Friday, August 2
This O.C. outfit eschews the usual SoCal metal influences. Instead, they take their cues from Scandinavian symphonic black metal acts like Dimmu Borgir and filter them through the progressive leanings of modern-day Opeth. Their 2012 debut full-length Blessed He With Boils is a musically ambitious effort pulled off with a dexterity that betrays their youth. The guitars and drums are viciously heavy, but the keyboard melodies explored in between blasts of mayhem are downright beautiful, lending an ethereal air to the proceedings.
Tuesday, August 6
Last Chance To Reason
One of the most musically diverse bands in metal today, Maine's Last Chance To Reason has dazzling musicianship that will please fans of progressive metal acts like Cynic and Animals As Leaders. They also expertly pepper in moshing-mad breakdowns to make fans of deathcore acts like Suicide Silence tear the place apart. The group's newest album Level 3 comes out the same day as this show. The group amps up the progressive parts, but there's still enough heavy to get everyone crashing into each other.
Thursday, August 8
One of the grimiest acts in today's L.A. metal scene, Harassor presents an uncompromisingly morbid vision of the world around them, on albums such as 2012's Hater of Man compilation. The album title pretty much says it all. The group's haunting slabs of filthy black metal are layered in crust and make for an almost suffocating listening experience. This show will see Harassor previewing tracks from their upcoming album Into Unknown Depths, due out later this fall.
Friday, August 9 and Saturday, August 10
The Power of the Riff Festival
The fourth annual installment of this fest expands to two days this year. There are many acts we are excited about — including local thrash legends Hirax and Seattle powerviolence madmen Iron Lung — but we are most stoked for headliners The Obsessed. After leaving doom-metal legends Saint Vitus in the '80s, vocalist Scott “Wino” Weinrich returned to his original band. The Obsessed put out three killer albums in the early '90s that were not as doomy or punk as Saint Vitus, but still rocked very heavily and carry great influence to this day.
Wednesday, August 14
Howl, Lord Dying
On their newest album Bloodlines, Providence's Howl delivers with bludgeoning force the same monstrous riffs that drove early efforts from Mastodon and High On Fire, but have a darker and more sinister aesthetic in their lyrical efforts. This makes them a perfect fit for tourmates (and labelmates) Lord Dying. The Portland group's debut Summon The Faithless is a caustic blend of heavy doom riffs and a dirty thrash grime. You can literally feel the sweat and dirt dripping off this one.
Sunday, August 18
The Funeral Pyre
Vocalist John Strachan has spent the last year as the new frontman for vitriolic hardcore greats Early Graves. On this night though, he returns to his original group, SoCal blackened-thrashers The Funeral Pyre. The roots of The Funeral Pyre are more grounded in traditional black metal, with not a single breakdown to be found. Albums such as 2010's Vultures At Dawn revel in blood-curdling mayhem. Strachan shreds his vocal chords so much that you wonder how he has any voice left.
Friday, August 23
One of our contenders for metal album of the year, Deafheaven's Sunbather is a wedding of beauty and beast. Outbursts of blasting black metal are tempered by gorgeous post-rock atmospherics. Drummer Daniel Tracy puts in what may be the finest percussion performance in metal this year. The screams of George Clarke would already be haunting on any other album, but the beauty of the shoegaze-inspired guitar work behind him just makes the entire framework just a little more chilling.
Monday, August 26
Finland's Wintersun put on a show last year that was one of our favorite sets of 2012. The incredible ambition of band leader Jari Maenpaa displayed on their 2012 album Time I translated very well to the live setting. His brand of melodic death metal is deeply layered. Folk metal influences and symphonic beauty are weaved in, amplifying the scope of what Wintersun pulls off. Sweeping guitar solos and tasteful keyboard work makes for one of the more spectacularly grandiose metal efforts in recent years.
Follow Jason Roche on Twitter @JasonRocheLAW.