Monday, December 30, 2013

Albums of the Year: 2013

2013: The Year of the Snake!

Another year is coming to a close; and if you're an old hag like me, 365 days can go by “as quick as a wink”, as the saying goes. One minute you're heralding in the start of a new year, then you turn around, and year's end is staring you right in the face!

This is also the time when everyone takes stock of the past 52 weeks and assesses what 2013 has meant to them. Whether it's counting down the top news stories, determining which celebrities made the greatest impact, or deciding what fads and trends captured our attention; everyone has their own way of defining the preceding 12 months, and what they hope others will remember when we open up the time capsule many years from now and try to pinpoint what exactly 2013 was all about.

For those of us to whom music is the soundtrack of our lives, we prefer to look back on past years by way of the music from that place in time. Which one of our favorite bands released new material? Did it live up to the hype, or did it fall short of the mark compared to past efforts? What new talent did we discover out there that we just had to hear more of?

One thing I can say about 2013 is that it definitely did not lack in music! I have always believed that good music is out there, if you are willing to take the effort to find it. However, in 2013, it seemed like the music was so abundant that you didn't need to search very hard. If I had to say one negative thing about the state of music in 2013, it is that 12 months was not nearly enough time to process it all!

Come to think of it, another downfall to having so much to listen to over the course of a year also means that it becomes more difficult to narrow down the best of the bunch; especially if you're someone like me, who finds it tough to play favorites. But if I'm going to write a blog about music, I suppose it's time to roll up my sleeves, get to work, and give the people what they want!

So, after spending ample time thinking this through as best I could, here are my top picks for the albums that rocked my world in the year 2013. These are not listed in order of preference, but in chronological order. Enjoy! Happy New Year!

Winter 2013 (January-March)

Stratovarius: Nemesis

This year got off to a great start with this release from one of my favorite Finnish power-metal bands. This is their first album with new drummer Rolf Pilve, who is yet another infusion of “young blood” to the band's lineup. Stratovarius parted ways with their iconic guitarist/songwriter Timo Tolkki over half a decade ago, but they have not seemed to suffer much for his loss. Beginning with the addition of bassist Lauri Porra back in 2005, then guitarist Matias Kupiainen replacing Tolkki in 2009, and now Rolf occupying the spot once filled by Jörg Michael; Stratovarius keeps gaining fresh, new perspective that is coupled with the tried-and-true standard sound that fans have come to expect from Timo Kotipelto and Jens Johansson (the two remaining bandmembers from the “classic” Stratovarius lineup). Nemesis continues the trend started by 2009's Polaris and picks up where 2011's Elysium left off: the band has truly become a group effort over the past several years; everyone contributing their share to the music and seeing to it that their creative voices are equally heard, which has kept things exciting and interesting. Stratovarius is still serving up their distinct brand of power-metal, and after more than 2 decades, their well of inspiration shows no signs of running dry just yet!

Depeche Mode: Delta Machine

Just because I love metal doesn't mean that I can't appreciate other types of music; and as far as music outside the rock or metal realm, Depeche Mode is my favorite non-rock/metal band. After over 30 years in the business, they can still make amazing music, and Delta Machine is proof of this. Where many of their “new-wave” contemporaries sound uninspired or have been forever pigeonholed into the '80s; Depeche Mode is one of the few bands from that era who can still sell out large venues and still make music that sounds just as good today as anything they released at the peak of their popularity. Songs like “Heaven” and “Soothe my Soul” show that DM still has the ability to craft a damn good hit song that is catchy and sticks in your head, while managing to stay well enough outside the borders of predictable cookie-cutter pop music with the lyrical depth and musical complexity that Martin Gore does so well. Combined with the hypnotic, sensual vocals of Dave Gahan, it's nothing short of “Heaven”-ly perfection.

