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What Happened And Heads Held High Get Graded

Emeralds

What Happened

(No Fun)

Earlier Emeralds albums, like 2008's Solar Bridge, revealed the trio to be heirs-apparent to dimension-surfing krautrock acts like Cluster, offering Brian Eno-esque ambience in a subtly psychedelic paste. What Happened builds from that trippy template, stirring in elements of noise and discord with face-melting results. "Alive in the Sea of Information" hosts insidious synth-on-synth violence, as razor-toothed loops nip haphazardly at the heels of starry-eyed, drippy bass and fantastically flatulent drones. After opening as a tentative organ meditation, "Living Room" morphs into woozy primordial ooze: The introduction of a plaintive guitar exoskeleton provides a structure to which electronic twitters and squiggles are affixed to the blaring, black-metal denouement that's stealthly foreshadowed. - Ray Cummings

Heads Held High

So Say We All

(Crossface)

myspace.com/headsheldhigh

Heads Held High's full-length debut is stuffed with existential dread, movie samples, literary references and smoldering frustration with a scene they've dubbed "Cleveland: Mediocre Metal City." So Say We All is a picture of life in music as a mutiny on the losing side of frontline siege. From opening notes to parting shot, drummer David Breda double-kicks like he's manning heavy artillery, and "Let's Get Dangerous" is the kind of mosh-pit workout that'll mow down a crowd. Guitarist Jack Holmes rips one metal-plated riff after another between gang-chorus rallying cries. Flirting with melody, singer-lyricist Elliott Frank shouts his way through the wartime hardcore without resorting to a tough-guy mindset. - D.X. Ferris

Heads Held High perform with Iron Minds, Friends Back East and a Wilhelm Scream at 8 p.m. Tuesday, February 24, at Now That's Class (11213 Detroit Ave., 216.221.8576).

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