Saturday, January 3
Excruciating Terror flew the death metal and grindcore flags high in the mid-‘90s Los Angeles metal scene. Their two albums — Expression of Pain and Divided We Fall — were two of the most relentlessly brutal albums to come out of L.A. during that time. Live shows since their 2013 reunion have seen the old faithful fans join forces with new blood to create ultra-violent mosh pits. If you are still in desperate need of sweating out your New Year’s hangover, this show should do the trick.
Friday, January 9
A couple of years ago, some photos of bands performing with hollowed-out amps and cabs as stage props went viral. This husband-and-wife sludge metal duo from Georgia answers the question of what it would sound like if all of those amps were plugged in. The blast radius from their thunderous din shakes bones and rattles teeth. Though new album District of Dystopia is more in the grindcore vein, the power Jucifer puts out will still surely test the limits of Complex’s sound system.
Friday, January 16
The ghosts of Los Angeles noise past and present collide at this show. ACxDC presented a darkly satirical take on the chaotic powerviolence sound with last year’s Antichrist Demoncore, blending social commentary with buzzsaw levels of aggression. Nausea — led by Oscar Garcia, frontman of ‘80s grindcore pioneers Terrorizer — has been a staple of L.A.’s extreme metal scene off-and-on since the late ‘80s, but last year’s excellent death-grind opus Condemned to the System was the culmination of a years-long ascendancy towards a higher and more consistent profile.
Saturday, January 17
Death metal doesn’t get much more pure than the strain put out by these Pennsylvania titans. Guitarist and current vocalist John McEntee remains the only original member from the band’s landmark 1992 debut Onward to Golgotha, but he has kept the band on a straight line in their mission of putting out ugly-sounding, cacophonous death metal. Their newest release Dirges of Elysium continues on this path, with McEntee shredding greatly on guitar and shredding his vocal cords even further.
Thursday, January 22
House of Blues Sunset Strip
When Periphery burst onto the scene in 2010 out of the Washington, D.C., they were pigeonholed as leaders of the “djent”-metal movement — look up the meaning of “djent” here. But as the years have gone by, the group has extended their sojourns into more melodic, progressive metal. Their two new albums coming out at the end of January, Juggernaut: Alpha and Juggernaut: Omega, still feature plenty of chugging Meshuggah-style riffs, but the trips on the melodic side make the long haul a more complete and rewarding experience.
Friday, January 23
Night Demon, Skull Fist
Bullet belts and leather jackets will be flying at this show co-headlined by two newer bands that worship at the altars of classic ‘80s metal acts like Iron Maiden and Diamond Head. Local boys Night Demon’s first proper album Curse of the Damned is full of hard-driving riffs and shout-along metallic anthems. Canadian act Skull Fist excelled at the same combination of fist-pumping heaviness and warm production on last year’s Chasing the Dream, emulating the greats that arose from the early ‘80s New Wave of British Heavy Metal explosion.
Friday, January 30
Five Star Bar
Bay Area trio Castle can be considered part of the same wave of female-fronted occult metal acts like the now-defunct The Devil’s Blood and Blood Ceremony. Their stab at the genre on albums like 2014’s Under Siege, however, is more rooted in the heavier hesher doom/thrash scene that the Bay Area sustains so well. The deep rasps of vocalist/bassist Elizabeth Blackwell provide considerable heft to the Sabbath-y riffage provided by her husband, guitarist Mat Davis.
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Saturday, January 31
To genre neophytes, Mayhem may be best known as the Norwegian black metal band whose guitarist Euronymous was murdered in 1993 by Varg Vikernes, lead singer of fellow black metal act Burzum. But after that incident, Mayhem put the pieces together to form a career built out of stellar — though intermittent — black metal releases, with 2014’s appropriately titled Esoteric Warfare continuing the group’s onslaught of abrasiveness. Vocalist Attila Csihar reaches deep into the bottom of his lungs to summon some of the most demonic sounds to hit a record this year.