Spring 2013 (April-June)

Within Temptation: The Q-Music Sessions

Although this is an album of covers, I still think it should get a mention because I particularly like when bands can take a cover and really make it their own. Within Temptation not only did this, but The Q-Music Sessions was a unique project to begin with. It started when Belgian radio station Q-Music issued a sort of “assignment” for 15 weeks (as part of the station's 15-year anniversary): each week, the band would perform a new cover tune, with only 7 days to learn the song and to rearrange it to their own individual style. WT met the challenge and aced with flying colors. Whether it was taking on current pop favorites like Bruno Mars' “Grenade”, classic favorites like The Who's “Behind Blue Eyes”, or obscure tracks from one-hit wonders like Frankie Goes to Hollywood's “The Power of Love”; Within Temptation managed to take each song and strike the balance between putting their own twist on it, while still maintaining the integrity of the original song.

HIM: Tears on Tape

After a 3-year absence due to parting with their record label and a wrist injury that kept their drummer out of commission for nearly a year, the Finnish “love metal” outfit led by frontman Ville Valo has returned with their 8th album. The songs are shorter, most of them just short of the 4-minute mark (the longest song at just a little over 5 minutes); yet the music is no less lacking in the dark, melancholy and romantic atmosphere that HIM is known for. With song titles like “All Lips go Blue”, “I Will be the End of You”, and “Hearts at War”; it's plain to see why HIM has become a staple on the playlists of every tragically star-crossed goth couple.

Delain: Interlude

Riding the wave of success from 2012's We Are the Others, this album serves as a sort of “appetizer” for fans while they wait for new material from the band. This compilation of new songs, alternate versions of fan-favorites, and live tracks is the perfect mix of all that makes Delain great. It’s definitely one of those albums designed as a good “starter kit” for the new fan, while also featuring songs that longtime fans know and love, but presented in a new way. Getting to finally see this band live for the first time this year also helped to push this album a little further up on the playlist.

Pamela Moore: Resurrect Me

Known for her vocal contributions on Queensrÿche's legendary 1988 album Operation: Mindcrime, as well as her work with bands like Solna and Primal Fear, Pamela has been a respected voice on the metal scene for many years; so it might come as a surprise to some that Resurrect Me is her first genuine metal album as a solo artist. Incorporating different sounds from all the metal sub-genres, Pamela manages to seamlessly bring them all together to pack a heavy punch, disguised in the velvet glove of her seductive voice. This is exactly the album you would expect “Sister Mary” to make, and while it was a long time coming, it was worth the wait!

Timo Tolkki's Avalon: The Land of New Hope

Over the 5 years since his break with Stratovarius, Timo Tolkki has had a string of “unfinished symphonies”; projects that began with promise and ultimately never saw the light of day. But his “metal rock opera” Avalon was worth waiting for; showcasing all the elements that Tolkki’s fans love. Featuring guest musicians from across the metal scene from Within Temptation's Sharon den Adel to his former Stratovarius bandmate Jens Johansson; the breakout star on this album was Amaranthe’s Elize Ryd, providing vocals for the main female character in the first installment of the saga, The Land of New Hope.

A Sound of Thunder: Time's Arrow

Bringing back the sounds of traditional heavy metal coupled with the powerful vocals of frontwoman Nina Osegueda, this prolific quartet from Washington D.C. simply cannot be stopped. I would definitely say that A Sound of Thunder was my favorite “new discovery” this year; as my friend Tim described them, “they are the future of heavy metal”, and Time's Arrow shows that the future is now! Whether it's epics like the title track, paying homage to The Walking Dead with a tune called “I'll Walk With You”, or sharing the spotlight with guest musician Blaze Bayley on the song “My Disease”; A Sound of Thunder keeps getting better with each album and continues to prove why they are a force to be reckoned with not just on the femme-metal scene, but on the entire metal scene, period!

