2008 Music Awards Nominees: Best Hard Rock/Metal

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(Thanks to bands for permission to post these MP3s!)

(Cross Examination)

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Cross Examination www.myspace.com/crossexamination In the liner notes to Slayer’s 1996 cover album Undisputed Attitude, the group explains that while bands such as Minor Threat and D.R.I. weren’t all that fast, they appreciated their intensity. Well, maybe those early hardcore outfits, which Cross Examination resembles, weren’t speedy by metal’s standards, judged by double-bass beats-per-minute and total solo-notes shredded, but they sounded as if they were about to combust. It’s the difference between an airplane, cruising overhead at some unfathomable velocity, and an overtaxed car doing 150 on the highway. Other acts might be technically quicker than Cross Examination, but they’ll never sound more reckless, dangerous and, well, fun. -- Andrew Miller

MP3: Cross Examination, "Menace 2 Sobriety"

Harkonin www.myspace.com/harkonin Last summer, Harkonin signed a multi-album deal with Battlegod Productions, a label run by Gorgoroth. (Not the Gorgoroth, black-metal fans, but an Australian dude who performs under that name; still, his band Baltak sounds pretty brutal.) In March, Battlegod, which boasts a distribution deal with metal empire Century Media, reissued Harkonin’s stellar 2006 disc Ghanima. Harkonin recently leaked “Chaos Anthem,” a rough demo from its in-progress 2009 release, and the new tune hints at a few changes in the group’s sound: Most notably, singer Jason Barron sounds decidedly less snakelike. -- Andrew Miller

Head On Collision www.myspace.com/headoncollisionmetal Not many bands in town go around representing for "thrash." To the general public, the idea of thrash metal might seem outdated or at least uncool -- that is, until it’s seen Head On Collision. With HOC there is no tounge-in-cheek posing, just good, solid, home-grown metal. The drums are heavy, the singing is best described as gutteral screeching and the guitar licks are straight-up evil, God love 'em. There aren't many bands like that around here, and Beer City Records is doing all it can to steal it away from us: signing the band, throwing money behind the release of its new album Ritual Sacrifice and sending it out on the road for most of the summer. Come back soon, HOC, you'll be missed. -- Jaime Lees

MP3: Head On Collision, "Executioner"

(Head on Collision, by photomistress.com)

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Shame Club www.myspace.com/shameclub “Dude, I saw the most bitching band last night: Shame Club. The quartet’s loud as fuck – you shoulda seen its stacks of Marshall amps -- grooves like Zeppelin and plays as fast as fuckin’ Motörhead. Motörhead! And bro, the sweet riffs Andy White and vocalist Jon Lumley play – man, I think I got whiplash from headbanging too hard. Plus, its new album, Come On? So righteous and full of dude-jams that Detroit’s Small Stone records made a bro-verture and re-released it earlier this year. Sweet.” -- Annie Zaleski Blueberry Hill’s Duck Room, 3 p.m.

Heroes of the Kingdom www.myspace.com/heroesofthekingdom The members of Heroes of the Kingdom have lived up to their mighty name since storming onto the scene last year. The quartet’s live gigs continue to pulverize the eardrums, while its long-awaited album features a brawny distillation of He-Man riffs, rust-colored Midwest post-rock and KSHE jams – without sacrificing melody or nuance. -- Annie Zaleski Blueberry Hill’s Duck Room, 2 p.m.

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