Heshers, hard rock fans, and metalheads alike have a lot to look forward to in the weeks and months ahead. Besides much-anticipated upcoming concerts by such living legends as Judas Priest and Slayer, the fall also bring with it the annual Rockstar Energy Drink Uproar Festival, the debut of Rob Zombie's Great American Nightmare in Scottsdale (including an opening night performance by the man himself), and a ton of new albums scheduled to be released.
And on the local level, there's also a surfeit of shows around Arizona that the black t-shirt brigade should be hitting up and rocking out at, including two homegrown heavy metal festivals that are right around the corner -- ManniFEST 2014 and the latest Southwest Terror Fest.
So why are these two events so special? Easy. Both fests have been put on by Arizona heavy metal fans and musicians for the last three years, and are dedicated to bringing the best underground music to light. And that's always a cause for celebration, right?
Case in point: ManniFEST, which takes place on Saturday, September 6, at the Rogue Bar in Scottsdale, is put on by Kill Death Productions, a promotions company dedicated to some of the most brutal metal around -- and I mean bru-tal. The founder, Manuel Jimenez, decided to make this year extra pumped up by combining the festival with his own birthday celebration.
This year's ManniFEST is bigger than in previous years and includes at total of 19 bands from Arizona, California and Colorado. It starts promptly at noon, and -- get this -- the cover is only a fiver. That's right. Five dollars.
If you're someone who looks at a festival schedule and aren't too familiar with some of the acts, leading you to assume that they aren't any good, let me clarify for you: There are a handful of must-see acts on this bill. Like, say, headliner Genocaust, a Tucson-based band that combines the best elements of old and new death metal: fast-paced tempos, groove, insane speed and double bass, for example.
Splatterkill is another band I love, mostly because they have killer lyrical content based on horror. And Meathook reminds me of a mix of Morbid Angel and Portal. Native American death metal band Unleashing the Catastrophe, Phoenix's Excystation, and Atoll round out my list of favorites on the festival's lineup.
However, if you're curious about the other acts, ManniFEST also has Meatcleaver Amputation, Zeohn, Cranial Engorgement, Oppressor God, Los Diableros, Fetal Disgorge, Sadmasochist, Cranial Defecation, Magguts, Six Million Dead, Colpolscopy, and Despise the Sun.
However, if you're craving something a little larger in scope, be sure to gas up your ride and head down Interstate 10 to Tucson in mid-October for Southwest Terror Fest III: The Western Front. Hosted by David Rodgers of Tucson band Godhunter, this is one of the state's biggest -- and heaviest -- parties. From punk and thrash to death and technical metal, downtown Tucson will be lit up with almost 30 of the underground's favorites from New Mexico, Arizona, California, Utah, Illinois, and more.
We're talking beloved acts like Twingiant, Godhunter, Pelican, Goatsnake, T.O.A.D, The Atlas Moth, Sorxe, Secrets of the Sky, Sex Prisoner, and Neurosis -- and those are just a few of my personal favorites. I hear only good things about this event every year. I had to miss the 2013 edition of the festival, but you can be sure as hell I won't this year! It's an amazing show of support for the local scene.
For four days and nights -- from Thursday, October 16, to Sunday, October 19 -- fans can switch between concerts at the Rialto Theatre, which will host all ages, and the District Tavern, which will be the domain of the 21-and-over crowd. The latter venue will a the Thursday night kick-off party and the shows run through Sunday night. And while a ticket to the entire festival is a mere $66, a two-day pass goes for $51. Tickets can be had online via Ticketfly.
Find any show in Metro Phoenix via our extensive online concert calendar.