ECLECTIC ARTS

ECLECTIC ARTS

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Seattle Wins Hands Down - Armored Saint/Metal Church Gig Review - June 10, 2016


Metal Church

Armored Saint

Sin Circus

Substratum

Seattle, WA

June 10, 2016

 

When I saw this co-headlining tour was coming to Seattle I was stoked!  Two great bands - one of which hadn't played here in 16 years - both never really got their due over the years - together on the same bill at Studio Seven - I put it on my calendar as a must see!
I was fortunate enough to have seen Armored Saint twice in the past.  Not as lucky as some of the Seattle fans that saw them on their first visit to Seattle with a then little known band called Metallica back in 1985, but I saw them open for Alice Cooper in (I believe) 1987 as a last minute replacement for a detained Motorhead and then again in 2000 at the Graceland (formerly the Off Ramp and now El Corazon).  So, I knew how good the band was live and how much of a treat it was going to be see them again in 2016.

 


Metal Church being homegrown (even though they were founded in another state they've always called Washington home), they've played the area in recent years.  With the return of Mike Howe on vocals, the band has recently raised their profile once again as a viable metal band to be reckoned with along with their album, "XI".

 


The bill consisted of five bands for the night.  By the time I arrived through I-5 traffic, I had missed the first local band.  Within five minutes of entering Studio Seven, local metal favorite Substratum took the stage.  Playing a blistering 30-minute set of straight forward, in your face heavy metal, Substratum received a warm response from the crowd.  They were a great fit for the bill on a night of traditional heavy metal.
 

Next up was another local product - Sin Circus.  Having made some notoriety for their youthful age when they started up, and being connected (related) to Metal Church bassist Steve Unger, the band had their fair share of fans in attendance.  Playing a 30-minute set of originals and a medley of 80's hard rock and metal riffs/songs, the band went over well with the hometown crowd.  They were my least favorite band of the night, but like Substratum, were a good fit in terms of the music they played.

 


The lights dimmed as the first of a one-two punch took the stage.  Launching into, "Win Hands Down" from their latest album of the same name, Armored Saint kicked the intensity up a thousand notches.

 


Reaching into their back catalog, John Bush (vocals) and company pulled out gems such as, "March of the Saint", "Raising Fear", "Long Before I Die", and, "Aftermath".  Mixed in were a few newer tunes as well as their MTV staples, "Reign Of Fire" and the not as often played, "Last Train Home", Armored Saint were firing on all cylinders.  Jeff and Phil on guitars, Joey on bass, and the ever-present Gonzo on the drums, they were going to be a hard act to follow.  During, "Raising Fear", John took to the ledge of the stage directly in front of me (see video below for the evidence) before singing the tune from half way up the staircase to the bar of Studio Seven.

 


The energy grew and grew and finally hit its peak with the encore of, "Can U Deliver" and "Madhouse" - both from their debut album, "March of the Saint".  The band shook hands from the stage as they departed, leaving the Seattle crowd hungry for more.

 


Armored Saint had not lost a bit of their intensity, attitude, or musicianship.  A head scratcher in terms of why they never really caught on here in the US, it was great to see them again after all these years.  I hope the next visit won't be in another 16 years!

 


After a brief change over, the second punch came in the form of Metal Church.  Kicking off their set with, "Fake Healer", the band sounded amazing!  Mike Howe's return to the Seattle stage (they had played other local cities earlier) was a welcome return - his vocals sounding like he had never left the band. 

 


While the band mixed in a few earlier Wayne era tunes, much of the set was from the Howe era which was nostalgic for me as I played the "Human Factor" album throughout my college years numerous times.  Songs I had not listened to in years were aired on Friday night that just made me bang my head that much harder. 



Ending their set with, "Badlands" and "The Human Factor", the band had the crowd in a frenzy.  The packed Studio Seven crowd was hot, drenched with sweat, and exhausted in the best possible way. 



I've been really fortunate over the past few months to see bills that were strong from beginning to end.  This show was yet another piece of evidence that metal is alive and well in the Northwest. 

