Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Video Interview: TODD LA TORRE from QUEENSRYCHE! 3/22/16

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Saturday, March 12, 2016

Endless Nightwish Most Beautiful - NIGHTWISH, SONATA ARCTICA, and DELAIN Review! 3/7/16

Sonata Arctica

The Showbox SoDo
Seattle, WA
March 7, 2016

This was the third show in three nights for me.  When I think back over the thirty years of gigs I've been to, I don't believe I've ever gone to three shows back to back to back.  From Cannibal Corpse on Saturday to Kill Ritual on Sunday to …

I saw Nightwish back in the Tarja years on the "Once" mini tour here in the U.S.  I was never sold on the Annette version of the band.  This was a shame as I was really into the band before Tarja's "departure".  Of course, everyone knows the Floor Jansen story - three and a half years ago she made her stage debut with the band here in Seattle, WA at the very same club. 

I remember reading online about her debut - that's when I got excited again about Nightwish.  I saw the band last year on the first leg of the U.S. "Endless Forms Most Beautiful" tour in Portland, OR.  Funny enough - months earlier Delain was playing here with Sonata Arctica and all the pre-gig talk amongst the fans was which city are you traveling to to see the Nightwish gig in 2015.  It was either north to Vancouver, BC, east to Spokane, WA, or south to Portland, OR as there was no Seattle gig on the itinerary.

And here we are in 2016 and Nightwish return with both Sonata Arctica and Delain in tow.  I had spent week's earlier securing guest list passes and video interview opportunities with both Nightwish and Delain.

As the day of the gig approached, I was informed that Nightwish had to cancel any media interviews.  I was bummed but not too much as I knew I still had the interview with Charlotte from Delain scheduled.  The day of the gig, I found out Charlotte was dealing with a cold.  Initially I thought I was out both interviews but as I read her text further, I found out Martijn offered to step in and do the video interview.  Yes!

I'd like to send a quick thanks to Kristen at NuclearBlast USA and to Jon at Napalm USA for securing the passes and the opportunities for me.  It is much appreciated!

I've seen Delain three times previously.  Basically, any tour they do of the U.S., I go see them.  Delain in the U.S. equals Mark at the show.  Done.

The band released an EP to coincide with the tour, "Lunar Prelude".  The band launched into an eight song set starting with the latest single, "Suckerpunch".  "Get The Devil Out Of Me" came up next.  A special treat (well about 50% of the time according to Martijn - see the video interview) came in the form of Marco from Nightwish joining the band for "Sing To Me". 

The band was energetic as ever - a five piece on this tour (Merel (guitar) joined the band months ago but Otto (bass) was home awaiting the birth of his child), the Seattle crowd was way into the band.  With all the touring Delain is doing, I'm sure every city in the U.S. they've played is growing and expanding, too, just like here in Seattle.

While I always want to hear a longer set, the fact that their set ended meant I was going to need to get ready for my video interview with Martijn soon.  I was stoked!  

Sonata Arctica were up next.  Playing their brand of Finnish power metal, their short seven-song set was well received.  It was hard to tell who had the better crowd response - Delain or Sonata.  I was in two different parts of the club (front for Delain, back for Sonata) so I'm not really sure.  I was half distracted, as the time grew closer to leave the venue to board the Band Wagon and interview Martijn.  Instead of going into all the details, I'll let the video do the talking.   

View the video interview here:

On a high after the interview, I needed to get back inside to get to the photo pit to capture Nightwish!

As the lights went down and Hans Zimmer blared over the PA, the spoken word intro introduced "Shudder Before the Beautiful" and the band was off and running!

Playing much of the same set list as a year ago, there were some noticeable changes - "Wishmaster" for me was a welcome surprise.  Keeping "Stargazers" in the set from the last tour also made me smile.

Apparently Floor was also suffering from illness but you couldn't tell from her performance.  The band was inspired as always.  Playing nearly two hours, as the last notes of "The Greatest Show On Earth" played, and the band took their customary bow, I realized I may not see Nightwish back in these parts for three or more years. 

Much like the Cannibal Corpse bill on Saturday, the Nightwish bill was strong from beginning to end.  No weak links, the crowd was enthusiastic but polite (customary for these types of shows apparently), and everyone had a great time!

Members of Delain came back into the venue after the show to meet and talk with fans.  It's those little things that go a long way with making that personal connection with your fan base and creating new fans.  More bands should take note of this.  Planting seeds folks.  Planting seeds for the eventual headlining tour.  


While I have been a model-based photographer for over ten years, event/concert photography is a new beast to me.  I'm still getting used to being in a photo pit with folks that have shot hundreds of shows, let alone learning how to take a decent concert photo.

