Heavy metal and beer have long been comfortable bedfellows. Indeed, in Metallica's early days, they dubbed their drinking alter egos "Alcoholica." As satisfying and cathartic as it is to jump into the mosh pit at a metal show and crash into all of the other bodies around you, there is also something to be said for hanging in the back, throwing the horns up with one hand and holding a beer triumphantly in the air with your other hand after taking a healthy swig.
Los Angeles heavy metal fans will get ample opportunities to do just that when the Decibel Metal & Beer Fest makes its Los Angeles debut on Saturday, Dec. 1, and Sunday, Dec. 2, at the Wiltern. The festival — organized by heavy metal print publication Decibel Magazine — has taken place the last three years in Philadelphia, and equally celebrates heavy metal and craft beer.
The Los Angeles installment is headlined by performances from Bay Area thrashers Testament and European dark metallers Triptykon performing a special set of tracks from band leader Thomas Gabriel Fischer's influential act Celtic Frost. Performances by other greats, such as U.K. industrial pioneers Godflesh, Texas thrash metal upstarts Power Trip and L.A. death metal rippers Skeletal Remains, will reverberate throughout the Wiltern as attendees sample beer from local craft favorites, including Inglewood's Three Weavers Brewing Company and Gardena's Phantom Carriage Brewery, as well as micro-brews from around the country such as Colorado's Left Hand Brewing.
With tickets on sale now and anticipation among metal fans and beer fans being stirred, we feel that now is an appropriate time to take a trip down memory lane for the best times that love for beer has been expressed through the power of heavy metal.
10. Municipal Waste, "Beer Pressure"
Virginia crossover thrashers Municipal Waste have carved a career cranking out blistering, fast-paced odes to partying, pizza, horror movies and, of course, alcohol-fueled escapades. The lyrics for this track from their 2007 record, The Art of Partying, call for “Death to being sober!” and are wrapped around a dialogue-based skit with drinking buddies trying to convince a friend to join them for a drink or two, which inevitably becomes more beers than that, but with the happy ending of the friend thanking them for a fun night out.
9. Tank, "Blood, Guts and Beer"
U.K. metallers Tank were one of many acts to ride the wave of the early-1980s NWOBHM (New Wave of British Heavy Metal) moment. Their 1982 debut, Filth Hounds of Hades, was full of catchy melodic metal anthems that stood alongside other bands of that era, but “Blood, Guts and Beer” is arguably the best beer-fueled track of the time period, simply explaining the three things that inspire Tank's metal mayhem.
8. Abigail, "Beer! Metal! Sex!"
Japanese blackened thrashers Abigail long ago cemented their bona fides as one of the most prolific — and filthiest — acts in extreme metal. Their lo-fi thrash din has propelled the band's lyrical obsessions with the most salacious and sordid aspects of sex, heavy metal and Satan throughout several dozen EPs and split releases in their 25-year career. Beer joins the equation in this closing track to their 2005 full-length, Ultimate Unholy Death.
7. Tankard, "Space Beer"
Over the course of 30 years, German thrashers Tankard have literally generated about two dozen beer-themed tracks that all could have been candidates for this list. For this feature, we went with “Space Beer” from 1990's The Meaning of Life. The track is a ripper with lyrics that are optimistic about the benefits of beer that is scientifically brewed in outer space, prophesying that space-brewed beer may decrease hangovers and increase virility while maintaining a proper level of drunkenness. In a modern world full of pessimism, we applaud the optimism of this track.
6. Korpiklaani, "Beer Beer"
Finnish metallers Korpiklaani embrace the more eccentric folk-metal aspects of the genre, alternating between English and Finnish lyrics, and incorporating traditional Finnish orchestration from violins, accordions and woodwind instruments amid the metal guitars and drums that form the base of their sound. A universal language that unites the colliding musical and generational cultures is that of beer. Shouts of “Beer! Beer! I want beer, from beer I get really drunk!” on this track from 2005's Voice of Wilderness transcend all nationalities.
5. Pig Destroyer, "Iron Drunk"
D.C. grinders Pig Destroyer deliver nihilistic metal beat-downs that are reinforced by a rather caustic lyrical wit and the paint-stripping throaty bellows of vocalist J.R. Hayes, all of which will be equally harsh live when the band performs on day one of the Decibel Metal & Beer Fest. This track from 2012's Book Burner is a brief bludgeoning, clocking in at a minute 43 seconds, but it gets straight to the point of the miraculous acts a drunkard can pull off once enough beer has washed down his gullet:
Someone breaks a chair
On his head
And he just gets more pissed
He throws some Russian guy
Through the window
He can't be controlled
He's jumping over the bar
He's putting his mouth
Right under the tap
Cops have been called
Doesn't matter at all
4. Trappist, "No Corporate Beer"
This Los Angeles trio's debut record, Ancient Brewing TacticsNew Wave of British Heavy Metal, came out only a month ago, but they have already become a favorite of hardcore thrash fans and beer enthusiasts — and a perfect fit when they perform on day one of the Decibel Metal & Beer Fest — thanks to their championing of independent beer through the power of mosh-worthy musical fury. Every track from this group — consisting of members with stints in veteran acts such as Despise You, Crom and Spazz alongside Grill 'Em All co-founder Ryan Harkins — is a tribute to their favorite microbrews and the brewing process. This track, a take-down of mass-market beer similar to anti–major label screeds of hardcore's past, is the ultimate mission statement of the band's intentions.
3. Wehrmacht, "The Beer Is Here/Drink Beer Be Free"
Wehrmacht was Portland, Oregon's contribution to the 1980s crossover thrash scene, which combined the speed of hardcore punk with the power of thrash metal. Irreverent lyrics and furious speed saw the band standing alongside contemporaries of the time such as Venice icons Excel and fellow Northwest splatter-thrashers The Accused. This track from Wehrmacht's appropriately titled 1989 record, Biermacht, is a subversion of the political hardcore songs of the 1980s, framing the topics of war and bloodshed as inconveniences that get in the way of drinking beer, exemplified by the band's shout of “Draft beer, not me!”
2. Cycle Sluts From Hell, "I Wish You Were a Beer"
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This early-’90s metal act was an early beneficiary of the rise of Beavis and Butt-head to pop-culture prominence, as this video was an early example of the animated duo's music video commentaries. Cycle Sluts From Hell consisted of four female vocalists with vivid stage names such as Venus Penis Crusher and She Fire Ice, backed by a band playing faster-paced riffs that would have been at home on a White Zombie record of the era. While the NYC band's place in metal history is still primarily for a single self-titled album gimmick band, the group's ode to wishing that the poser boys they encountered during their hard-partying nights were beers instead ensured that they had at least one memorable favorite among those tuning in see what high-jinks Beavis and Butt-head were getting into that night.
1. Alestorm, "Drink"
Scottish metallers Alestorm have cornered the market on the “pirate metal” genre, mining tales of treasure-seeking, ship-pillaging, beast-conquering marauders at sea for the last decade on albums such as 2008's Captain Morgan's Revenge and 2017's No Grave but the Sea. The ultimate band for those who equally love heavy metal and the Pirates of the Caribbean film series, Alestorm's output is full of catchy, metal-fueled pirate sing-alongs. In addition to the topics mentioned earlier, the legendary drinking escapades of pirate lore also heavily factor into Alestorm's lyrical aesthetic. This track — from 2014's Sunset on the Golden Age — briefly references tales of conquest and shipwrecks at sea, but at the end of the day all of those adventures are framed with the premise that every voyage to the seas is fueled simply by a desire for alcoholic conquest, “’cause we are here/to drink your beer!”