It’s official, guys. The Valley's cool season is over, and summer's on the horizon. Lucky for us, this month we’ve got some killer metal and hard rock shows — the perfect distraction. And since we know how hard it can be to track down all the best shows at all the venues in town on your own, we’ve compiled a handy list for you.
An added bonus: Not only does this month have quite a few big shows by some of Arizona’s favorite and most successful bands, there’s also a handful of legends coming through town, including Testament, Sabaton, and Bobaflex.
Tuesday, May 2
I first saw these guys at Rock on the Range more than 10 years after their creation. They had a great stage presence, seemingly worked their asses off to make a name for themselves, and are known for their ancestral ties to one of the most infamous family feuds in American history between the Hatfields and McCoys. These guys merge metal and pure rock 'n' roll in a fresh way, and are touring to promote their seventh album. Another Lost Year, The Complication, Fading Nemesis, Ciphered Existence, Riot/Gear, and Her Name Echoes round out the bill.
Atoms Fall CD Release Party
Saturday, May 6
What better reason to go out and celebrate at a CD release party than for the beloved hometown band, Atoms Fall? Known for their brand of “rock redefined,” this group brings together influences from bands like Tool, Deftones, Disturbed, and Avenged Sevenfold — and local fans can’t wait to hear their new material. With well over 50 years of musical experience, touring, and writing between the four members, you can always expect a tight performance from these guys. With special guests Throw Logic, Dawn Awaits, Fire Glass, and Scarlet Canary.
One Body Too Many Reunion
Saturday, May 6
Three-piece metal act One Body Too Many have been described as a band that “makes the pit explode” — and you only need to listen to their searing metal riffs for proof. The band hasn’t really been performing since around 2011, so as a reunion show, they have really packed the house with some of Arizona’s best emerging bands as support. We’re talking the high-energy metallers Sectas, the costumed horror theatrics of Fatal Malady, melodic hard rockers Latency, Talk To Sheep, Ashes of the Dead, and more. Oh, and did we mention it’s a triple birthday bash? Get ready to party.
Autumn's End, Ironkill, and more
Friday, May 12
Since 2003, Autumn’s End's goal has been to establish their music as a “rebel without a cause,” unwilling to bend to the commercialization of metal or what’s currently popular. As a result, they’ve, well, become popular. Autumn’s End has toured with Arch Enemy, Machine Head, Deftones, Fear Factory, Danzig, Body Count, and Hatebreed, to name a few, perfecting their live show with charismatic energy to the audience. Ironkill, He Who Binds Himself, Death of Me, No Year, and Enemy Within are also on the bill.
Friday, May 12
When a band is named after knight’s foot armor, you can probably bet on two things: It’s either a power metal band, or Swedish. Enter Sabaton.
Lyrical content focused on war (particularly WWI and WWII) and historical battles make up the majority of the band’s music. Seven of the band's albums are all about these themes, while the final tracks pay tribute to legendary and influential metal bands. So it makes sense that, in 2012, almost all the members left to form a band called Civil War, leaving vocalist Joakim Broden and bassist Par Sundstrom to recruit new members for their heavy international tour gigs. The band is still loved worldwide though, and they host an Open Air Sabaton festival, as well as a Sabaton cruise. Leaves’ Eyes and BattleBeast round out the bill.
Read on for more of May's best metal.
Thursday, May 18
Yucca Tap Room
This show at Yucca is all about the black and thrash metal. LA band Witchaven combine elements of thrash, black metal, and hardcore to create songs they're currently channeling into a new album, while Salt Lake City’s Deathblow are all about the thrash. Warhead, Saintbreaker, and Intent also will take the stage.
Wednesday, May 17
More than 34 years on, and this band is still, well, a testament to heavy metal music and the genre’s fans. The American group is seen as one of the biggest thrash metal bands of all time, with album sales surpassing 15 million around the world. While they’ve had a fair share of lineup changes, you can’t beat some of the legends that are still currently in the roster, like guitar master Alex Skolnick and vocalist Chuck Billy. The band’s currently working on their 12th studio album, due out in 2018.
Metalheads Fifth Anniversary Metalfest
Saturday, May 20
It’s about time the “metalheads” crew worked up to an event with their name on it at a venue. This fifth anniversary metalfest will feature two stages, 11 bands, vendors, raffles, food trucks, giveaways — and a ton of support for the local music scene. We got your list right here of some of our favorite AZ bands: Pelvic Meatloaf, Howitzer, Scattered Guts, Souless, Murkocet, Sarca, Virulent, Sicmonic, Hillbilly Devilspeak, Bleed the Fifth, Prepare the Gallows, and more.
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Hail The Sun, Capsize, and more
Wednesday, May 24
Progressive post-hardcore quartet Hail the Sun originally met in Chico, California, while studying music technology. With their range of dynamic influences like jazz, funk, blues, and Latin, and technical knowledge, the group has become known for its intricate musical prowess. Think high-energy, melodic metal harmonies with minimal screaming. Post-hardcore metal outfit Limbs, Capsize, and Eidola round out the bill.
Tuesday, May 30
Extreme American metallers Exmortus have been popular in the underground extreme and death metal scene since their conception in 2002. With lyrics circling around war battles, the band has slowly been incorporating more classical music and shredding solos with each new album — but that hasn’t decreased the band’s need for speed, or the fans’ desire of it. All in all, Exmortus is an ideal example of a metal-meets-classical act.