You spent the holidays sitting on your couch wolfing down Christmas cookies and eggnog. Now that the holidays are over, a sense of post-festive celebration malaise has kicked in. There's no better way to get off the couch, kick off your 2018 with a high-energy start, and sweat off the extra pounds than heading into the pit for the best metal shows coming to Los Angeles in January.
Show Your Scars Presents XFEST
Saturday, Jan. 6
The third annual Show Your Scars festival once again pays tribute to extreme metal legends of yesteryear. This year is headlined by a rare – and reportedly final – Los Angeles appearance from NYC thrashers Nuclear Assault. The group didn't receive the commercial success in their '80s heyday that fellow acts like Megadeth and Anthrax went on to experience, but their 1986 debut, Game Over, and other rippers resulted in a cult following that remains dedicated to this day. Other performers include SoCal thrash veterans Hirax, Portland speed metallers Toxic Holocaust, and Expulsion, a newer grindcore project featuring members of Repulsion and Exhumed.
Wednesday, Jan. 10
Whisky A Go Go
This Los Angeles metal act have weathered constant changeover in lineup since their 2007 formation. One thing that has remained constant, though, is band leader and bassist/guitarist Jon Leon's ability to deliver melodic metal headbangers overloaded with fast riffs and catchy choruses. White Wizzard's newest record, Infernal Overdrive, features Wyatt “Screaming Demon” Anderson returning to the band for the first time since 2011's Flying Tigers, his vocals providing a familiar underpinning to what promises to be another slab of hard-driving, fist-pumping metal anthems when it comes out on Jan. 12.
Sunday, Jan. 14
Whisky A Go Go
More than 30 years into their career, Fates Warning remain one of the most consistently dependable prog-metal bands in the genre. Their most recent record, 2016's Theories of Flight, was another in a long line of progressive-metal opuses that are expansive without descending into the over-indulgent excess that has plagued some of their contemporaries in recent years. Vocalist Ray Alder still remains one of the most underrated vocalists in metal, hitting soaring notes without crossing over into falsetto annoyance, with guitarist Jim Matheos continuing to excel at delivering solos that shine without overpowering the compositions of the songs themselves.
G3 with Joe Satriani, John Petrucci and Phil Collen
Friday, Jan. 19
The Orpheum Theatre
Conceived by guitarist Joe Satriani in the mid-1990s, the G3 tour is an annual showcase for instrumental heavy metal guitar to take center stage, with vocals few and far between, if any at all. Satriani – the mastermind behind instrumental shred-guitar classics such as 1987's Surfing With the Alien – headlines as he does every year. This year's lineup is bolstered by performances from John Petrucci of over-the-top prog-metallers Dream Theater and Phil Collen of Def Leppard. All of this will culminate in the inevitable all-star jam at the end of the night, resulting in an overload of face-melting riffs.
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Animals As Leaders
Wednesday, Jan. 24
Five days should be enough recovery time after G3 for heavy metal guitar aficionados to get bombarded with more guitar histrionics, this time from new-generation instrumental masters Animals As Leaders. Band leader and guitarist Tosin Abasi shares some of the same reference points as melodic shredders before him such as Steve Vai, but infuses his playing with more contemporary crunchy metal rhythm riffs. The band's most recent record, 2016's The Madness of Many, saw the band diving deeper into experimentation with jazz and electronica elements, but the metal guitar at the core of their sound remains prominent.
Thursday, Jan. 25
Abrasive hardcore giants Converge long ago cemented their bona fides with their 2001 breakthrough, Jane Doe. The band have continued to perfect a blend of hardcore that is as deeply layered in composition as it is loaded with heaviness capable of driving a pit into a violent frenzy, culminating in 2017's The Dusk in Us, a record some critics and fans are hailing as their best since that vaunted classic of years ago. Vocalist Jacob Bannon's caustic screams are still capable of stripping paint from the walls surrounding him, and guitarist Kurt Ballou still generates some of the most dizzying guitar work in all of heavy music.
Saturday, Jan. 27
Eddie Van Halen may have introduced the concept of shred-guitar to the masses with the guitar solo track “Eruption” on Van Halen's 1978 self-titled debut, but the early '80s saw then-teenage prodigy Yngwie Malmsteen push that burgeoning style of guitar-playing to a grandiose level by blending his training in classical music with heavy metal guitar to launch the neoclassical metal movement. Malmsteen has cycled through a revolving door of vocalists throughout his 30-year career and handled those duties himself at times, but it's his guitar style that has been the biggest influence on the metal genre since his debut.
Monday, Jan. 29
These Swedish masters celebrated their 30th anniversary this past year. Meshuggah have carved out an impressive career by cranking out album after album of angular, jarring, off-kilter metal that inspires ferocious headbanging while constantly keeping listeners guessing what the next riff is going to sound like. The band's combination of downtuned “chug” riffs and jazzlike signature changes make for a whirlwind of metallic mayhem, most recently on 2016's The Violent Sleep of Reason. Meshuggah's ability to masterfully replicate the chaos in a live setting would be awe-inspiring in itself, but vocalist Jens Kidman's discordant growls add another level of powerful pandemonium to the proceedings.