More Than 20 Metal Bands Put Differences Aside for Metal Frostover

Rock music and annoying egos go hand-in-hand. In fact, the pairing is almost as guaranteed as headbanging and mosh pits. Groupies and tour buses. Dimebag and a Black Tooth Grin shots. Revolting disgust and the Kardashian clan.

You get the picture.

It doesn't matter whether you're a huge national act, or a local band just starting out - some musicians just feel entitled for some reason. Sure; you may be a talented musician who deserves some respect, but you gotta pay your dues and reciprocate that respect.

See also: 15 Best Guitarists in the Phoenix Metal Scene Right Now

On that note, there's an upcoming event that deserves some recognition -- all because it strictly upholds that "put your ego aside" mentality. Every band is seen as a headliner -- there are more than 20 of them on the bill -- and all stipulations are put aside, like pay and timeslot.

Welcome to Desert Frostover, the local heavy metal highlight of the holiday season. Seriously, anyone who's a fan of the local metal scene should be at this two-day metal fest held at Joe's Grotto to hear all that embodies the Phoenix metal sound from some of the Valley's best metal bands.

Jeremy Jalowiec, drummer for Howitzer (he also organizes a lot of local shows), first put the event together in 2013.

"A few years ago I asked six 'headliner' bands to play one night together ... for one night of music and camaraderie that could bring more to the community than one band standing alone," explains Jalowjec. "They all said yes, the event sold out, and so the idea was born. A few weeks after that event, I received a few emails and texts from different bands asking to be included in the event next year, so I decided to make it an annual event."

Between Friday and Saturday night, there's a veritable buffet of heavy metal goods to enjoy. Hey -- it's the holidays. Time to overindulge. It's hard to argue which night is the heavier lineup, so I won't even try.

On Friday night there's Virulent, While She Waits, Howitzer, Deathgrip, She Murdered Me, Lost in Lies, The Pattern Interrupt, Latency, Phoenix and Dragon, Weed out the Weak, Better Left Unsaid, Spades and Blades, and more.

Saturday's lineup includes Pelvic Meatloaf, Howitzer, Play for Blood, Something to Kill, We Steal Copper, Atom's Fall, Ruach, Diicordant, Sentenced to Burn, Jack Pistolero, Christopher Shayne and more.

A lot could be said about each act on the bill; in truth, a separate article could be written about each band's contribution to the local scene, distinctive style, and backgrounds. The weekend will truly give a taste of every type of heavy music Phoenix has to offer, which is why Jalowjec stands firm on how "the term 'headliner' does not exist at Desert Frostover."

"Each band selected is incredibly talented and stands apart individually, but it's the community that makes this equation work," he says. "As far as band selection goes, it starts with a band saying 'yes,' and then we go from there. If a band leads with, 'Well, what time do we play? How much will we make? Who else is playing?' That's usually where the offer ends. It's all about putting everything aside, coming together as a music loving community and closing out the year with a positive uplifting note."

Metal veterans Pelvic Meatloaf, taking the stage on Saturday, has been delivering their heavy brand of metal for the past 20 years. The music is aggressive, representing strength and power and independence.

"Last year's Desert Frostover was such a killer event, that when Jeremy from Howitzer called me to ask if Pelvic would like to play on it this year, I immediately said 'Hell yes'," says Pelvic Meatloaf vocalist Rich Fourmy. "I can't think of a better way to end the year that having a two-day, two-stage, all-local metal weekend show."

In a past interview with singer Rich Fourmy for a New Times feature about the bands' 2013 release Stronger Than You, he recalled the days of starting out 20 years ago: Pelvic Meatloaf had to prove to the management at Boston's (now 910 Live) that they could bring in 50 drinkers on a Wednesday night to watch them perform, just in order to get a weekend headliner slot. In fact, the album Stronger Than You has lots of references to the "entitlement" that younger local bands display today.

"We are playing the second night of [Desert Frostover], but we will be attending both nights to enjoy and support the other local bands," says Fourmy.

Virulent is another solid fixture on the local scene, offering up a blend of raw vocals and heart-pounding rhythms for a sound that calls to old school classic death metal. The band's new album this past September, Empire, shows the musical growth the band has made as of late; it's hostile, catchy, and intense.

Last year's Desert Frostover turned out to be a really fun weekend for local music," says guitarist Keith Piske. "When we were invited back by the Howitzer guys this year it was pretty much a given that we would hop on board with Desert Frostover 2014."

Piske lists a range of acts he's excited to see, including Howitzer, The Pattern Interrupt, DeathGrip, Pelvic Meatloaf, Play for Blood, and Spades and Blades, he admits there is a lot of good talent that's performing that weekend.

"The fans can pretty much expect a great night of metal music and the warm hospitality of Joe's Grotto," says Piske. "Every band performing has a great piece of talent to offer the crowd. I'm pretty sure all the artists will be bringing their 'A game' on stage this year. It will definitely be a great night for everyone."

So let's raise a glass to an event that's all about the heavy music and the local scene, celebrating the understanding that in order to get recognition for your craft, it takes years of hard work, determination and knowing that there's always something you can learn from those before you.

Desert Frostover takes place Friday, December 12, and Saturday, December 13.

Correction: This story originally misstated the day Pelvic Meatloaf is playing.

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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