BLACK ELK, NETHER REGIONS, RABBITS, WIZARD RIFLE
(Branx, 320 SE 2nd) Forgive the labored analogy, but if you will: Black Elk has shed its old antlers, and now sports a new rack for a new year. Ugh, I am sorry. Anyway, they've reformed and regenerated, lurching back onto the stage with their assaultive combo of metal and hardcore. Formerly a wholly Portland band, guitarist Erik Trammell has since relocated to Southern California, recruiting a new bassist and drummer who seem well-equipped to deal with the mathy intricacies of Black Elk's repertoire (which could at times be paved over by the band's power blast). They're working on a new album, but for now they're revisiting the Northwest for two shows with the new lineup—and tonight's Portland show is totally free. NED LANNAMANN
RAGS AND RIBBONS, WATER AND BODIES, FOX AND THE LAW
(Doug Fir, 830 E Burnside) Wanna know what the real fringe of the local music community is up to? Portland's Rags and Riches play polished, piano-driven pop that's catchy as it is unobtrusive—nothing folky or chamber-y or metal-y about it. Their list of influences range from Queen and Sigur RÓs—which I don't hear—to Coldplay and Snow Patrol, which sounds more accurate. Formerly known as Galaxy Farm, R&R have just released their first proper LP The Glass Masses, a sparkling, well-produced collection of pop that zeroes in on the ears of the 13-to-16 and 50-and-over sets. That's assuming they've never listened to Queen or Sigur RÓs. MARK LORE
AXXICORN, BARNABY WOODS, GHOST ALIEN, GODDESS
(Plan B, 1305 SE 8th) Classic metal trio Axxicorn have been Portland favorites since forming in 2010, and tonight they celebrate the release of their first full-length. Having honed their chops on the show circuit, Axxicorn went to the studio and made War of the Giants, a monstrous and truly epic album. Seven tracks on mythological themes deliver the spectrum of rock sounds, from scorching anthems to frenetic meditations. Vocalist Kerr Mahnke channels Ozzy while maintaining a highly original vocal presence, a mix of honey and gravel. Jeremy Hansen's guitar work is thunderous, meticulous, and percussive while verging towards the unhinged. Mike McDonnell dominates every inch of the drum kit, hitting it at all angles to superb effect. And while the album surges with the energy of a live show, the instrumentation shines with polished production. It's a record for the ages. MARANDA BISH
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