Concert Review and Imagery: HIM- Los Angeles, Anaheim and Chicago!

Review and Images of HIM @ Helldone for National Rock Review

Along with doing my freelance photography work, I report and shoot concerts for National Rock Review.  Recently, I went to Finland over NYE 2013 to cover the band HIM in their native land.  Click HERE for review and images!  Also, please LIKE my new PAGE on Facebook! Thank you for all of your support!

Helldone2013TavastiaEdit1  HIM @ Tavastia Klubi, Helsinki FINLAND 1/31/2013

Rock Allegiance Tour Midwest Review and Photos!

The Rock Allegiance Tour has left the builiding! The tour featuring VOLBEAT, HIM, All That Remains and Airborne held a tour de force across America since late August starting in St. Paul, Minnesota, winding around the USA and into Canada then ending in Brooklyn, New York on September 28th.

It’s not often that I get to tour alongside bands of this caliber let alone to four cities in my region in the Great Midwest. Working on the HIM side of things for their Official World Wide Street Team, Heartagram Team, I started with the kick off gig in St. Paul Minnesota, then Twin Lakes Wisconsin, Sterling Heights Michigan and then ending in Bloomington Illinois. Things started out a bit rocky with fans clashing over different styles of music and rallying for their preferred band and not always in a polite way. With the heavy hitting sounds of All That Remains, Airborne and VOLBEAT, HIM seemed to be the underdog with their more sentimental, goth rock love metal sound although they were billed as co-headliners with VOLBEAT. Fans of other bands were vocal and sometimes fighting on the floor with HIM fans and Facebook blew up about rivalries at some of the shows. There’s a lot more to HIM than meets the eye or previous known reputation. Even rowdy VOLBEAT fans took notice and on several occasions I was asked “Who are these guys? I like it.” HIM are veteran musicians with a solid twenty year career and have played with countless bands in the past. The whole point is to play for their fans and to pick up some new ones on the way whenever they tour abroad. Mission accomplished!

Tensions seemed to ease as the tour progressed with HIM fans rallying around their band, waving banners and packing signing lines with die hard dedication they are known for. Native to Finland, HIM is used to selling out club dates in minutes in Europe and packing summer festivals when they tour. They were poised to do a five city CD release tour back in May to support their new album Tears On Tape (Razor and Tie) but due to singer Ville Valo’s sudden illness, the mini tour was canceled leaving fans wanting. Rock Allegiance gave fans new hope that they would get to see their favorite band live again and from all accounts and stellar reviews, HIM is in top form. The band is sounding better than ever while acknowledging fans in intimate way with each gig having an organic feel with the boys having fun onstage against the backdrop of a killer light show. HIM will be embarking on a European tour in October.

Vocalist Ville Valo of HIM and an awesome audience taken onstage at the Bloomington gig.

HIM Rock Allegiance general set list.

Denmark’s VOLBEAT closed out each show with powerhouse performances they are known for since they hit it big on the rock radio circuit with songs like A Warrior’s Call and Still Counting. Touring to support their fifth studio release Outlaw Gentlemen and Shady Ladies (Universal), VOLBEAT has amassed huge audiences in America due to their relentless touring over the past few years and the easy digestion of their signature sound. If they haven’t hit a town near you yet, they will. Known for whisky drinkin’ rowdy audiences, VOLBEAT delivers a unique blend of Johnny Cash meets Metallica with catchy hooks and heavy hitting guitars. Rob Caggiano, formerly of Anthrax recently joined the band bringing more of a metal sound versus the old school rockabilly sound VOLBEAT was known for on earlier albums. It’s clear that the signature VOLBEAT sound is still there but now in more of a mainstream, radio friendly way which has some fans hearkening back to the earlier days in their career. With the success of Outlaw Gentlemen and Shady Ladies, fans who want the early VOLBEAT may have to accept their growth and assimilate to their growing success or stick with VOLBEAT’s earlier catalog. All in all, VOLBEAT has something for everyone who loves good ol’ rock ‘n roll.

From left to right, Bassist, Anders Kjolholm, Guitarist Rob Caggiano and Lead Vocalist Michael Poulsen of VOLBEAT.

VOLBEAT Rock Allegiance general set list.

I can’t say that I was all that familiar with Airborne or All That Remains before this tour but it seemed to me that they had their own fan bases pretty much intact and with heavy hitting styles of their own, both bands rounded out the tour’s lineup.

All That Remains joined the tour to promote their seventh full length effort A War You Cannot Win (Razor And Tie). Having been around since the late 90’s, All That Remains is a name most people seem to know. Going into it not knowing much, they had a sort of Five Finger Death Punch presence on stage and their fan base was on point and totally there for them. I will say that watching guitarist Oli Herbert was some better word than fantastic and it always makes me happy to see a chick like Jeanne Sagan own a bass onstage. I had the pleasure of hanging out with them on a day off shooting the breeze about music and dueling iPods with the HIM crew. I’ll definitely be checking out more of their music and look forward to when they come around my way again.

Guitarist Oli Herbert of All That Remains.

Bassist Jeanne Saban of All That Remains.