 

This tour is unfortunately a short one with it having ended in Portland the next night.  Perhaps management will consider putting together a longer tour with these two bad ass bands in the future.  If they do, I know I'll be there for sure! 

 

Cheers!

Mark

Eclectic Arts

 
Armored Saint, "Raising Fear" LIVE Video!






 




Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Eclectic Arts: Crypticon Seattle 2016 Report!


Crypticon

Seattle 2016

May 27, 28, and 29th 2016

Hilton Seattle Airport and Conference Center

 

It's been five years of covering this wonderful convention of horror here in Seattle, WA.  As they say, time sure does fly when you're having fun.  And fun we had at Crypticon Seattle 2016!  Three days filled with guests, conversations, panels, film screenings, parties, contests, and a slew of other events. 

 




 





Crypticon Seattle means different things to different fans.  Some come to take it all in - from the moment the doors open to the late night screenings and parties where you party your little black hearts out.  Others come for specific guests - to meet them, perhaps get a photo or autograph.  While still others come to network with like-minded individuals in the field they want to get into (writing, film making, etc). 

 

As a reporter for Eclectic Arts, I go to cover the convention for three days.  I have found that I have to balance the three days otherwise I'll burn out and be of no use to anyone.  My reports tend to cover things from a perspective of those that could not attend any given year.  To give the reader a snapshot of what occurred, what changed, what was good, what wasn't, etc. 

 

Anyone that's been following Eclectic Arts recently knows the magazine has been spending a lot of time covering national touring bands as of late.  There are more concerts on the horizon over the next few months as well.  Keep watching this space. 

 

Why I mention this is that going to Crypticon Seattle was a welcome change of pace from all the recent concert coverage.  I always enjoy myself at Crypticon Seattle and this year was no exception.  A few familiar faces were absent but others were there like old friends you see once a year.  And this extends to the fan base.  There are definitely some of the same fans that I see each and every year.  Genre fans are a dedicated bunch for sure!

 

Each year I tell myself I'm going to find a new angle to cover Crypticon Seattle.  This year I was interested in doing a few video interviews - with proper lighting and such.  Crypticon Seattle has an in house videographer who does fine work with his interviews.  The two guests I targeted unfortunately declined.  Well, one did, the other I never heard back from.  Par for the course when it comes to securing interviews I've found over the years.  I'll give it a go again prior to next year's convention. 

 

This year I took the convention in for what it is.  For starters, the celebrity guests tables were all lined up in the same area for once.  Well, once since I've been covering Crypticon Seattle.  This made it easy to find whom you were looking for instead of having them spread in the back and in the front like years past.  It also seemed to be a little better lit that way.  That could have just been my old eyes though.

 

This was the first year that professional photo ops were available for purchase - just like Comic Con.  Actually, I believe it was the same company as ECCC used this year.  More commentary on this later.

 

The convention was laid out like 2015 where the main vendor room and other meeting rooms were in one building (above the parking garage) while the connecting main hotel building hosted panels, the horror cake lab, and screenings.

 

The past few years I've parked elsewhere to avoid the parking garage prices.  I figure a little walking and saving of money is better so I can spend said money at the convention than in parking my damn car.

 

The ever familiar Anubis Hearse Club greeted all fans as they walked up the stairs to the elevator that would take them to the ticket area.  As always a comforting sight to see the hearses lined up.  Two or three military vehicles were also lined up this year - one was used in a film ("Zombie Strippers").



After securing my press passes (thanks Dee!), I made my rounds inside the vendor room.  Almost all of the guests were at their tables.  Luchagore Productions were caught up at the US/Canadian border so they arrived later on Friday.  As always the beginning of the convention was slow at first but picked up as late afternoon turned into evening. 

 

Going with a generic press pass was a smart move.  It just makes it easier to avoid mistakes.  The celebrity guests of course had name specific passes.

 


Familiar vendors, some new vendors, were present.  The author’s alley was again near the exit area where food was served and smokers took their breaks outside from the hotel.  Mercer A and B were being used for the professional photo ops this year.  Crystal A B and C were used for a variety of performances again, etc.

