5. Dragged Into Sunlight
Saturday, July 16
This U.K. act is one of the more unpleasant-sounding bands in heavy music. Of course, in the world of extreme metal, that’s a good thing. Dragged Into Sunlight cake their sludgy riffs in suffocating layers of caustic grime, most evident on their 2012 album Widowmaker. The noisy collages that the band put together invoke a sense of impending doom and dourness that only grows throughout each composition. The overall atmosphere is reminiscent of the more dirgelike tracks of ’90s U.K. industrial greats Godflesh, but the ugly distortion and drone of the guitar riffs, the power of the crashing cymbals and drums and the bloodcurdling screams of the vocalist known simply as “T.” are well-rooted in death and black metal.
Wednesday, July 20
This heavy quartet is one of the shining beacons of L.A.’s ever-evolving stoner-doom scene. Last year’s Cult of Bathory EP is an example of every hallmark of the genre executed perfectly. The heaviness put forth by guitar and bass duo Dave K. and Tom Harris balances equal parts sludgy, headbanging boogie, body-rumbling power and shred dexterity. Drummer Chris Hannan rains down hard with full force on each drum hit, whether the song is slowing down or speeding up, his playing at times almost resembling riffs themselves, and vocalist Ted Venemann roars with mighty bellows that rumble through the speakers. Overall, Yidhra deals out a thunderous concoction of stoner-doom that will shake you to your knees.
Friday, July 22
[related stories]This SoCal group’s newest record, You Will Never Be One of Us, is a strong contender for the angriest album of 2016. The group’s sound is rooted in no-frills hardcore, but their output is amplified by a venomous buzzsaw musical attack that has more in common with the most vicious corners of the grindcore genre. Vocalist/guitarist Todd Jones delivers his lyrical vitriol with spitting ferocity and a sense of brutal nihilism that is awe-inspiring even in a scene known for nonstop pummeling. The 21-minute running time of the band’s new album is rather brief, but the constant barrage of angry barks and angrier riffs is the aural equivalent of a single-round UFC fight where punches are thrown right from the opening bell, and though it ends in an early knockout, the audience — and fighters — are exhausted.
2. Black Twilight Circle Fest
Friday, July 1
Eschewing the traditional extreme metal tropes of Satanism and misanthropy, the dozen Los Angeles metal musicians who make up the Black Twilight Circle roster turn to their Mayan and Aztec heritage for lyrical and musical inspiration. On their 2015 album Aq’Ab’Al, Volahn temper the grime of their discordant black metal with moments inspired by traditional Mexican ranchera guitar and ancient Mayan flute compositions. The inspirations on Blue Hummingbird on the Left’s 2010 EP Bloodflower are fully grounded in Aztec history, but the music is short, three-minute bursts that resemble the rawer sound of first-generation black metal acts such as Venom. Shataan’s new album, Weigh of the Wolf, features tortured, shouted vocals layered over noisy black metal riffs and frenzied flute playing, at times resembling a metallic acid trip gone bad.
Sunday, July 24
While these British metal legends lay dormant from their 1995 breakup to their 2008 reunion, hundreds of bands took inspiration from their influential work. Goregrind wannabes slavishly mimicked the blood-and-guts mayhem of the band’s early work on albums such as their 1988 debut Reek of Putrefaction. Pretenders to the melodic death-metal throne cribbed intricate riffs from the guitar harmonies on the band’s 1993 landmark album, Heartwork. In 2013, their reunion finally culminated in a new Carcass album, Surgical Steel. The record reinforced the group’s legacy as purveyors of a unique brand of metal. Songs such as “Thrasher's Abattoir” and “Cadaver Pouch Conveyor System” melded the spectacular guitar harmonies of Heartwork with some of the band's goriest lyrics since the early days. It was as if the previous 18 years of mediocre pretenders had never happened.