Queens of the Stone Age: ...Like Clockwork

For me, Queens of the Stone Age is one of those bands that is all about setting a mood or capturing a certain ambiance. If their music had to be given a theme, I would say the theme is exploration. They're always pushing their own boundaries; trying to see how far they can go and how much they can outdo what they've done before. Though they've tried over the years to shed their “stoner-rock” image, one must admit that when listening to Queens of the Stone Age there is a sort of vibe there that almost insists that you be of a certain state in order to take in everything that's going on. They're definitely not music for wantonly banging your head, or for relegating to background noise. Queens of the Stone Age is music that requires your undivided attention, and if you're not a music listener that can plumb the depths and peel back the layers of what a song has to offer, then this is probably not a band for you. However, if you are a Queens of the Stone Age fan and appreciate this very thing about their music, you will not be disappointed by ...Like Clockwork. The music is sophisticated yet quirky at the same time; just take a look at the videos for “I Appear Missing”, “Kalopsia”, and “If I Had a Tail”, if you don't believe me. Or hell, just take some time to chill out with songs like “I Sat by the Ocean” or “Smooth Sailing”. If you really need a selling point to check out this album, maybe the collaboration with Elton John might pique your curiosity?

Queensrÿche: Queensrÿche

A chance meeting between Queensrÿche guitarist Michael Wilton and Crimson Glory vocalist Todd LaTorre at a NAMM convention ended up being the catalyst for what would become the greatest comeback story of the year, and quite possibly one of the greatest comeback stories in the history of metal. Shortly after that fateful encounter, a snowball effect happened that would ultimately result in the long-overdue firing of original vocalist Geoff Tate, and an ugly “divorce” between the two parties where both were battling for custody of the rights to the Queensrÿche name. Although the official court trial is not set to take place until January 2014, it's apparent that the court of public opinion has already rendered their verdict. Making a bold statement by simply calling the album Queensrÿche; the album entered at #23 on the Billboard charts, proving that both the band and the fans knew undoubtedly who was the rightful owner of the name. Promising to return to the classic sound that fans knew, loved, and had missed for many years; Queensrÿche made good on their word by bringing back the high, soaring vocals, combined with the melodic twin-guitar assault and thought-provoking lyrics. Recruiting former producer Jimbo Barton and procuring the services of “Suite Sister Mary” herself, Pamela Moore; Queensrÿche was returning to their roots in every way possible. The end-result was a 35-minute masterpiece that emphatically heralded their triumphant return to the metal scene, and to the hearts of the fans who never gave up on them. While the album clearly embodies all of the trademark elements that Queensrÿche is known for, the sound has also been given a modern-day makeover, so that nothing here sounds outdated or repetitious. If you have already read the full review here on my blog, I don't think I need to tell you that this was, hands-down, my favorite album of 2013. In the words of bassist Eddie Jackson: “It's better than Cats!”

Summer 2013 (July-September)

Sirenia: Perils of the Deep Blue

Sirenia has seemed to be in a slump for the past several albums; even after the merry-go-round of singers appeared to come to a stop with the acquisition of Ailyn, the music still left much to be desired with longtime fans. So Perils of the Deep Blue was a welcome sight; not only was Sirenia back on track with a talented vocalist, but now the music was back to the dark gothic goodness that Morten Veland does best.

Lydia's Libido: Lydia's Libido

Redefining the term “supergroup”, this 5-piece from Texas consists of musicians who are also actors, writers, and artists (when they're not busy rocking out!). Their debut album is an upbeat, catchy, straight-up rock album; with playful, sexy, tongue-in-cheek lyrics to match. The band's Little Blue Pill tour is making its way across America, and their EP of the same name is due for release sometime in 2014. It goes without saying that this band will be going strong for a good long while!

Tarja: Colours in the Dark

Her 3rd solo album of original material, this is Tarja’s most experimental record to date and in my opinion, her best solo record thus far. It appears that she has finally come to terms with her Nightwish audience and has a clear direction musically on this album; whereas her past albums seemed to suffer from a sort of uncertainty as to where they wanted to go. She can still enrapture the listener with her voice, and knows how to give them what they want to hear. Whether it’s the merging of the heavy with the avant-garde on songs like “Victim of Ritual”, straight-up headbanging tracks like “Neverlight”, or ethereal sonic journeys like “Lucid Dreamer” or “Medusa”; Tarja has put together some of her strongest material since going solo.

