When: Fri., Dec. 23, 10 p.m. 2011
Czar's Vertical Mass Grave is like a tightly wound, potentially hazardous bow atop a stellar year of recordings wrapped up by the Chicago metal scene. Unlike many of the other locals drawing out-of-town attention—Indian, Bloodiest, the Atlas Moth—the trio shows little interest in mapping deep-psych textures that draw in a listener with the merciless inevitability of a fuzz-box-equipped black hole. Rather their focus is on knotty rhythmic beatdowns seemingly designed to induce a weapons-grade bangover in anyone who tries to nod along—an emphasis likely inherited from the members' past work with industrial acts DJ? Acucrack and Acumen Nation. Precision-machined, flatly heavy, and possessed of a certain dead-eyed-killer-android personality, the album (recently released on Cracknation, the label owned by front man Jason Novak) is highly recommended to fans of beat-heavy 90s acts like Therapy? and Prong, as well as anyone who's ever wondered how brutal Helmet would be sans Page Hamilton's pop streak. —Miles Raymer Of Wolves opens.