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Monday, Oct. 25

Fudge comes to mind as I grasp for a way to accurately describe Thrones.

The music is a dirge of heavy sound that is unlike any other, like a mirage of melting chocolate rising off the 110-degree highway on some inconceivable plain slowly appearing in front of you. And one of rock 'n' roll's most innovative confectioners is Joe Preston, heavy-metal legend and sole proprietor of one of the heaviest and most unique bands in the world. Thrones is one of the most distinctive music projects ever to hit the road in a van, and that van earlier this week arrived at Solar Culture, where the vibrations nearly shook the paintings off the walls.

Preston was a longtime member of both The Melvins and Earth, two bands that regularly confound categorization with a mix of heavy-metal riffs and precision noise. It is no surprise that a sound alchemist of Preston's caliber would emerge from these acts.

Thrones took the stage with "Ephraim," a song that loops riff over riff until it seems that a chorus of strings is emerging like lava from a hole in the ground. The beginning of the set was tantamount to a machine cranking, leading into a cluster of songs with sludgy riffs that you could feel on your skin in the back of the room.

A scope of soundscapes from his various singles and his Sperm Whale/White Rabbit CD turned the room damp as Preston conducted the show with his modest bass guitar and layers of eclectic equipment. The music is jamboree of torpid bass lines, playful electronic samples and bouts of meditative minimalist noise.

Preston closed the show with "Nuts and Berries," a Thrones classic composed of metal riffs and voice modulation that feel as if they are floating in space. But for all the experimental noise, Thrones is not a forum for self-important noisemaking; Preston is a master of precision songwriting. His ability to re-create his sonic phenomenon during live shows exemplifies his depth as a true heavy metal composer.

The show opened with Christian Mistress, a band with a distinct NWOBHM influence. The band played a short set with two guitars trading riffs effortlessly in the vein of Iron Maiden and Diamondhead.


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