Lair of the Minotaur, Sweet Cobra, You Will Die, World Eater
Friday, Nov. 30, 9 p.m., $7, 21+
Steven Rathbone comes from a different era in heavy metal — a time when it still scared the hell out of parents and wasn’t infiltrating pop culture to the point of being omnipresent in the nation’s malls.
“I like a little more of the down-tempo rock, as opposed to fast stuff,” says Rathbone, the singer/guitarist for the thunderous Chicago trio Lair of the Minotaur. “I’m definitely more into the chug-type stuff — stuff you can bang your head to. Some people might call it ‘old man metal.’ A lot of people are into it, but it’s not what’s really popular right now. But there will always be a following for it.”
You can call Lair of the Minotaur old-school, but it’s easiest to refer to them as simply metal. That’s contrary to the way many acts are labeled today, or what they consider themselves.
“A lot of bands will shy away from calling themselves metal, maybe because of some of the popular stigmas attached to it,” Rathbone says. “I’m not sure, but it seems like all bands today are sub-genre[ed]. How many people say anymore, ‘We’re a fuckin’ metal band?’”
Lair of the Minotaur is metal — a monolithic beast that can roll out its devastation in seismic dirges or barreling amplification. Rathbone barks over the top of it all like an end-times minstrel. The band started in 2003 when he played a bunch of demos he recorded in his home studio for Pelican drummer and fellow Chicago scenester Larry Herweg. Donald James Barraca, who played with Rathbone in the group 7000 Dying Rats, rounds out the lineup.
They had only played one show before Southern Lord head, Greg Anderson, heard their demo and came calling.
“We thought it was just going to be a project where we play a couple times and record,” Rathbone says. “We never intended for it to become what it did.”
Southern Lord released Lair’s demo with two new songs as the first album, Carnage. The follow-up, “The Ultimate Destroyer,” is out now among the legendary label’s primal-sounding lineup.
“We’re all big fans of Southern Lord,” Rathbone says. “I really respect the other bands on the roster. Some of the best stuff that comes out he’s responsible for.”