 

Tony Todd ("Candyman") and Ginger Lynn ("The Devil's Rejects") had specific prices at their tables.  All others had signs that said one or two things which was confusing this year.  For example - Michael Biehn's (The Terminator, Aliens, K2) sign said "$40 for autographed DVD" or something to that effect.  His wife Jennifer also had a sign with her own price for an autographed item.  I bring this up as it wasn't clear if you could get candid photos with the guests or not.  In more recent years, it was either included with the price of buying an 8x10 or DVD.  Or you could pay $10 for a photo by itself - unless it was Sid Haig who never charges for candid photos. 

 

For those new to the convention circuit, the guests set the prices, NOT the convention.  I heard some grumblings about the pricing and that the professional photo ops were the reason for the high prices for autographs and such.  Whether or not this is true I have no idea.  It does make you wonder though.  It could just be the roster of guests this year had higher prices than other years.  Who knows?  No one's forcing you to buy anything.  But I do see the point. 

 

Did I splurge?  Yes, I did.  Well, not splurge but I did shell out some bucks for one professional photo op with Elvira in costume as well as her signature.  Add in Lance Henriksen for an autograph that included a candid photo with him.  I'll get to these two experiences soon.

 

I also chatted with the Luchagore Productions folks and spent some money at their table.  One of my assistants bought a few items through the other vendors in the hall (see photo further in this report).

 

Speaking of assistants, I brought two this year - on Saturday and Sunday.  Both had been to Crypticon Seattle before so that made them easy choices to help out with my coverage.

 

I noticed in my program (seemingly more professional in appearance this year although there were still a few typos in it but overall it was better) that the guest panel list for Saturday was really mixed.  Normally, the "big" guest panels are on Saturday.  Instead, those were on Sunday.  Perhaps this was a business move to get attendance up on Sunday which is notoriously the slowest of the three days.  All I know is that the two big panels on Sunday should have been standing room only and they weren't.  If they had been held on Saturday, I believe they would have been packed.  There were also the professional photo ops to accommodate so that may have played into the decision to have these two panels on Sunday.  Anyone from the Crypticon Seattle staff care to chime in? 



In any event, I knew I wanted to hear Tony Todd's panel at 1:00pm.  I had purchased a professional photo op for Elvira that started at 12:30pm.  When I got to the convention, my assistant wanted to buy a photo op for later in the afternoon.  The line for Elvira was already forming so I figured I best wait in the line so I don't miss my opp.  If you read the fine print, if you're late to your photo op and the guest is done/gone, you're SOL.  I was in line a good 40 minutes early at least.  Maybe longer. 

 

I ran into Mika Savoia (hi Mike!)  If you're an event/concert photographer fan, then you know Mike's legendary work.  Yes, legendary work.  The man has photographed all the big names in rock over the last 30 years or so.  And here he was at Crypticon Seattle waiting in line just like me for none other than Elvira.  Good to see you Mike!  See you at Armored Saint/Metal Church in two weeks!

 

Elvira was appearing in costume.  It was by far the biggest draw for the professional photo ops all weekend.  No other line came even close.  Her line went down one wall, wrapped past the Crystal ball rooms, down the other side of the hall, past the bathrooms, and toward the elevators/ticket purchasing area.

 

Due to the line, and the 45-minute allotted time slot, all the fans were basically rushed through the line which is normal for these things.  If you think you're going to have a "moment" with a guest at a photo op, forget it.  Go to their table where you can chat with them a bit (or sometimes at length).  I saw many people in line with items to be signed by Elvira.  I'm sure they had to hold off until she was back at her table.

