When it rains, it pours — and that's exactly what you can expect from the metal gods this April in Phoenix. It's springtime, guys, and we're in that teeny-tiny window of gorgeous weather before triple digits start to slap us across the face. The Valley of the Sun is packed with activity this month, and that includes an array of metal bands jamming out all over town.
From local events like the Fxck Cancer Benefit and Tempe Metalfest, to legends like Unearth, Amon Amarth, and Prong, the metal scene may be prepared to melt your face off — but at least you have some cooler April breezes to enjoy. And who know? Let's hope all these April showers will bring even more metal in May.
April 6 — Nekrogoblikon with Pyschostick, Detox, and Infinite — Joe's Grotto
Nekrogoblikon is one of my favorite local concept bands. I mean c'mon — goblin metal? What's not to love? If you haven't seen them before, come check out this show, put on by K&Z Entertainment. It's a lovely mix of horror and metal, and maybe you can even snag the band's 2015 album, Heavy Meta, at the show. It's pretty amazing. After all, it "has not only been in the works for the last 49 years ... and in 1987, psychiatrists worldwide began prescribing audio snippets of the in-process album to patients in lieu of antidepressants, and by 2001 the album had gone secret platinum." My next request is that Nekrogoblikon schedule a show with Mac Sabbath and Okilly Dokilly ... just sayin'.
April 8 — That Damn Metal Show — Rockbar
I am totally digging how much metal Rockbar has been picking up as of late (plus, they have great whiskey deals and are serving food now). I guess heavy metal finally received Scottsdale's love letter. This show features Mesa quartet Souless, who came together in '07 to develop an aggressive rhythmic metal band which eventually evolved into a top local act. The Fowler brothers' songwriting is emotional and raw, driving real-life struggles through the music and adding a ton to their authenticity. Also on the bill is Lost In Lies, a groove-oriented metal band out of Phoenix who has shared the stage with everyone from Hemlock to Otep, New Years Day, and Battlecross. The bill is rounded out by Bleed The Fifth, Deathtrap, and Archetypes Collide.
April 8 — Amon Amarth — The Pressroom
While Amon Amarth might play into the "Viking metal" stereotype (seriously, one of the worst sub-genre categories ever), the Swedish melodic death metallers' music focuses on relevant topics (such as struggles Vikings overcame, and how that might relate to our current state) over a branding of style. Of course, when I saw them for the first time about 10 years ago, they were rocking out from a giant Viking ship surrounded by dry ice. But honestly, when your band is named after a volcano in J.R.R. Tolkien's Middle-earth, it works. About a year ago, the band parted ways with their drummer, Fredrik Anderson, after 17 years, and they released their 10th album, Jomsviking, last month. Supporting acts include Entombed A.D. and Exmortus.
April 9 — Killswitch Engage — The Marquee Theatre
Killswitch Engage has been close to my metalhead heart for years — each of its albums not only brings some fresh perspective to current musical landscape, but its talent never fails to evolve. Pulling influences from extreme metal, Gothenburg metal, New York hardcore, and thrash metal, Killswitch is known for positive, uplifting lyrics, soaring melodies, impressive double-bass drum patterns, crushing riffs, and power chords. Currently on tour to support their March 2016 album, Incarnate (the band's seventh studio album to date), the band doesn't just influence others via music — guitarist Adam Dutkiewicz is also helping develop groups as a producer. His credits include As I Lay Dying, Unearth, The Devil Wears Prada, and From Autumn to Ashes. This lineup is rounded out by a few of my other favorites, 36 Crazyfists, Memphis May Fire, and Toothgrinder.
April 16 — Broloaf, M.F. Ruckus, and more — Yucca Tap Room
While the bands on this lineup border more on punk rock than heavy metal, there's something to be said for the horns-up metal atmosphere that's bound to be the evening's focus. First off, it's a toga party. That's right. If you're wearing a toga, it's just $5 to get in. And this is all in honor of the release of Broloaf's second full-length album, Born to Party. Secondly, there's no way you won't be head banging with some of the bands on the bill. Broloaf meshes punk, thrash metal, and hardcore. MF Ruckus pulls influences from bands like AC/DC, Moorhead, and Iron Maiden. The Screaming Yeehaws are all about the honky-tonk punk rock. Scattered Guts are the token AZ stoner thrashers, while We Steal Copper is all about the punk rock. Eddie Jesus & The Blasphematics round out the bill.
April 23 — Element A440, Ghost 211, Empire of Dezire — The Blooze Bar
Phoenix metal freaks Element A440 are back performing for the first time in 2016. These guys know how to put on a live show. Not only is this band's music smart, edgy, and sexy, but their live performance is a must see. Rounded out by Ghost 211 and Empire of Dezire, this show features some very talented bands.
April 24 — Prong — Club Red
Long ago, Prong mutated into its own musical entity, untouched by the concept of selling out, turned on by underground clubs and sweaty mosh pits, pulsating and spreading outwards with dissonant hard-hitting riffs and amplified distortion. Founder and frontman Tommy Victor has always been all about the dedicated fan base, celebrating the ignorance of the mainstream, growing more hard-edge and pissed off every year. Which is exactly how its fans like it.
April 30 — No Cover's 2016 Fxck Cancer Benefit — Joe's Grotto
This list wouldn't be complete without a monthly serving of metal doing good shit for the masses. No Cover's annual shindig has become nationally synonymous with raising awareness about cancer. Expect to see acts like Soundmankillz (heavy electronic rock with an incredible live show), Buried As Thieves (hard rock industrial act founded by Hughes and Tabor from The Sammus Theory), and Voodoo Sex Cult (a self-proclaimed "multi-racial, not politically correct at all" band; think Native American vocalist, Viking guitarist, Castilian guitarist, African American bassist, and a redneck drummer). Other bands include While She Waits, Interface, Aperfectool, and Whiskey and The Barrels.
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This event is all about fighting to raise awareness and education on the early detection of cancer, with proceeds going to FC Cancer Foundation and the Dyin' to Live Program. No Cover is collecting signed items from artists to auction off, and there will be a lot of other little surprises throughout the night.
April 30 — Tempe Metalfest — Tempe Tavern
Get ready for the ultimate hot and sweaty mosh pit. Tempe Tavern is one of my favorite spots for metal shows — but a metal festival? Yes. Expect to see Dreddmaster, Staren Black, Twisted Theorem, Disco Pilots, Return to Zero, Time Dogg and The Shopping Cart Boyz, Asimov, and more hit the stage. Don't forget the whiskey and wing deals, either.