SoundShooter

About SoundShooter

A designer of genetically modified organisms and concert photographer turned reviewer, SoundShooter is a motorcycle obsessed geek based in the suburbia of Washington DC area. Considered a closet nerd by his closest friends, he often finds solace in the lyrics of Iron Maiden, science fiction novels and secretly aspires to harness the powers of a Marvel supervillain.

IN THIS MOMENT, GEMINI SYNDROME, AVATAR, MOTIONLESS IN WHITE In Baltimore!

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In This Moment

Last Friday night at the Rams Head Live in Baltimore I witnessed the most visually stunning concert I have attended this year. The bands were In this Moment supported by Motionless in White, Avatar and Gemini Syndrome. The vast majority of shows I cover are of bands I follow religiously. These bands I wasn’t as familiar with, but you can bet that will soon change. When the tour was announced the discussion by the fans of the bands lit up the Facebook groups and other internet forums, which piqued my curiosity. On this Half God Half Devil tour, In This Moment and the cohorts of supporting bands have been selling out venues left and right. And this Baltimore show was sold out months in advance. So I let this review be an unbiased assessment of the captivating live performance of the all the bands on the given night.

Gemini Syndrome

The prelude to the fans started on shaky grounds. The entire Washington DC metropolitan area was rattled by a thunderstorm during late afternoon, maybe a sign from the metal Gods to the fans who have made the trek to Baltimore, with a few coming all the way down from Ohio and West Virginia. As soon as I walked through the airport tight security of Rams Head Live, I witnessed the most excited group of heavy metal fans I have seen in Baltimore. The venue was jam packed, a testament that the fans were there to witness not only the headliner but every single band on the bill. Many fans were dressed in funky costumes like the ones worn by Maria Brink, the front woman of In This Moment in case you did not know, on the stage. Gemini Syndrome, led by Aaron Nordstrom on the vocals, took command of the stage right from the get go. And once the set was over, the drummer came to the midst of the crowd and started stamping the Gemini Syndrome logo on the hands, and in one case of a heavily tattooed guy the neck, of the fans driving them to a manic frenzy. Excellent job Gemini Syndrome, this is one hell of a way to keep the attention of fans!

Avatar

Avatar, a band from Gothenburg (Sweden), brought a freakish cartoonish clown like energy to the stage. The tall lanky Johannes Nordstrom, lead singer with a variety of exaggerated facial expressions, is truly the frontman of the band. You just can’t take the eyes off of the antics of this guy during their set. Many have described the stage persona of this band as circus inspired, but I digress to say that he reminded me more of the Joker of the classic DC comics (not Heath Ledger one). The fans in the crowd were singing along with Nordstrom, with chants of “Avatar Avatar” ringing out in between the songs. I would love to see them headline a show in future just for the sake of the visual experience.

Motionless In White

Motionless In White, a metal band from Scranton Pennsylvania provided the darkest set of the night. Chris Motionless Cerulli led his band with powerful vocals and an intimate interaction with the crowd, despite the barrier separating the crowd from the stage. He reiterated multiple times that in the past he used to head to the Rams Head as a fan from not so far Scranton to attend shows there. The dark ambiance added to the gloomy atmosphere created by their music. Their stage presence is something that can’t be described in words or photographs, it’s an experience all it’s own.

In This Moment

Finally, it was time for In This Moment. A white curtain was brought on to cover the front stage when the stage props were being assembled. As soon as the curtain was drawn off the crowd were treated to a Maria Brink making a dramatic and theatrical appearance in a golden dress, like the one work by Elizabeth Taylor in the 1963 classic, amidst billowing smoke. The well synchronized and beautifully choreographed movements of her and her two performers in company helped create a mystical and sublime theatrical atmosphere with aplomb. As the set progressed she changed costumes after almost every song and the lighting pattern changed accordingly. The multiple persona and environment brought on to the stage by her was something I had never witnessed in a metal concert before. The soaring vocals of Maria Brink added to all the factors that had the crowd going. Maria Brink, spent a significant amount of time giving a prolonged introduction of her bandmates to the crowd, with each band member performing a solo right after the introduction. Very nice to see such a heartfelt introduction of your fellow band members Maria Brink, you are well and truly of the finest ones! This was a truly night of the odd ones, each bringing a completely different ambiance and musical style to the stage. After witnessing this night, I am convinced that we need more bands like In This Moment, and certainly need more enigmatic personalities like Maria Brink. This diversity in styles is what makes heavy metal special. If you are an avid fan of any of these bands, I truly hope you have already bought a ticket to a show, chances are that your nearest show is sold out. And if you are not someone who follows any of these bands, you should start looking at the secondary market. This is one show worth attending even if you are not a huge follower of the bands’ music. I will certainly be attending the shows of In This Moment the next time they are in my area again, just for the theatrical brilliance. We will be reviewing tons of great shows in the next few months, so keep following us. Until then, adios!

