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Top 11 Metal Shows in Phoenix This December

Howitzer at this year's UFiesta
Howitzer at this year's UFiesta
Howitzer Facebook

It can be easy to miss unless you're looking for it, but there's a lot of metal in the Valley, locals and touring acts alike. Our Metal Mondays columnist, Lauren Wise, is always on the lookout for the best local and national metal shows to come through town.

That's why we had her compile this monthly list of Top 11 metal shows you should hit up this month. We chose 11 for December, because in November we only brought you nine. Merry f**cking Christmas.

Desert Frostover - Joe's Grotto - December 6 & 7

This kick-ass two-day metal fest has a ton of local heavy talent, and the presale tickets are under $20. And as we all know, Joe's is a great gathering spot for metalheads. You'll be able to feast your eyes on band after band after band....after band. On day one, you can catch several Phoenix bands, including Virulent, Play for Blood, Howitzer, Back From Ashes, Souless, and Kin of the Zen, as well as Inner Chaos from Round Valley, and Nine Millimeter Execution and Spades and Blades, both from L.A.

The second day brings another barrage of local and national metal, with a little more focus of hard rock. This line up includes Howitzer for a second go, as well Fifth Density, Volatile Minds, Lost in Lies, and While She Waits (again, all from Phoenix), and Discordant, Detox and Scarab Vex.

Alice Cooper's Christmas Pudding - Comerica Theatre - December 7

Okay, so it's not going to be your typical night of death metal. But at the same ttime, you get to see a ton of heavy metal headliners on one bill, and it's all in the name of Alice Cooper's Solid Rock charity and new The Rock Teen Center, where at-risk teens can take music and dance classes completely for free.

Expect to see Rob Zombie, Gene Simmons, Tommy Thayer, Eric Singer and Paul Stanley of Kiss, Vince Neil of Motley Crue, Joan Jett, Stephen Pearchy of RATT, Tom Keifer of Cinderella, and more.

 

Fates Warning - Club Red, Tempe - December 7

Fates Warning has been shredding since the early 1980's, and gradually grew from a traditional heavy metal style to a more technically proficient style, causing many to dub them one of the first prog-metal bands.

They're melodic and ambient like Rush while still maintaining a heavy aura and some insanely technical instrumentals.

Impending Doom - Nile Theater, Mesa - December 8 Impending Doom is one of those bands that's worth seeing just to be sure they exist. First off, they're a Christian deathcore band from Riverside, California, and refer to their music style as "Gorship," which vocalist Brook Reeves describes as "worshiping God through our gore-sounding music."

It must be working for them; they gained quick success after forming in 2005 and have sold nearly 100,000 albums worldwide. The band's newest album, 2013's Death Will Reign, is gritty, dark and widely influenced by Lamb of God, Deftones, Slipknot and Fear Factory.

 

Mushroomhead, One-Eyed Doll, UnSaidFate, Ionia, Fatal Malady, and Serum - Marquee Theatre, Tempe - December 10

This is a line-up that would've been best suited for a Halloween show, but we'll have to settle for a Tuesday in December. I have a soft spot in my heart for Mushroomhead--or maybe I just have a thing for axe-wielding dudes in masks that hail from the Midwest, which would explain my infatuation with Jason. All I do know for sure is that when Mushroomhead's creepy, tinkering, industrial heavy breakdown jam "43" comes on I go nuts in the moshpit.

And then there's the goth punk outfit One-Eyed Doll--ohhh, One-Eyed Doll. Comprised of just two members, vocalist/guitarist Kimberly Freeman and drummer Jason Rufuss Sewell, this is one of my favorite weird live shows I've seen in a long time. It's like Marilyn Manson meets Strawberry Shortcake.

Just make sure you can see the stage when they break into "Be My Friend": I made a dress from a choir girl's skin / I wore it to church, the preacher said I'd sinned / Forgive me Father for my fashion crime / Your skin is so nice I'll use yours next time / Serial killers are people too / If you take away the voices I'm just like you / I'll hack you up and bury you in my yard / But why does making friends have to be so very hard?

Exhumed, Iron Reagan, Saintbreaker and more - Club Red, Tempe - December 12

Influenced by early Entombed and Carcass, this band is all about old-school death metal and is notorious for gore- and horror-themed lyrics. Since its inception in 1990, the band has gone through more than a dozen band members (guitarist/vocalist Matt Harvey has been the band's only consistent member), went on hiatus in 2005, and then regrouped in 2010.

This tour stop is perfect timing for the holiday season, considering that the band's 2013 album Necrocracy featured a critique of American corporatism and consumerism. Tis the season to hate this subject even more, so go ahead--indulge.

 

Devil Driver and Thy Will Be Done - Marquee Theatre, Tempe - December 13

With a name that refers to the bells Italian Wiccans use to drive evil forces away, you might not think that Devil Driver is super heavy. But that just means you've never listened to groove-metal-meets-melodic-metal act.

Then there's Rhode Island-based Thy Will Be done, who were hand-picked by Metallica to play at the 2012 Orion Fest. Definitely a great combo for the stage.

Korn, Love and Death, Otherwise and Eve to Adam at Holmberg's Holiday Ho-Down - Comerica Theater, Phoenix - December 13.

Korn has been talking a lot lately about how amazing they feel and how stoked they are on their newest album, The Paradigm Shift , released in October. I gotta say, it is great to see the guys on top of their game, especially with the return of Brian "Head" Welch. However, there are a lot of fans that aren't favoring this last album nearly as much as some of the classics: Life is Peachy, Follow The Leader, Issues .

But I will say this: I saw them as a unit at Rock on the Range back in May, and it was a fantastic live show. It will also be interesting to see Head performing with his other band, Love and Death, which features local musician Dan Johnson on drums.

 

Trivium - Marquee Theatre, Tempe - December 13

This Florida-bred metal band has sold more than one million albums since getting signed to Roadrunner in 2004, and their newest, Vegeance Falls, was released in October 2013. The album embodies everything that is awesome about Trivium- it's focused and intense, with deep heavy grooves and blazing lead breaks.

Queensryche-Marquee Theatre, Tempe-December 14 Queensrÿche has been extremely successful in the progressive scene, having sold over 20 million albums worldwide. The band's 1998 album, Operation: Mindcrime , is often considered one of the greatest concept albums of all time, and they even have three Grammy nominations under their studded belts.

Altered Silence, Warhead, Forlorn Creation, Bleed the Fifth, and Magguts-Crabby Don's in Gilbert-December 28 Altered Silence pulls from such influences as Celtic Frost, Exodus, Motorhead, Kreator, Sepultura and many others-so you can see just how varied and unique their heavy metal sound can be. Phoenix-based Warhead is a local favorite, and Forlorn Creation is self-described as "death metal band with blackened tendencies from the Valley of the Sun." Not sure if they are talking about Arizona or hell...

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