Lots of noise bands sound like they want to chew through your spine and spit out your vertebrae, but Metalux takes a deliberately calm approach that's even more frightening. Immerse yourself in this Chicago duo's newest album, Waiting for Armadillo (Load), and you'll gradually become uncomfortable in your skin, painfully conscious of your body and its terrible fragility. Armadillo is dramatically heavy and moody--nothing new for these ladies--but while their past recordings seemed to simply wander in the darkness, this one settles into a particular locale long enough for details to come into focus. Though the lyrics are impressionistic, fractured, incomprehensible, or simply absent, the album nonetheless evokes powerful visual images: a loping dromedary's blank, blinking eye ("Rotisserarie Voodoo Llama"), a pigeon with a broken leg being pecked at in the gutter ("Tribute"), a self-destructive seventh-grade slut with teased hair ("Splinter and Shimmer"), a power-tripping czar ("Fastblood"). M.V. Carbon's creepy, shimmery baby talk sleepwalks through J. Graf's guitar shrapnel, but other than that it's hard to tell who's doing what: stalagmites of fuzzy, thumping analog noise pierce wobbly tape loops, and echoing howls unfurl like ghosts lost in a wind-scoured desert. It's easy to imagine yourself lost with them, so emptied out and keyed up that everything around you seems freighted with mortal significance--every whisper underfoot is a poisonous snake, and every crackle in the air is a meteor that's about to drop out of the sky and kill you. This is the last show Carbon and Graf will play as Chicagoans; they're both moving east, so from now on you'll only get to see Metalux when they tour. Magik Markers and Burning Star Core open. $8. Sunday, July 25, 9:30 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western; 773-276-3600 or 800-594-8499.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Suzy Poling.