Fish: A Feast of Consequences

The “obscure Scottish poet” returns after a 5-year hiatus, but picks up right where he left off with an ambitious album featuring a 5-song suite based on World War I, among other things. From the tracks “High Wood” to “The Leaving”, we're taken on a journey through the bloody rigors and bleak futility of battle. The album itself opens with the 10+-minute opus “Perfume River”, showing why he is still one of the best progressive frontmen out there. Even so, Fish is known best for his poetic lyrics; showing us the depths of his soul through his words. Whether he's expressing his wonder and confusion about the state of the modern world on songs like “All Loved Up”, or baring his soul on the hauntingly lovely “Blind to the Beautiful”; Fish continues to live up to his reputation of “keeping it real” and wearing his heart on his sleeve.

ReVamp: Wild Card

2013 was definitely the year of Floor Jansen; and while “Nightwish” seemed to be the biggest buzz-word surrounding her, Floor's band ReVamp didn't do too bad garnering some attention of their own. In Floor’s own words, Wild Card is a heavier and more experimental album than the first one. To start with, the album begins with the first part of a 3-song set subtitled “The Anatomy of a Nervous Breakdown”, which is a lyrical account of Floor's real-life “burn-out” that caused her to withdraw from music and touring for over a year. If anything else, this album stands as a good piece of evidence as to why Floor Jansen is so respected and so beloved on the metal scene, and why she has clearly earned her spot with Finland’s finest.

Dream Theater: Dream Theater

Although this is the second album since parting ways with original drummer Mike Portnoy, this is the first album to truly feature replacement drummer Mike Mangini as part of the band; meaning that he was present during the songwriting process (not just playing parts already written, as opposed to their previous album), and has brought his own distinct sound to the dynamic. However, this is not a radical departure from the standard DT sound. If anything, over the years Dream Theater has become quite intuitive to what their fans come to expect from them, and have spent the past several albums giving them exactly that. In some respects I think the band has tried to stick more to their standard formula even more after Mike Portnoy's departure, so as to prove that they are still the same as they've always been and that fans need not worry that they will change into something that they won't recognize. But I do admit that I miss the musical exploration and hope that they will go back to trying new things on their next album. Yet whatever minor shortcomings (which might easily be chalked up to nothing more than longtime fans simply nit-picking), it's still a solid piece of work and DT keeps a perfect score in that they have yet to release an album that disappoints me musically. In short, Dream Theater is still Dream Theater: they've still got the insanely-long songs, the epic showmanship, and the labyrinthine solos that their audience loves to hear.

Sammy Hagar: Sammy Hagar & Friends

Sammy Hagar's music is all about feeling good and having fun, and usually when you're in that state of mind, you want to share the feeling, right? So then it probably comes as no surprise that Sammy would want to take his good-time music and rock out with his fellow musicians. Collaborating with everyone from Kid Rock to Toby Keith to Heart's Nancy Wilson, and covering songs like Depeche Mode's “Personal Jesus” and Jimmy Buffett's “Margaritaville”; Sammy and his friends have put together the perfect party-time album that is just ideal for your next shindig!

Autumn 2013 (October-December)

Ayreon: The Theory of Everything

When it comes to the term “prog-rock genius”, most people are inclined to think in the past tense and name legends from progressive rock's heyday in the '70s. But there are modern-day prog visionaries, and I think it's safe to say that over the last decade and a half, Arjen Anthony Lucassen has held fast to that title. More than just complex time signatures or lyrics based on sci-fi or fantasy; Ayreon is unique in that Arjen allows the music to speak for itself, literally. Ayreon is not a band as much as it is a revolving door of musicians that best fit into Arjen's grand scheme. The cast on The Theory of Everything is quite impressive: from prog-rock royalty like Rick Wakeman, Steve Hackett and Keith Emerson to metal superstars like Marco Hietala, Cristina Scabbia, and Tommy Karevik. It's the perfect fusion of metal aggression and progressive intricacy.

