São Paulo’s heavy metal scene might not be instantly apparent: much of the action takes place with little in the way of public advertising, or in neighbourhoods slightly off the beaten track for visitors. But if the steady flow of major metal acts that come through SP are anything to go by, the fanbase is huge: Black Sabbath and Megadeth are both headed this way in October (2013), and a three-hour spectacular by Avantasia, the German vocalist Tobias Sammett’s operatic supergroup, has already sold out HSBC on 29 June 2013.
June also brings the commercially-minded, faux-metal posturing of the rock act Halestorm. Grammy-award-winners in their native USA, in SP the band will be playing the modest, 1,700-capacity Carioca Club (Rua Cardeal Arcoverde 2899, Pinheiros, 3813 8598, liberationstore.net. 6pm, 16 June, R$160).
Maybe it’s a sign of metalheads’ traditional insularity, but it’s the lesser-known groups that continue to draw a steady crop of black-T-shirt-clad audiences. According to Fernando Oster, drummer for the band Woslom, a wide array of ‘high quality local bands playing lower-priced shows’ keep SP’s metal fans satisfied.
And if you’d like to check that for yourself, two upcoming festivals offer very reasonably priced routes into the local strains of metal’s many subgenres.
Up first, Panzer Fest rolls into the usually more indie-friendly confines of Cine Joia on 15 June. The eponymous headliners Panzer, a Chilean band from the 1980s, are the night’s closest example of the classic heavy metal sound, built on a foundation of sweeping anthemic lines (sung in Spanish) and twin guitars à la Iron Maiden.
The five-band bill also includes a great deal of uncompromisingly hard-hitting local talent. Look out for longtime paulista favourites NervoChaos, whose death metal and hardcore mix fuel the mosh-ready breakdowns from 2012’s album, To The Death. The lineup is completed by early thrash-inspired purists Woslom, the groove-oriented riffing of Command6, and the dramatic precision of openers Forka.
If your idea of an evil night begs a more occult feel than a regular music venue can provide, consider the intimate bookstore-cum-bar Livraria da Esquina, which welcomes the charmingly named Brotherhood Deathfest on 7 July, showcasing four national bands with a commitment to the death metal sound.
Think infernally low-pitched and complex guitar figures, bewildering drum violence, and growled, guttural vocals describing all things vile and grisly. Unintelligibly. The bands Vomepotro, Anarkhon and the mainly female Insanity Force open for Ayin, a methodical Mato Grosso do Sul trio releasing their debut album, Ordo Ab Chao. It’s sure to be a loud, dark and relentless night.
If that sounds potentially terrifying, the Xtreme Noise Festival also begins this month, scattered over six dates between 15 June and 3 July at Teatro Mars and Inferno Club. The Xtreme title is somewhat of a misnomer: the overriding vibe is more mid-1990s southern Californian skate rock. Metalheads would likely argue that despite the event’s best intentions, the music won’t be nearly as extreme or as noisy – and certainly not as heavy – as their tastes demand.
Panzer Fest takes place at Cine Joia, Praça Carlos Gomes 82, Sé (3231 3705/cinejoia.tv) on 15 June, 8pm. Read more on Panzer Fest
Halestorm plays at Carioca Club, Rua Cardeal Arcoverde 2899, Pinheiros, on 16 June, 6pm
Avantasia plays at HSBC Brasil, Rua Bragança Paulista 1281, Chácara Santo Antônio, on 29 June
Brotherhood Deathfest takes place at Livraria da Esquina, Rua do Bosque 1254, Barra Funda (3392 3089/ livrariadaesquina.com.br) on 7 July, 6pm. Read more on Brotherhood Deathfest
Xtreme Noise Festival takes place at Teatro Mars, Rua João Passalacqua 80, Bela Vista (3384 5115/ teatromars.com.br) and Inferno Club, Rua Augusta 501, Consolação (3120 4140/ infernoclub.com.br) between 15 June and 3 July. Read more on Xtreme Noise Festival
Black Sabbath and Megadeth play at Campo de Marte, Avenida Santos Dumont 2241, Santana, on 11 October, at 7pm