Just because Thanksgiving falls in November, that doesn’t mean the music stops. We are lucky that way as live music fans in Southern California. But this month, our region hosts some great heavy metal and punk concerts, from bands at dive bars and packed clubs to sold-out stadium tour stops. So, yes, this month is the time to get out there and headbang the season away. We’ve got extreme metal, black metal, shock rock, death metal, hardcore thrash and even punk rock, so get out there and enjoy some live music!
10. Marilyn Manson 11/02 @ House of Blues, Anaheim
If you are lucky enough to experience an artist like Marilyn Manson performing in a club setting, it’s a must-see. Manson has been playing the music game since the mid to late 90s, leading a lifestyle of rock ’n’ roll mythology and surviving the controversies and excesses. Through extreme highs and lows, he has kept creating provocative, creepy, but soulful music, running from shock rock to neon pop and glitter rock to industrial metal to goth and even country rock. Manson has always been a musical iconoclast, and he has defied genres and defined the importance of characters and theatrical concepts in rock. The live performances by Manson and his band of fellow musicians still feel full of angst; they are heavy and explosive, and full of darkness and urgency, proving rock music is not dead.
9. In Flames 11/06 @ Observatory, Santa Ana
These Swedes have been in the metal world since 1990. They produced traditional death metal early on, but their sound evolved to create a new breed of Swedish extreme metal. The band is still heavy, and their fan base has kept with them, keeping the machine turning and churning as In Flames tours the world and releases albums. Without knowing, the band influenced a swath of the new generation of American, European and worldwide metal bands with a distinct sound. Everyone from Lamb of God and The Black Dahlia Murder to Killswitch Engage (among many others) have taken some form of inspiration from In Flames. Catch this special Santa Ana show with the Gothenburg-based band for a night of head banging.
8. Helmet 11/10 @ Chain Reaction, Anaheim
Though not considered heavy metal, Helmet was a staple alternative hard rock band. Led by guitarist Page Hamilton, and formed in 1989 in New York City, the band is currently on a special 30th anniversary tour. Helmet’s mildly aggressive merging of grunge and hard-rock elements was crucial for bands such as Korn, Nine Inch Nails, Rage Against the Machine and even Pantera to get more exposure in the mainstream via outlets like MTV back in the mid to late 1990s, and even airplay on certain college and underground radio stations. This tour by the band features more live music than average as Helmet will play special cuts and a longer set, with no openers. Chain Reaction is the perfect intimate venue for this show; fans of this grungy alternative metal band can’t miss it.
7. Ruin Fest 11/16 @ Malone’s, Santa Ana
The fifth annual gathering celebrating the underground extreme metal community in Southern California hits Malones with a spectacular lineup showcasing the best that tight-knit but far-reaching scene has to offer. Headlining are OC’s own melodic death metal band Voices of Ruin and LA’s long running brutal death metal masters Letum Ascensus. Also appearing are: Southern California power metalers Novareign; brutal deathcore act Shrine of Malice; black metal bands Sicarius, Consciously Dying, Beliath and Withermoon; death metal miscreants Vaelmyst; and SoCal’s international pagan heavy metal warriors Helsott. This will be the ultimate party for underground extreme metal followers.
6. Mac Sabbath and 45 Grave 11/22 @ Observatory, Santa Ana
Anti-fast food shock rockers/Black Sabbath enthusiasts Mac Sabbath bring their brand of Drive Thru Metal for a perfectly timed Thanksgiving week show. The band’s theme is the horrors of the fast-food industry, in a satirical Black Sabbath tribute, with costumes and characters. Think of a socially conscious, milder version of GWAR, and you’re on the right track with these guys. If you hate Mickey D’s and love Ozzy, get to this show and get schooled in the madness of Mac Sabbath. As a bonus, also playing are LA’s death rock icons, 45 Grave, a band full of punk darkness that goes back to the late 1970s. Truly one of LA’s most influential bands, 45 Grave has had an impact on everyone from Mötley Crüe to Rob Zombie and so many other fans of the band.
5. H20, Ignite, Field Day & Chemical X 11/23 @ Garden Amp, Garden Grove
Founded in the OC in 1993, hardcore band Ignite has been at the forefront of that decade’s skatepunk/melodic hardcore sound that many bands apsire to replicate to this day. Appearing at this hometown show with Ignite will be their well known counterparts from the opposite coast, H20. These New Yorkers evoke a now old school but second wave of hardcore punk that was more related to first wave hardcore than some chose to admit and accept. Field Day and Chemical X round out the bill.
