The Tombs perform at SXSW on March 16, 2017. Andy OíConnor/for American-Statesman

Metalsucksí South by South Death showcase at Grizzly Hall suffered from lackluster attendance, not surprising given metalís downward trend at SXSW. It just isnít a destination festival for metalheads, and having a higher-profile metal show away from downtown at a venue that frequently hosts metal shows didnít help. The showcase did feature a diverse array of bands, spanning from industrial to thrash to black metal. Not every band hit, but multigenre shows should be more common in metal.

Hogswache, a new group from Brooklyn, takes on the industrial metal sound popularized by bands such as Fear Factory, Ministry, and Front Line Assembly in the 1990s. Their start was rocky, as vocalist Travis Baconís electronics were on the fritz and there were a couple false starts. Once they got that settled, they were loud and in charge. Bacon has a vibrant stage presence and guitarist Nick Emde is well-versed in industrial metalís mechanical rhythms, so this group is definitely one to watch out for. Their minor hiccups were nothing compared to the disaster that was Philadelphiaís Ecstatic Vision. Who knew that bad Hawkwind cover bands existed? Itís easy to get jaded on psych music when one of Austinís main exports is The Black Angels, but the meandering songs didnít help at all.

From there, the night improved. Brooklynís Tombs are no stranger to the SXSW circuit ó they played Valhalla back when it was Room 710 ó and while their lineup has constantly mutated, vocalist and guitarist Mike Hill has only gotten angrier over the years. Their black metal was once shaded with post-hardcore and shoegaze, but they are a full raging black metal band now, lending an unrelenting wall of noise. Clevelandís Ringworm are another group of hardened veterans, playing a thrashy style of metalcore that they helped invent over 26 years ago. Vocalist James ďHuman FurnaceĒ Bulloch has earned his nickname, and heís only sounded more vicious with time. Their performance did suffer somewhat from the mediocre attendance ó while it improved by the time they hit the stage, they need a full house for the most vicious circle pits, not just a couple dudes. Bulloch took it in stride, thanking the crowd for ďmaking it downtown ó itís a destination,Ē laughing at how downtown is its own world thanks to the fest.

While the showcase made a decent case for metalís broad range of sounds, most of the bands, save for Hogswache, are on the road frequently. Theyíll be back in Austin when you donít have to deal with the influx of people SXSW brings. Metalsucksí SXSW show last year had Conan, a British doom band that hadnít played the States much before hand. This show didnít have a similar draw ó the headliner was Washington, D.C., death metal band Darkest Hour, and while they are a recognizable name, theyíre not unique to the metal circuit. There needs to be more compelling attractions, something to put with up with traffic and the specter of surge rates. Given the difficulties that international bands have had with coming here lately, and metalís decreased value at SXSW, that may be hard to pull off next year.

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