Concert Reviews

Over the Weekend: Maleveller, Eagle Claw, The House Harkonnen at the Double Wide

Maleveller, Eagle Claw, The House Harkonnen
Double Wide
August 13, 2011

Better than: teaching your nephew how to play Mastodon songs.

Last year, Maleveller could only play a certain amount of songs live. Because, well, they only had those songs to choose from. During one particularly memorable set back in 2010, when asked if the band could do an encore after they were finished, frontman Brian Smith sadly told the crowd that the band didn't know any more songs.

At Saturday night's show, with the band celebrating a new full-length to go along with last year's EP, the band had plenty of time and tunes to let things rip for almost an hour.

When almost all of the venue's lights cut out mere minutes after midnight, the band's orchestral "The Prioress of Wine and War" played on the P.A. Launching their performance with "The Endless Run," the band was on a perpetual loop of hammering guitar riffs, steamrolling drumbeats and shouted vocals.

Being the release show, it made sense the band played their new record almost from start to finish. But they also threw in songs from their EP. And, in comparing the growth from their early tunes to their newer ones, the consistency was impressive, raining down like a crushing kick to the head.

Without trying to sound too much like a certain Concert Foul piece, I must say: The band's choice of equipment was pretty vital in how good the band sounded -- especially with Smith and fellow guitarist Jeff Biehler. They had golden tones coming from their Gibson guitars played though Marshall stacks.No, equipment doesn't make the player, but it was good that all four members knew how to get as much out of their instruments as possible. "Dead Horizon" in particular showcased an extended workout by drummer T.J. Prendergast with fills galore.

You might wonder why Maleveller gets the kind of attention that they do. Sure, there are plenty of metal bands in Dallas alone. Yet, when it comes to balancing pummel for those that live for that style of music every day and those that can take it in doses, the band has a special gift.

Prior to Maleveller, Austin's Eagle Claw gave the crowd six instrumentals that sounded influenced by early Metallica and Iron Maiden. Sure, the band was tight and crunchy, but sans vocals, the material seemed to need an extra layer... like, say, some kind of vocals.

The House Harkonnen opened the night, and they've  been around for quite some time. Judging by their set, though, they are doing everyone a favor by still kicking ass. With manes of hair bopping feverishly mere seconds into their first song, their 30 minutes even featured a cover of Nirvana's "Tourette's."

Critic's Notebook
Personal Bias:
I'm friendly with T.J. and Brian from Maleveller and I saw them play many times with their previous band, Pegasus Now. I knew T.J. was a metal fan, but I never knew he had a metal band until I heard about them through grapevine two years ago.

Random Quote: "We don't do brutal," said Smith between Maleveller songs, "We want chicks to like us."

By The Way: I've never tried the barbeque offered outside of the Double Wide, but it sure as hell smells fantastic.[Editor's Note: It's pretty awesome. Highly recommended.]

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Eric Grubbs is a Dallas-based writer who has published two books, Post: A Look at the Influence of Post-Hardcore 1985-2007 and When We Were the Kids. His writing has been featured in Punk Planet, Popdose, Fort Worth Weekly, The Dentonite and LA Weekly. He supports Manchester City and will never root for Manchester United.
Contact: Eric Grubbs