Beast in Black’s Dark Connection Comes to The Black Sheep in Colorado Springs, Colorado 04-26-22

 

 

European power metal’s Beast in Black‘s Dark Connection Comes to Colorado Springs, Colorado, at the Black Sheep. For a show that had limited publicity, it was a packed house. Colorado Springs shows its love for power metal even when none of the local stations ever play Beast in Black music. The JUNO Award-winning Edmonton-based band Striker got the crowd fired up with their brand of neoclassical 80s-style metal. If Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, and Motley Crüe had a child, Striker would be the kid.

Striker’s signature sound consists of screaming vocals by Dan Cleary followed by lightning-fast lead guitar solos with melodic guitar harmonies between John Fallon and Tim Brown. They are back by a thundering rhythm section of bassist Pete Klassen and drummer Jono Webster. Striker creates a fantastic live performance not to be missed. Plus, vocal harmonies throughout the band members are reminiscent of classic rock bands. The band came out full-throttle with their popular hard rockin’ live hit, “Heart of Lies,” from their 2018 release, Play To Win. Vocalist Dan Cleary fired up the Black Sheep audience with his ferocious energy that had everyone pumping their fist in the air. His blistering signature vocals are influenced by Bruce Dickinson, Rob Halford, and Sebastian Bach.

The thrash-influenced “Born to Lose” was next, with huge vocals and nonstop shredding guitars. Striker followed with two new songs. The 2021 single, “Deathwish,” and the recently released single, “Strange Love.” It is the first song featuring their newest member, guitarist John Fallon. “Strange Love” shows a maturing sound from their earlier albums. This single has Striker’s signature vocal harmonies with a funk element inspired by Extreme and Faith No More. After the melodic single of “Strange Love,” Striker returned with a thrash metal single, “Phoenix Nights.” Cleary got the audience headbanging with the request to see “double fist in the air.” “Phoenix Nights” intro showcases Striker’s thundering rhythm section of bassist Pete Klassen and drummer Jono Webster. The song starts with Webster’s double bass drumming with Klassen’s pumping bass, followed by the duel axes of Fallon and Brown. A little Eddie Van Halen finger tapping by Fallon with some massive speed metal shredding by Brown during solos. The vocal gymnastics by Cleary and the vocal harmonies by the entire band encompass “Phoenix Nights” as one of their fan favorites.

The short set ended with another first pumping sing-along with “Too Late,” with the fans chanting Hay Hay Hay! to the pounding bass and drums. This was followed by “Fight For Your Life” from their 2012 release, Armed to The Teeth. Cleary had the packed Black Sheep audience singing the chorus, “Fight for Your Life, Fight for Your Freedom,” throughout the song. Even though Striker has been around with various lineups since 2007, the current band members look like they were having so much fun playing to the Black Sheep audience. Guitarist Tim Brown dressed in a leopard print shirt and a curly mullet, gave the audience a show between his shredding, guitar acrobatics, and playfully sticking his tongue out to the fans. Striker came to the Black Sheep with over-the-top energy and emotions from the first song to the last. I believe there a many new fans in the audience from their performance tonight.

 

Band:

John Simon Fallon – guitar

Dan Cleary – vocals

Tim Brown – guitar

Pete Klassen – bass

Jono Webster – drums

 

 

 

Setlist:

1.) Heart of Lies

2.) Born to Lose

3.) Deathwish

4.) Strange Love

5.) Phoenix Lights

6.) Too Late

7.) Fight for Your Life

 

 

After a quick set change, it was time for Florida’s Seven Kingdoms. The power metal quartet consists of powerhouse vocalist Sabrina Cruz with her husband Camden Cruz on guitars. Rounding out the foursome, brothers Kevin Byrd (drums) and Keith Byrd on guitars.  Seven Kingdoms plays a unique blend of fantasy-themed melodic power metal with female lead vocals. Sabrina’s multi-octave vocal talent reminds me of Floor Jansen’s vocals from Nightwish. Besides being a power metal band with a female vocal powerhouse, Seven Kingdoms is known to their fans for the stuffed cheeseburger toys on the drum riser and a gigantic stuffed cheeseburger sitting on the side.

They started the evening with Game of Thrones’ song called “After the Fall” from their 2012 release The Fire is Mine. “Empty Eyes” followed, showcasing the direction and maturity of Seven Kingdom’s music. This song is where the band allows Sabrina’s vocals to soar and take center stage over the grinding guitars and double bass drums.

By the way, I doubt if the audience notices, but Seven Kingdoms’ current lineup doesn’t have a bassist. They weren’t missing the sounds of a bassist as guitarists Camden Cruz and Kevin Byrd did a fine job of shredding. Sabrina put on her now-famous hamburger crown in-between songs and spoke to the Black Sheep audience about not being too serious, “Life is too short, have fun!”

The show’s highlight was three songs from their upcoming album, Zenith. As a side note, Seven Kingdom launched a successful crowdfunding project to fund this full-length album. Before singing “Universal Terrestrial,” the first single release from Zenith, Sabrina thanked the audience for supporting their new album. The next track was another one from Zenith, “Diamond Handed,” and the fun and an awe-inspiring cover of Don Henley’s “Boys of Summer.” The nine-song set ended with their third track from their upcoming album, Zenith, “Chasing the Mirage.” The heartwarming part of the night was after the “Chasing the Mirage.” Sabrina brought this little girl standing next to me onto the stage for a band photo. She was 12 or 13 years old teenager attending her first concert with her mom. Throughout the evening, all the bands notice the little girl at the front of the stage. She received guitar pics, drums sticks, and other items from all the bands.

