It was this New Jersey quintet's high-volume, high-velocity brutality that initially clobbered me, but the real shock is how constantly their brand of metal shifts gears. It lurches, staggers, and sprints like a BattleBot gone haywire as the musicians barrel through changes in tempo, tonality, and density with startling precision. Guitarists Ben Weinman and Brian Benoit alternate between razor-edged riffing and arpeggios played so fast the notes merge into a waterfall of sound. And drummer Chris Pennie holds it all together, moving from meticulously executed prog-rock patterns to staccato thrash to breathless stop-start figures as the guitars buzz and collide in near chaos around him. On the remarkable Calculating Infinity (Relapse, 1999) vocalist Dimitri Minakakis keeps up with the onslaught, unleashing a tortured howl that holds its own against the din; he's since left, and the Plan's new EP, Irony Is a Dead Scene (Epitaph), is a collaboration with noise mogul Mike Patton (vocalist for Fantomas, Tomahawk, Mr. Bungle, and once upon a time Faith No More). Patton's more melodic, melodramatic style flattens the spiky assault a bit--at times this almost sounds like a normal hard-rock band. But on a cover of "Come to Daddy" by Aphex Twin, Patton's yowling and the band's scientific fury click. The group's since hooked up with a new vocalist, Greg Puciato; here he'll sing the old stuff, the Patton material, and songs from an album due out next year. Chicago's own metal-jazz extremists Yakuza are among the opening bands. Tuesday, December 10, 6:30 PM, Metro, 3730 N. Clark; 773-549-0203.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Kate Thompson.