 

As I put my shoulder bag on the table, and had my ticket scanned, I went through the curtain to wait my turn.  A fan was next to Elvira and the school year book photo backdrop.  Elvira’s assistant was fixing her hair.  Then Elvira mentioned that it was so hot back there that her makeup wouldn't hold up the whole time, could they please get some air/AC back there.  This prompted the photographer to tell a staff member the message about the request for air.  The photographer then left (where I have no clue) while Elvira adjusted her makeup and rested on the red couch.  The photographer returned and then there was nothing going on.  The fan was still waiting in place by the backdrop, looking awkward (I would have felt weird, too).  Finally, Elvira's assistant asked if the photographer was good.  He said he was ready to go to which she replied, "oh, you should of let us know - we follow you're direction" or something similar.  So Elvira got back up, took the photo, and then the line moved.  I had three people waiting in front of me. 

 

Let me tell you - standing next to the horror icon was surreal.  She was here three years ago but she did not appear in costume.  So, to see the whole Elvira mystique in person was awesome!  She was very polite which was not a surprise as she was great to the fans three years ago.  She looked A-MAZ-ING!  I thanked her and scurried over to the photo line to get my print.



I figured I might be late to Tony Todd's panel.  I walked hastily over to the elevators and who do I see there?  Tony Todd.  Whew!  I ended up walking behind Tony's group to get to the Alpine room.  Tony Todd is 6'5".  And he looks it. 

 

TJ Tranchell had the pleasure of moderating Tony's panel.  Mr. Todd is very well spoken.  He was real, funny, serious, and a real pro.  He was genuinely thankful to be at Crypticon Seattle.  He's done tons of these conventions but he talked to the moderate audience like he was lecturing at a film school.  Intentional with his words, his stories, and again, very real, his panel was very memorable.  A jazz fan - he had already been to a club or two in Seattle on this trip, he spoke of Candyman fame, all the other films he's been in, living as a working actor, and his love of sports (he mentioned the OKC-Warriros NBA series - which was a bit of a groan moment for me and any other Seattle Sonics loving fans due to the mention of OKC). 




My assistant knew Tony but was really impressed with his panel.  She was off for her photo op back in the other building with the Aliens crew.  I meanwhile ventured down two doors (or three) to the Glacier Room where the screenings were taking place all weekend.  For what you ask?

 

Luchagore Productions were at Crypticon Seattle last year.  The Soska Twins talked them up but I never got a chance to talk to them or see "El Gigante".  So, this year, I knew I wanted to see what they're up to. 

 

The four core founders were here to screen an anthology of some of their best clips.  This included Slam!, El Gigante, Madre De Dios, and a few short clips.  I wasn't sure what to expect from an upstart film company of four years.  I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the shorts.  The fact that these were made on shoe string budgets (or even less) was miraculous as they didn't look for lack of a better word "cheap" or low budget.  Dirty, grind house oriented, and visually assaulting, I found their work inspired and intriguing.

 

The team talked to the audience about their work and answered questions as well.  I caught up with them at their table on Sunday.  I'm trying to type this in chronological order but my waning memory is making that difficult.

 


After the Luchagore Productions panel, I met my assistant again.  Alec Gillis was scheduled to have a panel at 3pm.  A few fans were waiting inside as the previous panel wrapped up.  I saw an old friend, Anthony Kay (hi Tony!), who had just finished moderating.  We caught up on the current goings on in our respective worlds.  We both started working/attending Crypticon Seattle in the same year:  2012.  Just typing that makes me shake my head - has it really been five years?  I was telling my assistant how I first met Tony at a panel in 2012.  I was waiting for a panel to start on a Saturday and Tony introduced himself.  Once he started with his extremely well written introduction for the guest, I made a mental note to mention how good a moderator Tony was/is in my report.  No small feat considering I was massively concussed at the time of the 2012 Crypticon Seattle (true story).

 

After 3pm came and went, I found a staff worker to ask about the Alec Gillis panel.  He radioed in and someone was trying to find out what happened.  We waited around a bit longer and then decided this wasn't happening I guess and left the room.  When we went back to the vendor area, Mr. Gillis was at his table so I don't know what happened.  In any event, I knew he'd be a part of the Aliens panel on Sunday so I'd still get to hear him speak.

 

At this point, my assistant and I ventured around the convention taking in the sights and goods.  I say this every year but one of these years I'm going to get a room at the hotel and plant myself there so I can stay all night and partake in the night parties and other goings ons at Crypticon that I tend to miss out on by heading home.  Perhaps next year will be the year?

