It's that time of year where I get to say "'Tis the season to be metal."
The temperatures have finally fallen, and some of our favorite metal band's touring schedules are still in full swing. It's that time of year where we can leave those sweaty mosh pits and emerge into some crisp cool air.
The season for giving is bringing a bounty of metal shows around Metro Phoenix, thanks to an array of locals and major international legends. As such, we're on the lookout for the best upcoming shows.
That's why we compile a monthly list of the best metal and hard rock concerts happening at venues around the Valley during the month of December. There's prominent metal acts like Emmure, Devin Townsend and Opeth, charity benefit shows to help feed the hungry, and a major two-day festival featuring the top Valley metal bands. There's also three killer shows on December 5 -- so skip the whiskey so you can check out at least two.
You don't have to leave the kiddies at home when you head to this show to kick off your head-banging holiday season; in fact, it's a great introduction to the local rock scene for the whole family. Chemicals of Democracy are great at packing venues with their brand of hard rock-meets-metal. The chugging riffs, catchy grooves, melodic vocals and screams are perfect for headbanging or just kicking back, and have put them on stages alongside bands such as Anthrax and Skindred. Other popular local bands Downhill Trend, Black Curtain, and Fatal Malady round out this show.
Hemlock has a few key characteristics, like explosive riffs, catchy hooks, deep bass, and a hell of a live show. They're also known for being one of the most creative, hardest working bands, and have been called the "Kings of Self Promotion." Along with the return of Destructured (think Fear Factory meets Machine Head), the line up is rounded out with Footer, Furthest From Faith, Wrath, and Testify.
Friday, December 5 - Metal For The Hungry! - Crabby Don's
You gotta love an event that combines a good cause with good metal. KillDeath Productions is bringing the first ever Metal For The Hungry Show to the Valley this holiday season - however, it would be great to keep this kicking year-round. Here's the rundown: For $5 you get a diverse lineup of almost 10 bands, and all proceeds go to St. Mary's Food Bank. There's In Vengeance, pushing the boundaries with their brand of thrash-y extreme metal. Betrayal of Allies trifecta style of melodic death-meets-metalcore-meets-thrash is unique, set off by raspy vocals and growls. There's also Metallica cover band Disposable Heroes, the louder-than-hell Hell Defined, alt-metallers Xpansion Theory, Cry Evil and Existence AD.
Founded by Landphil and Hallhammer, Cannabis Corpse has been celebrating pot and extreme modern death metal for almost a decade. The band has shared the stage with acts like Skeletonwitch and Black Dahlia Murder, recorded albums with members from Gwar and Municipal Waste, and are currently touring in support of their new album From Wisdom to Baked. Put on by 13th Floor Entertainment, this show is going to be as heavy as they come, rounded out by Austin-based band Mammoth Grinder (a modern blend of punk and metal), and extreme death and blackened metal bands Inanimate Existence, Scattered Guts, Six Million Dead and Saint Breaker.
Emmure established a loyal following long ago with its straight-to-the-point, unique angle on life: Accept the hostility of the world and your personal demons, and take that aggression and intensity out in a productive, honest -- and musically brutal -- way. Deathcore act The Acacia Strain is another band that's established a strong following with its triple guitars and apocalyptic samples, even with the numerous lineup changes over the years. The show also has Stray From the Path, Fit For a King, Kublai Khan and Amor on the bill.
This is a triple lineup that you don't want to miss. Swedish heavy metal band Opeth has been killing it on stage and in the studio for almost 25 years, driven by an exceptional sound that includes death growls, acoustic guitar bridges, clean vocals, and compelling riffs and tempo shifts. The thing I love most about Opeth's style (and what sets the band apart) is the hybrid of musical influences, which includes classical, blues, black metal, folk and jazz. The band's 11th album, Pale Communion, was released in August. In Flames, also hailing from Sweden, has sold almost two million records worldwide as one of the original melodic death metal pioneers, while Red Fang has quickly climbed up the success later after a 2009 debut, with a sound that offers up a mixture of stoner rock and grindcore.
This two-day heavy metal fest is going to be a highlight of the holiday season. Seriously--anyone whose a fan of the local metal scene should be here to hear all that embodies the Phoenix metal sound from some of the Valley's best metal bands.
Friday's lineup includes Virulent, While She Waits, Howitzer, Deathgrip, She Murdered Me, Lost in Lies, The Pattern Interrupt, Latency, Phoenix and Dragon, Weed out the Weak and more.
Saturday's Lineup includes Pelvic Meatloaf, Howitzer, Play for Blood, Something to Kill, We Steal Copper, Atom's Fall, Ruach, Diiscordant, Sentenced to Burn, and more.
The consensus is that when Chuck Schuldiner passed away from cancer in 2001, Death, the band seen as one of the most influential bands in heavy metal, was to be no more. After all, how could you go on in a band whose debut album is seen as the first death metal record, when the founder, known as the first figure in extreme metal, has died? So Death DTA was created. This is a tribute to Chuck and Death by the people who knew Chuck, from former Death members and other musicians. Presented by 13th Floor Entertainment, the lineup also includes Lago, Excystation, Splatterkill and Dead Swarm. It's gonna be a hell of a show.
Christian metal band Phinehas has created a devout following since originated in 2010, bringing to things to the masses: metal and positive messages. Expect some awesome shredding, prominent drumming, a lot of diversity in the vocals and breakdowns, and a fresh uniqueness; for example, in a promotional photo they all had mustaches, and a fan coined the band's music as "mustache metal." Five-piece metal act Death Of An Era is all about bringing a certain refinement to the world of hardcore, death and technical metal; think cinematic orchestration and major production quality. Other bands on the bill include A Lapse of Ethos (progressive deathcore), In Vengeance, and A Moment of Clarity (Christian metalcore/hardcore).
For another dose of incredible guitar stylings, one couldn't ask for a better lineup. Guitarist Tosin Absi began Animals As Leaders after leaving his technical metalcore band, Reflux, and then turned down a record label's offer to do a solo album because he felt it was egotistical. For those who love the instrumental side of heavy metal, you can't miss this show. Animals as Leaders creates a brand of progressive metal that is heavy yet whimsical, thought-provoking yet brutal. If you haven't heard the band yet because you just came out from under your rock, then you must check out their 2014 album, The Joy of Motion.
And then we have Devin Townsend. While he has vocals that vary from screaming to clean to opera-esque, his production technique is rooted in metal and has been compared to Frank Zappa and Phil Spector.
Before the craziness of the holidays set in, get your metal and punk fix for just $10 at Not So Silent Night, a fantastic lineup brought to you by The Mantooth Group. There are equal parts metal, hard rock and punk on this lineup, and many of the dozen-or-so bands seem to combine all three. For me, there's a handful that are very noteworthy to catch.
Nekromantix is a psychobilly/rockabilly/punk act that's playful and unique; for example, their music has been described as "Elvis meets the Wolfman." The band is known for wild stage antics, frenzied guitar, and a badass, chugging coffin bass. Then we've got the locally loved thrash metal act Warhead, with their dynamic style of hard-hitting anthems influenced by classic metal and old-school thrash.
The rest of the lineup utilizes such styles as rapid fire drums, shouted vocals, melodic guitar interludes coupled with razer-sharp riffs, and chugging bass. These other bands rounding out the lineup include The Adolescents, Ten Foot Pole, Masked Intruder, Left Alone, Broloaf, Sanitation Squad, Gentlemen Prefer Blood, Rotten Youth, We Might Be Wasted (categorized as "drunk punk") and No Gimmick.
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Find any show in Metro Phoenix via our extensive online concert calendar.