State Of The Art: GREYLOTUS [EP + Video Stream]

*This is a part of our State Of The Art series, showcasing bands every Monday from the featured state.*

This month’s state is Maryland!


Welcome to the final installment of this months SOTA! I thought I would end this one with an artist that I believe will quite literally blow your mind. This is songwriting at its highest conceivable level, but what is most remarkable, is the fact that it is solely the work of one man! From Baltimore, Maryland, let me welcome the technical/blackened deathcore project Greylotus. January saw the release of the explosive debut EP ‘Savior’ which in my opinion is undoubtedly one of the most exciting releases of this year (up there with the likes of Inferi and Slugdge who have both dropped AOTY contenders) and forms the first part of a total 3 installments. Collectively the 3 EPs will form Greylotus’ debut full-length album, with work already underway on the second installement ‘Dawnfall’.  Continue reading

JINJER & UNCURED Bring Heaviness To Baltimore After CRADLE OF FILTH Cancels [Review & Photo Gallery]

 

Last Friday evening I found myself traveling to Baltimore to cover Cradle of Filth’s Cryptorania World Tour, supported by Jinjer and Uncured. The doors opened a little late, and then at the very last minute Cradle of Filth cancelled their performance as Dani Filth had to be admitted to a local hospital due to some health issues. Chaos reigned supreme as soon as the news broke out. The disappointment of much of the crowd was palpable and many left the entry line to get into the immediately to head down to the nearest waterfront bars to douse their grief and sorrows of a ruined Friday evening. Cryptoriana – The Seductiveness of Decay is a superlative piece of work, IMHO one of the best metal releases from last year, so nonetheless it was really dissappointing that I wouldn’t be able to experience Cradle Of Filth live on stage on this night. However, Jinjer and Uncured with little time to prepare decided to play extended sets in an effort to entertain the crowd and thus the night wouldn’t be a total waste.

 

Uncured, a progressive death metal quartet from New York City, was the first band of the night. I was very happy to hear them play a slightly longer set. Last year I had covered the very first show these young lads played as a band, when they had opened for Katatonia in the iconic 9:30 Club in Washington DC. (See that review here) On that occasion, the band was a largely an unknown entity to the crowd, having released their EP ‘Medusa’ only days before the show in DC. Well, much has changed since that show. These guys have been constantly on tour supporting bigger bands like Children of Bodom and Soulfly since that show, and have seen a remarkable growth in their fan base. The growing confidence clearly shows in their stage presence and interactions with the crowd. The Cox brothers delivered the harsh vocals and riffs with aplomb, and bassist Jon Kita kept the energy on the stage without the ebb. Their show is always a welcomes site to see and hear, their intrinsic riffage and heavy groove is always a great kick start to any show. They have been working as a supporting band, but with their talents increasing I could see this band headlining shows in the near future. I spoke with the band’s bassist Jon Kita after the show and he made mention about some upcoming releases in the near future. Additionally, they are set to play in some large festivals in Europe this summer, no mean feat given how young the band and it’s members are. Keep up the good work guys, we can’t wait for some new stuff!

Jinjer, a metalcore band from Ukraine, played an extended set consisting of thirteen songs. Jinjer’s style is a cornucopia of metalcore, progressive metal and nu metal. The main attraction of the set was the performance of vocalist Tatiana Shmailyuk who screamed and growled through the set. The stage presence of Tatiana was impeccable, with the rest of the band playing second fiddle to her relentless energy.  I had no familiarity with Jinjer’s music prior to this show and have listened to ‘Cloud Factory’ and ‘King of Everything’ a few times since then. Their sound is unique and implements a ton of groove which bodes well with Tatiana’s complex vocal range which goes from incredible low harsh tones to a beautiful and melodic singing. The crowd had tons of Jinjer fans, and they made those die hard fans very happy with their performance.

It sure was disappointing not to be able to see Cradle Of Filth. I am sure cancelling a show is a last resort for them, and we certainly wish Dani Filth to get well soon. As per the supporting bands, the tour vehicle of Cradle Of Filth broke down the night before on the way to Baltimore from Pennsylvania and the band had to move everything to Baltimore by hiring a U-Haul truck. One can’t blame anyone for this unforeseen sequence of events. The rest of the lineup did their best to make up for it. While Jinjer had the better stage presence with Tatiana’s remarkable talents on vocals and her limitless energy on stage, Uncured delivered the more intense set.  Cradle Of Filth is back on the road, with plenty of shows still left. Catch them if and when you get a chance. Signing off now, until the next review!

 

SABATON, KREATOR & CYHRA Dominate Silver Spring, MD [Review & Photo Gallery]

Kreator

Sabaton, Kreator and Cyhra recently kicked off their North American tour and finally it reached the Washington DC/Baltimore area last Wednesday night.  This show in Silver Spring was one of the last ones of the North American tour, the wait was grueling. This is a tour I have been waiting to cover for a while, firstly because I am a huge fan of both bands, and secondly Sabaton is a great band to photograph.  I haven’t attended any show since Trans Siberian Orchestra in November, so I was extremely excited to be surrounded by metal heads. Let me dive into the review now, you can check out the photo gallery at the bottom of the page. 

