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Stardom? Rwake would rather play like the devil

By Sean Clancy

This article was published January 23, 2014 at 2:48 a.m.

little-rock-metal-legends-rwake-chris-terry-from-left-kris-graves-john-judkins-jeff-morgan-kiffin-rodgers-and-brittany-fugate-and-chris-newman-not-pictured-headline-a-night-of-heavy-music-friday-at-the-rev-room

Little Rock metal legends Rwake — Chris Terry (from left), Kris Graves, John Judkins, Jeff Morgan, Kiffin Rodgers and Brittany Fugate and Chris Newman (not pictured) — headline a night of heavy music Friday at the Rev Room.

Lead singer Chris Terry of Little Rock underground sludge metal heroes Rwake is trying to describe what it’s like to see his band in concert.

He’s working on a rather wordy answer during this phone interview that has to do with Rwake being a musician’s band, the intricacy of the group’s arrangements and the undeniable talent of its seven members. But then Terry catches himself and cuts right to the heart of the Rwake live experience.

“We’re the devil incarnate onstage,” he says.

Rwake - vocalist Terry; Brittany Fugate, vocals, synths; John Judkins, bass; Jeff Morgan, drums; Kris Graves guitar; Kiffin Rodgers, guitar; Chris Newman, guitar - have been hammering out their own brand of abrasive, brutal and darkly beautiful underground metal for 18 years now on albums like Hell Is a Door to the Sun; If You Walk Before You Crawl, You Crawl Before You Die; Rest; Voices of Omens; and several compilations.

On Friday, the metal pioneers headline an all-ages night of extreme heaviness with Sumokem, Broken by the Burden, Enchiridion and Severe Headwound at Little Rock’s Rev Room.

Newman returns to the band after a stint with the group in the late ’90s and early ’00s, giving Rwake (say “wake”) a three-guitar attack, which works nicely with the band’s natural prog-rock leanings.

“I like the three guitars,” says Terry, 39, who directed the documentary Slow Southern Steel. “You can hear the harmonies, and it’s really good to play with Chris again after all these years.” While the band, which has toured Europe and the United States, is certainly more homebound these days, Terry says they still practice and write regularly.

“We still have a jam room that we pay for, so in our minds, we’re not taking a break.” And the group has a concert film, A Stone, A Leaf, an Unfound Door, set for release through Netflix.

“It was filmed at the Maryland Death Fest,” says Terry, who hosts the metal radio show Tomorrow’s Dream (yep, taken from the Black Sabbath song) from noon-2 p.m. each Monday on KABF-FM, 88.3. Directed by band pal David Hall, the film “is about 50 minutes long with about four songs and has these psychedelic and acoustic interludes.” It was featured at the Housecore Horror and Film Festival in Austin, Texas, late last year.

“It’s a really good recording with multiple camera angles,” Terry says.

As for Friday’s opening bands, Terry is excited about the lineup. He describes Sumokem as “doomy, like [Little Rock band] Pallbearer.” Broken by the Burden, from Louisiana, is making a return to central Arkansas after a few years away. Enchiridion, Terry says, is a Dio-sounding hard-rock outfit and Severe Headwound is a death metal group of Little Rock teens.

“They are so energetic,” Terry says.

After nearly 20 years on rock ’n’ roll’s extreme fringe, Terry remains firmly committed to the genre, and remembers back to the early days of Rwake, when the band was developing its powerful sound.

“I threw away all those dumb notions of ‘I want to be a rock star,’” he says. “This kind of music will never make it [commercially], but this is what I’m gonna do, because it just feels right.”

Rwake

Opening acts: Sumokem, Broken by the Burden, Enchiridion, Severe Headwound 8 p.m. Friday, Rev Room, 300 President Clinton Ave., Little Rock, all ages Admission: $8 (501) 823-0090 revroom.com

Weekend, Pages 33 on 01/23/2014

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