The six best metal shows in Denver this month
Testament at the Summit Music Hall is one of the six best metal shows in February.
So you like your music hard and heavy, do ya? Good news: You're in for some serious brutality this month. There's a ton of shows happening in February, all of which are listed in our concert calendar, but here, we've singled out the six best metal shows in Denver (well, one in Colorado Springs). Whatever your proclivity, you got everything from old school thrash to doom to just sheer heaviness to look forward to, shows from Testament at the Summit Music Hall to Pallbearer at the Marquis to Neurosis at the Summit and a few others. Keep reading which six shows made the cut.
Formed in Springfield, Massachusetts, in the mid-'90s, Shadows Fall began as a melodic death-metal band with some roots in hardcore. But around the turn of the century, the outfit took decisive steps to escape a genre rut, and the result was 2002's The Art of Balance, which served as a bracing statement of the group's then-new phase of development. While not ditching melodic leads, the core songwriting explored a deeper immersion in thrash. In 2009, Shadows Fall established its own label, Everblack Industries, in time for the release of Retribution. Fire From the Sky, its latest effort, explores eschatological themes that are very much in vogue with the end of the Mayan calendar. But the songs are more about cutting out the dead weight in your life than about a literal end of days.
Doro Pesch was the charismatic frontwoman of the popular German heavy metal band Warlock in the 80s. She was the first woman to front a band at the 1986 Monsters of Rock festival. Her stirring, sometimes animalistic wail had a power and confidence rare in anyone at that time. Warlock split in 1989, two years after its final, and perhaps best, album, Triumph and Agony. Since then, Pesch has embarked on a successful career making music with a band called, naturally, Doro, beginning with her 1989 album, Force Majeure. Last year, Pesch and company put out their latest album, Raise Your Fist. With the recent return of classic metal as a touchstone for modern bands, Doro Pesch is starting to get her proper due as one of the singular voices of heavy metal.
Testament is one of the bands that you can make a strong case for expanding the Big 4 to the Big 5. The Bay Area act was part of the original thrash movement, which fused the precision and savagery of speed metal with the intensity of hardcore punk. For nearly three decades, Testament has been putting out some of the most consistently interesting heavy music anywhere, even in the face of lineup changes. Distinguishing itself from its peers with Chuck Billy's musical vocals and a guitar team that excels at slashing rhythms and tastefully blistering leads, Testament's songwriting has always seemed to find new ways of making brutal music haunting. Even when the general music audience turned its back on much of metal in the early '90s, outfits like Testament continued to thrive because its popularity never relied on fashion statements and trends. (Overkill and Flotsam & Jetsam are also on this bill.)
Al Cisneros and Chris Haikus of Sleep formed OM in 2003, making music that was both heavy and which drew on the techniques of archaic, meditative music. With a simple and early formula of bass and drums, OM's hypnotically repetitive exercises in sound seem to tap into that resonant frequency of the Earth itself by intuitively extrapolating its own rhythms. Haikus left the project in 2008 and Emil Amos of the like-minded Grails and psychedelic band Holy Sons has been the drummer ever since. Last year's Advaitic Songs makes the connection with traditional Arabic song structure and atmospherics more explicit and haunting.
Pallbearer came out of the underground metal scene of central Arkansas. The band was formed in 2008 by bassist Joseph D. Rowland and guitarist and vocalist Brett Campbell, who had been playing together in SPORTS, an outfit that perhaps unintentionally upped the ante on Jucifer's own extensive use of amps on stage. For this project, Rowland and Campbell pared back to the essentials but further explored the psychedelic and atmospheric possibilities of heavy music. With clear nods to the likes of Black Sabbath and Sleep, Pallbearer weaves unconventional melodies and extended hooks from dense, low-end guitar sounds. The group's latest release, 2012's Sorrow and Extinction, also reveals a band that does more than dabble in the haunting, minimal yet expansively layered composition style of Popol Vuh.
Starting out as a hardcore band inspired by the likes of Amebix, Neurosis has, for nearly three decades, been a foundational band in its own right, having shed any obvious influences by the time of its epochal 1992 album, Souls at Zero. Over the course of the rest of its career, Neurosis didn't just take doom metal in an interesting direction, it brought together ideas from industrial music, neo-folk and avant-garde film to create a live experience of vivid images and sounds like a living, breathing, dreamlike, sometimes nightmarish, dark, gritty psychedelia of often mythological proportions. Records like 1996's Through Silver in Blood and 1999's Times of Grace practically served as a blueprint for most of the inspired experimental metal for the next decade. Touring for its latest release, 2012's Honor Found in Decay, Neurosis makes a rare and long overdue appearance in Denver, its first in over a decade.
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