Headliners: Mastodon & Dethklok
Surprise! The most massive metal show of 2009 is sponsored by none other than Adult Swim, Cartoon Network's cult favorite late-night comedy block known for its weirdo sensibilities and series-reviving strength. (For better or worse, it helped bring back Family Guy).
Of course Adult Swim is backing Dethklok, the real-life band performing the music of its cartoon counterparts on Adult Swim staple Metalocalypse. But they've also roped in three of the most beloved, heaviest bands in America to join Dethklok on tour - Atlanta's Mastodon, Salem's Converge and Oakland's High on Fire - each worthy of its own spotlight.
Your neighborhood indie-rock fan's favorite metal band thanks to their critically acclaimed track record (or maybe just Lars Ulrich's endorsement), Mastodon nonetheless merits legit metalheads' attention for crafting one skull-shattering opus after another.
Latest album: Crack the Skye, a super-nerdy concept record about the time-traveling, Rasputin-possessing spirit of a quadriplegic Russian boy (seriously). The album skirts the treacherous edges of grunge and nu-metal without plunging the band to its doom. It's a bold evolution after the relentless pummeling of Blood Mountain.
On Metalocalypse, Dethklok is a cartoon quintet featuring players like William Murderface and Nathan Explosion. In person, creator Brendon Small brings the band to life with the help of people with far less hilarious nomenclature. That doesn't make the music any less funny as it simultaneously salutes and takes the piss out of music's most over-the-top genre.
Latest album: The only fitting follow-up to 2007's The Dethalbum was this year's Dethalbum II. Small's angry rasp blurts out titles such as "Deth Support" and "I Tamper With the Evidence at the Murder Site of Odin."
For nearly two decades, screamer/visual artist Jacob Bannon and guitarist/super-producer Kurt Ballou have helmed one of the most groundbreaking, influential bands on the metal-hardcore spectrum. Vacillating from runaway train to trudging beast and from direct to ethereal, their work is rarely predictable and frequently exhilarating.
Latest album: Axe to Fall - an album whose leak last week prompted a hate campaign against the writer who leaked it, showing Converge fans' extreme reverence - will be released the day of the show. Its breakneck anthems are a must-hear for anyone with even a passing interest in aggressive music.
High on Fire
After Matt Pike woke up from Sleep, he founded one of the world's finest meat-and-potatoes metal bands. While his former bandmates have traipsed through experimental realms with Om, High on Fire has been a tried-and-true hesher's delight, with enough riffs that your hand will hurt from making the devil horns gesture too much.
Latest album: 2007's Death Is This Communion remains their latest studio offering, though they released Live from the Relapse Contamination Festival this year and have a new LP in the pipeline for 2010.
When: 6 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 20
Where: LC Pavilion, Arena District