 

Sunday brought rain showers, cold temperatures (initially), and much enthusiasm for the day as I was looking forward to two of the panels - or three if I could of made the timing work.  Elvira and the Aliens panels were on Sunday.

 

While waiting for the room to be turned over from the Brunch, I had a guest ask me if I was waiting for the cruise to Norway.  Um, Norway?  Nope.  She then found out that this thing called Crypticon was going on in the hotel and she snickered in disgust.  You know what?  Get your ass on your cruise lady and leave us genre fans alone.  But I digress.

 

A group was waiting to grab seats for the Elvira panel.  Again, had this been Saturday, it would have been standing room only (just like it was three years ago - I know as I was there). 

 

Tony Kay got the luck of the draw (I guess that's how it works) as the moderator of BOTH panels, as well as others over the three days of course.  Lucky guy!

 

Cassandra Peterson - Elvira to you and me, was as pleasant and charming as last time.  Tony did a fine job moderating to pivot between questions some of us may have heard prior and new topics.  The go-go dancer at a gay club on a military base story was priceless!  A farm girl from Kansas, you see how Cassandra has been there and done that, and then some.  Yet, she is still very much a humble human being who has worked for everything she has, including the coffee table book she has coming out soon.  Shameless plug I know.  But the book sounds interesting!  She also mentioned the development of an animated series!



The next panel featured Michael Biehn, Lance Henriksen, and Alec Gillis - all were involved with the film, "Aliens".  I saw this film in the theater back in 1986 and it is a film that I never tire of. 

 

The three guests spoke about their time on the film, stories, and such.  By the half-way point, they were definitely warmed up and talking with little questioning from Tony who was moderating this wonderful panel.  Lance Henriksen was a surprise to me.  He was overall quite happy during the weekend which was awesome to see.  Michael Biehn was dare I say ok?  He often seemed like he'd rather be elsewhere but that may just be the way he is - protected and guarded.  Alec Gillis was pleasant and personable.  As a member of the SFX crew on the film, he had interesting tidbits to interject into the panel.  Overall, it was interesting to watch the chemistry between Biehn and Henriksen as they reopened the vaults from the mid 80's.



Kane Hodder was next who I wanted to stay and hear from but I also wanted my photo with Elvira signed and she was going to be done at 3pm.  So, my assistant stayed at the panel while I went back to the vendor room.

 


I was told that Kane's panel was very interesting.  He spoke about the different films he's worked on, particularly as a stunt man.  He mentioned that Brad Pitt tore his hand up during the making of, "Seven" but insisted on continuing the shoot.  Once done, he was brought to the hospital to have his hand stitched up.  Apparently it was bleeding profusely.  Kane’s burn accident early on in his career is also well noted but also interesting (in a good/bad kind of way of course).  And, of course, his four turns as Crystal Lake's most famous killer.

 

Meanwhile, I was in a line to meet Cassandra Peterson.  I had my Elvira Fan Club pin on which meant I could select one of the patches or pins from the table free of charge (and yes I asked her assistant first as I didn't know what "special gift" I would receive per the Fan Club letter).  Wondering what the heck I'm talking about?  Join Elvira's fan club for $20 a year and when she comes to town, if you were wearing your pin (and have your card on you), you get a "special gift".

 

As I got closer to the front of the line, the assistant noticed my pin and told me I could select one of these items (she pointed to the end of the table).  I mentioned I already had selected a patch earlier - yes I'm the honest type - and she thanked me.

 

When I got up to meet Cassandra, she looked at my photo from Saturday and remarked, "what a nice pair” – she paused – and then said “you and I don't look too bad together either".  Witty as ever, her crack about her breasts made me laugh and then I asked her about her friend Danny Koker from the show on the History Channel, "Counting Cars".  I had interviewed Danny a few years ago and I wanted to know if her episode was real or something done up for TV.  Nope - she really does know him, has nothing but good things to say about him, and they share the horror host background.  I was glad to hear this as Danny was an awesome interview and as genuine as they come.  She remarked that she only wanted a few things done to her car and he came back with a whole long list of things they could do.  If you know the show, then you're smiling right now as you know this is totally something Danny would do.  The guy is a care junkie! 