4. Morbid Angel, Watain and Incantation 11/27 @ Observatory, Santa Ana
This one is going to be a brutal show, to say the least. With a band like death metal veterans Morbid Angel, you already know your eardrums will burst open from the sheer loudness and your face will be smashed by the fists flying in the circle pit. Morbid Angel’s entire catalog of music has been dedicated to the dark arts or blasphemy, and the music is not for the faint of heart. Be sure to catch original guitarist Trey Azagthoth, one of death metal’s most intense shredders, conjuring evil riffs and brutal skills that evoke ancient and primeval forces. Plus, be ready to headbang and let all your inner demons release from the set by Swedish black metal band Wataian, who are accused of performing satanic rituals or a form of Black Mass at their concerts. Only a band of such caliber could compete with the mighty Morbid Angel. As if these two bands weren’t enough, New York’s underground death metal veterans Incantation open the show, guaranteeing a night of heavy, brutal, evil music. You have been warned.
3. Suicide Silence and more 11/30 @ Chain Reaction, Anaheim
With the new era of the band, after the tragic and untimely passing of original singer Mitch Lucker in 2012, Suicide Silence has kept on going. Heavy music lives on with the band, and each year it does keeps Lucker’s legacy and spirit alive. This will be a packed show, and one at an intimate legendary venue the band played in its infancy and throughout its early career, countless times. The bill includes a variety of metal/hard rock bands as support, including death metal band Pathology, deathcore band Anhedonia and hard rockers The Mendenhall Experiment, with special surprise guests TBA. Expect this show to sell out.
2. Slayer Farewell Tour 11/29-30 at the Forum, Inglewood
No, this is not a show going on in the OC, but we included it because, come on: SLAYER! One of those staple bands, Slayer ranks among the greatest thrash bands of all time, and if you haven’t for whatever reason gotten a chance to experience one of their shows, this will most likely be your last chance. Two of the band’s crucial and founding members are not in the live lineup anymore (former drummer Dave Lombardo and late guitarist Jeff Hanneman). But essential members–bassist and singer Tom Araya and guitarist Kerry King will be there with legendary thrash guitarist Gary Holt from Exodus and veteran drummer Paul Bostaph (Forbidden, Exodus, Systematic, Testament, BlackGates). This will be a bittersweet pair of final shows for the band, as they return to a city they were banned from for many years. One show was already sold out as this was posted, and the other will no doubt be filled to the brim even if unsold tickets remain. Don’t count on there being any left as also on the bill are: Primus, Ministry and Phil Anselmo and his band, The Illegals performing a special all-Pantera set. Both nights will rage beyond belief without a doubt and will be one for the books. Fans will make sure that Slayer goes home with a blast to mark their epic world Farewell Tour.
1. D.I. every Friday residency @ the Doll Hut, Anaheim
We can include legendary Orange County punk band D.I. on a list best metal shows because they have street credibility and origina music that is a direct testament to the golden era of OC hardcore punk. (We’re talking the late 1970s/early ’80s. Casey Royer (formerly of Social Distortion and Adolescents) leads the band through classic songs like “OC Life,” “Hang Ten in East Berlin” and “Richard Hung Himself.” D.I.’s music on its own has inspired so many other bands to follow, from The Offspring to Slayer, who covered “Richard Hung Himself” as well as D.I.’s “Spiritual Law” on its 1996 album of punk covers, Undisputed Attitude. D.I. should be considered an aging, but still relevant gem from this era of hardcore punk made in Orange County. Fans should be proud that the band still performs and creates new music.
Alex Distefano is an established freelance writer and music blogger from the Los Angeles area. With over a dozen years under his belt as a published Journalist, he covers the worlds of heavy metal music, punk rock, current events, cannabis culture, comedy, radio, food, tattoos, the paranormal, and ‘conspiracy theories.’ He graduated from California State University Long Beach in 2012 with a Bachelor’s Degree in both Journalism and Ancient History. Aside from his professional writing endeavors, Distefano works as an Educator, and delivery/rideshare driver.