Uncompromising, spastic metalcore gets deep and varied
PREVIEW Things could have been so easy for the Bay Area's best young group. After building a buzz with their uncompromising, spastic EP, Courtside Seats (self-released, 2005), San Jose's Heavy Heavy Low Low signed to Ferret Music, the metalcore equivalent to mid-1990s Death Row Records. Ferret brought new exposure and high expectations, which the lads lived up to on their stunning 2006 debut, Everything's Watched, Everyone's Watching. EWEW was the sound of a band breaking out of the metalcore scene they grew up in by building a battering ram of noisy fuzz. Though they shunned many of the genre's hackneyed clichés (screamed verse/sung chorus, asymmetrical haircuts that double as eye patches), they embraced their roots with punishing breakdowns, abrasive guitar gashes, and vocalist Robert Smith's brutal, distinctive ramblings.
Though EWEW was a critical and commercial success, the guys had no intention of rehashing it when they went into Oakland's Panda Studios to record what would become their new LP, Turtle Nipple and the Toxic Shock (Ferret/New Weatherman). According to Smith, "We didn't really have any goals or anything like that. We just wanted to make a weird album that wasn't as affiliated with, I guess, metal or how Heavy used to be." While most hardcore/metal bands shun their heavy roots for crossover appeal under the guise of experimentation, Turtle Nipple is actually less accessible than their previous recordings. While this has turned off the average lazy scenester, the astute fan will rejoice in the disc's depth and variation: this time jazz, surf rock, and psychedelia are juxtaposed with the brutal breakdowns and blast beats.
HEAVY HEAVY LOW LOW With Fear Before. Fri/17, 7 p.m., $12. 418 Project, 418 Front, Santa Cruz. (831) 466-9770, www.the418.org