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Local Music Reviews

A Few Askew; Keelhaul get graded

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A Few Askew

(self-released)

myspace.com/afewaskew

A Few Askew forged their full-length debut, Off the Beaten Path, with an arsenal of styles — death-grind, hip-hop, jazz-fusion, neo-prog and some brass knuckles. It blasts out of the chamber with "Bullet," bringing you in close with Latin-tinged guitar before pistol-whipping your ears with its cold and steely thrash — a mix of Pérez Prado and Pantera. On "Locked Down," the quartet brandishes their rap-metal skills with singer Tony Balante going from sweet psychotropic MC to screaming caged animal. The 14-song set conquers everything, from transformative eight-minute doom-prog ("Father Bentley") to precise three-minute bursts of speed-metal ("Missing the Train"). — Keith Gribbins

A Few Askew performs with Ideamen, DoHM and American Life at 7 p.m. Friday at the Hi-Fi Concert Club (11729 Detroit Ave., 216.221.4747, thehificoncertclub.com). Tickets: $5.

Keelhaul

Keelhaul's Triumphant Return to Obscurity

(Hydra Head)

myspace.com/mykeelhaul

Coming six years after Subject to Change Without Notice, the (pre)dominantly instrumental Keelhaul's Triumphant Return to Obscurity suggests Keelhaul spent the interim building steam. The band is as heavy and crushing as ever, and its fourth LP is its most rocking yet. Serrated songs like "Everything's a Napkin" tone down the band's trademark esoteric noodling in favor of jazzy metal grooves. "THC for One" riffs in hypnotic circles. When frontman/guitarist Chris Smith does take the mic, his lyrics about defeat and failure are buried in the mix, like drummer Will Scharf is personally betraying and beating him mid-song. — D.X. Ferris

Keelhaul perform with Gluttons and Doktor Bitch at 9 p.m. Friday at the Grog Shop (2785 Euclid Heights Blvd., Cleveland Hts., 216.321.5588, grogshop.gs). Tickets: $8.

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