APESHIT’s Top Metal Albums of 2016

VirusAnother strong year is in the books for heavy music, so strong that making a year end list seemed unfair to every release that we did not include in our lists.  The underground continues to thrive with releases from legendary bands such as DARK FUNERAL, VADER, and NEUROSIS that will stand the test of time. Actually, most of the long running bands did not fail to meet or exceed expectations.  Thrash metal pioneers, MEGADETH, VOIVOD, and TESTAMENT, certainly released excellent records.  What is more important is that 2016 saw a lot of great releases from less trendy, more obscure bands.

Trees of EternityThis past year is personally notable as lost a dear friend and contributor, Brandon Stratton AKA rocknro11chef13.  As a small tribute, we’ve included albums that he would’ve likely picked for his year end list.  Life is short, my friends.  Embrace it.

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Concert Memories: METALLICA, SUICIDAL TENDENCIES, CANDLEBOX, FIGHT @ Cal State Dominguez Hills, Dominguez Hills, CA (07/26/94)

Back in the summer of 1994, I was a pimple faced teenage metalhead whose world revolved around classic rock, hard rock, and heavy metal. And like virtually every metalhead on the planet, I viewed METALLICA as the absolute infallible, invincible gods of metal. The band had taken the world by storm with the Black Album and they were in the midst of the height of their popularity.

After missing out on the first few rounds of the Black Album tour as well as the dream tour with GUNS ‘N ROSES, my time had finally come to see my first concert via the 1994 Shit Hits the Sheds Tour. To say my friend and I were stoked is an understatement. In hindsight, I really didn’t even know to expect at a metal show. Man, was I in for a surprise.

The tour’s Los Angeles-area stop took place on a huge grass field at a university, and there was definitely a festival vibe to things. There were thousands of people on the field. The crowd was a great reflection of the Los Angeles metal scene in general at the time. There were diehard fans since the 70’s and 80’s, young fans, lots of female fans, and a diverse array of cultural backgrounds represented. To this day, I have never seen such a wide array of metal shirts in all my life.

Up until that tender age, I had never smelled weed smoke before but I knew exactly what that skunky smell was right when it hit me. There were literally hazes of smoke flowing over the field the whole day. Yeah, this was LA alright.

Despite arriving in the late afternoon, the show had already started with Rob Halford‘s FIGHT playing songs off their excellent debut, War of Words. Watching the Metal God stalk the stage with his big, black goatee and singing better than on the record was a truly awesome site to behold.

ALICE IN CHAINS were originally on the tour but had to pull out due to drug issues with singer Layne Staley. I was bummed out as Facelift and Dirt had greatly impacted my young life. Unfortunately, for some godforsaken reason, super shitty CANDLEBOX took their place on the tour. Their brand of soft rock did not go over well as the audience quickly booed them continuously and gave them the finger. The band eventually got butthurt enough that they were forced to cut their set short. The lame singer made sure to give us all the finger before he left the stage. We all had a good laugh about that.

As dusk settled in, Venice, CA’s SUICIDAL TENDENCIES took the stage to the roaring approval of the crowd. As soon as the first note was played, the crowd went apeshit. Gigantic moshpits instantaneously formed all across the field. Everyone was pushing, shoving, and just going crazy. I got sucked into a few pits and was too busy fighting for my life to be scared. By the middle of SUICIDAL‘s set, I found myself near the front of the stage and utterly smashed like canned sardines against everyone else around me. It was hard to breathe at times and that was a freaky feeling. The band was awesome so it helped to distract you from the discomfort of elbows flying, crowd surfers landing on your spine, and lots of man sweat from strangers being rubbed on you. It was easy to see just why vocalist Mike Muir was such an icon. The man is charismatic as hell.

Once SUICIDAL concluded their set, I was more than relieved because I could finally get a breather from the madness. The grass field had been transformed into a dirt field and the air was thick with dirt and dust. I was thirsty as hell but there was no way I could get to the vendors as I was stuck right near the front of the stage.

It took at least an hour for METALLICA to hit the stage. The wait was excruciating to say the least. I hadn’t seen my friend since SUICIDAL played and figured I’d have to find him after the show. Once “Ecstacy of Gold” starting playing, the crowd was instantly energized. James Hetfield ran out on stage playing the first notes to “Breadfan” and the madness went to a whole new level. Plumes of weed smoke bellowed into the night air. Everyone was furiously headbanging, pumping their fists, singing along, moshing, pushing, kicking, punching, and any other primal behavior possible. The crowds of today in the U.S. don’t even come close to the brutality of those final years of metal’s mainstream heyday.