 

I thanked her for her time and left the table area feeling good about the day.  A few family members were at the convention on Sunday so I met up with them for a while.  Eventually my assistant made her way back to the vending room as well. 

 


I wanted to speak to the Luchagore Productions folks so I headed over to their table.  All four of them were there (hi guys!).  They were happy to hear I was at the screening on Saturday.  I spoke to them about how much I liked their work, that it didn't look low budget at all, and I really enjoyed the screening.

 

They in turn introduced themselves and talked about upcoming work, what it took to get where they are, etc.  Very cool, down to earth, people.  I can see why the Soska's were so high on them last year.  I purchased a DVD and photo - which came with a poster.  Since I came to the screening they let me choose another print - from the forth coming El Gigante comic book.  I couldn't make up my mind so Gigi said to take both of them.  I got everything signed because I'm a geek that way, and I wished them well.  I'm really antsy to hear what project they have coming up (they couldn't talk about it just yet).


I decided to get a photo with Lance Henriksen.  I mentioned how much I enjoyed his panel which he was pleased about.  I also mentioned "Pumpkinhead" which he seemed a little less pleased about.  He was very friendly and met my entire family that was there.




At this point, I was pooped.  I took another look around the convention and then decided to call it another Crypticon weekend.

 

I want to thank everyone involved with Crypticon Seattle for making my Memorial Day weekend special again!  I do not take for granted the press passes you grant me each year.  I will do my best next year to expand upon my coverage, either via video, or my actual time at the convention.  I've already put in to take off the Friday and the Monday (to recuperate) next year in May to focus strictly on Crypticon Seattle 2017!

 

Mark your calendars folks as two things are happening with Crypticon Seattle 2017 - one is that it’s moving to the Double Tree at Sea Tac (south of the Hilton) and it’s at the beginning of May - not over Memorial Day weekend.

 

The convention is coming up on its 10th convention in 9 years (depending on how you count it - right Eric?  J   ).  It started at the Double Tree.  Since I was late to the game, I haven't experienced Crypticon Seattle at this other hotel so it'll be interesting to compare the two.

 

Any way you slice it (pun intended), I'll be there!

 

Cheers!

Mark Sugiyama

Eclectic Arts

 


 

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Death By Unicorn - Unicorn Death Gig Review May 22, 2016




Unicorn Death

Children Of Seraph

Rhine

A Flourishing Scourge

Seattle, WA

May 22, 2016

 

I was just at Studio Seven this past Thursday.  I ventured back on Sunday to check out a band from San Diego.  Actually, when it was initially announced, there was a black metal band from California as well on the bill.  I was interested in both but the latter ended up bailing on the NW shows for reasons of their own (explained on social media).

 

I was exhausted from a long ass week which made for a quiet reviewer at Studio Seven.  Normally I would talk to the band(s) before or after their sets but not this time.  I barely made it through the sets Sunday evening.  Next time I hope to gather more information about the headliner Unicorn Death.

 

A friend of mine had said Rhine was a local metal band I would probably like.  Fortunately for social media, I saw that the band was on third.  Then I saw that they were actually on first.  So I headed out the door to arrive just in time to catch their set.



A mixture of blackened death metal, Rhine really came across well.  It's hard playing first let alone to a sparse crowd on a Sunday evening.  My understanding is that this is their last gig for a while.  Great tunes and musicianship, I enjoyed their set.  My friend was right.  Good stuff!

 

Next up was the second local band - Children of Seraph.  A rather young looking band (not sure of their ages), they are a heavy metal band in the traditional sense.  Musically, they were pleasing to listen to.  The singer was actually singing which was nice to hear.  Some of the song titles and lyrics were on the cheesy side but they showed promise if they can hone their sound and their look.  The white jacket has to go as does the Biggie t-shirt. If you look the part, people like myself will take you a little more seriously.  Again, the band was good but work on the presentation of the band fellas to enhance the overall effect.



