Circle Sky
Thurs April 18 at Zak's.

When you're looking to steer clear of the insular fashionhawk scene, Zak's is a great place to grab a drink, with its Joe Punk/Joe Metal crowd and friendly dudes sliding up to the bar. There's no bullshit, no posturing--just cheap beer, a small outdoor basketball court, and some space on the checkered floor where bands are given free rein to jackhammer your gray matter. So Zak's was the perfect setting to check out Circle Sky, a metal band that took its music seriously without taking itself too seriously.

Sky's your basic rock-trio lineup, with Mike McDermott on bass, Nick Kilburg on drums, and Josh Woosley on guitar/ vocals. They clawed through a sinewy set of metal, singing about toothless bitches and crumpled dreams with terse aggression. When it comes to metal, I'm a big fan of the heavy shit that crosses the line into becoming an unconcealed, bowel-loosening weapon. I like the sludgy, bogged-down, expansive noise that climbs through your skull and expands until your shell's about to pop through your flesh. On the other end, I also love gruff, speedy Motörhead-style takeoffs into wildfire aggression.

Circle Sky landed somewhere in the middle, making it hard for me to champion the band's music for the entire set. The guys started off strong, launching into some weighty riffs that made me thank the gods for not sending me to some hippie-jam band this week (I know that's coming later). But instead of dragging a trail of feedback behind every move, Sky chopped their rhythms, jerking the clipped sounds around and purposely quartering long stretches of melody into taut passages with definite Metallica undertones.

Woosley was a likeable frontman, stumbling back and crashing into the drum kit during one of the opening songs, and then flipping the switch from goofy to menacing when the next song was keyed-up to go. His voice got a little screechy at times, but when paired with McDermott's softer delivery, their styles served to complement each other. In the end, my bowels remained intact, but thankfully, so did my patience.