Australia’s Airborne gave audiences a blast from the past touring in support of their new album Black Dog Barking (Roadrunner), they came out and hit you with their 80’s metal presence on stage and AC/DC reminiscent riffs and style. Unfortunately, they had to cut their participation with the tour short and head back home due to personal family issues. I got a chance to hang out with a couple of guys from the band and they were relaxed, fun to be around and very appreciative for the opportunity to play for the USA.

Lead Vocalist Joel O’Keefe of Airborne.

Bassist Justin Street of Airborne.

I’d have to say the best thing about this tour was the fans. Early on, I created a Facebook page called Rock Allegiance Rebels. It was a source for fans to connect with one another, to post their photos, videos and experiences during the tour. We became a tight group of fans coming together for a common reason all in the name of rock and roll. You could see how the early tensions in the tour gave way to people just trying to have a good time regardless of personal preferences as the tour rolled on and ended. It’s awesome to see people treat each other kindly and promote the music they love with all the passion they are given by the musicians themselves.

At the Bloomington show, I was given permission to shoot onstage for HIM. For those and all my other photos as well as the documentation of many others for the Rock Allegiance Tour, go HERE.

Very special thanks to: Jeff Good, Janne Tamminen, Seppo, VV, SM, Alison, HIM, VOLBEAT, Lina, Kelly Hitt, Sean McCarthy, Antti, Viltsu, Brad, Timo, Oli, Jeanne, Jason, Streety, Jim Somers and the inimitable Blackcraft Cult.

All Rights Reserved
Alex Savage

The Living Deads~Pics and Review

I had the pleasure of catching The Living Deads here in my town of Mishawaka, literally down the street from me. I love going to shows where the band interacts with the audience and has fun banter back and forth with each other. The Living Deads are not your typical rockabilly. Raw and gritty with an appreciation for all kinds of genres within the rockabilly family. I think my personal favorite track was Truck Stop Snacks…self admittedly a song they more than likely wrote on the road where they seem to perpetually live. I did my duty and threw ten bucks in the GAS MONEY can and bought a CD and parking lot pressed tee shirt in order to support a truly wonderful, American vagabond act. If the infectious, hard slapping stand up bass player Symphonyy Tidwell doesn’t get you moving…then you’re dead anyway and not in a good horror kind of way. Follow the link above and find out where they’re playing next, you’ll have a killer time!

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For all pics from this show, click HERE.

Nocturna 25th Silver Anniversary Party with The Bellwether Syndicate!

HIM/ Tears On Tape Album Review

As a long time fan of any particular band, you’ll eventually to run into the conundrum of giving an honest review of a latest release. It’s very easy to say “I LOVED IT!”. It’s easy to make comparisons to their entire catalog and to have certain expectations of a musical piece of work based on biased opinions of favorite albums in said catalog.
Tears On Tape is no exception. Was it what I “expected”? No.

But here’s the fundamental reason why I think I am such a die hard HIM fan: They surprise me.
Just when I think I have a beat on their direction…they shift and give me something I didn’t expect at all. I don’t think Tears On Tape is as lushly poetic as Screamworks: Love In Theory And Practice, nor are Valo’s vocals as powerful, clear and concise as they were on that album or previous releases for that matter. I don’t think Tears On Tape is as personal and brilliant as Venus Doom either. Through great pain comes great art and in my opinion,Venus Doom may very well be HIM’s opus for their entire career. That remains to be seen.

I don’t think the album is necessarily blatantly borrowing from previous albums, but that HIM is doing exactly what they do best and they simply got together, jammed and made us all some new music to chew on when they were able to do so and the moment grabbed them. I think that for a twenty year career, HIM has finally broken themselves in like a gigged out pair of Chucks and aren’t trying to live up to expectations or critics or even what their fans want. They just simply want to make music and if it sounds like something you’ve heard before, it’s because you have. It’s HIM and they are always going to sound like HIM to a degree. They have to grow, have to mature, have to experiment in order to endure as artists, but their fundamental sound will always be there. If you keep wanting them to spit out another Razorblade Romance, just ask Ville Valo what he thinks about that and let the eye rolling commence.

For a while now, I’ve been struggling with how to write this review from my heart and well, here it goes.
I wanted Tears On Tape to have the heavy guitars of Venus Doom and the poetry of Screamworks, but what happened was sort of an album of sentiment rather than technical awesomeness for me. The lyrics are much more simplified and repeated than before. Ville Valo’s usual “wimpy” lyrics and “weepy” vocals are omnipresent and it almost seems a lazy attempt at lyric writing when you get down to it. If you composed a drinking game where you had to take a shot of Jack every time Valo said the word WEEP, you’d be drunk by the end of the first proper track. That being said…this is NOT a bad review, but a review of feeling. Read on before you rip me to shreds.

