Saturday, August 1
Maidens of Metal IV
This festival thrown by local promoters Metal Invictus is in its fourth year of celebrating talented women within the Los Angeles extreme metal scene. Harlequin stands out on this year’s lineup thanks to a vicious death-thrash attack that is anchored by the acidic growls of guitarist/vocalist Tawney Arredondo. Another local favorite on this year’s roster is Blade Killer. The group’s 2014 self-titled debut EP is a throwback to early ‘80s British heavy metal, with bassist Kelsey Wilson providing a galloping force that is heavily inspired by Iron Maiden great Steve Harris.
Tuesday, August 11
It has been two years since the release of this Texas crossover thrash outfit’s last album, Manifest Decimation. But the 35 minutes of furious venom contained on that record has remained rewarding after repeated listens. The band’s sound is rooted enough in thrash to appeal to those who think Metallica’s best album was Kill ‘Em All, but a caustic crust-punk edge is really what keeps the circle pit going at Power Trip’s live shows. The group’s unbridled attack inspires pitting that leaves everyone bloody, bruised and exhausted.
Wednesday, August 12
From 1995 to 2005, this Wisconsin group championed their primary interests of sludge-metal, weed, weed, and more weed into an abrasive sonic brew that was equally dense in riffage and marijuana smoke. Once you were able to cut through the haze, albums such as 1999's Stash showcased thickly laden sludge that rumbled through the listener's body, providing a powerfully heavy experience that left an afterglow well after the initial high wore off. Bongzilla reunited this year for live shows, but fans are hoping this high endures.
Friday, August 14
On their newest album Settler, New Hampshire’s Vattnet Viskar contorts many of the more atmospheric elements of progressive black metal and compacts them into four-to-five minute bites of harshness — a far cry from the sprawl of many acts in the genre. This is a harsh metal record, but the well-crafted moments of atmospheric shoegaze, post-hardcore riffs, post-rock riffs, and other “post-” stuffs scattered throughout help make it one of the most engrossing metal experiences of the year so far.
Wednesday, August 19
This Chicago experimental act jams together elements of progressive black metal, electronic noise, and expansive post-metal into an arduous musical journey on their newest record, Infinite Dissolution. The album features some of the most metallic work of the band’s decade-long career — we’re partial to the more blistering moments of tracks like “An Index of Air” — but the “KXL” three-part suite of noise interludes and proggy post-metal jam “The Future of Death” provide more to sink your teeth into after your initial listening experience.
Friday, August 21
Nails, Terrorizer LA
The last proper release from O.C. outfit Nails – 2013’s Abandon All Life – was 18 minutes of pure mayhem and fury, a punishing cyclone of grindcore, powerviolence, and no-frills hardcore. The ferocious delivery of vocalist/guitarist Todd Jones strikes with a sense of brutal nihilism that is impressive even in a scene known for nonstop pummeling. If the pit wasn’t already going to be bloody enough thanks to Nails, local legends Terrorizer LA will also be bringing their grindcore brutality to the stage on this particular evening.
Saturday, August 22
Shrine Expo Hall
Heavy metal icon Lemmy has battled health problems recently, but on early music from their upcoming album Bad Magic, Motörhead remains firmly committed to keeping everything louder than everything else. Despite a 2010 documentary’s attempts to demythologize Lemmy, and celebs being spotted wearing fashionable T-shirts bearing the band’s logo, Motörhead’s metal cred remains pure 40 years into their career. If that’s not enough old-school metal for you, ‘80s British metal greats Saxon have also stayed strong well into their advanced years.
Thursday, August 27
Whisky A Go-Go
This Finnish group has mastered the art of melodic death metal throughout their 15-year career. Their most recent album, 2014’s Shadows of the Dying Sun, showcases a band that perfected the art of impeccably crafted songwriting. The atmospheric clean vocals of guitarist Ville Friman and the haunting death growls of bassist Niilo Sevanen propel the band’s compositions to stand solidly alongside fellow countrymen such as Amorphis. They're not reinventing the wheel, but mastering existing blueprints is excellent enough in this case.