Chastain: Surrender to No One

After over 20 years, '80s metal band Chastain has reunited with original vocalist Leather Leone, kicking as much ass as they ever did! Considering the wave of American femme-metal bands to crop up over the last several years that are/were clearly influenced by vocalists like Leone, it seems the timing is perfect for Chastain to reunite with Leather and show the younger metal audience a thing or two! From start to finish, this album is a fast-paced assault on the senses. If you're one of those metal fans who think that the bands from back in the day aren't making music as good as they used to, you might want to pick up a copy of Surrender to No One and reconsider your assessment.

Rush: Clockwork Angels Tour

Throughout their 4 decades of existence, the 2012-2013 Clockwork Angels tour was the first time in the history of Rush that they became more than a 3-piece band. Taking a strings ensemble with them on the road, the band brought to life their concept album Clockwork Angels, while at the same time providing a unique take on some old fan-favorites. I was lucky enough to see the band on this tour last year, and all I can say is: every Rush fan should have the chance to hear “YYZ” with strings. If they were not fortunate enough to hear this live, then they can at least listen to this live album to get an idea of how eargasmically delicious this was. Wrapping up this tour on the heels of their Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction earlier this year, Rush has shown that they can pretty much do whatever the fuck they want at this point in their career. Or more accurately, they are finally at a point where no explanation is needed as to why they have always done whatever the fuck they want.

Benedictum: Obey

I first caught wind of this band by way of A Sound of Thunder's “Queen of Hell” single, where Benedictum's vocalist Veronica Freeman did a duet with Nina on an alternative version of the title track. Like A Sound of Thunder, Benedictum is among a handful of bands spearheading a movement in the U.S. that, for lack of a better term, I can only refer to as “The New Wave of American Femme-Metal”. Steering decisively away from the operatic vocals and the glamorous stage presence of their European counterparts, these female-fronted bands are instead embracing the traditional components of heavy metal; blending a sonic return to metal's glory days while incorporating a female perspective. If you like straight-up, ass-kicking metal with vocals that can shatter glass and guitar riffs as tough as nails, then Benedictum is right up your alley. Running the gamut from anthemic tunes like “The Evil That we Do” to melodic slow rockers like  “Cry” (their duet with former Black Sabbath vocalist Tony Martin), Benedictum delivers their brand of metal with no frills and no bullshit.

Nightwish: Showtime, Storytime

The Finnish symphonic metal powerhouse rises once again after another controversial singer departure. With Dutch export Floor Jansen at the mic and “master of the Uilleann pipes” Troy Donockley adding even more to the band’s huge sound, this live album from the Wacken Open Air Festival captures the renewed energy within Nightwish; yet also hearkening back to the glory days with classics like “Ghost Love Score”, “Ever Dream”, and “She is my Sin”. And hell, I'm actually on the DVD for half a second, so I think I have a right to be a little biased!


All in all, I'd say 2013 was a pretty awesome year for music. It's not very often that I have this many albums on an end-of-year list, so I think that goes to show right there just how much there was to listen to in 2013. Believe it or not, there were still some albums out there that didn't make this list, or that I didn't get a chance to listen to. But to have 22 albums here on this list, when some years I barely have a top 5...I'd say that's pretty damn good!

I only hope that 2014 will be just as bountiful; but if not, I will not complain, considering that 2013 had enough music to compensate for a few years!

How about you? What albums made your list? Which ones on my list were also your favorites this year, if any? I'd love to read your posts in the comments section.

Thanks for reading, and happy new year! See you in 2014!

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Concert review: Kamelot/Delain/Eklipse @ City National Grove; Anaheim, CA; September 21st, 2013

Kamelot tour promo

NOTE: All live photos are mine and taken by me! If you want to share them, please give credit where credit is due. But just in case you forget, they are watermarked so that this blog is still credited. Thanks!

*WARNING* I write very long and detailed concert reviews; I always like to write from the perspective of making the reader feel as if they are right beside me throughout the event. I have divided this review into parts, so if you are not one who likes reading long reviews, you can just scroll to the sections of the review that particularly interest you. On with the review!

