March in Phoenix is usually one of the most beautiful months of the year -- the transition between winter and summer is in full swing, so the weather is usually in the, oh, high 80s. For those who aren't familiar, no -- we don't have a spring season here. It just goes from three weeks of coat weather to one week of cool breezes, to five months of grueling heat. Then it just repeats.
So make sure you get suitable time outdoors, because the nights are filled with lots of heavy metal. 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 March.
There are legends like Anvil, Whitechapel, and Texas Hippie Coalition, an outdoor festival featuring Korn and Godsmack, and a local metal Annual Mustache Massacre and Metal for the Hungry event.
Mosh Pit Army presents this line-up, which has a collective more than 50 years in heavy metal under its belt. Anvil alone -- a group known for influencing such bands as Slayer and Metallica -- has recorded 15 albums spanning over 38 years. Supporting acts include Lord Dying, Sunlord, Expansion Theory, Absolute Adversary and Wrath.
Put on by Kill Death Productions, this show is all about the local metal. I'm particularly excited to see Sorxe, a Phoenix band that has been around since 2012 and includes members from Daughters of Fission, Magnetplan, Graves at Sea and Via Vengeance. The band's debut Surrounded by Shadows was released in late 2014, and they have big plans for 2015 for new music and touring. This line-up also includes black death metallers Deadspawn, sludge metal act Resinator, thrashcore band Saint Breaker, rockers Columnlll, thrash grinders Woundvac, and Infernal Abomination.
The six-piece deathcore act Whitechapel is seen as one of the pioneering forces in modern metal, offering up in-your-face aggression, dynamic, atmospheric melodies, and ever-evolving style on each record. Since 2006 the band has released only five records (the most recent was 2014's Our Endless War -- but their constant touring has ensured a fiercely loyal underground fan base, respect and recognition. According to vocalist Phil Bozeman, this last record truly opened the doors for the band to take their music to the next level. Plus, I have a special place in my heart for this band, since they are named after the London district where one of the most fascinating serial killers (Jack the Ripper, in my mind) committed his murders.
Doro Pesch is a living legend in her own right; she began playing in her first bands at the age of 16, first found success with the band Warlock in 1982, and was the first female musician to perform at the Monsters of Rock Festival. Not only has she received the Golden Gods Legends Award, she has recorded 16 studio albums and sold around 10 million records, performed in more than 60 countries, and performed at almost 3,000 shows. She has done tours with legends like Ronnie James Dio and Motorhead. In town for her Strong and Proud Anniversary tour, other bands include Insatia, Black Curtain, Empire of Dezire, Hands of a Traitor, and Varkan.
As one of the most beloved, longest-standing metal bands in Phoenix, St. Madness needs little introduction. But what makes this line-up really stand out is how well rounded it is -- there's a variety of alt-metal and hard rock, including the UK act Disposable Heroes, Mesa's groove metallers Furthest From Faith, and a range of other bands like Rez of War, Hell Defined, and Existence A.D. For a mere $5, expect a night of shredding riffs, gut-punching drums, and friendly metalheads.
While I've never been a fan of the pop punk/horror metal that's a Warped Tour staple, there's no denying that this show will be packed with a bevy of fans well worth the people watching, from dressed-to-impress emos to kids with spiked cuffs, metal shirts and heavy eyeliner. With a sound that has been compared to Marilyn Manson and Bleeding Through. American metal band Motionless in White released its last album in September 2014, and have been touring in support ever since, while metalcore act Ice Nine Kills has been gaining ground with slowly but surely. If anything, I think the highlight act here is New Years Day, rockers who call themselves "hauntedmansioncore" and whose lead vocalist, Ashley Costello, is absolutely fantastic.
The Pot of Gold Music Festival offers up four days of live music, but on Tuesday March 17, it's time for hard rockers to come out to play. Korn, Godsmack, Chevelle and Rite to Remain will take the stage. Energy will surely be high on stage, as all the bands have released new album in the last few years and are currently working on new material.
