Fri, Jan 4
Oakland's Neurosis have spent 25 years crafting haunting eight-to-ten minute opuses; their tracks slowly build until they explode in an emotional crescendo. Band leaders Scott Kelly and Steve Von Till tell harrowing tales of apocalyptic plagues and other disasters. The band only performs live once every few years, so this will be a rare opportunity to enjoy some of the most emotionally-crushing metal around.
Sat, Jan 5
This bill is loaded with talented Los Angeles metal bands, but we're most intrigued right now by the technical thrash of Exmortus. There is a more progressive bent to the musicianship on display here than from other newer thrash bands. When it's time to shred, however, guitarist/vocalist Conan puts together blazing solos that complement his guttural barks quite nicely, as on their 2011 album Beyond The Fall Of Time.
Sun, Jan 6
Castle, Behold! The Monolith
Castle's 2012 album Blacklands was a fantastic burst of Saint Vitus-inspired doom thrash. Their take on the doom metal sound doesn't revel in the slow dirges found elsewhere within the genre. Instead, Castle crafts hard rockers built around some of the catchiest riffs which, alongside the rasps of vocalist/bassist Elizabeth Blackwell, help the band stand out. Be sure to get there early for local favorites Behold! The Monolith.
Wed, Jan 16
Pantera frontman Philip Anselmo has worked on numerous projects since his famous group's demise. But his first love will always be Down. A collaboration with members of Crowbar, Corrosion of Conformity and Eyehategod, they've made their mark by cranking out metallic rock that packs much soul. There is a more laid-back Southern vibe to what they do, but there's still plenty of power here to get a pit going.
Fri, Jan 25
France's Gojira have been pummeling the ears of metalheads for the last decade with some of the most creative technical thrash laid to record. Their sprawling efforts are full of twists and turns, marrying the ultra-precision thrash of Meshuggah and the ambitious early '90s groove-thrash of Sepultura. Their 2012 album L'enfant Sauvage was particularly atmospheric.
Sat, Jan 26
Fear Factory, Prong
Industrial-thrashers Fear Factory burst out of the L.A. scene with 1992's Soul Of A New Machine and have built a 20-year career by expertly welding together death and thrash metal with mechanized industrial sounds and samples. New York's Prong also made their mark during that time, utilizing a slight industrial influence. They blended that influence, however, with their background in the late '80s hardcore scene and a more accessible groove-metal sound on songs like “Snap Your Fingers, Snap Your Neck.” Its 1995 again for one night at the Key Club.
Follow Jason Roche on Twitter @JasonRocheLAW.