It's 111 degrees outside, and the Valley of the Sun is deserted. Summer is upon us -- which also means that the music industry-touring slowdown is, as well. While the rest of the country delights in sunny breezy festival days, our prime time for outdoor shows is during winter. But oh well -- the good thing about us metalheads is that we show up no matter what. Just give us a few ice cold beers to alternate with water and we're good to go.
July is filled to the brim with heavy metal shows around Metro Phoenix, thanks to concerts and gigs by locals and major international legends. As such, Up on the Sun's resident metal scribe, Lauren Wise, is on the lookout for the best upcoming shows.
That's why we had her compile a monthly list of the 11 best metal and hard rock concerts happening at venues around the Valley during the month of July, from the theatrics of KISS and Alice Cooper, to the beloved Mayhem Fest and Summer Slaughter tours, to local legends Flotsam and Jetsam and heavy hitters Bleeding Through.
If you've never seen KISS or Def Leppard live, this is the time to catch them, no matter how young or old you are. Plus, Def Leppard's Rick Allen is by far one of my favorite drummers. Even though he lost an arm back in 1984 from a street racing accident, he hits the skins like no other.
On this particular evening, Joe's Grotto will be playing host to an international array of face melting symphonic death metal bands. Greece's Septicflesh has been offering up to a large group of loyal followers since the early 90s, while Italy's Fleshgod Apocalypse released its third studio album in 2013. Progressive death metal band Black Crown Initiate, Canada's death metal act Necronomicon, local folk metal band Adavant, and melodic deathcore The Exiled Martyr round out the lineup.
There's lots of people who look forward to the Mayhem Fest every year, and with good reason. It's an entire day of headbanging, complete with vendors, lots of booze, and, most likely, firemen on top of buildings spraying down the entire crowd. This year the line up includes Avenged Sevenfold, Korn, Asking Alexandria, Trivium, Body Count (Ice T's version of heavy metal? Hell yeah!), Cannibal Corpse, Suicide Silence, Mushroomhead, Miss May I, Emmure, Veil of Maya, Upon a Burning Body, Texas Hippie Coalition, Darkest Hour, Il Nino, Wretched, Islander and more. There's four stages, and lots of coldcocked whiskey since they are a sponsor. Never had it? Imagine a hybrid of Jager and Jack Daniels.
July 11 - Atoll debut, Excystation and more - Crabby Don's
There's nothing better than the debut of a new band; especially a band that's actually worth seeing. Atoll was formed in 2014, and this death metal band is all about slamming your eardrums with an onslaught of instrumentals and extreme vocals. But if it doesn't appeal to your tastes, you can't go wrong with the standby Excystation, a death grindcore act that I've come to love. 40 Dead, Cranial Defecation, and Crippled Ninja round out the bill.
Last month we wrote a feature about Sectas, a band that grew to success from Mexico to Arizona. Well, you shouldn't miss their official label signing/album release party. Taking place at Cooperstown, it also features southern rock band While She Waits, Fire Glass and Wolves of Winter. There's going to be tattoos and piercings raffles sponsored by Hotrod Tattoo, $100 off a 10 hour recording session at Audioconfusion, and a Squier Stratocaster. Oh, and not to mention tickets to see Alice Cooper and Motley Crue.
I've been watching Gemini Syndrome for the past few years, and it's clear that the band's popularity is growing at a rapid rate. Not only is this band one of the most unique I've interviewed (the albino singer is the former guitarist for OTEP, and the guitarist would easily fit in with the cast of Underworld), but they offer up a great blend of theatrics, heavy hitting beats and commercial longevity. And locally loved Element A440 is a perfect opener for this band.
Flotsam and Jetsam have been rocking the local scene since the early 1980s, and even through all the drama, the band is still one of Arizona's favorites. The thrash metal band, along with the solid lineup of Exmortus, Hatchet and Motive, will no doubt sell out the new Club Red. I also can't help but think that it will be an uplifting memorial to the local heavy metal industry figure, Chris Kutcher, who passed away recently who was also a part of the Flotsam family for decades.
This is supposedly Motley Crue's last tour (which might be for the best), but either way the theatrical show is worth the ticket price -- and that's without even taking Alice Cooper's addition into consideration! Damn, it will be interesting to see the age range of groupies in the crowd during "Girls, Girls Girls." To be honest, I will be at this show for Cooper over Motley; because his is a show you definitely know stays consistent and solid.
Ah, Summer Slaughter. Such an adequate name for a festival in Arizona in July. This is a killer line-up, and death metal is representing itself to the fullest here. Morbid Angel not only reps some of the best death metal albums, but also guitarist Trey Azagthoth was rated by Terrorizer magazine as the best death metal guitarist ever. Then we've got Dying Fetus, whose seven albums have supremely influenced the genre of death metal. The Faceless bring the element of technical death metal; and there's no way to ignore two of my personal favorites, Goatwhore and Within the Ruins.
July 27 - Bleeding Through - Pub Rock Live
This Cali-based band incorporates elements of catchy melodies and impressive instrumentals, hardcore punk, symphonic and death metal. The members have been seen as a huge influence for the future of metal, even though they've been around since the late 90s. Pub Rock is a fantastic place to catch this band, with the intimate surroundings, inexpensive whiskey, and close-knit mosh pit.
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