It’s July. In Phoenix. Which means that the streets are devoid of college students and snowbirds, and steering wheels are best handled with oven mitts. Daytime temperatures average around 110 degrees, which means that bands — at the peak of their summer touring schedules — probably dread heading our way. However, the rest of the music industry is in full swing with countless bands on the road, so that means we metalheads have to embrace the heat to see our favorites acts.
That’s why we compile a list of the top metal shows each month. This way, unless you love heat exhaustion, you know when and where to head for great music. During the month of July, we’ve got the beloved Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Fest, featuring bands like Slayer and King Diamond, as well as a ton of great local lineups.
July 3 – Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Tour – Ak-Chin Pavilion
As one of the biggest heavy metal shows we get in the Valley each year, the Mayhem Tour is always a blessing and a curse. It lasts all day (awesome) but is outdoors (shitty). Water is plentiful and sprayed over the crowd, but the EMTs are busy with victims of heatstroke. This year’s lineup is worth the relentless heat. Headliners include Slayer, King Diamond, and HellYeah, along with Whitechapel, The Devil Wears Prada, Code Orange, Feed Her to the Sharks, Jungle Rot, Kissing Candice, Shattered Sun, Sister Sin, Sworn In, and Thy Art Is Murder.
July 11 – Tormenter— Tempe Tavern
Thrash metal band Tormenter has carved out a unique sound that’s all its own in the world of metal — it’s ferocious, melodic and balls-to-the-wall fast. Two of my favorite AZ bands are playing, Warhead and Ye’iitsoh (incredible guitar skills here), as well as hard rockers Concrete Sledge and Varkan. Plus, the show is free (presented by 13th Floor Entertainment).
July 11—Marilyn Manson and Smashing Pumpkins — Comerica Theatre
When I first heard of this duo coming through town on their The End Times Tour, I didn’t think it was a good fit. However, the acts actually complement each other really well. You’ve got Smashing Pumpkins, all about the influential alt/gothic/punk rock style. Then there's Marilyn Manson, shock rocker/artist/actor/writer/enthusiasts of substances ranging form absinthe to weed to cocaine, who released his ninth studio album The Pale Emperor in January. I saw him perform at Rock on the Range in May, and it was an artistic shitshow. He may have been on the up and up with knowing the lyrics and actually singing — but he was running into the walls of his newly designed set like a wind-up toy. All the same, I’ve never regretted watching Marilyn Manson perform. He truly makes that connection with each and every audience member, no matter how disconnected he may be at the time. I’d say it’s going to be one hell of a night.
July 12 — Danzig — Pepsi Amphitheater in Flagstaff
An excuse to get out of the heat and head to beautiful Flagstaff, all for some beautiful heavy metal and punk? Yes, please. There’s always a lot of backlash against good ol’ Glenn Danzig, but the truth is, if you’ve never seen Danzig live, you’re missing out. The doomsy blues-driven heavy style is a force to be reckoned with, and the band is rumored to be working on a new album. Catch them along with Pennywise and the Cancer Bats. And don't forget to read one of our writer's fateful encounter with Danzig more than a decade ago.
July 15 — Wednesday 13 — Club Red
Wednesday 13 is known as a force to be reckoned with in the world of goth/horror punk/metal. A strong songwriter and musician, he was the frontman of MurderDolls (founded with Slipknot’s Joey Jordison) and has been touring solo for some time. His sixth studio album under his own name, Monsters of the Universe: Come Out and And Plague, came out in January and has been highly anticipated (and well received) by Wednesday 13 fans. As the musician stated: “Take the movies They Live and Night of the Living Dead and the series V, and mix that together. It’s a sci-fi horror story that will be the most unique Wednesday 13 album to date. I wouldn’t even compare it to anything I’ve done in the past.” With that in mind, you never know what to expect at a Wednesday 13 show. The show has a strong lineup, rounded out with Holy Grail, Death Division, Asphalt Wasteland, Casket Snatch, and Riot/Gear.
July 16 — Abigail Williams — Yucca Tap Room
Yucca is another venue fantastic for death metal shows. No matter where you’re at in the room, you get a view of the band along with a delicious burger and cold beer. Black metal band Abigail Williams headlines this lineup, supported by a delicious buffet of Phoenix metal: death/black metallers Deadspawn, grindcore band Sadomasochist, atmospheric/melodic black metal act Ghost Horizon, and post-metallers The Lazarus Complex.
July 17 — 94 Blades — Pub Rock
94 Blades describes its as “metal hardcore soooo heavy we can’t even get on a ‘light’ rail.” In my mind, you can’t help loving that. On July 17, Pub Rock also hosts unique five-piece alt-metal act Arvins Garden, which punctuates its music with hip-hop and punk rock accents. Xpansion Theory and Impulsive Aggression round out the bill.
July 21 — Melvins — Crescent Ballroom
The Melvins have been touring consistently, and I couldn’t be more thrilled. Since 1984, the band headed up by Buzz Osborne has been bringing a mixture of punk and metal (and a heavy dose of bizarre humor and experimentation) to its solid underground fanbase, complete with a twisty, idiosyncratic approach. Playing with Le Butcherettes.
July 25 — Altered Silence and more — Club Red
13th Floor Entertainment presents this killer night of desert metal, all for just $10. You’ll see some of the most prominent and talented musicians on the local scene at this show. Altered Silence, a blend of all the most heavy, lovable and classic components of metal, leads the way. Expect a range of different types of unique metal on the bill, including Cry Evil, In Vengeance, Hands of a Traitor, Storm of Perception, Return to Zero, and Spades and Blades.
July 30 — Godhunter — Yucca Tap Room
Godhunter has risen to acclaim over the past few years as being a standout in the desert metal scene. Since releasing its 2011 debut, the band has shared the stage with The Sword, Crowbar, and Red Fan and has received positive reviews in such publications as Metal Hammer. Now, Godhunter is planning to release its new studio album on July 28. Destroyer of Light, Lago, No Shores, and Pocket Leaf rounds out the bill.