The desert is the perfect place for heavy metal to spawn: desolate, hot, seemingly devoid of life, save for the plants and critters that spit poison or are encased in thorny flesh.
Yet Valley of the Sun's healthy metal scene just can't seem to get the attention it truly deserves. What the hell is with that? Because contrary to popular belief, metalheads need lovin' too.
Yes, yes: We can proudly state that this fair state has helped spawn such acts as Job for a Cowboy, Flotsam and Jetsam, Sacred Reich, and Megadeth. We even have ties to Metallica and Slayer. But when it comes to heavy bands that dominate the underground scene, unearthing the great ones take a little more dedication to show-hopping.
So here's a list of the six heavy metal bands in the Valley of the Sun that local metalheads should be listening to now.
Rebirth includes members of Six Feet Under, Behemoth, one of Brad Paisley's songwriters, and the infamous Marshall "Fucking" Beck, who's notoriously had issues with New Times due to our representation of the local metal scene.
But hostile manners aside, Beck is clearly a local leader in the preservation of heavy metal's integrity, and the music of Rebirth and Beck's other band, Reign of Vengeance, shows it.
Rebirth is known for being a prime live act, a mix of howling power-chord guitars, heart pounding doublebass, and testosterone-drenched vocals -- not to mention some killer screams by Beck, reminiscent of Pantera's Phil Anselmo.
Standout tracks: "He of Self-Destroy," "The Beast in the Heart of Man"
Vehemence is one of the longest-running metal bands in the Valley, combining a death metal style meshed with melodic vocals.
The name itself represents fury, and it suits the band well. The music is severe, a ferocious paroxysm. They've gained notice on MTV2's Headbangers Ball, a dedicated fanbase that has followed the band through its various mutations.
Standout tracks: "There Are So Many Reasons to Give Up Religion", "She Never Noticed Me".
From Dogs to Wolves has been around since the tail end of 2011, and they've made an impression on this metal head from the get-go. Stoner rock/metal seems to describe their noise best, with sand-papery, often-shouted vocals alternating between guttural and soulful, screaming bass solos, and impressive riffs.
Standout tracks: "Hii3einoon," "Greecey Blues"
Out of all of these bands, Eyes Set to Kill is by far the least heavy -- but the easiest on the eyes, thanks to their dual frontwomen Alexia and Alyssa Rodriguez (they're both consistently ranked in Revolver magazine's "Hottest Chicks in Metal").
They started out screamo in 2003, but with their 2011 album, White Lotus, they've solidified a new alternative metal sound, with songs moving from smoldering grooves to rapid-fire assault, and growling male screams mixed with soaring melodic female vocals.
Check them out Thursday, August 2 at the Nile Underground in Mesa.
Standout tracks: "The Secrets in Between," "Broken Frames".
Black Banner Dovichenko is named for a character in the book Dr. Zhivago by Boris Pasternak, and the unusual source material is the first tip-off that they are an intriguing bunch.
Combine that with their eclectic mix of influences -- old-school thrash metal titans Helmet, psychedelic rock acts like Tool, and early '90s grunge -- and you have a true mix of old and new sound.
Standout tracks: "Darkest Hour," "Day of Rage".
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For lovers of insanely fast, screeching, just balls-to-the-wall metal, check out Hemoptysis (A prime opportunity is on Friday, September 28, at the Marquee Theater in Tempe.
This extreme metal band is named for the medical term for coughing up blood, and has been around since 2007. Their focus is thrash/death metal, but also incorporate melody and European black metal influences, served alongside grating vocals that only the devil (and metal fans) could love.
Standout tracks: "Misanthropic Slaughter," "M.O.D".