Take Over and Destroy provide a bright metal moment on a rainy Friday night during South by Southwest. Photo by Andy O’Connor
By Andy O’Connor
For a while there, it looked like threat of hail, then rain and wind, was about to derail SXSW for Friday night. Dirty Dog may be a refuge for Jagermeister abuse, motorcycle talk and ’50s gender norms, but unlike a lot of bars in Austin, the owners couldn’t care less about having a patio. This made the place a decent choice for shelter. The Metal Injection showcase did not have the advantages of the Metalsucks showcase from Wednesday — namely, a solid headliner and a consistent, or at least engaging, lineup. A gimmicky bluegrass metal band called Steve n’ Seagulls cannot match up to the might of Conan. Arizona’s Take Over and Destroy were the lone bright spot on the bill, and fellow up-and-comers could learn a lot from them. They overcame the weather and SXSW’s hostility toward metal as one of the fest’s heaviest surprises.
TOAD’s reference points are immediately recognizable, if not the way they put them together. Like their Swedish comrades in Tribulation (who are playing Emo’s on Wednesday, by the way), they make death metal into more gothic, romantic beasts, caressing brutal riffs to make them seductive. TOAD are a little rougher around the edges, but they don’t need to be as pretty as Tribulation. Death’n’roll is usually lacking in one side or the other, and they learned the lessons of later Entombed’s failures by compromising neither on swagger or grisly meanness. The look isn’t all there, but the energy, that rock energy, flowed and conquered. One of their shirts was a parody of the Thin Lizzy logo; thankfully, they know how to ape Thin Lizzy leads, a guaranteed wooer for the uninitiated. TOAD are multifaceted and solidly metal — you can just call them metal and it fits, but there’s so much more, and that’s their true beauty. They said they have a new record coming out in the summer through Prosthetic; with any luck, they’ll appeal across the board of metaldom.