Next up was the headliner Unicorn Death.  Why they were on third I don't really know.  Perhaps they had to get on the road soon after the gig or perhaps the other local band didn't arrive to load in so they went with a three band bill until the other local showed up.



In any event Unicorn Death are a six piece self-branded legend metal band.  They looked "the business" (as Steve Harris would say).  They had the stage gear, banners, stage outfits, etc.  They had a ton of merch as well. 

 

I must admit I only watched a few videos on YT to see what style of music they were.  A mixture of power metal, symphonic metal, heavy metal, and dare I say musicals, the band hit the stage for a tight rocking 45 minute set. 



Professional sounding, with an interesting mix of musical styles, Unicorn Death did their best to make a statement in Seattle.

 

With female vocals, male vocals, keyboards, alternating twin guitars, along with bass and drums, the band reminded me at times of darker versions of (old) The Gathering in vibe, Theatre of Tragedy in the beauty and beast vocal department, mixed in with many power metal bands.  There are times they have a flavor of musicality that you might hear in a Broadway musical.  A dark Broadway musical.  It might be the vocals and the keyboard parts, but it's definitely there. 



Unicorn Death's music absolutely paints a picture in your mind's eye.  It's very cinematic at times.  I could see them in the future doing a concept record, easily.  The band has a good thing going on. 

 

The musicianship is strong - no weak links in this band.  I really couldn't find anything to fault with their show.  I'm very glad I dragged my ass to Studio Seven to hear them.



The only minor suggestions would be to figure out what to do with Cassie's (vocals/keys) keyboard.  Perhaps get a custom stand made so it looks like a tree growing from the roots up or some other cool visual like Tuomas from Nightwish has or many vocalists have for their stands nowadays (Dani Filth from Cradle of Filth comes to mind).  Seeing her dead center stage with the keyboard I wished something were covering it up like a Unicorn Death banner or again like a cool looking stand.

 

Another suggestion would be the name.  I totally get the power/legend metal sound and the name fitting that.  I just feel it’s limiting.  When I told some people I was going to see Unicorn Death, they were like what?  And these are people that love metal.  The name made them laugh and not think it was cool or anything.  I don't know.  Everyone has an opinion I suppose.

 

The other suggestion would be to get professional CD's made.  With all the money that's been put into every other aspect of the band, the most important aspect - the music - seems to have been neglected.  I know it's a digital world and the majority of people buy/steal MP3's but some old school folks like me (and in markets like Europe where this band would do well) appreciate a hard copy CD with a color booklet.

 

These are three very, very minor suggestions.  Overall, the band is really promising!  My litmus test for any band after seeing them live is this:  would I see them again?  The answer when it comes to Unicorn Death is absolutely yes!

 

The last local band came on after - A Flourishing Scourge.  I stayed for their first song and then had to leave so I didn't get to hear the rest of their set.  Perhaps next time.




 

Unicorn Death are playing a few more shows on this tour.  Check them out if they come to your town!

 

Cheers!

Mark





 

 

 

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Mandroid Echostar Invade The U.S. - Gig Review from Seattle, WA May 19th, 2016



Mandroid Echostar
Auras
Native Construct
Designer Disguise
Seattle, WA
May 19, 2016


I saw the calendar for Studio Seven over a month ago.  There was a gig in May that caught my attention.  I wasn't familiar with any of the bands so I looked them up.  All three touring bands were listed as progressive metal which was interesting to me being a musician myself.

The first band I checked out was Mandroid Echostar - a Canadian six piece.  I liked what I heard.  Native Construct are a five piece from Boston, MA and were more progressive than my usual tastes but they were interesting.  Auras is a Canadian four piece - a really odd mix of musical styles.  I was intrigued so I put it on my calendar.