Part One: Getting Ready for the Show

So it's taken some time to rest and gather all my thoughts, but I think I am now ready to write a cohesive review of the Kamelot/Delain/Eklipse concert last weekend. I could probably use more time for better organization, but better to risk a bit of a mental drag than to let too much time go by and compromise a lot of the short-term memories!

That being said, I should probably do a sort of “prologue” to this review, and rewind back to October of last year, to when I saw Kamelot for the first time as an opening act for Nightwish. I attended two of those shows; one at this same venue (the Grove) in Anaheim, and the other at the House of Blues in San Diego. Much as I love Nightwish (I wouldn't have seen them live 7 times if I didn't!), I have to admit that I was overwhelmingly impressed with Kamelot as well. At that point in time, I knew a small portion of their discography (their last two albums at the time: Ghost Opera and Poetry for the Poisoned). They were one of those bands that were on my “I've been meaning to check them out” list that we all have. The fact that their former lead singer left the band after the latter album only pushed my interest farther to the backburner; and after being so impressed with Ghost Opera, I found Poetry to fall short of the mark in comparison (there are some good songs on it; but compared to Ghost Opera, which I fell in love with, I felt Poetry lacked that special something). So between these two things, Kamelot just became one of those bands that I liked well enough, but did not have a burning curiosity to learn more about; as other bands I deemed as my favorites took up more of my time and attention. (Sorry to all the other bands on earth, but when Rush releases an album, all other bands temporarily cease to exist for me!)

However, if you are one of those people like myself who have a list of bands you've been meaning to give a try, I would give one bit of advice that obviously leads me to this review: go to see one of those bands perform live, with people who are already hardcore fans of that band. It's not too dissimilar to visiting a city you have never been to before, and having a local guide you along. You could go to all the “tourist spots” and stick with what everyone already sees on the surface; but you'll never learn about all those hidden destinations off the beaten path, or the distinct qualities that gives that location their special charm which defines them and sets them apart from every other place: those things that only a resident would know. This is what happened for me when I went to the Nightwish/Kamelot shows last year with a family of Nightwish fans who were also die-hard Kamelot fans. They did in one weekend what the person who first introduced me to Kamelot couldn't do for over 5 years! (And this is no fault of his; if he had been the one to attend these concerts with me, I'm pretty sure I'd be saying the same thing!) The first thing I did when I got home from our weekend-long mini-tour, I made it my mission to track down as much of Kamelot's back catalog as I could find, as it was clear enough to me that my intent to better acquaint myself with their music had been long overdue.

Ah yes, and one other thing that I can safely say turned me around completely, and I think my friend said it best when she says that it happened to me via “seduction by vocals”...yes, I saw the Kamelot light, and it was the voice of an angel who showed me the way; a vocal savior who has been converting the masses with every note he sings. A man who has won the hearts of many women (and some men!) along the way; though for me personally, it's only about the voice and not about looks at all (come on now, I'm a “married old woman” and far past the age for such silly notions!). In case you haven't figured it out by now, that super-human being has a name, and it is Tommy Karevik, Kamelot's new singer (who is not so new anymore, really, as he's been with them for about a year and a half now!).

Not only has Tommy taken over the slot left vacant by the iconic Roy Khan, but he has made that place his own and has silenced the doubters and the haters wherever he goes. Seeing them at those two shows during the Nightwish tour, they did many songs from Ghost Opera, which was really the only album I was familiar with at that time (only having listened to Poetry maybe a handful of times); and listening to him sing those tunes, I did not feel like anything was lacking or that I was being cheated out of hearing the songs the way they ought to be (and I have to admit, hearing the Ghost Opera bonus track “Season's End” on my birthday was a very nice treat indeed!). At the time, their latest album Silverthorn had not yet been released, so they only performed one track from it at those shows. However, if that was the kind of music they were doing with him at the helm, then it only convinced me all the more that I needed to get familiar with Kamelot, and fast!

