Ear candy

Sonic Death Night Fulcrum Records, Sat., Oct. 23

Deer, Bears, Tigers, Buffalo, Squirrels and Cobras, oh my! There are a lot of animal names in Chico’s band pool these days, and the noisiest rock creatures of all—Sloths, Swans and other squawking Birds—were at the aptly titled “Sonic Death Night” at a packed Fulcrum Records Saturday night.

Giant black speaker cabinets were everywhere, crammed into corners, left alone for short reviewers to stand on, and of course, filing on and off stage in a rotating sampler of the different ways bands use volume to make music.

Makes You Die: A guitar/drums duo, with front man Zeke Rogers plugged into both a guitar and a bass amp, slogged through crunchy metal sludge at a volume befitting a band three times its size.

Birds of Fire: Volume wasn’t a tool in this trio’s arsenal as much as noises were. Blending some of the jazz/prog tendencies of bands like Karate, et al., Birds of Fire was most impressive when the disjointed rhythms and guitarist Matt Daugherty’s effects pedals focused on building dynamic changes.

Abominable Iron Sloth: Holy moly! A 500-watt Sunn amplifier was one weapon in Iron Sloth guitarist/vocalist Justin Cash’s arsenal. Simply the most impassioned, energized, Melvins-meets-Karp, slow-simmering metal groove to pop my earplugs since the glory days of Chico’s mighty Trench.

West by Swan: With three arcs of effects pedals laid out neatly on the carpet of Fulcrum, West by Swan finished the evening by shifting through a wide variety of noise gears, with the best example being the crowd fave "Swarm." The song’s bridges weren’t built with giant steps of noise, rather through shape-shifting tones that thickened and thinned-out the sound of an insect swarm, killing the audience with its sonic buzzing.