Your Guide to This Year's Summer Slaughter Tour

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Brother, if you came for brutality, you're in luck. It's summer and that means it's time for the metal roadshows to hit Houston once again. Over the course of the next week, we'll be seeing the Summer Slaughter Tour, the Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival, the All-Stars Tour, and Vans Warped Tour all making their rounds in H-town.

You may be asking yourself, "Who are these bands? Rocks Off, help me. I don't know metal." That's okay, because I know everything about metal, and I'm here to tell you which bands you need to look out for. Today we'll focus on the Summer Slaughter Tour, which hits the House of Blues tomorrow and is guaranteed to make your ears bleed with a punishing lineup of extreme and progressive metal bands.

THY ART IS MURDER Heavy as all hell, deathcore band Thy Art Is Murder was an inspired choice to open the show. Their sound may not be incredibly unique, but they're so good at what they do that they shine and excel in their genre. Watch out for the pits during this one.

RINGS OF SATURN So-called "aliencore," Rings of Saturn is one of the biggest proponents of the alien movement in today's metalcore and deathcore scenes. Aside from the dramatic hook of extraterrestrial life, though, their "deathcore with solos" sound leaves something to be desired.

AEON Swedish death-metal band Aeon has been plugging away since 1999, but honestly sound far too much like any number of other bands from their home country who play almost the exact same style of music. It's one thing to play to your genre, and another to be lacking in creativity.

REVOCATION Revocation is obviously very talented technically, but they do little to distinguish themselves from the combined thrash and technical death-metal influences of Megadeth and Meshuggah. As many bands as play a style like this, they might be a band to skip this time around.

THE OCEAN The Ocean is a German band being promoted as "post-metal," but they don't sound much like it to me. What they do sound like is a highly technical metal band playing with the obvious influence of Mastodon, whose style on the album Blood Mountain informs but does not completely overwhelm The Ocean. This is going to be one of the lesser-known bands to keep your ears peeled for at this year's show.

CATTLE DECAPITATION One of the most brutal grindcore and death-metal bands to ever do it, Cattle Decapitation's vile, disgusting brand of metal will most likely leave you deaf and bloody by the end of their set, so the faint of heart may want to avoid it. That being said, they're one of the best at what they do and this latest stop in Houston will be yet another chance to tear the house down.

NORMA JEAN Metalcore band Norma Jean has been at it for more than a decade, but only guitarist Chris Day has stuck around since their inception. Still, despite their revolving-door lineup, they've maintained their signature sound and kept themselves going when almost all their peers have fallen by the wayside at this point.

Check them out while you still can. It may be one of your last chances to see one of the original wave of metalcore bands from the early 2000s at this point.

PERIPHERY The inventors of the popular "djent" sound, Periphery's progressive-metal sound (complete with clean vocals) may not satisfy some of more extreme metal who are going to Summer Slaughter. Still, they kick ass in their own way. Plus, there's no denying their instrumental chops.

ANIMALS AS LEADERS The other oddly more progressive band on the bill for this year's Summer Slaughter is Animals as Leaders. Foregoing vocals altogether, they are entirely focused on the technical prowess of guitarist, songwriter, and founder Tosin Abasi, as well the abilities of his sideman guitarist Javier Reyes and drummer Matt Garstka.

Together, the trio plays some of the most difficult metal instrumental music today, bridging the gap between metal and jazz fusion in a way only rivaled by the forefathers of that sound, Cynic. This is definitely a sight to be seen.

THE DILLINGER ESCAPE PLAN This year's Summer Slaughter headliner is the Dillinger Escape Plan. I previously named them one of the most insane live bands to see right now and this is their first stop in Houston this summer.

How crazy can it really get? Well, Dillinger guitarist Ben Weinman broke his wrist in the midst of stage theatrics, took exactly one month off to recover from intensive surgery after being told he would never play again, and immediately hopped back on the road for Summer Slaughter. If that, and the video above, doesn't convince you, I don't know what will. Just go see them!

Summer Slaughter pulls into House of Blues, 1204 Caroline, Saturday. Doors open at 2:30 p.m.

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