The ten best metal shows in Denver this month

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10. CASPIAN @ LARIMER LOUNGE | SAT., 3/9/13 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.

9. GEMINI SYNDROME @ MARQUIS THEATER | TUES., 3/12/13 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.

8. VOLBEAT @ OGDEN THEATRE | TUES., 3/12/13 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.

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Tom Murphy is a writer, visual artist and musician from Aurora, Colorado. He was a prolific music writer for Westword and a documenter of the Denver music scene.