Our desert summer is finally winding down; and really, it wasn't so bad, now was it? It's probably in part to the awesome parade of metal shows that came through our fair state since the music industry's touring season was in full swing. Either way, at least the September nights will only be in the 90s when you're leaving those sweat- and blood-drenched mosh pits.
September is filled to the brim with heavy metal shows around Metro Phoenix, thanks to concerts and gigs by locals and major international legends. As such, we're on the lookout for the best upcoming shows.
That's why we compile a monthly list of the best metal and hard rock concerts happening at venues around the Valley during the month of September. There's a wide span of old and new metal this month, from metal vets Prong and Goatwhore, to ManniFEST, a local death metal festival with 19 bands that only costs $5, to the opening night of Rob Zombie's Great American Nightmare Haunted House in Scottsdale, complete with a live show by the man himself.
In my last Metal Mondays blog, I elaborated on ManniFEST as a must-see heavy metal fest this fall, and it's coming up quick this weekend. It celebrates the best of local underground death metal, as well as founder Manuel Jimenez's birthday, and costs just $5 -- yes, you heard right. The all-day festival starts at noon, and hosts 19 bands from the Southwest, including Unleashing the Catastrophe, Meatcleaver Amputation, Zeohn, Splatterkill, Cranial Engorgement, Meathook, Fetal Disgorge, Magguts, Excystation, and Atoll.
Seattle trio Blood of Kings is all about the thrash and speed metal, most specifically from the period of 1980-85. We're talking guitar work that calls to early Megadeth, double bass that's Motorhead worthy, and a vibe that crosses between Exodus and King Diamond. Plus, Tad Doyle (grunge act TAD) produced their last record. Hessian offers a great balance, combining New Wave of British Metal, male and female vocals, and the typical occult/depressed vibe that one brings from living in the backwoods of Maine.
This eclectic line up of groove metal, hardcore, industrial and heavy rock genres is also an official birthday bash for 93.3 KDKB's Mike Gaube. Headliner Prong has influenced countless influential acts--from Nine Inch Nail's Trent Reznor to Demon Hunter's Ryan Clark--and the metal legends are always a pleasure to see live. If you've never seen 'em, now is the time to do it at the new Club Red. Speed/thrash metal outfit RattleheaD has a very infectious booze-fueled rock n roll attitude that's sure to get the mosh pit moving. Local favorites Chemicals of Democracy intertwine the boundaries of metal and hard rock, and are catchy as hell. The lineup is rounded out by Dirt Over Lime, Deathgrip and Barber Floyd.
With a lineup that also includes Buckcherry, Skillet, Seether, Popevil, Escape the Fate, 3 Years Hollow and others, it can easily be argued that this festival is more radio rock than heavy metal. And you would be right. However, Godsmack's rolling thunderous anthems and catchy choruses appeal to the metal masses too, particularly with the newest album 1000hp. It's heavier than any of the band's former albums, and is so pumped full of adrenaline there's no doubting the caliber of the upcoming mosh pit.
For about 15 years Goatwhore has been projecting blackened death metal accented with a bit of that New Orleans' occult mentality. The band's sixth album, Constricting Rage of the Merciless, was just released in July, so expect a strong mix of classics and new tracks. This band has a valiant following, and the live shows are known to be particularly nasty and brutal.
Hailing straight from Colombia, No Raza is no holds barred death metal. I'm curious to see these guys. The music has a ton of cultural influence, with some killer doublebass, poignant riffing, and growls that sound like they are straight from the depths of hell. Then we've got a range of local acts: Phoenix & Dragon (symphonic metal), Crippled Ninja (combined punk, tech and prog metal), Sinesthetic (old-school thrash meets progressive death metal), and Enkaged (a fusion of hard rock, metal, jazz, Latin and blues).
Rob Zombie's Great American Nightmare runs from September 19 through November 1. There's three different twisted haunted houses based on Rob Zombie's horror films and characters; the Bloody Boulevard, a themed midway with freakshows, activities, games and more; and a line up of concerts through the Halloween season. Opening night is a perfect time to go and check out the creepy scene, as well as get a tasty dose of Rob Zombie's live show, filled with pyrotechnics, creepy costumes, scantily clad women, and horror clips.
Local death metal deviants Lago are proud to release their debut album Tyranny this month, and the celebration is going down at the intimate venue Tempe Tavern. Lago is a strong Arizona act, and have perfected the use of blackened metal components to accent their onslaught of percussion, guttural vocals, plucky bass runs and artful guitar solos. Playing on the bill with Lago includes Sorrower, Meathook, Unholy Monarch, Cave Dweller, and more.
Skeletonwitch is one of those metal bands that have been put into just about every category, from melodic death metal to black thrash. I guess it makes sense because they've toured with everyone from Amon Amarth and DevilDriver to Danzig and Municipal Waste. In my mind it works for them, because the band's sound is so diversified. It's the ideal show to bring a newbie metal head to. This lineup is rounded out by Ghoul, Black Anvil and Gatecreeper.
The L.A.-based, duo female-fronted Butcher Babies have been snowballing into popularity during the past several years, especially after the release of their debut album Goliath in July 2013. They've been touring nonstop ever since. As with any metal band fronted by strong, beautiful females, there's always relentless controversy: looks vs. talent, sexuality stigmas, etc. However, amidst it all there's clear cut talent in the band as a whole; a strong instrumental backbone, influences that span Marilyn Manson, Iron Maiden and Slipknot, and complimentary vocals from Heidi Shepherd and Carla Harvey that range from deep Phil Anselmo-esque growls to soaring melodies to powerful screams. Anti-Mortem, Screaming for Silence and Tricus round out this bill.
Experimental deathcore band Virulent are throwing a heavy metal bash to release their new album Empire. And, of course, they're bringing some of their favorite AZ acts with them--brutal metal vets Pelvic Meatloaf, three-piece groove metal act Howitzer, and progressive metal act Killing Spree, to name a few. Rounding out the bill is N.M.E., Vivicide and Inner Chaos. The first 30 people through the door also get a free gift from Sullen Clothing.
Find any show in Metro Phoenix via our extensive online concert calendar.
Keep Phoenix New Times Free... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Phoenix with no paywalls.