We don't get too many May flowers in the Valley of the Sun -- but we do get a truckload of May metal shows. There are a ton of great shows around town, which is why we compiled a monthly list of the best metal and hard rock concerts happening at venues around the Valley during the month of May.
This was a hard one to compile, as there are easily 10 other hard rock or metal shows that could've made the list. The shows include every type of heavy metal you can imagine, so there's absolutely something for everyone. There are Arizona favorites like Flotsam and Jetsam; legends like Queensryche, Ministry, and Skid Row; landmark events, like Sepultura's 30th Anniversary tour and the third annual Fxck Cancer Benefit; and underground favorites like Eyehategod, Otep and Apocalyptica. Not to mention we get major doses of the Cavalera boys this month.
Cavalera Conspiracy marked an important chapter in the well-known metal family's legacy. Founded on a love for thrash and groove metal, the band's formation ended a 10-year rift between brothers Max and Igor Cavalera, who also formed Sepultura in the early '80s. While we all know that other successful projects ensued, like Soulfly, and a string of solid bands from Max's kids, Cavalera Conspiracy is proof that the family that slays together, stays together.
Friday, May 8 - AZ MetalFest - Club Red
This night of metal truly celebrates the best of old school and newer metal bands that run the desert scene. There's Flotsam & Jetsam, thrash legends that have been making impressions with their killer live show since 1981. They've had a lot of ups and downs, but shared the stage with such acts as Megadeth and Mercyful Fate during the process. Chemicals of Democracy are one of my personal favorite local bands, and were listed in Phoenix New Times' 14 Bands You Need to Hear in 2014.
Rounding out the bill is a melting pot of bands influenced by your favorite metal and hard rock bands: Downhill Trend, Ghost 211, Altered Silence, Warhead, and She Murdered Me--the latter of which has only been around a couple years, and have already shared the stage with bands like Deicide and Moonsorrow.
No Cover Phoenix is all about showing massive amounts of love and support for the local music scene. They're constantly creating amazing line ups to support an array of causes--but No Cover's annual Fxck Cancer Benefit is never a show to be missed. Now in its third year, the proceeds go towards raising awareness about early cancer detection, and helping families and victims through Dyin 2 Live. Expect to see amazing local bands like Sectas, Twisted Theorem, Crushed, Venomous Pinks, Volatile Minds, Mental Cases, Don't Panic, and Mills End. Don't forget about the charity raffle!
For more than a quarter of a century, these legendary Brazilian musicians have been serving up a mix of hardcore, punk, thrash metal and tribal that's become an unmistakable brand to metalheads. If you've never seen them live than this 30th anniversary show is the time to do it--plus, Sepultura always seem able to predict the winds of change in the genre. The bill is rounded out by Destruction, Arsis, Boris the Blade, The Last Ten Seconds of Life, Micawber, Starkill, Deathgrip, Xpansion Theory, Ashes of Dead, and Wrath.
This is a power metal duel if I've ever seen one. Between the two of them, Florida-based Kamelot and British Dragonforce have almost 30 years in the industry under their headbanging hair. Known for impressive technical guitar riffs, soaring melodic vocals, and a retro video-game influenced sound, both Dragonforce and Kamelot are promoting new music; Dragonforce's Maximum Overload came out in fall 2014, and Kamelot's 11th album, Haven, is coming out on May 5.
Sludge metallers Eyehategod are one of the most beloved bands from the New Orleans metal scene. The bluesy, detuned guitar riffs of good ol' Jimmy Bower, man--the passion behind his riffage is fantastic to watch. Along with raw, harsh vocals and influences that include Melvins, Corrosion of Conformity and Saint Vitus, this band has always had a soft spot in my heart.
Wednesday, May 20 - Ministry - The Marquee
I'm super pumped for this show, because Ministry hasn't been through AZ in waaay too long. And between the 2008 announcement by frontman Al Jourgensen that the band would call it quits after more than 25 years, then a 2012 reunion, a 12th studio album and world tour; the death of long-time guitarist Mike Scaccia, and the announcement that their 2013 album, From Beer to Eternity, was Ministry's final album--well, it's hard to say when we'll see them again.
May 25 - Apocalyptica - The Marquee
Fnnish metallers Apocalyptica are a band that celebrates the roots of heavy metal: classical music. Comprised of classically trained cellists and a drummer, the band combines elements of symphonic, neoclassical, speed and thrash metal, as well as Middle Eastern music. While some may not think cellists are "metal" enough, take this into consideration: guest musicians on their albums include Dave Lombardo (Slayer), Corey Taylor (Slipknot), Joseph Duplantier (Gojira), Max Cavalera, Till Lindemann (Rammstein), plus in 2011 Metallica asked the band to play "No Leaf Clover," "One," and "Seek and Destroy" live for Metallica's 30th anniversary.
May 26 - Saxon - Club Red
As one of the leaders of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, Saxon has been rocking stages since the mid-1970s, selling more than 15 albums worldwide. Currently working on their 21st album, the band is one of those legends you gotta see live -- acts like Pantera, Metallica and Megadeth have cited them as influences. The lineup includes one of my favorite desert metal bands of all time, Storm of Perception, Altered Silence, MERSA, Heavy Metal Blood Drive, and Empire of Dezire.
May 27 - Skid Row - The Marquee
You can't have a lineup of top metal shows without including a little glam metal in there. Enter Skid Row.
While the American '80s metal band isn't full-blown "glam," it brings that culture and energy to the stage, especially since most people associate the act and Sebastian Bach. They recently brought on Tony Harnell (formerly of TNT) as lead vocalist since Johnny Solinger parted ways in early April. Expect to hear lots of their classic 18 and Life album; Skid Row just released a re-recorded version of the album with the new singer and released it in April.
May 30 - Otep - Club Red
While most people categorize Otep (the band) as nu metal, but I see it as a combination of industrial metal, art rock, and punk. Otep (the band's singer) is as intelligent as she is beautiful, and in a past interview she told me that 2013's Hydra was going to be the band's last album. It's not that she's a heavy metal drama queen; she's sold almost a million albums and touches on topics like politic, animal rights and bigotry. But last I talked to her she felt that the music industry was dissolving in front of her eyes, and it broke her heart. So catch her before she's gone for good, nourishing some other artistic animal in her soul. Lineup is rounded out by The Reaktion, Archenaut, Interfate, and Arm the Fallen.
May 30 -- Queensryche -- Comerica Theatre
Queensryche fans are hardcore -- you can get into a debate with one about lineup changes, particularly the Geoff Tate-to-Tod LaTorre issue, and it can last for hours. I've seen the band with both vocalists, and I gotta say, there were things I loved about both. In fact, the band is currently writing a new album that's predicted to be great. If you haven't seen Queensryche live, you beter get to Comerica.
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