It was a Thursday evening at Studio Seven, the weather had reverted back to being typical Seattle (i.e. grey and showery) where just a mere week ago we were in the mid 80's and sun.  As I got close to the doors, based on the cars parked outside, I could tell the show was going to be sparsely attended which was unfortunate.

After checking in, I arrived just in time for the local band.  Designer Disguise is listed as a heavy rock band on their Facebook page.  A five piece band, they played a short but energetic set.  They threw in a cool cover of a 90's boy band tune (go check them out to figure which band).  The last tune had a few bars where the guitarists harmonized some (two finger) tapping - I was sold.  It was nice to see some local talent with actual talent.

Next up was Native Construct.  The most progressive of the bands on the bill, they were nearly flawless in their performance.  A short 30-minute set of music that spanned more than just progressive metal.  That title is too limiting for Native Construct.  Top-notch musicianship.  Their bassist stood out in terms of stage presence.  A very talented band that helped build to the band I came to see.



Mandroid Echostar have been working at their craft for four plus years.  With progressive elements mixed in with various types of metal as well as rock and other genres, the band took the stage ready to play their first ever gig on U.S. soil.


The energy from the band was twofold - they sounded like a band well beyond their four years of existence.  Secondly they were having fun.  Imagine that?!  A band actually enjoying themselves.  It was great to see a band playing complex music that wasn't always complex, know what I mean?  These guys can play but they also know when to break down the parts so they are more palatable for the more mainstream listener. 

Also a too short 30-minute set list:

Hypnos
Kingdom and The Crown
Matoax
The Sleeper
Haunted Vows
Ancient Arrows


Plenty of harmonized guitar leads, time signature changes, heavy headbanging parts, mixed with some incredible melodies, Mandroid Echostar impressed the Hell out of me.  Anyone that knows me or follows Eclectic Arts knows that's a pretty big statement at this point in my career.  I love discovering new bands.  This goes back as far as junior high school.  I'm a music junkie of all genres.  I know when I see a band that is worth getting behind.  Mandroid Echostar is one such band.  Why this band is not bigger is baffling to me.  This needs to be remedied EA readers.

The band is playing a series of shows between Canada and the northern U.S.  They hope to land on a bigger tour in the fall.  In the mean time, if you have the opportunity to catch them on this tour, do yourself a favor and GO SEE THESE GUYS!  You will not regret it!


Fans of bands as diverse as Dream Theater, Fates Warning, Iron Maiden, Symphony X, some of the European power metal bands like Rhapsody and Sonata Arctica, will find something to like with Mandroid Echostar. 

I must mention that bassist Adam Richards bangs with the best of them.  He reminded me a bit of the late Cliff Burton.  He has his own vibe going on when he's playing his six string bass.  You can't teach that.  It's just a part of who you are as a person and a performer.  Good stuff!


During the last tune, "Ancient Arrows", the band banged across the board toward the end of the song (see the video at the end of this review).  Entertaining in every way - this band has it all!

I chatted briefly with the guys after the show - specifically Michael (vocals).  Totally down to earth guys just enjoying themselves on this inaugural jaunt through the States.  Look for big things from this band!



How do you top Mandroid Echostar?  No offense to Auras but, respectfully, you don't.  Auras was a really unique mix of genres.  The almost metalcore vocals are going to be off putting to the progressive metal crowd but not to me (being a death and black metal fan).  The band features two guitarists with no bass player to speak of.  The music was such a wide mish mash of styles that it's really hard to describe.  This makes them original which is a damn hard thing to do these days but it also makes them hard to market.  Again, great musicianship like the other bands on this tour, the band gave it their all even though at this point the already small crowd at Studio Seven shrank by a few more people.


Overall - this was a solid night of music.  No weak links in the bill.  Mandroid Echostar was the stand out band of the evening for me but all of the bands were quality.  Check out the bands online and definitely check this tour out if you're lucky enough to have it hit your town.

Cheers!
Mark
EA

Mandroid Echostar - "Ancient Arrows" Live in Seattle, WA

Special Thanks:  Sam for guesting me, Mandroid Echostar for putting on a great show - I'm a fan for sure, and Studio Seven and their staff.