Continue reading

TRANS SIBERIAN ORCHESTRA Make Christmas Rock In Baltimore! [Photo Gallery]

Trans Siberian Orchestra

Christmas came to Baltimore a little early this year. The rock extravaganza slash opera Trans Siberian Orchestra played to a nearly full house at the Royal Farms arena and displayed a dazzling performance. I have never concert lighting like Trans Siberian Orchestra’s, this is quite possibly the best display in the rock world. This was the first time I have had an opportunity to see Trans Siberian Orchestra. And we were offered some fabulous seats very close to the front. Trans Siberian Orchestra have had a sorrowful year, with the deaths of founder Paul O’Neill and the bassist David Z., Russell Allen was seriously injured in the accident that took the life of David Z., and it was great to see him back on stage. Many were skeptical if and how they were going to do without their visionary founder. The packed venues on this tour has been a sign that the band will carry on as strong as ever. Russell Allen mentioned during the show that on multiple dates on this tour they are playing two shows, a sign of the popularity of the band.

Trans Siberian Orchestra

 

The music of Trans Siberian Orchestra is loud, I could hear it pounding all around the arena even with my giant ear plugs in. The show lasting over two and a half hours, Trans Siberian Orchestra delivered what they are known for, pounding rock amalgamated with orchestra amidst breathtaking lighting and moving pieces of stages. The first half of the show was dubbed The Ghosts of Christmas Eve, with the second being a potpourri of the best songs by Trans Siberian Orchestra. The intermittent narration of the Ghosts of Christmas Eve added to the overall mood of the show. The musicianship blends seamlessly with the narration and the clips on those massive projection screens. The over the top projection beats that of even Iron Maiden! The exemplary guitar & violin play with over a dozen (honestly I lost count) vocalists is perfect. The well timed keyboard strokes set the tone for everything else. I love bands where the bass is loud and clear without and it was delivered in plenty. Russel Allen’s dance moves were, to be fair, a comedic addition to the show. Trans Siberian Orchestra closed the show with Christmas Eve (Sarajevo 12/24), which they played earlier as well, and left to a wide applause from the crowd. This is a show I would love to cover next year when they will be on tour again. There was some very entertaining pyrotechnics, however they didn’t occur during the first three songs that we were able to capture. If you are a Christmas and rock lover in the Washington D.C. Metro area head out to the Capital One Arena on Dec 16th, Trans Siberian Orchestra will be there putting on yet another spectacle you need to witness. You owe yourself a ticket to this show if you have never seen them before. The show is family friendly as well, a sight to see for all ages. They have about 90 dates left on this current tour, so you will in all likelihood get a chance to see them. Let us know what you think after you see them grace the stage. Signing off now, until my next review.

Set List

1. Time and Distance (The Dash)
2. Winter Palace
3. The Lost Christmas Eve

The Ghosts of Christmas Eve
4. O Come All Ye Faithful/O Holy Night
5. Good King Joy
6. Christmas Dreams
7. Christmas Eve (Sarajevo 12/24) (Savatage cover)
8. Christmas Canon Rock
9. What Child Is This?                                                                                                                                                                        10. Music Box Blues
11. First Snow
12. Promises to Keep
13. This Christmas Day

The Best of TSO
14. Siberian Sleigh Ride
15. An Angel’s Share
16. Christmas Nights in Blue
17. A Mad Russian’s Christmas
18. For the Sake of Our Brother
19. Wizards in Winter
20. Madness of Men
21. Beethoven
22. Carmina Burana
23. The Safest Way Into Tomorrow
24. The Night Conceives
25. The Mountain
26. Find Our Way Home
27. Requiem (The Fifth)
28. Christmas Eve (Sarajevo 12/24) (Reprise)

 

 

EPICA, LACUNA COIL, INSOMNIUM & ELANTRIS In Baltimore! [Photo Gallery]

Epica & Cristina Scabbia

The Ultimate Principle tour featuring Epica, Lacuna Coil, Insomnium and Elantris reached Baltimore last Wednesday. This was one of the last dates of the tour and hence I wanted to thoroughly mull over the performance before I put pen to paper. This is hands down the most melodic tour of the year in North America. Rarely do we see a tour with two powerhouse mezzo soprano vocalists in heavy metal. The excitement in the Facebook groups devoted to symphonic and gothic metal has been palpable for months. As I grow older I have slowly gravitated towards the symphonic aspect of heavy metal, and not attending a lineup of genre defining bands was never a question! Continue reading

EXODUS, OBITUARY Slay The Stage In Baltimore! [Photo Gallery]

