Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Death By Unicorn - UNICORN DEATH Gig Review 5/22/16

Unicorn Death

Children Of Seraph


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!



Saturday, May 21, 2016

MANDROID ECHOSTAR Invade The U.S. - Gig Review! 5/19/16

Mandroid Echostar
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:

Kingdom and The Crown
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.


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.  


Friday, May 6, 2016

The Month Of May


There has been a great deal of activity on the EA front the past few months.  After five years of existence, I am now considering what I never thought I would do - make EA an official website.

I know for many of you that's like *yawn*.  In the early days of EA, I was hard fast against the magazine ever going online.  Hard copies, hard work, and the underground was all I needed.

Then reality set in.

This here blog was created as a simple tie between hard copy and the digital world.  But, now with this blog and the YT channel being the sole means of EA's existence, I've been giving considerable thought to dedicating the time and energy to a viable website to showcase all of the work I've done over the existence of EA.

And, call me stupid, but the hard copy version of EA will rise once again!

Stay tuned,