Five Things We Learned at South By Southwest 2015

Last week we were down in Austin soaking up Lone Star, Kamel Reds, and riffs. We grammed it all on Insta (follow us you fool), and we also thought about the state of metal as reflected by the festival. Surprisingly, I came away… excited. In particular, I came away excited about five bands, old, young, and younger, that I want to share some thoughts on with you, along with some of our Insta-highlights. Check em’ out below!

1. CHON Do it Live and Au-Natural

Every metalhead I spoke with at the festival chided me for not being hip to CHON, and emphasized that I would need to catch at least one of their sets over the week (they played instrumental sets as well as ones featuring Tommy from Fall of Troy), otherwise I should eat my own fist. Boy were they right. This band is impressive on many levels, but what blew me away was how natural everything was. Their signal chain included a guitar, an amp, and a tuner. That’s it. For each instrument. Like, they weren’t even using any non-amplifier delay or reverb. All natural chops.

@chonofficial doing it live!

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It was refreshing to see a band playing this kind of note-y prog and not hiding behind effects, but letting their natural abilities shine. Check out a track from the band’s newest Sumerian release, Grow:

2. Full of Hell Are Doing Something Very Different

Full of Hell are… interesting. I know that people want to try and label this band as “grindcore with noise, bro” but after seeing them live several times within the course of a few days, I’m not so sure either of those really capture what the band is doing. There’s something primal, a chaotic energy that they are capturing by mixing all of these harsh sounds together and then delivering them in such a deadpan live format (and with saxophone!). What a weird band.

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Full of Hell. Gross dude. Rock A video posted by Gear Gods (@geargodsnet) on

3. Power Trip Do Oldschool-Metal The Right Way

Although I really enjoyed Power Trip’s debut full-length Manifest Decimation as well as the band’s earlier releases, like many people, I had some reservations about a band so firmly rooted in throwback riff and song styles (which last year Sergeant D dubbed Ridethelightningcore). But Power Trip are a very good band, with an energetic hardcore-like live show that sounds great. Sick guitar tone with a meaty mid-range that cut through at every riff. Now that we’re a few years past the whole vest metal/old-school thrash revival, it’s good to see tight bands like Power Trip emerging and hitting it hard.

Mother fucking Power Trip

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4. Code Orange Are Ridiculously Good Live

I loved Code Orange’s 2014 release I Am King, and have written before on this website about their effective use of technology as an aesthetic tool. I was worried though, given how young the band is, and how fresh their touring legs are, that their live show would still be in-development. I knew that people went crazy for them at their shows, but I wasn’t quite ready for how precise, how heavy, and how dynamic they were. Which was doubly impressive at the Thrasher/Converse showcase, which was basically a generator and a make-shift stage in the middle of a vacant lot.

Code Orange Kids absolutely slaying   A video posted by Gear Gods (@geargodsnet) on

I’m rarely stoked on young hardcore bands in a serious way, but that’s not the case here. Code Orange are a great band. If you don’t believe me check out their set from last year’s This is Hardcore festival:

5. The Dillinger Escape Plan Continue to Put Everyone Else to Shame

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That’s about all I have to say, and it’s something you can’t really say that about too many bands that are nearly twenty years into their careers. DEP’s headlining set at the Thrasher/Converse was the peak of the festival. This is a band of fully-loaded artists that are firing on all cylinders, that truly do not give a fuck.

Rip Austin @dillingerescapeplan @benweinman @partysmasherinc #sxsw #thrasher   A video posted by Gear Gods (@geargodsnet) on

Additional photos via Noisey/Steven Michael Rudd/Adam Kissick

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Max is managing editor of Gear Gods.