If you are heading into Valentine's Day head over heels in reciprocated love, you can share the experience of tearing it up in the pit with the guy or girl you love at our picks for February's Best Metal Concerts in L.A. If you are saddened by a breakup or unreciprocated love, the shows below are a great place to experience a healthy catharsis in the pit.
Friday, Feb. 9
This co-headlining bill features two beloved European metal favorites, each with different approaches to the genre. Swedish power metallers Sabaton specialize in catchy anthems paying tribute to acts of heroism on the battlefield during the first and second World Wars, and hundreds of years of world history prior, most recently on 2016's The Last Stand. German thrashers Kreator were among the pioneers of the mid-’80s thrash movement, their mix of speed and fury on landmark albums such as 1986’s Pleasure to Kill spawning countless emulators in the years that followed.
Thursday, Feb. 15
During an era where heavy metal embraced over-the-top imagery, bodybuilding champion-turned-metal vocalist Jon Mikl Thor may have been the most shameless of them all, his shirtless live performances being as much a showcase for his muscles as his music. Albums released under the band name Thor – such as 1985's Only The Strong – were full of anthems that straddled the line between Van Halen and Manowar, but it was his nutzoid 1987 rock and roll horror film Rock N' Roll Nightmare that cemented his status as a cult icon. On this night, a live performance will follow a screening of the new Thor documentary, “THOR – Return of the Thunderhawk.”
Friday, Feb. 16
The city of Austin, Texas, has become a heavy metal hotbed these last few years on the strength of newer thrash acts such as Power Trip. Mammoth Grinder are another modern riff-slayer adding to the city's metallic legacy. Their latest record, Cosmic Crypt, is a nonstop whirlwind of mosh pit–inducing fury. The trio's sound is more rooted in a guttural, grinding crust-punk underpinning than bands from their scene that are breaking through, adding an extra layer of ugliness to their brand of headbanging mayhem.
Sunday, Feb. 18
The Regent Theater
The sound of late-’60s psychedelic rockers Coven isn't necessarily “metal” by modern standards, but their 1969 debut, Witchcraft Destroys Minds & Reaps Souls, was a seminal record in pushing to the forefront the overtly Satanic imagery of what would later become heavy metal. Vocalist Jinx Dawson’s haunting croons propelled dark odes to black masses, blood orgies and other sordid acts that would go on to scare the Christian right in the decades that followed, and inspire modern occult-rock acts such as Ghost and Blood Ceremony.
Monday, Feb. 19
U.K. doom-metallers Conan generate a thunderous din that is the aural equivalent of the muscular character that inspired the band's name. The word “power” in the phrase “power trio” is very accurate, as the swampy, sludgy epics on albums such as 2016's Revengeance revel in reverb and riffs that rumble through the listener's entire body in the live setting. Guitarist Jon Davis and bassist Chris Fielding trade off razor-gargling vocals while raining down some of the hardest-hitting doom in the genre today.
Thursday, Feb. 22
The Regent Theater
Greek metallers Septicflesh have carved out a 20-year career by embracing the more grandiose aspects of metal, leaning heavily into a Gothic-inspired symphonic black/death metal sound. The group's production and arrangements on their most recent record, 2017's Codex Omega, engulf the listener in a cacophony of over-the-top, hellfire-and-brimstone metallic insanity. Moments of operatic atmosphere and ornate orchestral instrumentation are but mere respites from an otherwise pummeling attack. The group's balance of musical beauty and metallic darkness would be equally at home in the darkened metal clubs and on a grander opera house stage.
Saturday, Feb. 24
Sumerlands, Eternal Champion
With these bands sharing two members, Philadelphia's Sumerlands and Austin's Eternal Champion surprised metal fans in 2016 with debut full-lengths that were a throwback to melodic heavy metal sounds and catchy hooks of the 1980s. The self-titled debut from Sumerlands was full of fist-pumping anthems that could have been credible B-sides to singles from Ozzy Osbourne's 1986 The Ultimate Sin. Eternal Champion's The Armor of Ire was a more galloping release, its fantasy-inspired thrashers appealing to fans of more lyrically adventurous acts such as Iron Maiden.
Monday, Feb. 26
Splatter-thrashers Exhumed embrace the bloodier side of the genre, most recently on their 2017 release, Death Sentence. Vocalist-guitarist Matt Harvey continues to lead the Bay Area bruisers in an onslaught of irreverent gore-grind mayhem, with recent years seeing the return of bassist-vocalist Ross Sewage in a reunion of the dual-vocal assault of the band's 1998 debut full-length, Gore Metal. The band's live shows remain an infectiously fun experience, the band's musical tributes to blood and guts enhanced by the presence of Dr. Philthy, a chainsaw-wielding maniac in surgical scrubs who terrorizes the band during their set.
Tuesday, Feb. 27
Black Label Society, Corrosion of Conformity
Zakk Wylde's bona fides as a beloved heavy metal guitarist were cemented in the early ’90s with his performance on beloved Ozzy Osbourne favorites such as 1990's No More Tears, and they’ve only been enhanced by his 20-year run as the leader of Black Label Society. Wylde's gravelly vocals and squealing guitars remain at the forefront of their newest release, Grimmest Hits. North Carolina sludge-rockers Corrosion of Conformity's newest record, No Cross No Crown, is boosted by the return of Pepper Keenan to vocal duties for the first time since the band's 2006 release, In the Arms of God.