11 Best Metal Concerts in Metro Phoenix in January 2016

Queensryche is as mystical as ever.EXPAND
Queensryche is as mystical as ever.
Courtesy of Queensryche

Happy New Year, metal music lovers! From one metalhead to another, I hope your 2015 closed out on a happy note, filled with love, many cheers, and great music. While 2015 was a year for the books when it came to metal in the Valley — just check out the top metal columns we posted during the holiday season to celebrate all the metal head interviews ranging from Kerry King to Eddie Trunk, along with some killer local coverage — we’re hoping that 2016 will be bigger, busier, and more badass than ever for local music.

And with 2016 upon us, we’ve compiled a list of the top January metal shows in the Valley of the Sun. And trust us — the month starts and ends with some pretty solid stuff. From an array of local band album release shows, to legendary acts like Queensryche and Play for Blood, to some killer local festivals like Hangman Fest and Dead of Winter Fest. 

Friday, January 8 – Post Holiday Metal Destruction 2016 – The Blooze Bar

The holiday metal cheer isn’t over when it comes to some of the first metal shows of the New Year. Let’s kick it off with three of the most popular local metal acts, sponsored by AZ Natural Remedies. Soaring, melodic five-piece Ghost 211 are a solid mix of hard rock and face-melting metal, complete with a heavy generous spirit; I often see this band participating in charity drives and support for other local bands. Downhill Trend has been building a steady following for more than 10 years, and their music takes you on a head-banging roller coaster much like their name; and Phoenix & Dragon is the symphonic progressive metal act with a bit of fame attached to their name.

Saturday, January 9 – Wolves of Winter CD Release Party – Yucca Tap Room
As one of the first local metal album release gigs of the year, Wolves of Winter’s debut album release party is supported by a great venue and lineup. This free show will be packed with blistering hard rock, desert metal, stoner grooves, and sludgy doom metal—supporting acts include Asimov, Sounds Like Murder, Return to Zero, and Makeshift Family.

Tuesday, January 12 – Queensrÿche – Marquee Theatre
I’m super excited for this show! I last saw Queensrÿche (fresh with the new vocalist Todd LaTorre) during NAMM 2015 in California. There was a lot of speculation in the crowd about the frontman controversy — but LaTorre easily stood on his own. With more than 30 million albums sold over the decades, the band is now promoting their new record Condition Human, with two local AZ bands, Sectas and Tricus, as opening support.

Friday, January 15 – Larvae – Tempe Tavern
This free show is all about Oakland, Califonia, and Arizona doom, black, and sludge metal. There’s Oakland acts Larvae, a doom/death metal outfit from the members of Born/Dead, and Bädr Vogu. Rounding out the bill are Arizona black and death metallers Mortem Dei, Avarice, and Empyreal.

Saturday, January 16 — Animus Complex CD Release Party — Club Red
The band Animus Complex is aptly named; it combines some of the most interesting techniques in music, such as progressive metal, complex grooves, and djent, with a heavy hitting dose of soaring melodies, talented vocals, and attitude. The band’s new album, Immersion, puts the best they have to offer to date on display. Other bands worth checking out that are hitting the stage include Rite to Remain, A Distant Calm, Kruffix, and Paranova.

Saturday, January 16 — Play for Blood, Kings of Carnage, We Steal Copper, and more — Joe’s Grotto
After a seven-month hiatus, aggressive heavy metal act Play for Blood is making their return to Joe’s Grotto. Not only will they be playing some of their old classic hits, but fans have also been reassured that there will be new music thrown into the mix as well. Joining them on stage will be a buffet of awesome acts, spanning of Hollywood California to Arizona, including Kings of Carnage, We Steal Copper, Deathgrip, A Moment of Clarity, Dehumanizer, The Audio Virus, KaustiK, Malo De Dentro, and Blueprints for Destruction.

Friday, January 22 – Hanneman Fest – Joe’s Grotto
Joe’s Grotto once again helps local metalheads pay homage to the legendary Jeff Hanneman by hosting Hanneman Fest. Just like last year, there will be two stages full of revolving thrash bands, with each band playing at least two Slayer songs per set. Bands include Souless, Chemicals of Democracy, 94 Blades, In Vengeance, Bleed the Fifth, Ironkill, Betrayal o f Allies, and more. This is an annual local fest that you won’t ever want to miss!

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