Immortal Bird Credit: Margaret Lord

Chicago is well-known as an incubator of house music, industrial, noise rock, emo, and drill, to name a few. But the city’s decades-strong legacy of groundbreaking metal has only just begun to get its due in recent years, as a variety of heavy music styles have come into a blackened sort of vogue. The latest evidence of this is Forever Deaf Fest, conceived of as an annual metal festival in Chicago dedicated not to hyped-up touring bands but rather to homegrown talent. The inaugural two-day event, held at the Beat Kitchen (with a preparty at Live Wire on Thursday), begins with a Friday bill headlined by death-doom pioneers Novembers Doom; from the beginning of the night on down, the rest of the lineup consists of blistering thrashers Bloodletter, jagged postmetal trio Snow Burial, cosmic doom purveyors Rezn (whose recent LP, Calm Black Water, is mind-melting in the most beautiful way), brutal crossover outfit Whut?, and shape-shifting death-metal four-piece Immortal Bird. Saturday’s roster was booked by Los Angeles-based label Prosthetic Records, which has been mining Chicago artists for years. It begins with Meth., who specialize in deranged hybrids of grind, powerviolence, and black metal. They’re followed by the dreamy atmospheric metal of Varaha, before Zaius crank the intensity back up with their instrumental postmetal. Huntsman color their doom with elements of classic rock and folk, while experimentalists Without Waves merge metal, jazz, hardcore, prog, and apparently whatever else they feel like. Headlining are the Atlas Moth, whose most recent album, February’s Coma Noir, is one of the best heavy releases to come out of Chicago (or anywhere else) in 2018. Bring your earplugs and prepare to get slayed.   v

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