Ringworm, "No More Heroes"
A love letter to when thrash and hardcore cross-pollinated in the same sweat-soaked mosh pits, Ringworm combines martial drum fills to rival Bad Brains' speed and intensity, with thundering guitar breakdowns that owe an obvious debt to Slayer. The song seems to accelerates as it nears the finish; the needle-fine guitar runs are so precise, thick, and suddenly gone, they leave behind the acrid odor of burnt rubber.
Ringworm, with Unholy, Friday, June 2, at the Jigsaw Saloon.
Hot Ham & Cheese, "Cocaine Billy"
You gotta admire the balls of a band influenced by '80s metal that's using "cheese" in its name. While other tracks feature long-winded metal-guitar arpeggios and prog-rock diversions, "Cocaine Billy" gets right to the point. A bubbly rave-up swathed in distortion, this rockabilly ode to consumption conjures the image of garage rockers descending into oblivion by way of the cocktail-bar band circuit. What fun!
Hot Ham & Cheese CD-release, with Johnny Mohawk and the Assassins, Rebel Girl, the Hunchies, and the Hostile Omish. Saturday, June 3, at the Agora Ballroom.
Cats on Holiday, "Halloween"
Speaking in a pidgin of roots styles, these Cats take a traveling beat, give it a folk melody, and underscore it with pedal-steel whine and a hint of a bluegrass pulse. The guitar ambles through an airy lead reminiscent of the Dead and overall captures a similar catchy, easy-going vibe with their folk-blues blend.
Cats on Holiday, Saturday, June 3, at Wilbert's.
The band members look like friends of My Chemical Romance's Gerard Way, but fortunately, appearances can be deceiving. The makeup and dyed black hair recall '80s darkwave, as does the sound, but it's balanced by a strong dose of scabrous, angular guitar. Like Cursive crossed with its Omaha buddy the Faint, there are synthesizers and grim romanticism to go with the throttling attack. Live, the chunky guitars' herky-jerky roar overwhelms the Cure-like pop sensibility, giving the quartet a heft missing from its early tracks. With so many metalcore acts "experimenting" with melody, it's great to witness a group that knows what it's doing -- even if the Dover quartet is still trying to find the right balance. Look for its debut on Rust Records in September.
Wake Hollywood, Thursday, June 1, at the Hi-Fi Concert Club.