The KillThrax Tour: Killswitch Engage, Anthrax, The Devil Wears Prada, Jasta In Silver Springs, MD [Photo Gallery]

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Killswitch Engage

The KillThrax Tour, featuring metalcore giants Killswitch Engage and old school thrash titans Anthrax arrived at the Fillmore in Silver Spring last night. The bands on supporting duty are The Devil Wears Prada, a band good enough to act as headliner, and Jasta, the eponymous band of Hatebreed lead singer Jamey Jasta. No way in hell were I going to not cover this event!

Jasta

The show started fifteen minutes or so early, so I missed the first two songs of Jasta. The band played a  short set of 4-5 songs. I can’t tell you how it was musically, but Jasta did have the crowd well entertained. Jamey Jasta can usually command a crowd like no other. But on this night his request to get a big mosh pit going fell through. Maybe 7 o’clock in Silver Spring is a tad too early for a mosh pit, or that the venue had not started filling up yet, being a Monday night. Their performance didn’t go unappreciated by anyone though and the crowd was pleased with his stage presence and gave him a good round of applause.

The Devil Wears Prada

The Devil Wears Prada was the only band of the night that I had not seen earlier. Right off the bat, they  established a moody and gloomy atmosphere on the stage, and the venue. The major strength of this band’s music is the lyrical content, often much darker and serious than many other metalcore bands. The short melodic riffs and clean vocals in the latest album ‘Transit Blues’ have polarized their fans, with some fans accusing the music of being “less hard”. I can tell you that the track “Daughter” from ‘Transit Blues’ sounded much harder that what it sounds like when I play it on Spotify. It was evident that they had tons of fans in the crowd, for much of the crowd were crooning the songs with Mike Hranica. The lack of lighting added to the dark ambient sounds they performed. Even in the darkness its easy to see the sheer musical quality of the band’s performance.

Anthrax

I will never forget the day I saw Anthrax for the first time; it was in Rock Allegiance (Chester) last year, where I got struck with an extreme allergic reaction in the middle of the festival. That performance didn’t include some of my favorite tracks, so it left me wanting more. Tonight, it was a different story altogether, Anthrax delivered the most compelling show of the night. The selection of songs was immaculate, for lack of better word, with hits from yesteryears “Among the Living”, “Madhouse” as well as the most recent release ‘For All Kings’. I consider “Evil Twin” and “Blood Eagle Wings” as two of the finest songs Anthrax have ever composed, and Joey Belladonna with his cohort delivered it to perfection. Frank Bello is a monstrous ball of energy, and Scott Ian was as expressive during his guitar play as ever, with the instrument as well as stage presence. Joey Belladonna, with the microphone in his hands was effervescent, stopping not only once to interact with the crowd in front, but as well as those in the upper balconies. At one point, Joey Belladonna grabbed the camera of one photographer and started shooting photos of the crowd. And towards the end of the set, the security was having a hard time stopping people from crowd surfing and landing over the barrier. Chants of ‘Anthrax Anthrax Anthrax’ were ringing all around the venue once the band bowed to the crowd and bid adieu, with a promise that they will be back to Maryland in future.

Killswitch Engage

The last act of the night was Killswitch Engage, Opening the set with the moderately paced “Hate by Design”, a track from the latest album ‘Incarnate’. The strength of Jesse Leach lies in his delivery of harsh vocals, which is aplenty in the two releases with Leach back on the vocals, following the departure of Howard Jones. Howard Jones era songs “Rose of Sharyn”, “The End of Heartache, “My Curse” etc. was also featured in the set list, and I don’t think anyone, barring Howard Jones himself, could have done a better job. Killswitch Engage ended this exciting night by playing “In Due Time”, and to a rousing applause of the crowd. With a bunch of dates left on this tour, you still have a chance to catch them live. Go for it, you won’t regret it!