For younger metal heads, Korn will most likely always have a special place in their hearts, especially when it comes to their debut album, now legally of age to drink if it were a person. The Grammy Award-winning band has sold more than 40 million albums, survived addiction and break-ups, and came back full circle (whether you love it or hate it) with their last album, 2013's The Paradigm Shift. Godsmack's newest release, 1000hP, has been rocking radios since it came out last August. And while Chevelle is known for some great catchy radio rock, you're missing out if you don't listen to each album in its entirety. And Rite to Remain reps the Phoenix scene, alongside a few other local bands that will act as openers.
What can be said about this show that the name doesn't already assume? A lot, actually, and it all comes down to the unique -- and kickass -- lineup of Arizona bands. We've got industrial act Hardwire, which has scored films like The Great American Snuff Film, toured with Fear Factory, and reminds me a bit of Rammstein and Ministry. Pelvic Meatloaf, a band whose music industry risks and boundary-pushing stunts only continue to increase their popularity, will bring their charm, and dirty '80s thrash to the masses.
Labor Party is all about the high energy, trashy garage punk rock, and Pigmy Death-Ray (gotta love the name) brings a dark brand of punk alt-rock to the stage. Female-fronted deathrockers DeSade and Goth Brooks round out the bill; the latter is a sight you gotta see to believe -- think country meets industrial meets death metal.
Stoner/sludge metallers Weedeater are a staple in the heavy metal cult classic underground, with a great sense of humor and heavy riffs to prove it. Hopefully you can see through the smoke at Pub Rock Live to see the band in all their glory after the openers, including extreme Aussie thrash grinders King Parrot, Phoenix's three-piece Goya (think stoner doom metal meets Black Sabbath), as well as Sounds Like Murder, Column III and Collapsian.
Gritty, raw, comedic, heavy--all these words can be used to describe Texas Hippie Coalition, affectionately known by fans as "THC." However, they describe themselves as "red dirt metal," and are hellbent on letting everyone know that "rock 'n' roll ain't dead." Their sound is a fantastic combination of groove metal, Southern rock and outlaw hero (one night after a lot of whiskey, I wrote down that they were Pantera meets Lynyrd Skynyrd meets Waylon Jennings). The band is all about telling a story, being proud of their heritage, and honoring their fallen fellow musicians.
The Devil Wears Prada has put in some work to prove their talent. And while I'm not the biggest fan of the band's sound, I can admit that they have a rightful place in the metalcore scene after years of touring festivals alongside acts like Dark Tranquillity, Killswitch Engage, Slayer and Slipknot, and a distinguishable evolution of their sound. The Nile Theater will house quite the mosh pit for this line-up, with hardcore outfit The Word Alive (fresh with a new vocalist), death metal thrashers A Chelsea Grin (named after soccer hooligan terminology as the act of cutting a rival's mouth with a blade, and then kicking them in the crotch so their mouth muscle split in a bloody grimace); Cali deathcore band Carnifex (Latin for "executioner"); Sworn In, Black Tongue, The Family Ruin, and Secrets.
March 27 - Legion of Death - The Rogue Bar
The Rogue Bar is one of my favorite spots for a metal show; mostly because the super intimate environment really allows you to feel that metal energy. Besides the headliner, metal-masked, hardcore death metal band Legion of Death (featuring g members of Cephalic Carnage), this line-up is chock full of Valley heavy metal staples, ranging from speed to thrash to death. These include Scalafrea, which I love for their death metal-meets-neoclassical-meets-jazz style, and Genocaust, which is brutal death metal at its finest. Magguts, Meathook, Zeohn, and Orphium round out the bill.
I love how many heavy metal charity shows we host in the Valley of the Sun, because it truly does prove that head-bangers have the biggest hearts. Metal for the Hungry is a benefit to raise money for St. Mary's Food Bank, and the show is supported by some of the Valley's most talented and popular heavy acts. Expect to see Destructured, Sectas, Phoenix & Dragon, Mourning Grey and Alex Squared take over the stage, all for just $5.
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
Find any show in Metro Phoenix via our extensive online concert calendar.