Having said that, I think the photos in this review are a good start.  You feel like you're there at the show and that's what's most important to me.  I hope you enjoy them!



Cannibal Corpse
Abysmal Dawn

El Corazon
Seattle, WA
March 5, 2016

Life can be a funny thing.  About a year prior, I was all set to see Cannibal Corpse with Behemoth.  Unfortunately, I lost my job earlier that month so I had to make a decision between seeing that gig or seeing Cancerslug.  Since this was Cancerslug's first visit to Seattle, and they do it old school by driving themselves in a van to every show, I opted for the ladder gig.  I hated having to choose between equally awesome gigs but I was broke so I did what I had to do.

Fast forward about a year later, Cannibal Corpse returned - with one hell of a bill to boot.  I had seen Cannibal Corpse four times back in the early 2000's.  All of those bills had a mix of usually death and black metal type bands.  I remember thinking back then I'd rather see all death or all black metal, not a mix on the same bill.  Well, some wishes cannot be denied - nothing but death metal this time around!

Abysmal Dawn was first up.  Now, many times the first band gets either a non-existent reaction around these parts or by the end they may have won the crowd over.  As soon as AD launched into their opener, the pit broke out and never let up for the entire four-band night.

While the music of the American four piece was strong, their drummer really showed me something.  Tight, creative, and punishing would be the adjectives I'd use to describe his drum work.  Inspired stuff!

The Seattle crowd was most definitely into AD's brand of American death metal.  They did a fantastic job of warming the crowd up.

Next up - Cryptopsy!

There are many metal bands that I know of but don't really know that well.  Cryptopsy fit the bill.  I knew they were a Canadian technical death metal band that had been around since the late 80's.  I knew that Flo was widely regarded as a standout drummer in the death metal scene.  Outside of that, I knew nothing and I'd be the first one to admit it.

While their music was certainly different than Abysmal Dawn, they were no less fierce with their attack.  The musicianship was on another level for sure.  There was no mistaking that Flo is one hell of a drummer.  I couldn't stop watching his drumming all through their (much too short) 30 minute set. 

Crazy pit frenzy, hot ass club that smelled of wet soaked ass (it was raining outside - rain in Seattle, go figure), Cryptopsy were just building upon the work that AD laid down earlier in the night. 

Next up - Obituary!

I was stoked to see Obituary for the first time - yeah, I know, I'm lame.  One of the pioneers of American death metal, I was ready to hear the original voice of John Tardy alongside those down-tuned guitars that churn out riffs of thrash influenced death metal.  And man the band did not disappoint.

The pit was in overdrive as Obituary stomped their way through a set of old and new.  Epic parts where you can't help but bang the shit out of your head, the boys delivered their brand of death metal in fine form. 

Bands that have been around as long as Cryptopsy, Obituary, and Cannibal Corpse, make it look easy.  But we all know after the thousands of gigs they've done over the years, they've worked to get to where they are these days.  Dues paid, tours completed, and now they can get up there and show all the younger bands how it's done.

Next up - Cannibal Corpse!

I was excited to see how Cannibal Corpse faired after three pulverizing sets to open the show.  It had been twelve years since I last saw them - ironically the last time was at the very same club. 

CC is like AC/DC to me.  You go to the gig knowing exactly what you're going to get.  They don't deviate, they don't change for change's sake, they do what they do best and leave all pretenders in the dust.

Blasting through a sixteen-song set starting with "Evisceration Plague", the band hasn't let up one fucking bit!  Playing at least one song from almost every album, including their latest release from 2014, "A Skeletal Domain", the band were as punishing as ever.

Corpsegrinder had his usual fun with the Seattle crowd - talking about his beloved Broncos Super Bowl win.  A chant of "Sea - HAWKS" broke out which he appreciated.  Of course, he then made a tongue in cheek remark about firing up the chainsaws and taking them to Russell Wilson's head.  All in good fun, the band launched into "Kill or Become" off the new release.

The usual oldies got the pit going into overdrive such as "Stripped, Raped, and Strangled" and "I Cum Blood".  Of course "Hammer Smashed Face" made every one lose their minds.  It was interesting to see that instead of ending the set there, they busted out "Devoured By Vermin" to close the night. 

Jeff Loomis of Arch Enemy was in the house (ex Nevermore) as pointed out by "Babyface" before CC took the stage.

From start to finish, this was one for the books.  No weak links in the lineup, the bands just went from strength to strength, delivering the death metal goods like nobody's business.  A memorable night of pure death metal!


Thanks to:  Liz C-B for the opportunity!

Thursday, March 10, 2016