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Thrones 

Joe Preston isn't just a genius--the influential heavy-music groups he's passed through include Earth, the Melvins, Sunn 0))), and most recently High on Fire--he's a prophet. Both doom and electro have entered the universal hipster lexicon in the past few years, and when the inevitable fusion of the two genres hits the pages of Vice, true believers of the Church of Preston will protest that it's not half as heavy--or half as much fun--as the monstrously bizarre crossbreed he's been playing since 1994 as the Thrones. His sequencing and drum programming sound like a ColecoVision console pumped through an amp the size of a garage, and his instantly recognizable bass sound--he's fond of pointy black B.C. Rich models, refitted to produce a throaty, distorted howl--is just the thing for breaking up a kidney stone. Preston also processes his voice to within an inch of its life, sandwiching his gruff holler between a crumpled croak and a forlorn smear or replacing it outright with a synthesized angelic croon or evil robotic gargle. The percussion often matches his chain-saw riffing with a merciless metal stomp, but it's just as likely to stumble, stutter, skip, or somersault like a sofa falling down the stairs, sometimes mimicking the idiosyncrasies of a real drummer and sometimes plunging headlong through nonsense no drummer in his right mind would attempt. The song structures are likewise maniacally complex, chockablock with screwy hiccups and nonrepeating oddnesses even when there are clear verses and choruses--a single farty synth arpeggio gets a bar all to itself in "Oso Malo," for instance, and "Manmtn" comes to a screeching halt for a pitter-pattering interlude of what sound like glass chimes. The Thrones' maddeningly thin discography is also dotted with brilliant covers, including a snippet of "A Quick One" by the Who and a rousing, hilarious rendition of Blue Oyster Cult's "Black Blade," both on last year's odds-and-sods collection Day Late, Dollar Short, released by Southern Lord. (In the liner notes Preston calls "Black Blade" his second-favorite BOC song: "No sense in fucking up my favorite one.") The Thrones haven't put out a disc of new material since the self-titled "Sperm Whale" record in 2000, but we true believers are still hanging on. Growing headlines and the Thrones play third; Mammal and No Funeral open. The Thrones also play a free in-store at 4 PM at Reckless Records, 1532 N. Milwaukee, 773-235-3727. Sun 5/28, 9 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600 or 866-468-3401, $8 in advance, $10 at the door.

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