Wednesday, June 3
This Swedish melodic metalcore act does an excellent job of balancing clean female vocals with harsher male voices on albums such as 2014’s Massive Addictive. A European pop songwriting sensibility lends a coat of gloss to the group’s groove-metal riffs, but it makes Amaranthe’s work an infectiously strong volley at the female-male vocal tradeoffs practiced by other melodic metal acts such as Lacuna Coil. Heavy use of electronic elements also gives Amaranthe more flavor than other acts attempting that balance.
Friday, June 5
A double bill of Bay Area acts promises an evening full of depressive doom metal. The two demos released by Oakland-based headliner Dispirit showcase a caustic take on the genre, with the black metal howls of guitarist/vocalist John Gossard projecting a scary level of agony. Lycus, also from Oakland, present a doom-laden trip that is shaken up with warm guitar tones and occasional forays into sludge and faster-paced black metal on albums such as 2013's Tempest. L.A. Weekly favorites Volahn open the night with their intense Mayan black metal.
Saturday, June 6
This show is appropriately billed as “Weapons of Mosh Destruction.” Bay Area greats Ghoul once named one of their albums Splatterthrash, a title that accurately summed up their gory tales of mass destruction told through thrash metal. O.C. grindcore greats Phobia have carved out a 25-year career as one of the most furious forces in the genre by cramming more riffs, blastbeats and screams into 40-to-60-second bursts than many musicians crank out in a lifetime.
Friday, June 12
North, Secrets of the Sky
These are two of the newer rising forces evolving the atmospheric post-metal genre popularized by acts such as Isis. Arizona group North's 2014 EP Metanoia gave fans of fellow post-metal acts like Pelican tasty new blood to sink their teeth into. Oakland's Secrets of the Sky is a moodier beast. Their new album Pathway has some post-metal traits, but layers of excellently executed gothic doom make for a darker and incredibly engrossing listening experience overall.
Friday, June 19
Formerly known as Wrath of Vesuvius, this San Jose act ups the ambition normally found in the deathcore blueprint on their newest record, self-titled under the new name. There are still several short, energetic bursts to be found, but WRVTH aims to expand the genre's sound with progressive forays and sprawling song structures, similar to those perfected by metal acts such as Between the Buried And Me and Intronaut. Guitarists Jeremy Larsen and Marcus Vasquez are impressive conduits of this ambition, inspiring equal amounts of moshing and tablature study.
Monday, June 22
This Washington trio’s name conjures up some ugly imagery, and their brand of blackened thrash metal is equally ugly in sound. Worshipping at the altars of Satan, sex and metal, Slutvomit conjures up unholy sounds on albums such as 2013’s Swarming Darkness. Guitarist M. Larson and bassist K. Sanberg trade off on distinct variants of snarling thrash vocals while discordant riffs move along at a manic, Satanic pace. Slutvomit is highly recommended for those who hear the phrase “black metal” and think of Venom instead of Mayhem.
Thursday, June 25
New Standard Elite Showcase
Ventura-based record label New Standard Elite specializes in death metal that is simple in its brutality. If you love guttural vocals, relentless death metal drumming, and guitar riffage that pays tribute to the early days of the genre, this label has you covered. This show spotlights the label’s international reach with performances from Australia’s Disentomb and Spain's Cerebral Effusion, as well as the label’s California roots with Redondo Beach’s Abhorration. All of the acts on the bill promise sheer, nonstop brutality, and deliver heartily on that promise.
Saturday, June 27
Terrorizer practically invented grindcore with their late '80s work, culminating in the genre mission statement that was 1989's World Downfall. The band broke up soon after, with guitarist Jesse Pintado and drummer Pete Sandoval reforming for Darker Days Ahead in 2006. Pintado passed away soon after, and Sandoval spearheaded one more album under the Terrorizer name with 2012's Hordes of Zombies. One piece of the puzzle missing from the reunions was vocalist Oscar Garcia, who refused to revisit his Terrorizer days, focusing solely on his work with follow-up act, deathgrinders Nausea, until a 2014 concert paying tribute to Pintado. Since then, he's fronted a new version of the band dubbed “Terrorizer LA” with fellow L.A. grindcore musicians, paying fantastic tribute to the music of his younger years.