Exodus

Here is a scenario, Baltimore city lay amidst ruins engulfed by flames and black smoke. As a raven flies over the city towards the inner harbor, it watches the fires and flames gradually intensify. The exact epicenter being 124 Market Place, the street address of Baltimore Soundstage. Surely this must have happened in one of the infinite alternate universes that exist. The cause behind this mayhem are two bands, Exodus and Obituary. On a balmy Saturday night, the two bands blew the lid off Baltimore Soundstage with the heaviest performance I have seen in a very long time. The tour titled “Battle of The Bays” is possibly the heaviest tour of the Fall, and I was not going to miss it. Continue reading

DEAD CROSS & SECRET CHIEFS 3 In Baltimore [Photo Gallery]

Dead Cross

 

Last Friday night I was in Baltimore to experience DEAD CROSS, a super group consisting of past and present members of the bands Suicidal Tendencies, The Misfits, Slayer, Faith No More, Tomahawk etc. I had been approved for this show months ahead of the show date, and as a fan of Slayer I was excited to see Dave Lombardo on drums. DEAD CROSS released their eponymous album, the first one of the band, which has received excellent reviews from fans and critics alike. While I am not a huge fan of hardcore, I totally get why the fans have been so excited about this tour. Continue reading

THE DEAD DAISIES, THE DIVES, THRILLKILLER @ Rams Head Live [Photo Gallery]

The Dead Daisies

Last Friday night I headed back to Ram’s Head Live after four months to cover The Dead Daisies, a super group consisting of members who had played in bands like Guns N’ Roses, Thin Lizzy, Ozzy Osbourne, Whitesnake and various other well known bands. I had listened to their recent album ‘Make Some Noise’ and checked out snippets of their live performances. The Washington DC-Baltimore metropolitan had been hit by a major storm system in the late afternoons and those who made it to the venue on time really had to endure the horrendous traffic of the region in very hard driving conditions. I was extremely annoyed to see the show start earlier than the scheduled time, which in my opinion is criminal, especially as it was a major “weather alert” day. Continue reading

Blaze Bayley Live In Baltimore! [Photo Gallery]

Blaze Bayley

 

Last night I had my second consecutive fantastic Sunday night in Baltimore. I covered Blaze Bayley, a singer who was the former front man of the iconic metal legends Iron Maiden, one of the greatest metal bands the universe has ever seen. This is a tour many may not have paid the attention it well and truly deserves! Iron Maiden is my favorite heavy metal band, bar none. Well, I am one of those people who think his album ‘The X Factor’ with Iron Maiden is fantastic, albeit different from the Dickinson era Maiden. This is an album that had kept me company during my troubled and volatile years while riding down remote mountainous roads in India on my motorcycle. And not once during those days did I imagine Blaze Bayley shoving the microphone right in my face to sing “The Man on The Edge” with him, the way he did last night. Personally, the whole show was sort of a trip down memory lane. Fish Head Cantina, located in Baltimore, is the venue where I photographed my very first heavy metal show, the band on that occasion being the mighty influential NWOBHM band Diamond Head. And to cover another legend in Blaze Bayley was the fitting way to go back to where it all began as a concert photographer. Continue reading

MARTY FRIEDMAN, THE FINE CONSTANT, SCALE THE SUMMIT In Baltimore! [Photo Galley]

Marty Friedman

 

Here is a short story. A long time back a young kid growing up in a small hamlet by the Himalayas had chanced upon some guitar/music magazine with Marty Friedman on the cover, on the very same day he had first listened to the opening solo of “Hangar 18”. An article in the magazine had mentioned that Marty Friedman had grown up in a city called Laurel in a certain state called Maryland in the US. The name of this nondescript city of Laurel in a state called Maryland stuck in his head, maybe it was due to the magical solos in “Rust in Piece”. The kid developed into a fan of Megadeth eventually. He had also heard of a city called Baltimore that was in a book of the Tarzan series. When he moved to Maryland from a remote corner in Asia to pursue his studies he had no real clue of how close Maryland was to Washington DC or Baltimore for that matter. And little did he know that one day he was going to cover a show by the man himself Marty Friedman in a venue located in the heart of Baltimore. The boy of course is none other than me.

Megadeth has been my favorite thrash metal band, since I discovered them at the age of 20! At the cost of sounding like a very old guy I must mention in my defense that back in the days before the internet, western music reached the developing world quite late. As an example, disco was huge in the late eighties and early nineties in the Asian subcontinent! Can you imagine that? I regretted not being able to attend the Baltimore show of the Inferno tour, and out of nowhere appeared this Wall of Sound tour. I was not sure if I would be able to attend this show until the very last moment. Thank you very much painkillers! Believe me, they do a phenomenal job of subsiding the pain associated with wisdom teeth extractions. Attending this show came with a lot of emotions and is a very personal story to me. Hence, contrary to my usual style of dedicating individual section of a review for each band, I will let this be a potpourri of personal emotions that I felt at the show. Continue reading