The ten best metal shows in Denver this April
Kvelertak formed in 2007. Completely disregarding a line between metal and punk, the Stavanger, Norway-based act brings the sonic intensity and violent and frayed dynamics of bands like Breather Resist. The band's song "Mjød" appeared in the end credits for the 2010 film Trollhunter, and the group's latest record, Meir, was produced by Converge's Kurt Ballou. You may not understand the band's lyrics, but there is no mistaking the group's knack for melding chaos and precision.
Starting life as City Kidd, Tesla already had a recording contract before taking on the new name and completing its 1986 debut album, Mechanical Resonance. Upon its release, that album was one of the few hard rock albums to cross over into a fully mainstream audience. The Sacremento-based act's song "Modern Day Cowboy" was a sharp critique of the international political climate of the day. And these guys might have remained a bit of a cult band if not for both 1989's Great Radio Controversy and its unexpected string of hits, followed up by the curious, yet incredibly well-timed Five Man Acoustical Jam album in 1990, which catapulted the group into the mainstream.
One of the original Bay Area thrash bands, the formal existence of Exodus actually predates that of the other bands of the movement by about a year. Founded by four friends including then and current drummer Tom Hunting and guitarist Kirk Hammett, the band started off with covers of bands out of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal. After a couple of line-up changes, including Hammett leaving the group to be in Metallica, Exodus developed its signature sound. The power of the line-up was vividly captured on its classic 1985 debut album, Bonded By Blood, and has proved an enduring influence on thrash bands since. The band's 1989 album, Fabulous Disaster, broke the band to wider audiences through heavy airplay of the music video for "Toxic Waltz" on MTV's Headbanger's Ball. After a couple of hiatuses in the 1990s, Exodus returned seemingly with a vengeance. (Anthrax, High On Fire, Municipal Waste and Holy Grail are also on the bill for this stop of the Metal Alliance tour.)
Originally called the Mob, the group wisely chose a new name before releasing its first full-length, the concept album The Warning. Unlike many other bands that have tried their hands at concept albums, these guys seem to have put more thought into what they had to say and express without the letting the topical inspiration trump the long-term relevance of the lyrics. This side of the band's music perhaps reached its apex with the brilliant 1988 release, Operation: Mindcrime, a dark and fully realized exploration of political dirty work written from a personal perspective. The band found its greatest commercial success with 1990's Empire and a string of singles, including "Silent Lucidity." In 2012, there was a schism within the band, both allowed to use the same name. This show will be the band with original singer Geoff Tate.
Helsingborg, Sweden's Soilwork got off the ground under the name Inferior Breed. Originally more of a thrash and straight ahead death metal band, Soilwork started developing a more melodic sound in the mold of Gothenburg death metal bands like Dark Tranquility and In Flames. By the time of 2000's Predator's Portrait, the group had established itself as one of the most well-regarded and popular melodic death metal bands out of Europe. In 2012, founding member, and one of the outfits primary songwriters, Peter Wichers, stepped down for good. But this doesn't appear to have slowed the band down much if its latest record, The Living Infinite, is any indication.
This is a tour celebrating the life and music of the late, great Chuck Schuldiner, the Death frontman who passed in 2001 at the age of 34. If Possessed can rightfully be called the first death metal band, it was Schuldiner and his band Death that essentially established the aesthetic and attitude from which virtually all bands playing extreme metal have tapped since. It wasn't just the precision and the breakneck pace of the music that set Death apart, but also Schuldiner's uncanny knack for unusual, textured melodies that roamed far outside a strict genre adherence. The original line-up for the 1991 album Human has been assembled for this tour, and the members will perform material from the first four albums with the tour raising money for Sweet Relief, a charity supporting musicians in need of medical care.
This Los Angeles band started in 1989 reflecting the influence of early grindcore in its first recordings. Burton Bell, the band's lead singer, quickly developed a style of alternating between a death metal growl and clean, even melodic, vocals that proved influential on newer metal bands in the late '90s through today, as well as emo and screamo acts. Throughout the 1990s, Fear Factory benefited from a resurgence of metal toward the end of the decade. With shifting styles that incorporated elements of groovy thrash and industrial into its palette, Fear Factory further cemented its reputation as a band that was willing to push the envelope. It is not without reason that many metal bands cite these guys as an influence.
Before Green Jellÿ retold the story of the Three Little Pigs so humorously, GWAR was amusing and horrifying audiences for nearly a decade. Formed in 1984 when Dave Brockie, the band's sole original member, folded his weirdo punk band Death Piggy in with the creativity of a handful of friends to create the most ridiculous band they could imagine, GWAR was all that and more. Known for outlandish costumes and personas, this band is also known for shooting heated KY into the audience and doing irreverent covers. Though written off as a jokey, performance-oriented group, which it is, GWAR was always meant as a high-concept, absurdist joke the rest of us are in on.
Ghost B.C. is the Swedish band previously known as Ghost. The outfit changed its name for operating in the U.S. (as did acts like Comsat Angels, the Chameleons and the Charlatans). But it doesn't mean the borderline, disturbing, tongue-in-cheek aspect of the band isn't still in place. Live, the members dress up as undead priests and frontman Papa Emeritus is made up to look like the anti-Pope. All gimmicks aside -- including band members giving interviews under the name the Ghoul With No Name -- Ghost B.C. has written some of the better prog-symphonic metal of late.
Glenn Danzig and Doyle Wolfgang von Frankenstein were once in the Misfits together before Danzig went on to front Samhain and then later his quasi-solo project, Danzig. After Samhain, Danzig's musical direction was clearly more in line with the bluesy heavy metal of the time, but his signature Elvis-esque vocals remained the same. Performing under his own name, Danzig experienced success with his debut, self-titled album. Danzig didn't exactly rest on his laurels, and his subsequent albums have revealed a songwriter with no perverse loyalty to keeping things the same. For this show, Danzig and Doyle will also be performing Misfits songs together, and that alone would be worth the price of admission.
Get the Music Newsletter
Keep your thumb on the local music scene with music features, additional online music listings and show picks. We'll also send special ticket offers and music promotions available only to our Music Newsletter subscribers.