January is a monster month for metal in the Mile High City, from Impending Doom tonight at the Marquis Theater to Down at the Summit Music Hall at the end of the month to a couple of killer local bills. If you're a completist, we've got all of this month's shows listed in our concert calendar, of course, or if you'd prefer, we've done all the, ahem, heavy lifting for you and boiled it down to the five best metal shows in Denver. Keep reading for the full rundown.
5. THRONE OF BELIAL @ MARQUIS THEATRE | SAT, 1/19/13 According to The Dead Sea Scrolls, Belial is not just the leader of the Sons of Destruction, but one of the fallen angels of hostility. Perfect association for a band that seems to have absorbed the borderline cartoonish darkness and aggression of Venom and infused it with the cutting and grinding quality of the second wave of black metal of the late '80s and early '90s. Largely eschewing hilarious stage names like Cronos, Dante and La Rage, with the exception of singer Alex Trefas calling himself "The Goatchrist," Throne of Belial has crafted a sound that's menacing and surging, with a stage show worthy of the sort of thing people must have thought before Slayer gave up its own makeup: Are they seriously disciples of the Horned One? Either way, Throne of Belial's dense and biting songs sound like the band isn't joking.
4. GOMORRAH @ SEVENTH CIRCLE | SAT, 1/26/13 When Nigel Tufnel declared that Smell the Glove could be "none more black," it may have been a joke, but the appreciation for the ridiculous excesses, warts and virtues of metal exemplified by that statement has inspired legions of fans since, and these guys have clearly embraced all of it. Sonically more in line with thrash and early death metal, clearly this local band's music appealed to Kurt Brecht of D.R.I. who came to a recent practice through the good graces of a mutual friend and gave the outfit his stamp of approval. Gomorrah's latest album, This Means War (whose release is being celebrated at this show) should appeal to anyone that appreciates the hardcore and thrash fusion of Toxic Holocaust.
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3. IMPENDING DOOM @ MARQUIS THEATER | WEDS, 1/9/13 Although Impending Doom is a Christian death-metal band -- normally a contradiction in terms -- the act isn't some cartoonish, mutant purveyor of death grind. Singer Brook Reeves sounds like he's listened to more than his fair share of '90s-era Napalm Death, as the music he and his bandmates produce is similarly brutal and dynamically precise. These guys also do the nearly impossible with genuinely clever turns of phrase, coining terms like "Repentagram" and "Gorship." Both words clearly reveal a playful sense of humor that extremists such as James Dobson and Pat Robertson do not possess. Nevertheless, the music is very serious, and the band's latest record, Baptized in Filth, is its darkest offering yet.
2. WHITECHAPEL @ SUMMIT MUSIC HALL | SUN, 1/27/13 Tennessee's Whitechapel crafts its malevolent deathcore with three guitarists. The down-tuned doom of this act is marked by finger-widdling flurries and false harmonic squeals, Phil Bozeman's disturbingly possessed post-Pantera vocals and a rhythm section that attacks with a cornered, Gaddafi-esque cruelty. Albums like A New Era of Corruption is both a triumph of actual songs over pure riffs and, in the wake of the tragic death of Bozeman's mother, a monument to pessimism ("The Darkest Day of Man" and "Single File to Dehumanization"). Technically excellent yet utterly heartfelt, Whitechapel is a soundtrack for cynical teens moving out of their parents' shadow and into the world -- and that's no small achievement.
1. DOWN @ SUMMIT MUSIC HALL | SAT, 1/26/13 Down got together in 1991 when Pantera's Phil Anselmo teamed up with Corrosion of Conformity's Pepper Keenan, Crowbar's Kirk Windstein and Todd Strange and Jimmy Bower of Eyehategod. United by a mutual love of doom and sludge metal, Down has to be considered one of the early pioneers of that sound with a little more groove to it. Strange has since left the band, and his role on bass now being taken up with Pat Bruders also of Crowbar. If you go, you'll get to see some metal veterans revealing their individual roots in hardcore and fusing it fully with the heavier music for which each has become known.