To the unaccustomed ear, a lot of death metal blurs together. That’s ultimately an unfair criticism, however; nuances abound, making the genre as vibrant as any in underground music. Here are four recommended bands playing Las Vegas Deathfest XI.
Blood Red Throne (June 7, midnight, Fremont Country Club) The early-1990s’ heaviness arms race has cropped back up in metal recently, after going away during the late ’90s and 2000s, when melody was more popular than brutality. That’s when these Norwegian headliners might have been the most extreme band in the world, bucking trends and unleashing a run of albums that included 2005 landmark Altered Genesis.
Cognitive (June 7, 7 p.m., Backstage Bar & Billiards) Technicality is a primary focus for this young New Jersey band, which has shown dizzying levels of musicianship on three full-length releases over the past five years. The slithering solos and surprising song structures on 2018’s Matricide alone are enough to spin heads.
Kill Everything (June 8, 6:30 p.m., Fremont Country Club) Hardcore and death metal fans can have a contentious relationship, weird given the presence of bands like this murder-obsessed Dallas quartet. With their chunky chugs and pummeling breakdowns, Kill Everything could fit just as well at a modern hardcore fest.
Amputated Genitals (June 8, 6 p.m., Backstage Bar & Billiards) It’s important to remember that not all death metal bands are super-serious. The Bogotá, Colombia-based group goes over the top to the point of parody on tracks like “My Father in Law Who Defecated Himself to Death” and “Abominable Thirst to Drink His Blood and Eat His Flesh.”
LAS VEGAS DEATHFEST XI June 6-8, times vary, $25-$40/day, $100/fest. Fremont Country Club & Backstage Bar & Billiards, lasvegasdeathfest.com.