Finally, what sealed the deal for me was at the end of our journey in San Diego, and meeting up with three of the Kamelot bandmembers (Tommy, bassist Sean, and drummer Casey) after the show. Each one of them were kind enough to sign the only thing I had on hand: a birthday card given to me by my friends the night before, signed by all the members of Nightwish (as, obviously, my birthday was the night before during the show at the Grove!). I was impressed by how sweet Tommy was to all the fans, even someone like me who did not know a lot about him or his music, and therefore didn't have a whole lot to say to him. (And well, I realize that some of my readers are dear friends who have developed a crush on Tommy, so I felt inclined to include a story about him that would further endear him to them.) The other two guys were very nice as well; we even spoke to Sean for more than a few minutes, which I also thought was pretty cool.

I am one of those people who have a huge problem with supporting bands who adopt a “rock star” attitude or who treat their fans like shit (which is a big reason I'm not a Van Halen fan; it's a good thing bands are not paid by how respectful they are to their fans, otherwise the brothers would be dirt-poor!). Sure, it probably doesn't matter, but if I'm paying good money to support music, I like to know that somewhere along the line, it's being acknowledged by the recipient as to where it comes from! When I like a band's music, it's always nice to learn that they have down-to-earth personalities or do not feel inclined to act high and mighty. So to see that the guys from Kamelot were decent folks to their fans (and even people who weren't full-blown fans as of yet), that won some extra points with me!

You might be able to see Tommy's and Sean's signatures way at the top, in silver! But judging where Casey's signature ended up, is he trying to say he wants to be a guest member of Nightwish? ;)

Needless to say, when I heard Kamelot was returning for a headlining tour, I really wanted to see them again. When I learned that the opening act would be Delain—a band I have loved since their first album in 2006—I knew I had to figure out a way to get back to the Grove (which is over 3 hours away from where I live; this may not seem like much, but it's no easy feat for someone who cannot drive!). And who better to go to the show with than the very same people who were with me the last time? It took some time to work out whether or not we would go, but it did happen. The only “bummer" was that one of my friend's two sons wouldn't be able to come with us like he did before; he and his dad were attending a father-son competition that weekend and it was something they had committed to months before. She and her other son were reluctant to go without him, but he insisted (which shows what a thoughtful kid he is!); and well, a mother certainly can't deny the wishes of her son, can she? 

While my friend was working out things on her end, a wonderful thing happened for me: my friend John, a fellow writer from Sonic Cathedral, sent a message to ask if I had tickets yet to the show. I answered that I didn't because I was waiting for the funds to buy my ticket. He then asked me if I would like to have one of his, as the person he bought it for wasn't able to attend. Not only did I get a free ticket, but a free VIP ticket, which saved me a lot of money! Wow!!! I am eternally grateful. (And more money to spend at the merch table is never a bad thing!)

Part Two: Pre-show Meet-and-Greet

My friends and I hit the road to Southern California on a beautiful sunny Saturday; it was already hot, but that's nothing new for Central Cali (we're known for only two types of weather: freezing or burning!). We left my house a little after noon, and even though traffic was relentless the entire way, we made it to the Grove a little bit after 3 o'clock. At this point just a small group of people had formed a line outside, but that would change fast!

The first person we met was John, whom I was meeting in person for the first time. It's always so much fun to meet online friends, especially fellow metal fans, and especially fellow writers! Before long, we met up with several other people that we remembered from the shows last year, and just as it always is at every metal gig you will attend, it's like a big family reunion. Even when meeting new people, it still feels like a gathering of old friends whenever you are at a metal show. When we were all let inside to wait for the meet-and-greet, talking to other fans makes the time go by fast, and being packed together like sardines in the long line does not feel so uncomfortable! (Well, maybe still just a little bit, but at least you know you are in good company!) At this point John's brother Don had joined us in the line, as well as some other friends of his that remained in our group for most of the time throughout.