After The Burial, Emmure, Fit For An Autopsy, Artifacts, Fit For A King, Invent Animate In Baltimore!

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After The Burial

Monday nights can be a dreadful affair, I despise them. Last Monday night was not just another Monday night, for heavy metal reigned supreme at Baltimore Soundstage. This was my umpteenth concert at the Baltimore Soundstage, and I must admit that I have never seen this venue more crowded on a Monday night. When I reached the venue, over two hundred people (yes, I counted!) were lining up at the door to get in. This is not what I was expecting as only thirty odd people has confirmed “going” to the event page on Facebook, which was surprising to me since this was a night with six strong bands on the bill. I have a love hate relationship with concerts with a long lineup, the plus point being the experience of seeing multiple powerhouse bands on one night, and the major negative being shorter setlists for the bands. On this night, After The Burial was headlining at Baltimore on their Carry The Flame tour, with support from four other excellent touring bands. Continue reading

KATATONIA, CASPIAN, UNCURED Take Over Washington, D.C. [Photo Gallery]

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Katatonia

Last Thursday night I found myself doing something I absolutely despise, taking the horrid DC metro rail, to do something I dearly love, enjoying live music. Katatonia, was opening the North American tour in support of their album ‘The Fall of Hearts’ at the 9:30 Club in Washington D.C. A small venue with a prominent stage with excellent lighting and sound system, many consider 9:30 Club to be the heart and soul of the music scene in Washington D.C. And I have never been to this iconic venue in our nations capital, despite having lived in the area for multiple years. This, combined with the excitement of seeing Katatonia live for the first time, my excitement was palpable. Still, I had little idea how good a night this was going to be. Katatonia is one of the finest heavy metal bands to have emerged from Sweden, and their ten studio albums bear testimony to that. The last album ‘The Fall of Hearts’ was released mid last year, which garnered excellent reviews from fans and critics alike. On this North American leg, they are supported by Caspian and Uncured.

Uncured

The first band of the night was Uncured, which I was not very familiar with, so them taking the stage was when I really discovered their music. It has been a long time since I have been this utterly impressed by a new band with only a debut album. And how often do you see a progressive metal band with two vocalists unleashing harsh vocals with intense yet melodic riffs ? The vocals were shared nearly equally by the two guitar wielding vocalists on more than one song. The young lads with their youthful energy, technical prowess behind their instruments and blistering speed set the stage on fire. Listen to the riffs in the later part of the song “Opium Den” and tell me if it does not remind you of Liquid Tension Experiment. The lads totally had totally earned the rousing applause they got once they were done with their set. This is one band that I earmark for nothing but stellar things in future and will certainly be keeping a close watch on.

Caspian

Caspian was the second band of the night, a largely instrumental band with fast riffs, yet they can sound melancholic at times, something that not too many bands can lay a claim to. I had no idea they had such a fan following in the D.C. metro area, the crowd erupted as soon as they took the stage. The imperious drumming and the excellent guitar play lays the basis for the six member strong band. The rapidly changing stage lighting in sync with the fast yet melodic guitar play contributed to this spellbinding show. I can’t really do justice to their musicianship on the show by trying to explain it in words, one needs to see them out live. If you are not familiar with their music, check them out and get ready to be captivated.

Katatonia

Katatonia was one of the first Swedish metal bands I discovered. Over the years Katatonia has progressed to be more melodic from the harsh vocals of the early days. Opening the set with the track “Last Song Before We Fade”, the band burst in to intense guitar play and luscious rhythms. The following tracks “Criminals”, a song from the album ‘Viva Emptiness’, and “Serein”, a standout track from the latest album, kept the crowd really going. The delivery of Jonas Renske was flawless, the guitar work and drumming impeccable and overall the band treated the crowd to an album quality performance. The graceful interaction with the crowd only enhanced the experience of this fabulous night. I won’t bother going in to discuss the performance of each song of the nineteen songs long set, you are better off attending the show than trying to experience it through my words. This is one tour that you don’t want to miss, especially if you are a fan of melodic or progressive metal. If you have a chance to see them on this tour, which has just started, don’t miss it!

