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Shows you should see this week

DevilDriver

What the pummeling metal band DevilDriver lacks in originality, it more than makes up for in energy and aggression. The California group recently released its fifth album, Beast. And with songs like "Talons Out (Teeth Sharpened)" and "Bring the Fight (To the Floor)," it's clear they not only like parenthetical descriptors, but also vicious imagery. One of their most popular tracks, "Clouds Over California" (from 2007's The Last Kind Words), sounds like the apocalypse moving in over the West Coast. The band's killer guitar riffs and frantic percussion fire up audiences. So does singer Dez Fafara, who sells it on pure charisma rather than forced theatricality. DevilDriver do their best work onstage, so this relatively intimate show oughta be something brutal. Be sure to get a spot up front or, better yet, in the pit.— Ben Gifford

With King and Demons Within. 7:30 p.m. Thursday, May 19. Peabody's. Tickets: $18, $15 in advance; call 216-776-9999 or go to peabodys.com.

Murder by Death

Damnation and salvation are a turn of the wheel in the world of Murder by Death. The Americana-goth quartet from Indiana has been spinning grim, colorful stories for more than a decade, releasing five albums keyed to frontman Adam Turla's seismic basso. Sarah Balliet's cello sets the mood for the band's theatrical chamber roots, as Turla unwinds stories about good, evil, hope, despair, and redemption. After a disappointing and directionless debut, Murder by Death released a trio of concept albums about a Mexican border town besieged by the devil (2003's Who Will Survive and What Will Be Left of Them?), a Dante-inspired survey of 12 personal hells (2006's In Bocca al Lupo), and a hell-bent-for-vengeance tale (2008's Red of Tooth & Claw). Besides featuring some of their catchiest music, last year's Good Morning, Magpie finds Turla abjuring his narrative style in favor of personal first-person confessionals still possessed by dark undertones. — Chris Parker

8 p.m. Thursday, May 19. Musica, Akron. Tickets: $12; call 330-374-1114 or go to ticketweb.com.

Anti-Flag

Purism may be at a low point in music right now, but Pittsburgh political punks Anti-Flag, who once appeared on a compilation between Black Flag and White Flag, haven't changed much in 22 years. They're punk in the most boxed-in sense, without being rote about it. You won't hear any ska, oi, emo, jokes, or blatant pop moves in their songs. Frontman Justin Sane and his band of hair-dyed holdouts play tight, undisguised anthems full of "whoa-ohs" that recall Rancid before they discovered the pipe organ (or the Offspring before they wanted to be Cheech & Chong). On 2009's super-catchy The People or the Gun, Anti-Flag bellowed lines like "When you're right, it feels good to be wrong" and "We're so fucked, and we don't give a fuck." They're words to live by from four guys whose short and snappy songs go hand in hand with their desperate edge. — Dan Weiss

With the Flatliners, Lemuria, and Hostage Calm. 8 p.m. Friday, May 20. Grog Shop. Tickets: $18, $15 in advance; call 216-321-5588 or go to grogshop.gs.

Hollywood Undead

Just when you thought rap-rock died a most-welcome death, along come these Hollywood jokers to remind you just how messy hyphenated music genres can get. Still, Hollywood Undead must be doing something right: Their latest album, American Tragedy, recently debuted at No. 4 — a pretty stellar showing for a genre that lost most of its relevance about a decade ago. Like Slipknot, the six members of Hollywood Undead wear goofy masks and use even goofier pseudonyms (Charlie Scene, Funny Man, Johnny 3 Tears — really?). Their music pretty much reflects all this. "Been to Hell," "Comin' in Hot," and "Gangsta Sexy" feature white-boy rhymes, throat-shredding choruses, and a general disregard for both taste and originality. Here's hoping these Undead return to their graves real soon. Until then, brace yourself. — Michael Gallucci

With 10 Years, Drive A, and New Medicine. 7 p.m. Tuesday, May 24. House of Blues.Tickets: $28, $25 in advance; call 216-523-2583or visit houseofblues.com.

Messinian

Philadelphia MC and DJ Messinian figures the best way to start a party is with equal blasts of dubstep, drumstep, and drum. "Hard and epic" he calls it. Messinian (real name: James Dean Fiorella) was born in Los Angeles and gravitated toward club sounds early in life. These days, he's all about hitting from the very first note. He doesn't fuck around with any of that slow-build stuff. "I go right into the good shit," he says. "If the crowd needs warming up by then, too bad." Like any good DJ, Messinian lets his audiences take the music on its nightly journey. He doesn't even have a leadoff cut, preferring instead to work a custom intro for every show. And like any DJ worth his laptop and stash of old-school 12-inches, Messinian's sets often end up sweaty dance-floor grinds, with half-naked bodies and dry-humping bodies a common sight. "My goal is to play bangers for people and make them move," he says. "I don't want to drop anything that gets in the way of that mission." — Gallucci

With DJ E-V. 9 p.m. Friday, May 20. Agora. Tickets: $10, $5 in advance; call 216-881-2221 or go to wantickets.com.

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Calendar

Staff Pick Events

  • Oberlin Contemporary Music Ensemble @ Cleveland Museum of Art

    • Sun., Dec. 4
  • CIM/CWRU Joint Music Program @ Cleveland Museum of Art

    • First Wednesday of every month. Continues through May 3
  • DeRay Davis @ Improv Comedy Club & Restaurant

    • Thu., Dec. 8

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