Friday, December 5
This Little Rock quartet is a fine example of a new breed of metal bands that are equally adept at exploring melancholia and beauty through their sound. On new album Foundations of Burden, Pallbearer infuses the slow-tempo doom-metal blueprint with dashes of psychedelia and beautiful guitar harmonies. The overall subject matter is still pretty depressing, but haunting solos with clean tones mix with crunchy riffs to reinforce the melancholia-meets-beauty mantra of the band.
Saturday, December 6
Led by Pantera frontman Philip Anselmo, this collaboration with past and present members of Corrosion of Conformity and Crowbar aims for more of a laid-back Southern vibe than their parent acts. The separate legacy Down have made for themselves continued to build this year with the release of the Down IV – Part II EP. Anselmo still proves very capable of maintaining a soulful rasp on the band’s efforts, but there are still plenty of sludgy riffs to get a pit going.
Monday, December 8
If the band name wasn’t a dead giveaway, this side project featuring members of Virginia metal mainstays like Municipal Waste and GWAR has two things on its mind – death metal and marijuana. New album From Wisdom to Baked features humorous odes to the green stuff with titles inspired by seminal death metal greats like Death and Gorguts. For example, Death’s “Crystal Mountain” becomes Cannabis Corpse’s “THC Crystal Mountain,” and so on.
Tuesday, December 9
Throughout their 20-year career, Opeth leader Mikael Akerfeldt has steered the group from death metal into becoming a full-blown, '70s-style prog-rock band. Their newest record Pale Communion continues this progression, with compelling soundscapes packed with riffs, string arrangements, and acoustic interludes. Akerfeldt is still very much in the prime of his career. If current European tour set lists are any indication, there will still be a few nods to the band's heavier days.
Thursday, December 11
This Midwest act impresses with how many different ways it fills the listener with a sense of dark dread on their newest album, Clawing Into Black Sun. It can be loosely categorized under the black metal umbrella, but there are also twists and turns down highways paved with bluesy sludge and depressive doom riffage. An edge of blackened atmosphere reigns supreme, whether their racket slows down to a crawl or gallops along at a faster speed.
Tuesday, December 16
Devin Townsend Project, Animals As Leaders
Canadian musician Devin Townsend’s main strength is writing infectiously catchy prog-metal, but he can also switch gears with blistering, blastbeat-laden riffs at the drop of a hat. His latest album Z2 is a double-disc opus showcasing his “Ziltoid the Omniscient” alter ego in a humorous rock opera about an extraterrestrial on an epic quest for galactic domination. Townsend’s live show will be a fun fit on this bill with L.A. Weekly favorites, instrumental prog-metal greats Animals As Leaders.
Thursday, December 18
These L.A. sludge-masters are celebrating their 10th anniversary with this show. We've devoted plenty of space in L.A. Weekly over the past few years to these guys, but for this show they are promising to dig deep and highlight some cuts going back to their early days as well. The group has always pushed the boundaries of sludge-metal with intricate progressive arrangements, from their 2005 debut EP Null up through last year’s sublime Habitual Levitations.
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Friday, December 26
Whisky A Go Go
This Bay Area thrash act continues to be one of the most consistently excellent bands in metal as they approach the 30-year mark in their career. The band has a deep treasure trove of cuts to choose from when they perform live these days, with a fantastic trio of albums during their original run from 1987 through 1992, and a superb set of four additional albums — most recently 2013’s The Dream Calls For Blood — since their reformation in 2004.