For metal fans, it'll be thrash before hash tonight at Warehouse Live when Arlington's Warbeast returns once again in support of Down, the New Orleans sludge metal supergroup fronted by Pantera's Philip Anselmo.
Despite the clash of styles -- Warbeast plays speedy death-thrash, while Down prefers languid stoner grooves -- their pairing is nonetheless familiar. Tonight marks the beginning of Warbeast's second tour in as many years supporting Down, and their second visit to Warehouse Live, too. Anselmo has made it something of a personal mission to spread the word about the DFW thrashers, who just so happen to be signed to his Housecore Records label.
"The Kid" and Warbeast front man Bruce Corbitt go back a ways. Corbitt was singing for seminal Texas headbangers Rigor Mortis, Pantera's contemporaries in the late-'80s DFW metal scene, when Anselmo first arrived in the Metroplex more than 23 years ago.
"I met Philip back in, like, 1987 at a Rigor Mortis show here in Dallas," Corbitt told Rocks Off when we caught up with him recently. "He had just come to town, in the process of joining Pantera, and he found out about Rigor Mortis while he was here and he wanted to check us out.
"We've always gotten along pretty well," he continues. "And then like five years ago, we got asked to go on tour with his band, Arson Anthem. That's when I got back in touch with Phil, and we just kind of shot the shit about what's going on in our lives. I mentioned a new project that I had going with some of the guys from Gammacide that Phil knew from back then as well."
That project was Warbeast, and when Anselmo heard their demo, he was converted on the spot. He's taken a real stake in their success ever since, releasing their debut on his label, taking them out on tour and even collaborating on a new EP. This week, Housecore put out War of the Gargantuas, a split containing two new Warbeast songs and two songs from the recording sessions for Phil's forthcoming solo album.
They're the first official solo tracks Anselmo's ever released, making the EP kind of a big deal. Using it to help promote the music of Warbeast was his idea.
"After our first album came out, and we were working on a couple of new songs," Corbitt said. "And Phil had the idea at the time to do a solo album, and he was, like, 'Hey, we should record you guys a couple of songs, and then whenever my solo album's ready, we'll just put out a split, giving everybody a preview of what's to come.'
"We recorded our songs, like, two years ago, and Philip, at the time, was still writing," he continues. "Actually, while we were there recording I suggested that they could use our drummer for his solo album, and that's how Joey Gonzalez got to be on Phil's solo album."
Cool as Gargantuas is for collectors and diehard fans, a bigger prize will be Warbeast's new album due out early this year. As if that weren't enough, Corbitt also has a new Rigor Mortis album due out this year, titled Slaves to the Grave. It was recorded early last year at Al Jourgenson's 13th Planet Studios, featuring the classic lineup from the band's 1988 self-titled debut.
They hadn't recorded together more than 23 years. Sadly, they'll never have the chance again. Corbitt's 2012 had a terribly shitty ending when Rigor Mortis guitarist and certified Texas metal god Mike Scaccia collapsed and died onstage during the singer's 50th birthday celebration at the Rail Yard in Fort Worth.
It was a tragic letdown for longtime fans, to say nothing of what Scaccia's family and friends were put through. Corbitt made his feelings plain on Facebook, saying "My brother is gone! The only reason I am who I am is because of this man. If it wasn't for him I wouldn't even be in a band. RIP Mike Scaccia! The greatest guitar player I ever knew!"
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Still, Corbitt will soldier on, just as Scaccia would have if their places were reversed. Down and Warbeast have dedicated the entire tour to the memory of their fallen friend and colleague. But tragedy or no, heavy metal isn't a choice for these guys - it's a vocation.
"Me and Philip, we call it just being lifers," Corbitt said. "When you're a lifer, it's just in your blood and it's what you're gonna want to do, no matter if it's the thing that's hot at the time or not.
"There was a long period in the '90s where I couldn't find anyone to really do the type of music that I wanted to do, because thrash died out," he continued. "I just refused to do anything else besides what I like. Luckily for me, around the mid-2000s, my kind of music started coming back. It allowed me to get back out there and have some fun again."
With Down, 8 p.m. Friday, January 11 4 at Warehouse Live, 813 Saint Emanuel, www.warehouselive.com.