As we predicted last month in our roundup of the best monthly metal shows, those crazy April metal showers clearly yield May metal — 13 to be exact, aligning perfectly with those Friday the 13th shows as well. And this month’s list of killer shows, combined with the crazy cool weather we’ve been experiencing in the Valley of the Sun, is making me one happy metalhead.
From legends like Lamb of God, Lacuna Coil, Hatebreed, and Pentagram, to local fests like AZ Brutal Fest 3 and Prophet Presents, there's something for everyone this month.
May 7 – Ill Niño – Joe’s Grotto
13th Floor Entertainment kicks off the spring season right with this killer show. I’ve always felt that Ill Niño has a core connection to the music scene in Phoenix — they branded their style as “Latin metal,” and the desert metal scene has many bands rooted in that style, putting their own twist on it and bringing it to the forefront. Bobaflex is a main supporting act on the bill, and take my word for it: Don’t judge a book by its cover. The bill is rounded out by Terror Universal, Sinshrift, Bleed the Fifth, and Saalythic.
May 9 – Lacuna Coil, Butcher Babies, & more – Marquee Theatre
The legendary hard rock band from Italy (also known by fans as the “gothfathers”) Lacuna Coil is finally coming back to North America as part of its “Delirium Worldwide” tour, supporting its new album, Delirium, which drops on May 27. The band has said that this isn’t a new chapter for Lacuna Coil — it’s a new book. Check the band’s new music video for its super-heavy track “House of Shame” below. Cristina Scabbia is known as one of the most influential and hottest women in metal for about the last two decades, and has brought a few others like her on board: Butcher Babies, 9ELECTRIC, and Painted Wives.
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Phoenix Symphony: Matthew Kasper - Cirque Cinderella
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May 12 – Deicide – Joe’s Grotto
MPA and Locals & Legends Presents us with American death metallers Deicide, a band fronted by the controversial Glen Benton. While he’s a pleasure to interview, a lot of criticism comes Benton’s way about Satanic messaging, anti-religion themes, and blasphemy. However, in my opinion, they’re a close second to Cannibal Corpse — even though at times they sound like Slayer on crack. They’re allegedly releasing a new album in 2016, so be on the lookout. Season Of Suffering, Dirt Over Lime, Atoll, and Nephilim round out the bill.
May 13-15 — AZ Brutal Fest 3 – Mind’s Eye Rehearsal Studios
Final Hour Booking presents the third annual AZ Brutal Fest. The fact that it’s the festival’s third year should be a testament to the music played here for two days straight — but to be honest, if you love local metal and haven’t checked this out yet, you’ve got some explaining to do. Day one, aka Black Metal Night, has a jam-packed schedule starting at 5 p.m., including Dead Inception, Winter Monolith, Vomiturium, Zeohn, Blood Vomit Ritual, Azerine, Mutilated Tyrant, Pestilence Death, IMPERIALIST, SADISM, Goatdusias, Goat Possessor, and Summing The Impaler (the headliners). Day two, aka the main day, kicks off at 4 p.m., and includes Dead Inception, Meatcleaver Amputation, Anisoptera, Whorror, Sadomasachist, Genocaust, Meathook, Profanacion, Hideus Rebirth, Bloodscribe, Magguts, Stages of Decomposition, Atoll, and Fetal Disgorge. I find it interesting that this will be at a studio, and I also love the fact that they are promoting that there’s no guest list for anyone. Support local music, people!
May 13 — In The Name of Metal — Prankster’s Too
When an event is presented by Prophet (best known as frontman for St. Madness), you know it is not only going to exhibit hard-hitting rock, but also a feeling of local AZ metal camaraderie that is the equivalent of my favorite whiskey warming my belly. Ticket sales will be split equally with all the bands. This is a show that is designed to promote unity between the bands and the fans in the Arizona metal scene.