After driving home in a thunderstorm with a friend in the wee hours of the morning and blasting the track Into The Night (on Tears On Tape) things were put into perspective. It made me FEEL good. I was singing at the top of my lungs driving “into the night with scars wide open” as the lyrics of the song propel you to do. I stopped over-analyzing the lyrics and riffs and stopped comparing this song to that album and so on….I just listened…LOUDLY and I was happy. For that moment, it was enough. All the worries in my head didn’t matter anymore and I was simply in the moment and the moment was SO SIMPLE I failed to see it before. What is Tears On Tape about? What does it all mean? It’s pretty simple really. It’s a feeling, a moment, a heartbeat and tears wept. That’s what it’s about. Music for music’s sake…just to bleed it out before it consumes you. I was going to do a track blow by blow review of the album until I decided it was futile and that I simply didn’t care about the debate that would ensue. Once I took my critic goggles off and had that moment for myself on a lonely road during a storm it was all crystal clear. Well played guys.

Tears On Tape may not be the best album they have produced to date, but it is quintessentially HIM and they are still a band to be reckoned with and when many others have come and gone, HIM will still be making music…with arms wide open. Now available all over the world online or in stores, BUY it and decide for yourself. For me, Tears On Tape is currently in my heavy rotation. Thumbs UP!

HIM is currently on the label Razor & Tie in the USA. Tears On Tape is HIM’s 8th studio release. Produced and Engineered by Hiili Hilesmaa. Mixed by Tim Palmer at Assault and Battery Studios.

Zombie Prom Chicago Announced!

BLACK SABBATH Announce North American Tour Dates!

Metal legends Black Sabbath are on the war path and just announced their North American summer tour dates. Join their Facebook event page HERE for presale code and more info. Pre-sale Thursday, May 2nd. Pre-order the new album 13 on their WEBSITE.

CHICAGO show on August 16th at Tinley Park!


Jul. 25 – Houston, TX @ Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion
Jul. 27 – Austin, TX @ Frank Erwin Center
Jul. 29 – Tampa, FL @ Live Nation Amphitheatre
Jul. 31 – W. Palm Beach, FL @ Cruzan Amphitheatre
Aug. 02 – Bristow, VA @ Jiffy Lube Live
Aug. 04 – Holmdel, NJ @ PNC Bank Arts Center
Aug. 06 – Detroit, MI @ DTE Energy Music Theatre
Aug. 08 – Uncasville, CT @ Mohegan Sun Arena
Aug. 10 – Philadelphia, PA @ Wells Fargo Center
Aug. 12 – Boston, MA @ Comcast Center
Aug. 14 – Toronto, ON @ Air Canada Centre
Aug. 16 – Tinley Park, IL @ First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre
Aug. 18 – Indianapolis, IN @ Klipsch Music Center
Aug. 22 – Vancouver, BC @ Rogers Arena
Aug. 24 – Seattle, WA @ Gorge Amphitheatre
Aug. 26 – San Francisco, CA @ Shoreline Amphitheatre at Mountain View
Aug. 28 – Irvine, CA @ Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre
Aug. 30 – Phoenix, AZ @ US Airways Center
Sep. 01 – Las Vegas, NV @ MGM Grand Garden Arena
Sep. 03 – Los Angeles, CA @ Los Angeles Sports Arena

HIM’s New Album Dropping Worldwide This Month!

As most of you know by reading this site, that I am a self confessed, unapologetic HIM fan. Guess what? In case you didn’t know, their 8th studio album, Tears On Tape will be released this month already to very strong reviews. I’ll be heading to Los Angeles and Chicago to cover their mini promo tour here in the USA. Stay tuned for photos from my adventures and a review in mid May!

Tears On Tape Release Dates:
April 26 – FIN/UK
April 29 – UK/IRE/EU/DE
April 30 – US/CAN

VOLBEAT at Piere’s in Fort Wayne~Photos

I was very fortunate to get to photograph VOLBEAT at Piere’s Entertainment Center in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Having been the fifth time I’ve seen the band perform live, VOLBEAT continues to put on a killer live show. Their relentless North American touring has made this Denmark based band a force to be reckoned with in the United States with well over a million fans on Facebook and multiple hits playing on every rock radio station. It was a pleasure to see former Anthrax guitarist, Rob Caggiano shred along with the boys as Volbeat’s new addition to the band. He fit in like a glove and his stage personality was infectious and fun and he along with the rest of the guys were very cool to hang out with after the gig.

As of April 8th, VOLBEAT’s sixth studio album Outlaw Gentlemen & Shady Ladies is available now in stores and on iTunes. I would personally like to thank VOLBEAT and their management for the photo opportunity. If you’re looking for a rockin’ good time to spend with your friends and like to get rowdy with heavy guitar action and a little Johnny Cash on the side, check Volbeat’s tour dates and catch a show near you!

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Click HERE for all photos of this event. All photos taken by Alex Savage. All rights reserved.

Fort Wayne, Indiana Set List:

Hallelujah Goat
A New Day
Guitar Gangsters & Cadillac Blood
Heaven Nor Hell
Sad Man’s Tongue
Lola Montez
The Human Instrument
16 Dollars
A Warrior’s Call
Mary Anns Place
Angelfuck featuring Danko Jones
Another Day, Another Way
Dead But Rising
The Hangman’s Body Count
Still Counting

The Mirror & The Ripper
My Body
Pool of Booze, Booze, Booza