It's no secret that the South has had an almost unfairly good run when it comes to damn good heavy metal. Chalk it up to Robert Johnson's ghost haunting the fretboard, or the blood buried in the soil, but there's just something evocative and wild about the tunes that spill out of Dixie. No other region can touch it.
North Carolina has made an especially strong showing in the past few years, with the return of hometown boys CORROSION OF CONFORMITY and Buzzoven, as well as successes by Cape Fear's Weedeater and Sourvein, Chapel Hill's MAKE and Horseback, and Raleigh's own VALIENT THORR and Between the Buried and Me. Hopscotch's lineup is wicked diverse, as per usual, but the powers that be have seen fit to make 2012 much more hesher-friendly than past years.
Bang your head, and for the love of all things unholy, bring some earplugs.
Thursday, Sept. 6
At 9:30 p.m. at the CAM Raleigh, it's all about local garage tormentors FLESH WOUNDS; they may have a brutal-sounding moniker, but their tunes are all shiny Motor City blues. Their greaser ballads serve as a nice segue into the next attraction, as the spirit of riot grrrl is alive and kicking in New Brunswick's SCREAMING FEMALES. This Jersey collective's messy rock 'n' roll falls just shy of the sweeter side of punk rock, like pink bubblegum stuck to the bottom of a scuffed-up Doc Marten. Shredder—and I do mean shredder—MARISSA PATERNOSTER pulls double duty behind the mic with her smirking, snarling vibrato. That's reason enough to haul your carcass down to the Lincoln Theatre by the perfectly reasonable hour of 11:30 p.m. I'm going to assume you've been stuffing your face at Clyde Cooper's all day, so you should have plenty of time to waddle over.
Make sure you stay put, too, because hardcore's new hipster heroes TRASH TALK are due to hit the stage a half hour after the clock strikes midnight. One can assume Cinderella will not be in attendance.
Friday, Sept. 7
Be prepared to play a whole lot of hesher ping-pong tonight: There are eight hard-hitting metal bands, one boogie woogie beard rock band (VALIENT THORR) and one band that's not actually metal at all but totally down for the cause (bless your hearts, MOUNTAIN GOATS). Kings Barcade starts bringing the pain at 8:30 p.m.with MAKE burning through their oppressive blackened doom and bleeding out into post-black metal types VATTNET VISKAR. The jams then kick to Georgia boys BLACK TUSK, whose Motorhead-meets-His Hero Is Gone-at-a-High on Fire-show's vibe is not to be missed. Fire one up before Chicago's THE ATLAS MOTH roll onstage; their psyched-out, spacey doom dirges are on a different level, man. It's one you want to be on. Last up is Ireland's ALTAR OF PLAGUES, whose expansive, atmospheric take on black metal is gorgeous on record and brutally cathartic in a live setting—absolutely essential, even if you have to bail on the tail end of Valient Thorr or the Mountain Goats to catch it.
If none of that gets your earhairs tingling, make plans to head over to The Pour House by 9 p.m. to catch BLACK SKIES' trippy sludge. Settle in to see PALLBEARER's soaring, heartrending doom metal sagas. Raleigh's mightiest, CORROSION OF CONFORMITY, wrap up the proceedings at 11:30 p.m., when the original trio of Mike Dean, Woody Weatherman and Reed Mullen take the stage to steamroll through some classics.
Saturday, Sept. 8
The agenda today is a bit chilled but no less punishing. Longhairs can comfortably post up at Berkeley Cafe to catch the grinding hardcore of DEAD IN THE DIRT and the much-hyped "blackened crust" of YOUNG AND IN THE WAY. They'll then have their minds blown to shreds by SUTEKH HEXEN's all-encompassing black noise before hardcore widowmakers NAILS take care of the rest of 'em. If total fucking destruction's not your thing, sidle into the OREN AMBARCHI gig at the Memorial Auditorium, then batten down the hatches: SUNN 0)))'s wall of amps and torturously heavy, prolonged drones are coming straight for your already battered eardrums.
Now, wasn't that fun?