Follow the bands online: Katatonia, Caspian, Uncured!

Deafheaven, Emma Ruth Rundle and This Will Destroy You In Baltimore, Maryland!

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Deafheaven

Last Sunday night, the genre defying maestros of Deafheaven enchanted the crowd at Baltimore Soundstage. On this current tour, in support of their excellent last album ‘New Bermuda’, they are joined by Emma Ruth Rundle and This Will Destroy You. This was a night to behold, so let me dive straight in to the review without further ado.

Emma Ruth Rundle

Emma Ruth Rundle and her band were the first to take the stage, opening the set with the track “Run Forever” from the album ‘Some Heavy Ocean’. The crowd was slowly building up, and they were soaking in the lyrics of her songs. A flawless delivery with dark and very mature lyrics highlighted the performance, which was a near album quality like performance. With the seven song set, capped off with the track “Heaven” from her latest album ‘Marked for Death’, Emma Ruth Rundle mesmerized the crowd. The gracious yet somber performance was well appreciated by the crowd and she left the stage to a very well deserved rousing applause from the crowd.

This Will Destroy You

This Will Destroy You, a “largely” instrumental rock/metal band from Texas, who took the stage next. Sandwiched between the somber mood bought to the stage by Emma Ruth Rundle and the unhinged energy of Deafheaven. The opening track “The Mighty Rio Grande”, which is from their decade old self titled album, was perhaps an ode to their home state. The excellent guitar work lays the basis for the signature sound of this quartet, which is enhanced by the impeccable timing of the drumming. I love the sound of this band and it has been a constant companion, especially at my work, for some time now. The six songs set was well appreciated by the crowd, hooting and screaming at the band every time they stopped for a few seconds after a playing a song. The last song of the set, “Little Smoke”, erupted to a cathartic drone like crescendo towards the end, providing the perfect backdrop for Deafheaven.

Deafheaven

Now was the time for Deafheaven, the headliner of the night. George Clarke had come on to the stage to check the microphone before the band took the stage and everyone in the crowd started going nuts. Folks, hold your horses, you need to wait for a few more minutes here. Once the lights dimmed, Deafheaven took the stage, opening the set with the track “Brought to The Water”, the opening track of their last album ‘New Bermuda’. Right from the word go, Deafheaven unleashed sheer madness on the stage, which lasted until the very end. The unrelenting vocals of George Clarke behind the microphone, in contrast to the largely calm stage presence of the other band members, was the highlight of the show. Mind you, the calm demeanor belies the excellent guitar play of Kerry McCoy and Shiv Mehra, ably backed by the bassist and the drummer. Additionally, George Clarke was bounding around the stage showing off some cool moves, like that of a symphony director, and the crowd was digging it. A high school kid who was right next to me in the front row was exhilarated to get a fist bump from George Clark. Constantly pushing the boundaries of traditional genres, Deafheaven is certainly one of the most creative bands around. The set was somehwat short, with eight songs, capped off by “The Pecan Tree”. Musically, this was certainly one of the finest nights I have had in a while. My only gripe with this show was the lack of a photo pit, but I can see how a barrier would have hindered the interaction of George Clarke with the crowd. That interaction between the band and the crowd is one of the single most exciting things to witness or be a part of. The styles of the three acts are quite different, yet similar in the mood. This current tour is still in its midway stages with a bunch of remaining dates, I highly recommend you attend it. And be sure to stand in the front row, it WILL be crowded, don’t say I didn’t not warn you!

Live Review: AZREAL Live @ Baltimore Soundstage

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We recently covered the Bound By The Road Tour which features DevilDriver, Death Angel, Winds Of Plague, The Agonist and Azreal during their stop in Toronto, Canada (See Review Here). Unfortunately, Azreal was unable to make the trek across the border for the Canadian dates of the tour.  We of course was highly looking forward to seeing the Australian based band take the stage. So we caught up with them on another tour stop in Baltimore, Maryland at Baltimore Soundstage on February 20th. Continue reading