Kowloon Walled City

Sounds like metal, looks like metal ...

PREVIEW If it sounds like metal, and it looks like metal, it's gotta be metal. Right?

Vocalist-guitarist Scott Evans of San Francisco's Kowloon Walled City doesn't think so. "I think it's heavy, but it's not metal," he said after KWC's recent Annie's Social Club show. "We occasionally throw in metal parts, but I stand by us not being a metal band."

Guitarist Jason Pace disagreed: "It may not be a heavy metal band, but it's a fucking metal band. Despite Scott's reluctance to say we're a metal band, I think, within the metal genre, there's about 800 subgenres, and I think we're somewhere in there."

It doesn't really matter how you categorize KWC's music. What does matter is the group's impregnable wall of sound, driven by Scott Evans' throat-ripping, barked vocals, Jeff Fagundes' groovy, syncopated drumming, and fuzzy, imposing riffs reminiscent of a mutant Chia Pet.

In the 1970s and '80s, the Kowloon Walled City, a neglected tenement in British Hong Kong, grew into a squalid, dilapidated enclave of prostitution, drugs, gambling, and all around good times. Unsurprisingly, the outfit sees many parallels between that labyrinthine dystopolis and the portion the Tenderloin where they rehearse. Named for a street in that neighborhood, KWC's new Turk Street EP (Wordclock) is an uncompromising slab of downtuned power with Fagundes and bassist Ian Miller forming a taut rhythm section and allowing the guitars to deviate from each song's base without compromising the prodigious grooves. Still, while Turk Street rocks ass, I can't help but think KWC are at their best onstage, feeding their fans' faces with second and third helpings of their sludgy, hardcore-influenced ... metal. There, I said it. Sorry, Scott.

KOWLOON WALLED CITY With Helms Alee. Mon/17, 7 p.m., free. Hemlock Tavern, 1131 Polk, SF. (415) 923-0923, www.hemlocktavern.com.

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