Moving to Nashville, TN has proven to be a huge adjustment for me, in many ways. One of which is the serious lack of metal tours coming though; especially considering I spent the last near decade in Denver, CO that sees any and every tour you can imagine. I was spoiled basically, going to amazing metal shows once, twice, sometimes three times a week. I’ve been in severe metal show withdrawal since July of last year. Thankfully I got my fix on March 11th, after driving four hours to the Buckhead Theater in Atlanta, GA to catch a couple of my all-time favorite bands; Germany’s Thrash Metal Giants, Kreator, and Sweden’s Power Metal Powerhouse, Sabaton. Joining these mad-men was the newest melodic metal “super group” CyHra, featuring members of In Flames, Rhapsody, Annihilator… and this list goes on for miles (probably longer than this tour)!
Needless to say, travelling out of town and back in the same night is insanely stressful. We ran into two bad traffic back-ups, delaying us and pushing our arrival time to just thirty minutes before doors. Since my natural anxiety levels are sky high, I of course, was a mess upon arrival. Panicked, I paid $20 just to park my car close to the venue, which gave me time to enjoy a beer and calm down in a pizza place overrun with a sea of metal t-shirts. Everyone I ran into was insanely friendly, helping me figure out where the box office was, and getting me in on time to shoot CyHra (shout out to the people who waited hours in line in the rain and let me squeeze into the front of the line – you the real MVPs).
First of all, The Buckhead Theater is gorgeous. The lobby inside (including THREE BARS) was expansive, well-decorated, and holy shit was it clean. They had staff walking around the venue all night with mops, mopping up any spilled drinks and god knows what else that is on the floor at a metal show. I was so impressed, and absolutely can not wait to see more shows here.
CyHra is a highly hyped-up super group of Joacim Lundberg or ‘Jake E’ on vocals, Jesper Strömblad and
Euge Valovirta on guitar, Peter Iwers on bass, and Alex Landenburg on the drums. Their past projects include Luca Turilli’s Rhapsody, In Flames, Annihilator, Dreamland, Kamelot, Axxis, etc. so with a list like that you would expect nothing short of greatness. I’ll admit, the full-length album they released didn’t quite sell me. There are some great songs (‘Heartrage’, ‘Letter to Myself’) but then some definite misses (‘Inside a Lullaby’ – and I usually love sappy/cheesy tunes) but live – these guys were absolutely killer. Especially being the last tour date, they had an incredible amount of energy and passion, and looked like they were having a blast their entire set. They really set the bar high for Kreator, but of course they didn’t disappoint either.
Okay so maybe from a photographer’s standpoint, I was SLIGHTLY disappointed. We only shoot the first three songs, and of course, for all three songs I fought through excessive strobe lights, red flood lights, and fog machines. Sorry, Kreator, but I got some great shots of you anyway! These German thrashers were always playing in my car growing up – ‘Pleasure to Kill’ is one of my favorite albums of all time. After all of these years, I never got to see them live, so my inner kid was ugly crying for their entire set. My only complaint was how muddled the sound was. I could hardly distinguish even some of my favorite of their songs like “Flag of Hate” and “Enemy of God”, so that was a slight let-down.
One of the greatest bands in thrash metal history just wrapped up, what a tough act to follow… but Sabaton virtually holds the title for the best live show in heavy metal, so they handled it well. I will admit, they seemed a bit tired! I have seen Sabaton a number of times, from a small bowling alley venue to large theaters, they always command attention from everyone in the house through animated faces, funny dialogue, and pulling youngins’ on stage if possible. This show wasn’t without their usual antics and had added flair of animated graphics on a huge screen behind them – but I can say they seemed tired. Not tired enough though for vocalist Joakim Brodén to pick up a guitar and play us all some metal covers in the middle of their set.
Sadly, this tour is over! I am hoping that anyone reading this had the opportunity to catch this show in their hometown. CyHra is already heading over for a few shows in Sweden this week; Sabaton is heading to Australia to play the Download Festival and a couple more stops in the outback, moving to Japan after that; and Kreator has some dates in Austria next month – no rest for the wicked! Keep on killin’ it guys, until next time, Cheers!