The elder statesmen of the Phoenix scene in many ways and the first to get a fair amount of national/international attention. Everybody knows the story of how Jason Newsted left Flotsam & Jetsam to join Metallica in 1987 after their classic record Doomsday for the Deceiver was released, but what a lot of people don’t realize is that Flots (as they are often referred to by their fans and their peers) has continued to crank out one solid record after another for the past 30 years. Led by longtime mainstays Michael Gilbert and Eric “AK” Knutson, Flotsam & Jetsam is poised to release a new record next month and continue to build on their story.
4A) Sacred Reich
Thrash metal powerhouses and current crushers of the European festival circuit, Sacred Reich is one of the best and most consistent purveyors of heavy as fuck, killing your neck muscles, head banging brutality around. Bassist/Singer Phil Rind is always quick with disarmingly honest opinions and hammering bass lines, guitar players Jason Rainey and Wiley Arnett add a layer of guitar sound second to none in their field, and drummer Greg Hall is one of the most underrated drummers in heavy music. Put it all together and what you have is a god damned good time. If you don’t believe me, pick up a copy of their EP, Surf Nicaragua and see if don’t end up rocking the fuck out.
3) Rob Halford (Judas Priest, Fight, Halford)
I was once at a Taco Bell on 40th Street and Indian School in 1992 or so (I don’t think it is still there anymore either) and my friend and I realized we were in line behind Rob Halford. Instantly, we were fascinated and began eavesdropping to see what Halford’s order was because we had to know, when the only openly gay member of the NWOBHM (New Wave of British Heavy Metal) mafia runs for the border, what does he want? Halford has been a fixture in the local scene for a while and his contribution to the world of metal is arguably deeper than any other figure native or almost native to Arizona.
He ordered an enchirito, by the way. They don't even make them anymore.
2) Soulfly/Max Cavalera
There may be a time when Max Cavalera easily makes this list for eternity and regularly sits at number one. The guy just keeps adding more and more cool stuff to his rock and roll resume. Whether it is leading Soulfly now for 19 years or his time in Sepultura or his work on Nailbomb, Killer Be Killed, Cavalera Conspiracy, or any of his other collaborations, which are numerous, Cavalera continues to crank out quality music year after year. Soulfly shows are fun, too, which is always good. Cavalera has great stage presence and energy and truly loves what he is doing. His “Roots” are deep in our desert state and we are all much better off because of it. Rumor has it, in 2016, Cavalera is opening up a studio of his own for folks who want to try to capture some of his sound in their own projects.
1) Alice Cooper
While not a band all by himself, per se, but more of a goddamn legend, Alice Cooper is the most important figure in Arizona metal. An Alice Cooper concert is a spectacle and something any fan of people watching should make a point to take in before you cannot see Mr. Vincent Furnier (Yes, that’s right, “Alice Cooper” is a character and not a real person) any more. The diversity of his crowd resonates with a statement Heavy Metal Television’s Eric Braverman made in an another interview that “heavy metal is America’s music form of choice.”
Sure, Cooper’s music vacillates between straight up rock and roll, hard rock, and metal. There is even some pretty interesting takes on alternative rock here and there in his past. Ever see his 1984 film, Monster Dog? Cooper’s songs in that movie are out of leftfield and fun as fuck. Whether it is the classic hits like “I’m Eighteen” or “School’s Out” or something more obscure like “Spirits Rebellious” off of 2003’s The Eyes of Alice Cooper, Cooper always delivers the goods, even if it is occasionally covered in a fine layer of cheese.
The man’s influence in metal is legion. Would there be, for example, a Twisted Sister without Alice Cooper? How about his influence on a young Lemmy Kilmister (Motorhead) or on the more theatrical elements of black metal? No matter which way you slice it (or use a guillotine), Alice Cooper is the man.