Playbill

When your logo is a pentagram with a pot leaf in the center, and your vocalist is "God of metal" Phil Anselmo (Pantera), you've got all the symbolism needed to pull off a skin-peeling speed-metal record. And that's exactly what Superjoint Ritual did, creating 13 blistering tracks and christening them A Lethal Dose of American Hatred. The band's music is the quintessential metal menagerie: screeching about Satan, demonic group-growl overdubs, breakneck-speed guitars (do they even change chords?) and more double bass drumming than an old Sepultura record. As if Superjoint Ritual didn't have enough hardcore credibility, the band recently played the main stage at Ozzfest. "The SJR (crowd, fans, martyrs...!) are insane," Anselmo wrote in his tour diary. "Every show has been unfucking believable!" This week, the band will bring the insanity to the illustrious and recently reopened I-Ball. -- Nathan Dinsdale and Niki D'Andrea

Friday, August 6, at the International Ballroom, 14035 South Main, 713-728-9175.

Clutch

After nearly 13 years of almost nonstop rocking and touring, Clutch has yet to repeat itself. The Maryland-based outfit continues to put out creative, unpredictable music pulling from influences such as Led Zeppelin, the Who, John Coltrane and Chuck D. From the aggro-hop of Transnational Speedway Leagueto the spacey, polyrhythmic and category-defying compositions on 2001's Pure Rock Fury, the quartet has successfully melded disparate styles into a unique, powerful sound that never forsakes subtlety. With each release, the group's compositions have simultaneously become more complex and more urgent. Vocalist Neil Fallon spouts inscrutable lyrics with the passion and perversity of a Southern Baptist satanist, driven to speaking in tongues by the gut-punching guitar work of Tim Sult. Meanwhile, Dan Maines delivers intestine-rattling bass lines, and drummer Jean-Paul Gaster manages to maintain a killer groove while following along in a whole different hymnal. The band's live shows are legendary for their seemingly boundless energy, and dates on the current tour, supporting this year's DRT release, Blast Tyrant, promise at least two hours of music that will span the years and punish the ears. -- Eric Eyl

Saturday, August 7, at the Engine Room, 1515 Pease, 713-654-7846.

Don Williams

Don Williams, he of the head-to-toe denim garb, white beard and hair, battered hat and gentle, avuncular brand of country, had 17 No. 1 country hits between 1974 and 1986, including such chestnuts as "Good Ole Boys Like Me," "'Til the Rivers All Run Dry" and, most notable, "I Believe in You." He also recorded Townes Van Zandt's "If I Needed You" as a duet with Emmylou Harris, appeared in Smokey & The Bandit II and was named the 1970s Country Music Star of the Decade in England. Which is not really much of a surprise, since the baritone crooner has always seemed like the successor to Jim Reeves, who's still regarded by the typical English country music fan (and there are more of them than you think) as a sort of god.

Likewise for both Reeves and Williams in, of all places, the English-speaking countries of sub-Saharan Africa. There, what we call country is known as sentimental music, and country doesn't come much more sentimental than that of Williams and Reeves. Whatever you call it, Williams's status as a giant of music in such countries as South Africa, Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Uganda and Malawi rivals that of Bob Marley. Nigerian King Sunny Ade has said he is a huge influence. A desperate soon-to-be-ex-President of Malawi once broke off a phone call to Williams, and some believe the candidate's radio broadcast of that chat helped him win re-election. And if you think I'm pulling your leg, you can get proof: In 1997 Williams became the first country star to tour Africa, and his trip to Zimbabwe is now available on the Into Africa DVD. -- John Nova Lomax

Friday, August 6, at the Sam Houston Race Park, 7575 North Sam Houston Parkway West, 281-807-8700.

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