Black Christmas

Should I trust my eyes upon seeing what looked like fewer than 200 people at The Hold Steady show at the House of Blues a few weeks ago? Where were you when the indie-rock scene needed you, fellow hipsters? The Hold Steady was your last shot at hearing quality indie rock this month, because now the pickings are slim. The smart, sensitive bands have begun hibernating for the winter. Now all that’s left out there, are killer metal bands, Christmas hard-rockers and Roger Waters.

Goodness, have you been reading the reviews of Waters’ tour this year in support of an updated The Wall, one of the top five best-selling rock albums in the history of mankind? They are uniformly stellar and give the spectacle-makers of Cirque du Soleil a run for their money. Forget Michael Jackson; why doesn’t Mandalay Bay demand a Pink Floyd production instead? Emotional and elaborate, Waters’ concert will bestows its joys unto Vegas on Nov. 26 at MGM Grand Garden Arena. No doubt we’re all going to be left “Comfortably Numb” that night.

Cough, psychedelic doom-sludgers from Richmond, Va., are coming to town. Relapse Records just released the band’s debut album, Ritual Abuse, a heavy, harrowing, claustrophobic, deeply atmospheric, genuinely frightening slab of aggressive music that makes me fear for the owners of the bar on Nov. 27 at Meatheads (1121 S. Decatur Blvd.). Hope they have insurance for acts of Satan, because this band might not leave the building standing. That’s how sonically catastrophic Cough is.

The gloom endures with the savage team-up of the “Darkness Reborn Tour 2010,” featuring the biggest names in modern metal: Enslaved, Dimmu Borgir, Blood Red Throne and Dawn of Ashes. Best of this brutal bunch is Enslaved, a progressive black metal band from Norway that has earned rave reviews since the mid-“aughts.” Once just another mediocre Viking metal act, they began incorporating elements of Pink Floyd-style ambience, punk-rock guitar attack and even Scandinavian folk music. If you enjoy forceful music played smartly and with tons of melodic intent, you will dig this band. In a more theatrical, costumed and fantasy-gothic vein is Dimmu Borgir, also Norwegian, who will likely blow your mind—or at least make you chuckle—with what’s sure to be an elaborate stage show. It’s rare that a metal band offers so much pomp and circumstance, so don’t miss this one at House of Blues on Nov. 30.

If that’s too grim for you and maybe you still need to hear upbeat Christmas music, let me remind you that the world’s best symphonic holiday hard-rock band Trans-Siberian Orchestra is performing at Thomas & Mack Center on Nov. 27. Talk about pyrotechnics! Caught a show by this metal orchestra—the brainchild of Scorpions producer Paul O’Neill and Savatage singer Jon Oliva—years ago, and it was incredible, a real treat for the senses. Both Santa and Satan would be proud to see you in attendance at this one.

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