 

Band:

Camden Cruz – guitars

Kevin Byrd – drums

Keith Byrd – guitars

Sabrina Cruz – vocals

 

 

 

 

Setlist:

1.) After the Fall

2.) Empty Eyes

3.) Neverending

4.) The Water Dance

5.) Valonqar

6.) Universal Terrestrial

7.) Diamond Handed

8.) The Boys of Summer (Don Henley cover)

9.) Chasing the Mirage

 

 

Next up was the Finnish-Greek-Hungarian power metal Beast in Black. They remind me of the many up-and-coming bands who played at the Black Sheep and then became superstars like Imagine Dragons, Macklemore, Daughtry, and Gwar, to name a few. Incredible musicianship, but they were having fun playing the songs the crowd knew by heart throughout the night. The Dark Connection 2022 tour was a mixture of songs from their first two albums (2017’s Berserker and 2019’s From Hell and Love) and their recent release, Dark Connection.

Most fans know Beast in Black was formed after lead guitarist Anton Kabanen got fired from his original band, Battle Beast. Beast in Black music is a mixture of power metal with elements of anime, Italian disco, electronics, and 80s heavy metal like Judas Priest and Black Sabbath. The Finnish-Greek-Hungarian power metal Beast in Black consists of singer Yannis Papadopoulos, lead guitarist Anton Kabanen, rhythm guitarist Kasperi Heikkinen, and Máté Molnár on bass, and drummer Atte Palokangas.

The headlining started with each member walking out to a darkened stage to the screams and cheering from the Black Sheep audience. Wearing an all-black industrial jacket, Papadopoulos began the night with the first song, “Blade Runner.” “Blade Runner” is a catchy mix of European power metal and Eurodance beats dedicated to the movie of the same name. The title track from their 2019 release, “From Hell With Love,” followed. Fun cheesy metal incorporated 80s electronic dance with speed metal riffs and soaring vocals from Papadopoulos. Lead guitarist Anton Kabanen and band leader shine during the solos on this track. His shredding and posing remind me of a young K.K. Downing.

The track, as well as the band’s name, was next. “Beast in Black” is based on the Berserk manga. This track is a classic European speed metal track with the screaming vocal of Yannis and the double bass drumming from Palokangas. Guitarist Kasperi Heikkinen shows his shredding during the solo. He is joined by Kabanen and bassist Molnár for some synchronized axing. It’s nice to see metal bands like Beast in Black bring back the classic twin axe attack I saw in the 80s with Judas Priest.

Beast in Black continued with more tracks from their Dark Connection album, including the favorite sing-along Highway to Mars, followed by two more manga-inspired songs, “Born Again” and “Cry Out for a Hero.” Papadopoulos then introduces the next song by telling the Black Sheep audience how women in the USA are the most beautiful. He introduces “BellaDonna” (translates as beautiful woman) as he begins to sing to the little girl at the front of the stage I mentioned earlier.

The 15-song set ended with two fan favorites. “Blind and Frozen” from the Berserker album. Papadopoulos’s vocal acrobatics is incredible here, especially hearing him live. If you only listened to the studio version, you would think this was a duet with a guest vocalist, and the reality, it is all Papadopoulos’ voice. The entire Black Sheep crowd was jumping up and down with fist-pumping in the air during the chorus.  Kabanen and Heikkinen began the twin axe attack, and bassist Molnár joined them. It was a visual highlight to see the triple axe attack with the flashing strobe beams through the smoke. The very quick 60-minute show ended with another from the Berserker album, “End of the World” The band got all audience to clap their hands in the air as the song started. It was pure power metal with Atte Palokangas drumming and Papadopoulos screaming vocals.

I was amazed at how incredible Papadopoulos’ voice and energy throughout the night were. He was running back and forth across the stage but could still maintain his diverse vocal range. Beast in Black is where Ghost was in 2014. They are headed for major stardom as their cheesy fun power metal crosses the boundaries into hard rock. In a few weeks from now, they will be coming back to Colorado and opening for Nightwish in Denver. Don’t miss them.

 

Band:

Yannis Papadopoulos – vocals

Anton Kabanen – guitars

Kasperi Heikkinen – guitars

Mate Molnar – bass

Atte Palokangas – drums

 

 

 

 

Setlist:

1.) Blade Runner

2.) From Hell With Love

3.) Beast in Black

4.) Highway to Mars

5.) Born Again

6.) Cry Out for a Hero

7.) Bella Donna

8.) Moonlight Rendezvous

9.) Hardcore

10.) No Surrender

11.) Sweet True Lies

12.) Die by the Blade

13.) One Night in Tokyo

14.) Blind and Frozen

15.) End of the World

 

 

 

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Hi, I'm a professional photographer based in Colorado Springs, Colorado. I started to take photos at concerts because I get bored very easy and need something to do while watching a musicians or bands perform. So I started taking my point and shoot camera with me and recording what I saw and to show my friends. At first, the camera was just a photographic diary of my concert experience. But after a while I started liking the quality of my shots and concert photography became my hobby. I decided to post my pictures on instagram and facebook. I think fans liked what they saw and started to follow me. Concert photography became my passion and finally I asked All Music Magazine if I could take photos for them. They like my concert photography Instagram page and that opened the door to a whole new area - the photo pit. Now I am happy to say I’m chasing my photography dream - as a professional concert photographer.

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