Houston's 10 Best Metal Bars and Clubs

Cecil's cranks on more than just the cheap drinks.
Cecil's cranks on more than just the cheap drinks.

10. CECIL'S PUB This West Gray institution is best known for its cheap drinks on Mondays and gigantic, covered patio, but its darkened, Bohemian charm and bitchin' jukebox have long made it a favorite among Montrose metalheads. Expect to hear a healthy dose of the heavy stuff inside, especially on weekends, when the old-school juke is pumping out everything from Iron Maiden to the Deftones. Keep an eye peeled for fresh gig flyers, and don't be afraid to strike up a conversation with a few of the longhairs puffing away outside.

600 W. Gray, Facebook page

Many a House of Blues metal show has become a raging afterparty at Dirt Bar across the street.
Many a House of Blues metal show has become a raging afterparty at Dirt Bar across the street.

9. DIRT BAR No live music is played here, however metal is the music of choice played by patrons on Dirt Bar's Internet jukebox, and the bartenders also leaned toward the heavy stuff the few times we went and the jukebox was down. Dirt's original Heights location opened back in 2005 as a place for Houston headbangers and hard-rock fans to go out and drink where they could listen to the kind of extreme music they like, and the move to its downtown spot across from House of Blues in 2009 has continued this tradition.

When a metal show comes to House of Blues the band's fans take over Dirt before and after the concert; we saw a group of young professionals walk in and leave abruptly with a horrified look on their faces as death metal blared from the jukebox on the night of the recent King Diamond concert.

1209 Caroline, dirtbar.com

You Can Still Rock In America: Night Ranger hits Concert Pub North next Sunday.
You Can Still Rock In America: Night Ranger hits Concert Pub North next Sunday.

Upcoming Events

8. CONCERT PUB NORTH Like its sister location in the Galleria area, Concert Pub North hosts its fare share of Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath cover bands but has also have moved on to hosting national touring acts, with an emphasis on hard rock and glam-metal acts. Some nights the place can feel like you have been transplanted back to L.A.'s infamous Sunset Strip in Los Angeles in the '80s: Lita Ford, Kix, Sebastian Bach, Bret Michaels and others have all either played here or have upcoming concerts on the CPN schedule. Eddie Trunk, host of VH1 Classic's That Metal Show, is due in next month.

Of course some metal fans may deride a lot of these artists and dismiss them as "hair metal"; we say give them a shot and you'll probably have a great time, or just wait for some of the heavier touring acts or next local Megadeth cover band to come through.

2470 F.M. 1960, Web site

Surprisingly, the metal shows at Rudz seldom affect the dart games downstairs.
Surprisingly, the metal shows at Rudz seldom affect the dart games downstairs.

7. RUDYARD'S PUB Sitting downstairs and chatting with neighbors at Rudyard's Pub -- long hailed as "Montrose's Living Room" -- patrons often have little idea that there is an outrageous metallic maelstrom raging overhead. Upstairs, however, lies a fully realized music venue that has become a pillar of Houston's homegrown metal scene.

Its smallish corner stage boasts a loud sound system favored by the local likes of Project Armageddon, Funeral Horse, Kruller and the Linus Pauling Quartet, and the room is big enough to host noteworthy touring acts too, such as Cannabis Corpse. If you're thinking about attending, be a dear and offer to help a band or two lug their gear up that treacherous back staircase.

2010 Waugh, rudyardspub.com

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Mind those 4X4s at Mango's.
Mind those 4X4s at Mango's.

6. MANGO'S Booker Brandon Bowers has ensured that weird, little metal shows go off with regularity at Mango's, the strange little rock dive covered in graffiti at the corner of Westheimer and Taft. On nights not already reserved by the punks and indie kids, the tiny club's stage is home to underground metallic practitioners from near and far, such as Wehrmacht, Nekrofilth, High Spirits and plenty of others. If you've never been bounced off of one of Mango's 4x4 posts by a small and furious mosh pit, the crap you're listening to is probably weak, mainstream dreck.

403 Westheimer, mangoshtx.com

Destroying Texas Fest is just one of the recent metal shows at Walters.
Destroying Texas Fest is just one of the recent metal shows at Walters.

