Our area’s metal scene in 2016 was filled with homecomings, farewells, anniversaries and even some complete surprises. It would be exhaustive to try to include every great event but here are some highlights of the dark side of D.C.’s music world in 2016.
Heavy Metal Parking Lot‘s 30th AnniversaryOn May 31, 1986, Judas Priest and Dokken played the Capital Centre in Landover, where John Heyn and Jeff Krulik filmed fans wildly tailgating in the parking lot. This footage was turned into the cult classic short documentary Heavy Metal Parking Lot, which became a favorite of bootleggers and tape traders long before the internet had created the term “going viral.” 2016 marked the 30th anniversary of the hilarious film that captured metal fans getting amped, and drunk, for the big show. As part of the celebration of the anniversary, the University Of Maryland put on a year-long exhibit titled “Heavy Metal Parking Lot: The 30-Year Journey of a Cult Film Sensation” that’s running until May 27, 2017 in the Gallery at the Michelle Smith Performing Arts Library. This year, the film also screened at SXSW in Austin, and Union Craft Brewing even made a Heavy Metal Parking Lot beer.
Periphery, Periphery III: Select DifficultyIn July djent pioneers Periphery released their fifth studio album, Periphery III: Select Difficulty, and the opening track, “The Price Is Wrong,” has been nominated in the Best Metal Performance category of the Grammys. Despite going up against genre heavyweights like Megadeth and Korn, Periphery’s work ethic has given them shot at taking the award home in February. Back in January they released the massive double albums Juggernaut: Alpha and Juggernaut: Omega, each disc was sold independently and they both cracked the top 25 on Billboard’s Top 200.
Mark RiddickLocal heavy metal artist Mark Riddick had a very busy year for himself. Alongside his usual work creating album cover and merchandise artwork for underground metal bands around the world, he released a line of skateboard decks featuring gory renderings of skulls and rotting zombies. In November, his one-man death metal band Fetid Zombie released its sixth studio album, Epicedia. Oh, and then there was that logo commission he did for mega pop star and teen heartthrob Justin Bieber. Surprisingly enough, Riddick was asked by Bieber to create some logos for him in a heavy metal style, which Riddick did, and they were used on the merch for Bieber’s 2016 Purpose Tour. Even more surprising: seeing several of Rihanna’s back-up dancers sporting shirts with Riddick-designed logos on them during the MTV VMAs.
Black Sabbath at Jiffy Lube Live, Aug. 21The fathers of heavy metal, Black Sabbath, played one last time for us at Jiffy Lube Live this year. Due to the ages of the band members, The End Tour most likely really is the band’s final tour, unlike its Last Supper Farewell Tour in 1999. The band is older and slower now, but they still have the ability to put on a great show. Its set list was nostalgic and almost entirely composed of their early ’70s-era classic songs from its first four albums. The only thing that kept this bittersweet concert from perfection was the glaring lack of original drummer Bill Ward behind the kit.
DC Brau’s Five-Year Anniversary Party, April 16There are few things that go together better than beer and heavy metal, so it made perfect sense when DC Brau decided to host a metal show for their fifth anniversary party on April 16. And what a show it was: The Sword from Austin, Texas, headlined with additional sets by Norway’s Kvelertak, Torche from Miami, Florida, Serpent Throne from Philadelphia, and locals Loud Boyz. A temporary stage was erected in the brewery’s parking lot and the all-star line up performed for the energetic crowd, who were treated to special anniversary collaboration beers. The bands played all afternoon and into the night, and luckily the weather held up—you couldn’t have asked the metal gods for a better party!
Agoraphobic Nosebleed, ArcAgoraphobic Nosebleed formed in 1994, but it took more than 20 years before the (mostly) locally based grind band played their first live show, at 2015’s Maryland Deathfest. They continued with the festival circuit but still hadn’t played a proper concert in an actual club, that is until May of this year, when they performed at Black Cat. Agoraphobic Nosebleed is known for being extremely unconventional and that was readily apparent on its Arc EP that was released in January. The first in a series of EPs focusing on the musical background of each band member, Arc shows the band trading in the blast beats and seconds-long songs for a slower paced doom metal sound. But this surprising change in sound makes sense when you consider that Arc is the EP based on vocalist Kat Katz, who was the vocalist in now-defunct D.C. doom metal band Salome.
The Obsessed at Black Cat, May 13Before Scott “Wino” Weinrich famously left for Los Angeles to join Saint Vitus at the behest of Ian MacKaye, Wino had led a Maryland-based doom metal band known as The Obsessed. Since 2013, Wino had been performing with another of his former bands, Spirit Caravan, but in early 2016 the band decided to simply rebrand as the newest incarnation of The Obsessed, in order to play songs from the back catalog of both bands. Its first live show as The Obsessed was on a Friday the 13th—at Black Cat—kicking off a lengthy U.S. tour. It seemed like all of the old-school D.C.-area metal heads came crawling out of the woodwork for this show, as well as many younger local fans. The Obsessed played a fan favorite set of hits from both bands, and even had a few brand new songs to play as well. This show was special because it wasn’t just a concert, it was a reunion of the D.C. area’s metal scene that few besides Wino could summon.