Throughout their 2+ hour set, you couldn’t help but think that METALLICA were indeed the gods. Seemingly endless classic song after classic song put me in heaven. And to be up so close to the band was just amazing. I could clearly see every member’s faces. Watching Lars disappear through his secret trap door behind his drumkit was hilarious. I don’t think I’ve ever been to another show with so much enthusiasm. People were high fiving each other after every song and headbanging together in camaraderie while others chose to bash each other to a pulp. It was a special night where thousands gathered to enjoy the thing they enjoyed most in life, metal music.

After the show, I eventually found my friend and both of us were covered in dirt and dust. He managed to escape the moshpits by fleeing to the side of the field. My eyeglasses were bent out of shape while being in my pocket, and my shoelaces were severed. I was coughing up and sneezing dirt for days. Also, I was sore all over for days.

Since that summer night, I’ve gone to literally hundreds of shows but nothing compares to that show. It was the perfect night, time period in my life, and era of metal to have my first concert experience. Who knew that METALLICA would not only ruin my life but the lives of millions around the world two years later with their next record?

MUNICIPAL WASTE Announce West Coast Tour with SUICIDAL TENDENCIES

From November 17 to December 5, MUNICIPAL WASTE will be bringing the party on the road for a tour of the west coast. Then again, it’s never really a party unless you bring some friends, right? So what better friends to bring than the legendary SUICIDAL TENDENCIES.

Considered a dream tour by many, this is a pairing that fans have been clamoring for a long time. However, no one is more excited about the tour than MUNICIPAL WASTE themselves. “I can’t wait;” says drummer, Dave Witte. “Getting to tour with such an influential band like SUICIDAL TENDENCIES is very exciting to me. I’m looking forward to hearing the classics that were so important to me as a kid.”

It is no secret, of course, that SUICIDAL TENDENCIES is a major influence to every member of MUNICIPAL WASTE, even if the influence escapes the band every once in a while. “SUICIDAL TENDENCIES…never heard of ’em;” states the sarcastic WASTE frontman, Tony Foresta. “I hope they’re not a ska band.” Fear not. There will be no ska on the menu at these shows, just pure THRASH served up fast and furious.

Catch MUNICIPAL WASTE and SUICIDAL TENDENCIES on these west coast dates:

Nov 17 Tucson AZ Rialto Theatre
Nov 18 El Paso TX Club 101
Nov 19 Albuquerque NM Sunshine Theater
Nov 21 West Hollywood CA House of Blues
Nov 23 Santa Ana CA Galaxy Concert Theatre
Nov 24 Ventura CA Majestic Ventura Theatre
Nov 27 Portland OR Roseland Theatre
Nov 28 Seattle WA El Corazon
Nov 30 Petaluma CA Phoenix Theater
Dec 1 Reno NV Stoney’s
Dec 2 San Francisco CA Slim’s
Dec 5 Las Vegas NV House of Blues

SHADOWS FALL to Co-Headline Sounds of the Underground

SHADOWS FALL have been added to the third-annual Sounds of the Underground tour as alternatinv co-headliners with CHIMAIRA, EVERY TIME I DIE, and alongside main headliners GWAR.

SHADOWS FALL vocalist, Brian Fair comments, “It is going to be another summer of insanity for the boys in SHADOWS FALL and we couldn’t be more stoked. Not only are we looking forward to partying with our friends in DARKEST HOUR, EVERY TIME I DIE, CHIMAIRA and GWAR, but also to check out some killer music at one of the summers most diverse festival tours. We are planning on playing a set that will include songs from the early days of SHADOWS FALL up to our new album, Threads of Life, and leaving a wake of devastation behind. So bust out the sunscreen, put the beers on ice and get ready to rock cuz the SHADS are coming back to town”.

Other groups on this year’s Sounds of the Underground include: JOB FOR A COWBOY, NECRO, DARKEST HOUR, AMON AMARTH, THE ACACIA STRAIN, THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA, HEAVY HEAVY LOW LOW, THE NUMBER TWELVE LOOKS LIKE YOU, GOATWHORE, THIS IS HELL, and 2 CENTS.

There will also be a handful of special area appearances. TESTAMENT will play before GWAR at the Starland Ballroom on July 14 in New Jersey. MUSHROOMHEAD will close the show in their hometown of Cleveland, Ohio on July 21 and will also perform as special guests in Columbus on July 22, Chicago on July 23, and Minneapolis on July 24. The legendary SUICIDAL TENDENCIES will close shows in San Jose, California on August 3, Irvine, California on August 4, and Mesa, Arizona on August 5. LAMB OF GOD will headline a recently added date on August 11 in Louisville, Kentucky and will be joined by special guests HATEBREED and BEHEMOTH.

More info and updates are available at http://www.soundsoftheundergroundtour.com, http://www.livenation.com, and http://www.purevolume.com/SOTU07Tour.