian and Rafael Martinez make a racket that defies their paucity in numbers. Buried deep within the sludgy, swirling fuzz are hoarse shouts and gloomy guitar dirges, anchored by Landrian's two titanic tom-toms. The duo is currently touring Europe with Austin riff-minstrels the Sword and Oakland hesher-darlings Saviours, and return to play Annie's Social Club on April 24.

This untapped vein of younger metal is only just now being disinterred. Although the death of the Pound has made venues harder to come by, these rough new ingots continue to forge themselves in the fires of relentless touring, building a reputation that might one day be compared to that of the Bay's thrash greats, one riff at a time. Call your friendly neighborhood concert booker and request the best in San Francisco metal by name.


With Super Giant and HDR

May 27, 8 p.m., call for price


1600 17th St., SF

(415) 503-0393

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