Staring at your CMJ schedule every night and creating a plan of attack can be a daunting task. Here’s one way to make it simpler: Just see metal bands. If you follow where the loudest sounds are coming from—and the bands listed here will be skull-crushing—you won’t be disappointed.
 
This year CMJ has put together an axe-murder’s row of killer metal bands that show off the wide sonic range of the genre. Stoner-metal? You’re covered. Sludge? Yep. Grindcore? Sure. Experimental metal with a saxophone? Of course. So, in the interest of guiding you to the most punishing acts of the week, here are 5 metal bands you should check out. Or else.
 

Encrust

“Shrieking Infestation.” “Tapeworms.” “Predatory Skin.” No, these aren’t just random words from a fucked-up medical textbook; they’re actual song titles off the debut full-length From Birth To Soil by Chicago’s Encrust, a thunderous and pulverizing sludge metal five-piece. Combining thrash riffs, stoner-metal ambiance, growling vocals and a DIY work ethic— the band designs and prints its own warped t-shirts— Encrust doesn’t strain to come across as innovative, but that doesn’t really matter when they’re coming at you with all the unhinged, creaking grind of a broken chainsaw. Approach with caution.
 
Encrust is playing the MetalSucks/Metal Injection/1000 Knives showcase on Thursday, October 18 at Public Assembly.


Pig Destroyer

On October 22, grindcore innovators Pig Destroyer will release their fourth full-length record Book Burner, an album that throttles you within an inch of your life but still leaves you wanting more as you nurse your wounds. Here’s a sample lyric from lead single “The Diplomat”: “If you’re gonna have roads, you’re gonna have roadkill!” True, and if you’re going to have Pig Destroyer, you’re going to have some destruction. The group turns the inherent aesthetic limitations of grindcore into unholy tenants, not so much transcending the genre as much crystalizing it into its ideal, deformed state. Also, this is their first New York show in three years and your first chance to catch the band in action with new drummer Adam Jarvis of Misery Index.
 
Pig Destroyer is playing the MetalSucks/Metal Injection/1000 Knives showcase on Thursday, October 18 at Public Assembly.


Prong

Prong has been deftly combining elements of hardcore punk, thrash, industrial music and good old fashioned metal for over 20 years, so if you’re a big metal fan, and you live in New York, you’ve probably caught them at some point. But here’s the question: Have you seen Prong on a boat? Yes, Prong is playing on a boat. Expect intensity, expect brutality, expect carnage. Honestly, don’t be surprised if it ends up being like that Friday The 13th movie where Jason spent most of his time hanging out on a cruise ship. Yeah, like this.
 
In case you haven’t figured it out by now, Prong is playing on a boat. More specifically, Prong is playing the Metal Insider showcase on the Rocks Off Concert Cruise on Friday, October 19.


Royal Thunder

“You can run, you can hide / But I swear it, I swear it / These walls will tear you down,” howls Royal Thunder singer Mlny Parsonz on “Parsonz Curse,” the powerful piledriver of an opening track off the group’s debut full-length CVI. That sense of inevitable doom colors even the most rollicking and riff-heavy blues-rock songs from this mystical Atlanta group. Drawing inspiration from the stubborn stomp of Black Sabbath and the cosmic woomph of Led Zeppelin, the musicians surrounding Parsonz’s stunning voice are both joyful mimics and cautious, subtle innovators. On record they often give Parsonz’s vocals the space to float above the mix like a soaring hawk, but as a live act they all swoop in for the kill.
 
Royal Thunder is playing the official Brooklyn Vegan-BBG showcase on Saturday, October 20 at Saint Vitus.


Yakuza

Like fellow genre-obliterators Baroness, the Chicago-based experimental metal outfit Yakuza have very little patience for the rigid rules, codified expectations and strained scene politics of heavy music. They’re not afraid to slow things down to a menacing, Swans-like crawl. They’re not afraid to scream their heads off when necessary. They’re not afraid to use a saxophone when they need to, and you’d be surprised how necessary that saxophone becomes in the context of the band’s swirling, psychedelic roar. Don’t let the “avant-garde” reputation scare you off. Touring behind their excellent new record Beyul (which you should totally go stream via Brooklyn Vegan), these guys mean business.
 
Yakuza is playing the official Brooklyn Vegan-BBG showcase on Saturday, October 20 at Saint Vitus.