Fuck Cancer, featuring User Sets Mode, Attack Cat and First in Space, benefits the Taussig Cancer Institute at the Cleveland ClinicInstitute at the Cleveland Clinic. Saturday, December 5 at Beachland Ballroom (15711 Waterloo Rd., 216-383-1124). Doors 8 p.m., show 8:30 p.m. $7.
When Throwdown launched a dozen years ago in California, they were the definition of straight-edge hardcore. Since that time, the original quintet has pared down to a quartet, lost almost as many members as Guns N’ Roses (there are no original guys in the band these days) and steered in a decidedly more metal direction. Starting on 2005’s Vendetta, Throwdown began exhibiting harder tendencies; with 2007’s Venom & Tears and the just-released Deathless, their metal transformation is complete. Comparisons to early Metallica, Sepultura and Pantera are not far off. Old fans who bemoaned Throwdown’s sonic shift have been replaced with a louder and larger contingent who have readily embraced their new direction. Bury Your Dead, For Today, Abacabb and the World We Knew open at 7:30 p.m. at Peabody’s (2045 E. 21st Street, 216.776.4444). Tickets: $13 advance, $15 day of show. — Brian Baker
There are bastards, and there are Bastards. It’s something that Mark Stuart knows all too well. For years, he led the Bastard Sons of Johnny Cash. They shortened their name recently, but the music isn’t that much different — it’s still hard country more rooted in a roadhouse than Music Row. Stuart sounds invigorated after shedding the long black veil of the Cash moniker. Truth be told, the name — which suggested a Cash cover band — was always somewhat misleading. Stuart, a recent Southern California transplant to Austin, sings more like rough ’n’ tumble Texans Billy Joe Shaver, Steve Earle and James McMurtry, while the Sons certainly rock harder than Cash ever did. The band’s latest album, the hard-driving Bend in the Road, barrels along, powered by lively travelin’ tunes (“Restless, Ramblin’ Man,” “Seven Miles to Memphis”), rugged twang-rockers (“When Love Comes a Callin’,” “Power of a Woman”) and even honky-tonk laments (“Lonestar, Lovestruck Blues,” “Carolina”). The result is a splendidly spirited amalgam of Bob Seger/John Mellencamp-style blue-collar rock and old-school Merle Haggard/Waylon Jennings’ rebel country music. The show starts at 9 p.m. at the Town Fryer (5000 Euclid Ave., 216.431.0700). Admission is free. — Michael Berick
Chuck Prophet has always been so far ahead of sonic trends he can barely see them in his rearview mirror. From the visionary country-rock architecture of Green on Red in the ’80s to his wide-ranging solo career, Prophet has been creatively restless, reinventing himself like a rootsy David Bowie and applying his own stamp to whatever direction he pursues. His last album, 2007’s Soap and Water, was yet another demonstration of his ability to find new inspiration within Stonesian parameters while wearing all of the hats he’s sported since 2000’s roots-and-turntables marvel, The Hurting Business. His latest album, ¡Let Freedom Ring!, broadens the focus even more, while honing in on the specifics of each individual song, perhaps influenced by his work on Alejandro Escovedo’s Real Animal last year. “You and Me Baby (Holding On)” is the sound of Bob Dylan guided by the Velvet Underground rather than Woody Guthrie, while “American Man” is the Stones posing as SoCal rockers at their swaggering, staggering best and featuring some of Prophet's most incisively political, Dylanesque lyrics (“American Man, up on the mound/With an orange alert and a new wave sound”). Recorded in Mexico City at the height of the swine flu epidemic and in the middle of an earthquake and brownouts in a studio that hasn’t been upgraded since the Eisenhower administration, Prophet poured the negative energy into this amazing set of songs written in and about the economic, political and emotional maelstrom we find ourselves in at the moment. The show starts at 8 p.m. with Good Morning Valentine opening, at the Beachland Ballroom (15711 Waterloo Rd., 216.383.1124). Tickets: $12. — Brian Baker
The best band on a tour that hits Peabody’s tonight probably won’t even perform. Hypocrisy, a long-running Swedish death-metal band led by legendary producer Peter Tägtgren, has been forced to sit idle because its frontman can’t enter the U.S., though his bandmates are already here. It’s a shame, because Hypocrisy’s catalog is solid, and touring guitarist Alexi Laiho can be counted on to deliver shred-tastic solos on demand. Fortunately, the headliners, Finnish pagan-metal act Ensiferum, rock the crowd quite capably with their polka-thrash drinking anthems. Kataklysm singer Maurizio Iacono’s side project Ex Deo (which also had to miss some dates because of visa issues) plays death metal with lyrics about ancient Rome, which is sort of cool. And Blackguard is one of the “pirate metal” bands that are sprouting up like weeds lately. Doors are at 6:30 p.m. at Peabody’s (2045 E. 21st St., 216.776.9999). Tickets: $15 advance, $18 day of show. — Phil Freeman
Although the origins of industrial rock can and will continue to be argued ad nauseam, few avid listeners discount the impact of Nitzer Ebb. Often mistaken for Germans because of their name and the sound they make, the British duo helped design a sonic archetype within the genre based on relentless, rigid rhythms and venomous, militant vocals. Those elements came together in rare form on 1987’s That Total Age, which featured the club hit “Let Your Body Learn” (which reappeared in remixed form in the Grand Theft Auto IV videogame). Despite their primitive sound and austere mannerisms, Nitzer Ebb laid down the foundation that contemporary acts like VNV Nation and Combichrist would build upon. Although Nitzer Ebb remained active through the mid-’90s, subsequent albums drifted further from the primal sound they helped innovate. They went silent as a band after 1995’s “Big Hit,” when their record company dropped them. Bon Harris and Douglas McCarthy made occasional appearances on other bands’ records (most notably, McCarthy worked with Depeche Mode’s Alan Wilder in Recoil). Following a few blips of activity in Europe and stateside, Nitzer Ebb are now on their Industrial Complex Tour, their first wide-scale U.S. tour in three years and their first Cleveland gig in 14 years. Encoder and Ludwyg open, with doors at 7 p.m., at Peabody’s (2045 E. 21st St., 216.776.9999). Tickets: $20 advance, $23 day of show. — Norm Narvaja