Wednesday, November 6
Scale The Summit
The majority of instrumental metal projects are forgettable upon completion of the first listen. Houston's Scale The Summit, however, rises high above the glut of mediocrity and leaves an impression with the instrumental work on their newest record, The Migration. The group's musicianship is impeccable and brings out the Musicians' Institute crowd, but it's their songcraft that leaves a mark with casual listeners. Melodic riffs stay in your head, and every idea presented is fleshed out enough to remain fresh upon repeat listens.
Friday, November 8
Two distinct brands of doom metal will be on display at this show. Seattle's Samothrace builds their sound on guitar work that resembles blues riffs slowed down to one-tenth the speed with a wall of distortion on every sound –musical and vocal– emitted. The brand of doom by Salt Lake City's SubRosa's is more experimental and artistically-minded, with elements of folk music blended in through the use of two electric violins. Both bands bring their own qualities to the genre, but both succeed equally in challenging the boundaries of what doom metal can be.
Saturday, November 9
Lightning Swords of Death
This black metal quintet may hail from Los Angeles, but the cacophonous sounds produced on their most recent album Baphometic Chaosium call to mind the deepest, darkest corners of Scandinavia. The caustic screams of vocalist Autarch enhance the demonic chaos pushed forward by the band. The guitar duo of Roksva and Inverted Chris put together some of the finest hooks found in metal this year. The group's work as a whole is free of the more progressive-leanings black metal has been drifting towards the last few years.
Tuesday, November 12
This group's 2013 effort Rites of Separation is a fantastic slab of melodic death metal and a worthy addition to the long-proud legacy of the Gothenburg scene that birthed acts such as Dark Tranquillity. This isn't just a rehash of prior bands though, as the band also integrates moments of gothic doom –think the early days of U.K. greats like Paradise Lost– and the epic slow-burning builds of post-metal like Pelican to breathe new life into a genre that has mostly been spinning its wheels lately.
Saturday, November 23
Every weekend, there are plenty of events in the L.A. area that combine music and art into a single night out. The attempts at doing this with metal have been few, but new booking group Midnite Collective –an evolution of local promoters Ear/Splitters– is aiming to give metalheads an art/music night of their own. Chico sludge-doom upstarts Amarok will provide the sounds of dissonance from the stage for the headbangers, while art enthusiasts peruse work from up-and-coming artists in the underground scene.
Saturday, November 23
Church of Misery
The serial killer-obsessed stoners from Japan returned this year with their newest work, Thy Kingdom Scum. The band continues to perfect their shockingly engaging formula of swamp-fueled sludge doom infused with some of the finest blues-metal jamouts this side of Black Sabbath's glory days. The band's lyrics are about some of the most horrifying acts ever committed by man, but the psychedelic freakouts contained in the music make the proceedings a palatable pill to swallow.
See also: The Top 30 Heavy Metal Songs Inspired By Horrific Acts Committed By Man's Inhumanity To Man
Wednesday, November 27
In the spring of 2012, Swedish melodic death metal pioneers Opeth went on tour with Georgia prog-sludge rock masters Mastodon. Earlier this year, Vancouver quintet Anciients released their debut album Heart Of Oak. The album sounds like the perfect marriage of the first two bands referenced. The riffs are just as heavy and hooky as those from Mastodon, with melodic ambitions, and heavy/clean vocal arrangements that call to mind some of Opeth's best moments. It's pretty heady stuff for a debut record, but the whole ends up being so much greater than just the sum of the band's influences.
Friday November 29
These death metal pioneers disappointed critics and fans alike with their 2011 comeback album Illud Divinum Insanus. But that misfire has not dulled the edge and influence of landmark genre albums like 1993's Covenant, which will get played in its entirety for this show. A major-label attempt at bringing death metal to the masses, Covenant didn't quite do that. But the band made the most of their major label budget, with guitarist Trey Azagthoth producing some of the most enduring riffs and notes played in death metal to this day.
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