5. WALTERS DOWNTOWN Walter's may be regarded more dearly as a home to hardcore punk and indie bands who'd have nowhere else to play without it, but the downtown venue has also hosted its fair share of wild metal shows. This year's Badass Weekend event was a recent highlight, bringing grind/death progenitors Repulsion to town. Then there was last month's Destroying Texas Fest, headlined by Canadian black-metal heathens Revenge. Thanks to the club's cheap domestics and anything-goes atmosphere, the back-patch types fit right in.

1120 Naylor, waltersdowntown.com

Powerman 5000, Fozzy and Ace Frehley himself are coming to Scout Bar in the next week or so.
Powerman 5000, Fozzy and Ace Frehley himself are coming to Scout Bar in the next week or so.

4. SCOUT BAR This Clear Lake venue hosts bands from a variety of genres, but a solid lineup of national touring acts and local bands who play metal earns Scout Bar a spot on this list. Metal bands play here several nights most weeks and it's a good place to see them because of the fantastic sound system and elevated bar that allows you to go grab a drink and not miss any of the show.

Scout gives local metal bands the opportunity to open for national touring acts and further exposure through the Texas Buzz, a live remote broadcast featuring three up-and-coming bands on 94.5 The Buzz Sunday nights starting at 10 p.m. It's a bit of a long haul depending on where you live, so it's best to have a designated driver if you plan on attending a show, especially if you feel like indulging on Big Ass Beer Night Thursdays.

18307 Egret Bay Blvd., Clear Lake, scoutbar.com

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Inner-loop metalheads will definitely find Acadia worth the drive.
Inner-loop metalheads will definitely find Acadia worth the drive.

3. ACADIA BAR & GRILL Acadia offers live music Wednesdays through Saturdays (and most Sundays), with a large amount of metal bands coming through to bang your head to. Most bands who play here are locals, many of whom are very talented and take advantage of the bar's impressive light show and sound system. Usually three or four bands will play together on a bill, so if one of them does not knock your socks off just take a break and eat a burger or some chicken wings.

A lot of great metal mayhem goes on in this place, with some guitar players that can really shred, so if you live inside the loop you really need to take a trip out and see it for yourself up close and personal. Smoking is also allowed inside here due to some Harris County districting plan we don't quite understand.

3939 Cypress Creek Pkwy., acadiabarandgrill.com

BFE also hosts the odd midget-wrestling night from time to time.
BFE also hosts the odd midget-wrestling night from time to time.

2. BFE ROCK CLUB Metal has always been popular out in the suburbs and headbangers out in BFE (Google the acronym) don't have far to travel to get their fix. One of the coolest events held here is the annual Dimefest, where a ton of metal bands play all day and late into the night in tribute to the late, beloved Pantera guitarist Dimebag Darrell. Cover for this event is only 10 cents along with 10-cent beer while supplies last; metalheads who attend donate much more money than this, as all proceeds benefited the Ronnie James Dio Stand Up And Shout Cancer Fund in 2014, and other charities in the past.

One lucky fan this year also won a Dean Dime Guitar in a raffle. Metal has never been the most politically correct form of music, and the "midget" wrestling and women's oil and hot cream wrestling events held here are sure to offend some, along with the extreme music.

11528 Jones Rd., bferockclub.com

White Swan welcomes the "Abominations of the Earth XIII" festival on December 6.
White Swan welcomes the "Abominations of the Earth XIII" festival on December 6.

1. THE WHITE SWAN The only music venue inside the Loop outfitted with video-poker machines, this Second Ward dive has become a primary outpost for Houston's most extreme headbangers. Boasting cheap longnecks, pool tables and one of the better sound men in the scene, the White Swan is part neighborhood bar, part clubhouse, and keeps its stage open to any blasphemous troupe with the wherewithal to get a lineup together and book it. Heading out back for a smoke and chatting up the characters who populate the apartments on the property can sometimes make the place feel like the weirdest living room in town.

4419 Navigation Blvd., whiteswanlive.com

Written by David Rozycki and Nathan Smith

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