choose your own adventure

"Early Man, eh?" you think to yourself. Nope, you're still a few million years too early—you've landed in the time of the dinosaurs! Above you, pterodactyls float on the air currents, their bony beaks swinging as they survey the land beneath them. Massive plants and trees surround you, and the humid air is filled with squawks, squeals, and the occasional roar that shakes your very bones.

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BY NOW THE BACKSTORY has been told everywhere. Mike Conte and Adam Bennati are raised by strict, iron-hearted Pentecostal parents who bar them access to pop culture, but the devil rock 'n' roll wins anyway when the boys discover METAL upon their 19th birthdays and dive headlong into it—which gets them ousted from the nest and ostracized by their oppressively conservative Columbus, Ohio community.

Picking up guitar and drums, respectively, Conte and Bennati mature with freakish mutant potency and become Early Man—a big, heavy, NON-IRONIC rock duo. Conte and Bennati then split for New York (Ohio was a dull drag anyhow), sign to Matador Records, and release Closing In back in October of last year.

Now, whether that's all bullshit bull's-eyed on selling records is a moot point—at best—when you hear the album, which is pure vintage Ozzy. Even though it's stripped of Sabbath's essential blues heart, it wallops with eight-ton thrash riffs, wailing evil wizard vocals, and drums that pummel like heavyweight fists.

There is no wank to this two-man act, no cartoon "heavy metal, dude!" tongue in cheekiness—nothing but sincere love for making rock happen in verdurous, flourishing doses.

On the official poster for this show, local artist Guy Burwell depicts a leather-clad skeleton ankle deep in a buggy marsh dotted with leering skulls, buzzing swamp flies, and giant throbbing earthworms. Bent at the middle and wind milling his corpsey right arm, our evil dead rock god plays a guitar crafted from a cadaver and the look on both their faces is pure, rotted-out ecstasy.

It is a beautifully metal moment full of the defiant, courageous, dead-serious spirit of rocking out, a thing—potential marketing schemes aside—Early Man is dedicated wholeheartedly to.