When it rains, it pours — and that's exactly what you can expect from the metal gods this April in Phoenix. It's springtime, guys, and we're in that teeny-tiny window of gorgeous weather before triple digits start to slap us across the face. The Valley of the Sun is packed with activity this month, and that includes an array of metal bands jamming out all over town.
From local events like the Fxck Cancer Benefit and Tempe Metalfest, to legends like Unearth, Amon Amarth, and Prong, the metal scene may be prepared to melt your face off — but at least you have some cooler April breezes to enjoy. And who know? Let's hope all these April showers will bring even more metal in May.
April 6 — Nekrogoblikon with Pyschostick, Detox, and Infinite — Joe's Grotto
Nekrogoblikon is one of my favorite local concept bands. I mean c'mon — goblin metal? What's not to love? If you haven't seen them before, come check out this show, put on by K&Z Entertainment. It's a lovely mix of horror and metal, and maybe you can even snag the band's 2015 album, Heavy Meta, at the show. It's pretty amazing. After all, it "has not only been in the works for the last 49 years ... and in 1987, psychiatrists worldwide began prescribing audio snippets of the in-process album to patients in lieu of antidepressants, and by 2001 the album had gone secret platinum." My next request is that Nekrogoblikon schedule a show with Mac Sabbath and Okilly Dokilly ... just sayin'.
April 8 — That Damn Metal Show — Rockbar
I am totally digging how much metal Rockbar has been picking up as of late (plus, they have great whiskey deals and are serving food now). I guess heavy metal finally received Scottsdale's love letter. This show features Mesa quartet Souless, who came together in '07 to develop an aggressive rhythmic metal band which eventually evolved into a top local act. The Fowler brothers' songwriting is emotional and raw, driving real-life struggles through the music and adding a ton to their authenticity. Also on the bill is Lost In Lies, a groove-oriented metal band out of Phoenix who has shared the stage with everyone from Hemlock to Otep, New Years Day, and Battlecross. The bill is rounded out by Bleed The Fifth, Deathtrap, and Archetypes Collide.
April 8 — Amon Amarth — The Pressroom
While Amon Amarth might play into the "Viking metal" stereotype (seriously, one of the worst sub-genre categories ever), the Swedish melodic death metallers' music focuses on relevant topics (such as struggles Vikings overcame, and how that might relate to our current state) over a branding of style. Of course, when I saw them for the first time about 10 years ago, they were rocking out from a giant Viking ship surrounded by dry ice. But honestly, when your band is named after a volcano in J.R.R. Tolkien's Middle-earth, it works. About a year ago, the band parted ways with their drummer, Fredrik Anderson, after 17 years, and they released their 10th album, Jomsviking, last month. Supporting acts include Entombed A.D. and Exmortus.
April 9 — Killswitch Engage — The Marquee Theatre
Killswitch Engage has been close to my metalhead heart for years — each of its albums not only brings some fresh perspective to current musical landscape, but its talent never fails to evolve. Pulling influences from extreme metal, Gothenburg metal, New York hardcore, and thrash metal, Killswitch is known for positive, uplifting lyrics, soaring melodies, impressive double-bass drum patterns, crushing riffs, and power chords. Currently on tour to support their March 2016 album, Incarnate (the band's seventh studio album to date), the band doesn't just influence others via music — guitarist Adam Dutkiewicz is also helping develop groups as a producer. His credits include As I Lay Dying, Unearth, The Devil Wears Prada, and From Autumn to Ashes. This lineup is rounded out by a few of my other favorites, 36 Crazyfists, Memphis May Fire, and Toothgrinder.
April 16 — Broloaf, M.F. Ruckus, and more — Yucca Tap Room
While the bands on this lineup border more on punk rock than heavy metal, there's something to be said for the horns-up metal atmosphere that's bound to be the evening's focus. First off, it's a toga party. That's right. If you're wearing a toga, it's just $5 to get in. And this is all in honor of the release of Broloaf's second full-length album, Born to Party. Secondly, there's no way you won't be head banging with some of the bands on the bill. Broloaf meshes punk, thrash metal, and hardcore. MF Ruckus pulls influences from bands like AC/DC, Moorhead, and Iron Maiden. The Screaming Yeehaws are all about the honky-tonk punk rock. Scattered Guts are the token AZ stoner thrashers, while We Steal Copper is all about the punk rock. Eddie Jesus & The Blasphematics round out the bill.