The ten best metal shows in Denver this month
Cephalic Carnage at the Bluebird is one of the ten best metal shows this month.
There's a wide range of metal on tap this month that will appeal to an equally wide range of metal fans, from doom and grindcore to death metal and industrial, from local heroes to renowned international acts, in big and small venues. Keep reading to see what shows should be on your calendar this month.
Isis, Red Sparrowes and Pelican helped to establish and make popular the synthesis of post-rock with metal. Caspian from Beverly, Massachusetts straddles the divide well with soaring guitars grounded by deep and driving rhythms. The band's songs are a scintillating evocation of a time and place and an emotional journey in themselves. Balancing heaviness with an expansive, even triumphant melodicism, Caspian delivers dynamic epics that often go far outside the realm of metal but fans of Mouth of the Architect's ambitious sonic exercises and Russian Circles' ability to weave a dark yet uplifting musical narrative will appreciate Caspian. Touring in support of its 2012 album, Waking Season, Caspian gives its conventionally beautiful, though certainly not conventionally crafted, music a visceral edge.
Frontman Aaron Nordstrom was a touring guitarist for Otep from 2007-2008, although that sound isn't necessarily found in this band. The influence of '90s progressive metal is heard in the flange-laden melodic breaks and Nordstrom's vocal split between the drifty and introspective and a distorted urgency. Nordstrom told No Cover that the name of the band reflects the duality of man and the ensuing struggle, much like what Matthew Modine's character in Full Metal Jacket told the general regarding wearing a peace sign and writing "Born to Kill" on his helmet. And for a band that some people might think they have figured out on first listen, Gemini Syndrome's lyrics delve more deeply than heartfelt outrage at wrongs done in a relationship turned sour. Affectionately referring to its fan as "Synners," the band recently issued its debut full-length Pleasure and Pain.
Hailing from Copenhagen, Denmark, Volbeat drew great inspiration for its hybrid sound from its love of bluesy rock and roll, early pop punk and broad spectrum of metal. The name of the band came from the third album of Michael Poulsen's old death metal band, Dominus. Disenchanted with the sometimes hermetic and stylistically limiting aspects of that milieu, Poulsen started a band in which he could have more fun. He has said that he intentionally wanted a band that could get away with even bringing in country elements in the songwriting. You would never confuse these guys as anything less than a hard rock, even metal, band live.
Fronted by Otep Shamaya, who, in so many ways, is a heavy metal cognate of Wendy O. Williams, this band has been lumped in with nü metal. But Shamaya is a poet, as well as a singer, and this is evident in her lyrics; there's a lot more than usual creativity involved in what she has to say. That and her wicked sense of humor and social critique -- the poetic sense of which was lost on Fathers & Families, who accused her song "Menocide" of being hateful toward men -- which has become well developed and obvious over the course of several albums. The band's latest record, Hydra, is purported to be the band's last, so this may be your last chance to catch the band in action in person.
Formed in 2008, Allegaeon and its tuneful, technical death metal quickly caught the attention of Metal Blade. The Fort Collins band signed with the respected and influential heavy metal imprint in 2009, and released its full-length debut, Fragments of Form and Function the following year and immediately became popular with fans of death metal. For the 2012 follow-up, Formshifter, the band challenged itself and produced an album that not only contained much more sophisticated music but the lyrics hint at Edgar Cayce's mystical dream visions of Atlantis and abstract if pointed social critiques. Maybe Allegaeon has smoothed out some of its rough edges but the result is a more focused approach in both the songwriting and live performance. This bill also features fellow local heavyweights Vale Of Pnath, Dissonance In Design, Suns Of Sorath and Artemesis.
Not too many bands can say their first record was a split 7-inch with Electric Wizard but that's the claim that can be made by Our Haunted Kingdom. But after that split, the group switched up its moniker to Orange Goblin. This is swampy blues rock channeled through the dark imagination of Black Sabbath, who these guys have covered on their own albums more than once, but there's even more psychedelia around the edges. Unlike some of the bands lumped into doom and stoner rock, Orange Goblin's songs really have some lively momentum behind them. After a five year hiatus, Orange Goblin put out its most recent album, A Eulogy for the Damned, last year, proving why it has exerted such an influence on like-minded bands for nearly two decades.
Karl Sanders became a bit of a known figure in the early days of death metal when he played shows with his old thrash band Morriah. But it was his band Nile, formed in 1993, that he decided to take his music in a more extreme direction into the realm of technical death metal. Chances are that the lyrics with references to Egyptian religion and mysticism are part tongue-in-cheek in tone but serious in the interest in the subject. Nile recently made its sense of humor clear in naming a song "Ethno-Musicological Cannibalisms" from its latest album, At the Gates of Sethu. Playing in drop A, Nile truly isn't kidding around with sounding heavy.
Formed in 2005 out of the ashes of Dying Star, an older project that included singer Maria Brink, guitarist Chris Howarth and drummer Jeff Fabb, In This Moment mixes thrash with threads of hardcore and, more recently, industrial metal á la Fear Factory or Marilyn Manson. Brink's wail is powerful in a way that can only really be compared to Doro Pesch in its versatility and facility with expressing mind shearing emotional intensity. But it's not all blasting volume with this bunch. The band's 2012 album, Blood, may be more imbued with a darker spirit than previous efforts but it also emphasizes the act's sonic diversity.
Since 1992, Cephalic Carnage has carved out a unique place for itself in the milieu of metal by being an early purveyor of deathgrind. But for anyone who's seen the band live, or listened closely to its albums, it's obvious the guys writing the music are well familiar with jazz. This became very apparent on the group's 2000 album Exploiting Dysfunction. What also became obvious is the sharp sense of humor with song titles like "Dying Will Be the Death of Me." As the band has become more experimental, the music is evokes a far more metalized Naked City. If merely seeing Cephalic isn't metal enough, this bill also features fellow titans of Colorado metal Havok, Speedwolf and Silencer.
Max Cavalera formed Soulfly after leaving influential Brazilian thrash band Sepultura in 1996 and moving to Phoenix. The then new project wasn't initially dramatically different from Cavalera's previous band, but as the band came together and he wrote music for subsequent records, Soulfly incorporated bits of musical styles not common in heavy music. This was especially true on 2004's Prophecy, where Cavalera injected bits of Serbian Gypsy instruments, the traditional music of indigenous Brazilians and sonic ideas from the Medieval era. With every album, Cavalera has pushed himself as an artist, and Soulfly's 2012 album, Enslaved, sounds more like an industrial grindcore album than what we've become used to. This should prove to be an interesting live version of the band now that Cavalera's son Zyon is the touring drummer.
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