Somehow, there's no sound that reflects Arizona quite as well as metal. It could be that the distorted guitars that are the genre's hallmark perfectly suit the simmering, unspoken inhumanity of living in a godforsaken desert, sucking up the finite, precious natural resources around us. Or it could just be a demographic thing. Who's to say?
Regardless, state 48 has proven a fertile ground for all sorts of heavy music, from stars like Alice Cooper and Maynard James Keenan to smaller bands like Destruction Unit and Holy Fawn. This summer, Phoenix will host a fantastic array of devastating music from all over the world. Here are just a few of the metal, punk, and hard rock shows coming to the Valley in the next few months.
Saturday, June 1
There’s something about drone metal that gives it an odd appeal outside the usual genre fandom. There’s just something relaxing and meditative about being pummeled by walls of distortion, and Olympia, Washington, band Earth — one-time members of the Sub Pop roster — are the perfect practitioners of the unique discipline. Regarded as one of the genre’s pioneers, their album Earth 2 set the stage for bands like Sunn O))) and Jesu to push the form further. They’ll play The Rebel Lounge this week with Helms Alee.
Tuesday, June 11
Hailing from Bordeaux, France, a city that was at one point occupied by actual Nazis, Neckbeard Deathcamp are weaponizing the language of the 4chan-happy alt-right to fight against them in the form of black metal. Their 2018 record, White Nationalism Is for Basement-Dwelling Losers, became the No. 1 album on Bandcamp days after its release thanks to very funny song titles like "Incel Warfare," "Please Respond (I Showed You My Penis)," and “The Fetishization of Asian Women Despite a Demand for a Pure White Race (Outro)."
In a way, it makes sense for a band like Neckbeard Deathcamp to exist. White supremacists have hid in punk and metal circles for so long that there are movies about the topic. With metal fans wanting to enjoy their music without being associated with Nazi cretins, an anti-fascist metal band had to come along at some point — we're lucky they're as cool and good as these guys. Fair warning: Based on recent activities by the Proud Boys in our area, you may want to come to this show ready to fight some right-wing freaks.
Coheed and Cambria, Mastodon, and Every Time I Die
Thursday, June 30
Here's one show where the headliner might not be the main attraction. Not to diss Coheed and Cambria, but their taste in openers might have gotten the better of them on this tour. In one corner, Atlanta heavy metal masterminds Mastodon will be celebrating the 10th anniversary of their LP Crack the Skye by playing the record in full. In the other corner, the excellent Buffalo, New York, post-hardcore band Every Time I Die, fronted by former English teacher, occasional Twitch streamer, and all-around cool dude Keith Buckley, will be laying down their literary, soul-searching brand of punk.
Saturday, July 27
Stepping into a Warped Tour-shaped hole in the festival market, Rockstar Energy Drink's Disrupt Festival will bring a smorgasbord of popular metal, nu-metal, metalcore, and punk bands to Ak-Chin Pavilion in July. The lineup is subject to change from city to city, but the Phoenix event, the penultimate chapter in the tour, will feature The Used, Thrice, Circa Survive, Sum 41, Sleeping With Sirens, Andy Black, Memphis May Fire, Meg & Dia, Juliet Simms, and Hyro the Hero.
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Sunday, August 4
Yes, Slipknot. You may be flashing back to your Hot Topic-lurking middle school edgelord days as you read this, but look, they wouldn't be playing Ak-Chin Pavilion in 2019 if they didn't still have some kind of appeal. Is it singer Corey Taylor's guttural, furious vocals? Is it their bizarre, creepy masks and the many members that wear them? Is it the way they channeled the angst, misanthropy, and self-hatred of a generation of suburban teens in the midst of the Bush era, or the dark, unexpressed id of middle America (and they would know, they're from Iowa)? Hell if we know, but that song they had on Guitar Hero III was pretty good! Also, Rihanna likes them apparently?
Slipknot will release their sixth studio album, WE ARE NOT YOUR KIND, later this year. Joining them on tour are a murderer's row of metal excellence. First, you'll get Gdansk, Poland, blackened death metal group Behemoth. Next, French progressive death metal act Gojira will continue the rampage. Finally, Copenhagen rockabilly/heavy metal outfit Volbeat, who may or may not be named after a Pokémon, will pummel the audience before Slippy comes out to deliver the final blow.
Tuesday, August 20
Like most things, the best metal comes from Japan. Named after a Melvins song, the trio of Atsuo, Takeshi, and Wata have been putting out incredible records since 1992, varying their style from awesome sludge anthems (Pink) to full-length ambient metal works (Flood) to collabs with harsh noise god Merzbow. They'll swing by Valley Bar in August in support of their new double album, LOVE & EVOL. It's their first release with Jack White's Third Man Records, which will also reissue their classic LPs Feedbacker and Akuma no Uta later this year.