12 Best Metal Concerts in Metro Phoenix in December 2016

Happy holidays, metalheads! We hope that you not only had a head-banging Thanksgiving, but wish you a very metal Christmas. Now, usually the month of December doesn’t hold very many shows, due to the treacherous winter touring season — but for some reason, this year, we’ve got a crazy show calendar. So, in the spirit of the season, here are your 12 days of metal.

Some Arizona holiday show staples are in order, like Christmas Pudding and Desert Frostover; some legends are coming through, like Dark Tranquillity and Flotsam & Jetsam; and we’ve got some great local shows, like Warhead and Singularity.

Friday, December 2 – Warhead CD Release – Club Red
Arizona speed metallers Warhead are kicking off your holiday season with a live show celebrating the release of the band’s second full-length album, Age of Tomorrow, an intense record that’s bound to continue building the band’s popularity on a national scale. And since this show is brought to you by 13th Floor Entertainment, you can expect a whole buffet of delicious metal goodness. There’s Brain Dead, the four-piece based out of L.A. with the sole goal of melting faces with their music; Sanitation Squad, a personal local favorite of mine that combines the best parts of punk, metal, and rock; along with Through the Earth; Unholy Monarch; and Eye Rake.

Friday, December 2 – CO-OP EP Release party – Joe’s Grotto

Sure, CO-OP might fall more into the rock 'n' roll genre, but the band’s mission is nothing short of metal. It’s common knowledge that frontman Dash Cooper makes his father Alice proud with his musical skill set, giving AZ rock an even more solid name — but the band is also freshly signed to David Ellefson’s label, EMP, are in the midst of releasing their EP, and are all about bringing attention to the Solid Rock Teen Center, which was started by Alice Cooper to nurture young musicians. So Teen Center members get in free with ID, and for everyone else it’s merely $8. If you haven’t seen CO-OP live, you better get to this show — because also hitting the stage are some other incredible live Phoenix acts, like the rock/metal/hip hop act Soundmankillz and Buried as Thieves.

Dec 2-4 – Desert Frostover – Marquee Theatre

Desert Frostover is back. I feel like this even gets better every year, so you can expect 2016 to take it a step further. A two-day pass is $15 in advance, and besides about a dozen bands each day, you can also expect to see comedians, food trucks, live art installations, and more.

On Friday, the doors open at 5:30 and the line up includes:
Christopher Shayne
Jane n' the jungle
Bomb Track
Divided minds
Dutch Rosenberg Theater

On Saturday the doors open at 4:15, and the lineup includes:
Pelvic Meatloaf (who will give you a free Stronger Than You CD with the purchase of your tickets if you get them straight from the band, and who are also shooting a music video during this show)
Autumns End
Absolute Threshold
Dawn Awaits
Fatal Malady
Hounds of Tindalos
Prepare The Gallows

Saturday, December 3 – Alice Cooper’s Christmas Pudding – Celebrity Theatre

It goes without saying that this annual variety show is legendary. It’s one of Phoenix’s signature holiday events, and it brings together some of the past and present’s greatest musicians, actors, comedians, dancers, and more, all in the name of raising money for the Solid Rock Teen Center. This year it’s an all-star line-up, with the Hollywood Vampires (Alice Cooper, Johnny Depp, Joe Perry), Korn, the Gin Blossoms, and Sammy Hagar.

Saturday, December 3 – Dark Tranquillity – Club Red

As one of the longest-standing bands from the Swedish (Gothenburg) metal scene, Dark Tranquillity is one of those seasoned, stylistic metal acts that, in the flesh, sounds exactly like they do on the album. Early in November they released their eleventh full-length album, Atoma, and it’s always exciting to see what songs they choose to play live. Swallow the Sun brings their gloomy Finland metal to the mix, while Enforcer, Starkill, and more round out the mix.

Tuesday, December 6 – Asking Alexandria – Livewire

Some just can’t used to a live music venue that regularly hosts metal acts in the heart of Old Town Scottsdale’s EDM corner — but it’s been a long time coming. At Livewire, And this metal show will be one for the books. English metalcore act Asking Alexandria headlines this one, and there is sure to be lots of hometown friends, as lead guitarist Cameron Liddell is always out in about when home in Phoenix off tour. And with lead vocalist Worsnop’s return and their 2016 album The Black, this is sure to be packed. However, there are other heavy hitters on this bill, including Born of Osiris, I See Stars, and Upon a Burning Body (maybe Ice T will make a cameo for their “Turn Down For What?” metal jam?). After the Burial and Bad Omens complete the lineup.

Wednesday, December 7 – Children of Bodom – The Pressroom
If December 6 hosted a plethora of trendier metal acts, then this show is all about the classic and esteemed. Finnish heavy metal band Children of Bodom released a new album earlier this year, with melodic hooks and a ton of impressive guitar acrobatics of Alexi Laiho, further concentrating themselves as one of the world’s most loved metal acts. And when you throw in vet acts like Abbath, Exmortus, and Oni, you have one seasoned bill.

Thursdsay, December 8 – Lords of War with Lago, Avarice, and more - The Rogue

Immortalized Productions, Heavy Metal Television, That Metal Station, and Dustbowl Metal Show (just to name a few) all bring you this local love at The Rogue. Atmospheric death metal outfit Lord of War headlines, along with Lago, one of my favorite Phoenix metal bands on the scene right now. Avarice and Collapsian round out the bill.

Friday, December 9 – Flotsam & Jetsam – Club Red

Flotsam & Jetsam have major history (as well as controversy) within AZ. 13th Floor Entertainment brings this show for the holidays that’s sure to attract a big crowd. The band has always had a solid set list, providing the same energy to the crowd that they have for decades. Helstar, Hatchet, Throw The Swtich, Ye’iitsoh (if you love guitar shredding, you gotta see these guys!), Voltrum, and Vital Pilots will take the stage throughout the night as well.

Friday, December 16 – Singularity, Animus Complex, The Exiled Martyr, and more – Club Red
Fresh with their Void Walker EP, technical black metal powerhouse Singularity is setting the bar at this show, a veritable showcase of local metal. The lineup the band put together includes the beautiful technical metal stylings of Animus complex, heavy hitters The Exiled Martyr, A Lapse of Ethos, Deadspawn, Depraved Heretic, Path of Exile, and more. Plus, with a bar special of $8 Blue Balls (shot of fireball and a PBR tall boy), what more could you ask for at the holidays?

Sunday, December 18 – Lynch Mob, Tricus, and more – Marquee Theatre
American hard rockers Lynch Mob, headed up by former Dokken guitarist George Lynch, has had its fair share of growing pains over the years. But they still rock like it’s 1989, and they’re still legendary on the stage with their underground following. And props to local acts Tricus, Downhill Trend, and Addict3d for snagging the opening slots.

Saturday, December 31 – Steel Panther – Livewire
What better way to ring in the New Year than partying with America’s favorite comedy rock/glam metal band? Steel Panther is a show to remember all on its own; last time they were in town, they were opening for Judas Priest. Think of them as a cross between our locally loved Metal Head and Guns N' Roses. They’ve got crazy musical talent (their guitarist can shreeeed!), insanely profane lyrics, and a perfectly stereotypical '80s hair-metal look.

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Lauren Wise has worked as a rock/heavy metal journalist for 15 years. She contributes to Noisey and LA Weekly, edits books, and drinks whiskey.
Contact: Lauren Wise