May 15 - Metal Alliance Tour - Joe’s Grotto
American death metal act Dying Fetus is known for its Maryland death metal style of blast beats, intricate slam riffs, heavy breakdowns, and hooky structures, as well a sufficient amount of politically charged lyrics. This is an incredible lineup rounded out by Acacia Strain, another East Coast metal band extremely influenced by hardcore; Jungle Rot; Black Crown Initiate; and Systemhouse33.
May 19 – Atreyu – Club Red
Atreyu is one of those bands whose style of hardcore and heavy metal has supremely crossed over into the mainstream. From Gothenburg metal to Johnny Cash, Atreyu takes the cake for merging influences. This is their “A Death Grip on Yesterday” 10-year anniversary tour, and it sounds like the band couldn’t be more stoked. They’re still supporting their September 2015 release, Long Live, and are ready to show fans a great time. Islander rounds out this bill, a band I saw at Rock on the Range in 2011 and have been keeping track ever since. This act is going places.
May 21 — Battlecross — Pub Rock Live
Battlecross is known for a solid mix of blue-collar thrash metal, down-to-earth attitude, and intricate riffs; imagine if Dragonforce and Children of Bodom had a love child. The band has steadily been rising in the metal scene for the last five years. Translation: Now is the time to go check them out. They just got off tour with Soulfly, Suffocation, and Lody Kong, and they are playing this show with Feed Her to The Sharks, Play For Blood, Paradiso Falls, Within The Throes, and Plague Spreader.
May 23 – Hatebreed – The Marquee Theatre
Between their aggressive chugging riffs and self-empowering lyrics, Hatebreed has always been known for bringing a new level of hardcore metal to the table. The band is heading out on tour to promote the May 13 release of their new album, The Concrete Confessional, and is finally heading through Phoenix again. They just released their first video for the album. Devildriver, and Devil You Know rounds out the bill.
May 23 – Pentagram – The Nile
Pentagram is known for an underground hardcore loyal fan base, and their packed mosh pits show it. Since the early '70s, Pentagram has been slowly solidifying their spot in the history of heavy metal, and in 2011 were brought to the forefront with the documentary Last Days Here, which detailed the trials of lead singer Bobby Liebling, and won “Best Music Documentary” at the International Documentary Film Festival in Amsterdam. Currently the band is touring to promote their 2015 album, Curious Volume.
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May 27 – Lamb of God – The Marquee Theatre
There’s always at least one band on the best heavy metal shows for the month that needs little to no introduction — and Lamb of God is it in May. LoG has not only been considered a major pioneer in the new wave of American heavy metal, but has routinely shown that they practice what they preach, from perseverance (like in the 2014 documentary As Palaces Burn, which follows the arrest of lead singer Randy Blythe on charges of committing intentional bodily harm after the concert death of a fan in Prague two years earlier), to the respectable stance of their politically and culturally charged lyrics. Clutch and Corrosion of Conformity get in the mix as well — quite the killer lineup.
May 27 – Otep – Joe’s Grotto
I’d be lying if I said Otep and I haven’t had some sort of attraction in the past — even if she was half-hidden behind one of her leather face masks. But here’s the thing: Otep sings, raps, headbangs, and rocks out to extremely relevant matters in gender, politics, society, and sexuality — and people are finally taking more notice. In April 2016 she released her new album, Generation Doom. You can also catch September Mourning, Doll Skin, and Through Fire on stage.
May 29— Holy Grail – Pub Rock
Pub Rock is the perfect place for this up-and-coming act and supporting bands. It’s intimate, yet roomy. It's also perfect for Holy Grail, because Holy Grail is on a mission. Formed in Southern California in 2008, this band has some mind-boggling six-string acrobatics, power shredding, a vast range of vocal melodies, and some killer drum skills. They’re all about combining old-school metal, death metal, and power metal, and then adding a sludgy layer of edgy breakdowns and modern melodies right on top. Tengger Cavalry, Savage Master, and few other special guests round out the mix.