Lots of bands go in for cheap shock theatrics -- Marilyn Manson is the default example. Very few bands possess the aura of irrationality, of sonic and behavioral unpredictability, that makes them genuinely frightening. For a while in the mid-1990s, Eyehategod had that: You never knew whether singer Michael Williams was going to attack the audience or just collapse in a junk stupor. And if the latter happened, you didn't know whether his bandmates would help him out or just leave him lying there.
Today Is the Day frontman Steve Austin holds the crown these days: He's the most unsettling singer in rock. It's not just the unearthly, gut-shredding screams he lets loose; it's not just the bowel-shaking sound of the band in full roar (no surprise one of his ex-rhythm sections formed the ungodly heavy Mastodon); it's not the sampled messages of human -- not occult -- evil that bridge songs in their set. It's all that and more. On record, Today Is the Day has moments of greatness and stretches of tedious self-indulgence. Live, they're an unstoppable force of pure, nerve-jangling terror and raw power. Letting Steve Austin scare you is one of the most thrilling experiences in heavy music today.