Sat, Feb 2
Many metal fans think that the Bay Area's Testament belong next to metal's "Big Four" (Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth, and Anthrax). Indeed, classic albums like The Legacy and newer output like 2012's Dark Roots of Earth provide strong evidence for this argument. In the live setting, Chuck Billy's vocals are just as ferocious as ever. Old-school thrash fans will also be pleased with support acts Overkill and Flotsam and Jetsam.
Wed, Feb 6
The 2010 death of vocalist Makh Daniels left stung Early Graves. On 2012's Red Horse, John Strachan (also of L.A.'s The Funeral Pyre) stepped in with his own brand of vocal venom. The band's grimy blend of blackened thrash and hardcore is a strong backdrop for Strachan to shred his vocal chords. The result is 33 minutes of pure vitriol that is impossible to not mosh to.
Thu, Feb 7
Fuck The Facts
Ottawa's Fuck The Facts are often classified as grindcore, but the current incarnation of the group is much more ambitious than that classification suggests. While there are still some of the blastbeat-ridden short bursts that populate the genre, Fuck The Facts also pushes its boundaries, with bludgeoning opuses that can run from four to seven minutes. Guitarist Topon Das lays down dazzling guitar work that would be equally at home on proggy tech-death rippers.
Fri, Feb 8
We've already raved about the awesomeness of Enslaved, but support act Pallbearer is equally compelling. The Little Rock quartet hit the ground running with their 2012 debut Sorrow and Extinction; Pallbearer infuses the Saint Vitus doom blueprint with dashes of psychedelics and beautiful guitar harmonies. The result is an atmosphere that is almost uplifting -- a word rarely associated with doom metal. We recommend getting there early for dark Southern-rockers Royal Thunder.
Sun, Feb 17
Graveyard, The Shrine
Sweden's Graveyard have spent the last few years leading a new wave of bands that recall early '70s metallic blues rock like early Black Sabbath and Deep Purple. On their 2012 album Lights Out, the group accentuates their already successful formula, with vocalist/guitarist Joakim Nilsson going slightly darker on his vocals. No death growls or blastbeats to be found here, but it's still evil sounding stuff. Show up early for thrashy L.A. skate-punkers The Shrine.
Fri, Feb 22
Finland's Turisas play a brand of symphonic metal called "Battle Metal." Albums like 2011's Stand Up and Fight are loaded with soaring orchestral arrangements and choruses that call for you to raise your first in the air and chant for blood. Greece's Firewind plays a more traditional strain of European power metal, anchored by the scintillating guitar work of Ozzy Obsourne guitarist Gus G. His playing on albums such as 2012's Few Against Many is the reason why Gus G. scored the Ozzy gig.
Sat, Feb 23
Outside of a brief 15-minute teaser set at Metal Blade's 30th anniversary party, this will be the first performance in L.A. from '80s Phoenix thrashers Sacred Reich in 16 years. Sacred Reich's lyrical focus on socio-political issues helped them stand out from the rest of the late '80s thrash pack. The group has reunited for one-offs and festivals since their 2000 split, but L.A. fans finally have another opportunity to shout along with tracks from their classic albums like 1987 debut Ignorance.
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