The way this meet-and-greet was set up was slightly different from others I have been to in the past; normally the band all sits at a long table, you get your stuff signed, and maybe if you're quick about it, you can snap a photo with them as well. You have just enough time to shake their hands and say hello before you are ushered off to let the next person take their turn. Some meet-and-greets are less formal or rushed, but this is the basic gist of how most of them go. However, this one was different in that the band sat at a long table, but you were only allowed to get one item signed besides the poster given to you at the table (which was just fine with me; I didn't bring anything to get signed, because I like to have a complete set and I knew I wouldn't get one when it was announced that their keyboardist wouldn't be joining them on this leg of the tour). You were not allowed to take pictures during the signing session; there would be a time for that after all the autographs were given out. Then, when the time came to get back in the line and take the pictures, you could not use your own camera, and the only way you could retrieve your photos was through the band's Facebook page, where they would be uploaded later. (If this had been just a little more than a year ago, this would have made me quite upset, as I was once very anti-Facebook and up until a year ago did not even have a Facebook account!) So while this seemed like a strange sort of set-up, I did like that there was ample time made for both getting your things signed and for taking photos; usually people have to choose between either of the two, and as much as these VIP packages cost, people should be able to get autographs and photos without any need to rush through the process.

This is probably where I should mention another personal angle to this story: since the shows last year, my friend and I have badly wanted to hear the band bring the Ghost Opera song “EdenEcho" back into the setlist. This is my favorite song from that album, and now that I know their entire discography much better (having listened to it many, many times over the last year!), I can also say it's my favorite Kamelot song of all. There are not many songs that draw me in so much that I put them constantly on repeat, but this is one of those songs for me. So between the both of us, we decided that since we knew we were meeting the band, we were going to take the opportunity to ask for this song. Our chances looked pretty good, considering they had added this song to the setlist at earlier shows; but they had taken it off again over the past few shows prior to ours, so the probability of not getting it seemed just as likely.

Myself, I had nothing more than plain, old-fashioned begging and pleading; but my friend had a clever plan that may have just helped even the odds a little bit. She knew what a fan Tommy was of the singer Jorn Lande, and brought his brand-new CD on the hopes that Tommy hadn't had the chance to get a copy for himself yet (after all, he's a touring musician; when does he have time to not only check out new music, but walk into a store to buy it?). So our plan of action was set into motion: my job would be to take my request to Thomas Youngblood (the band's guitarist and “leader"), and she would work her magic on Tommy. We'd have the two most important bases covered, and what happened from there was left purely to chance.

Since my friend was behind me in the line, I don't know how well she fared with Tommy until after we met back up in the second line. But I did ask Thomas and I thought I was nice about it! His answer was, “I'll take it up with the rest of the band and see what they say!” Well, that's better than an outward “no”, anyway!

The rest of the band was all very friendly and pleasant; they all took time signing a card I brought for my friend's son; I thought he might like to have something signed by the band since he couldn't be at the show. At this point was when I reached Tommy in the line; since I got the idea for this card from the one I received, I took the opportunity to thank him for signing my birthday card last year. “Your birthday was at the show here last year?” he asks me. “Yes, the show you did here was on the night of my birthday, but I met you the night after and you still signed the card!” I answer back. “So then that means you have another birthday coming soon!” he says to me. “Well, yes,” I say, “but not until 2 weeks from today.” “Then happy birthday to you again!” he replies. How nice! So he was the first person to wish me a happy birthday this year. Not a bad way to start off another year of life! I have to say that I was a little impressed that he would remember that far back; as many shows as they do, I imagine they all blur together and one becomes no different than the one before or after. So for him to remember when they last played a show at this same venue, and how close it was to a year's time since then, that really took me by surprise. Talk about having a good memory!

So after getting stuff signed and spending a few minutes at the merch table, we all got back in line for the second part of the VIP experience: getting your pictures taken with the band. A few of us got separated, but most of us managed to stay together, and it made for an awesome group photo when our turn came. However, I wish I could say it was a pleasant experience, but I think I embarrassed myself when one of the keychains from my bag hanging off the back of my wheelchair got stuck in the wheels and I couldn't move! So here I was, holding up the line and probably looking very foolish in front of everyone. But then again, being socially awkward has sort of been my calling card; I should probably accept it and try to find ways to use it to my advantage. At any rate, no one seemed to mind that I was holding things up a bit by trying to find my way into the little area where all the photos were being taken. The picture looks great, but once again, I feel like I ruined the photo; as everyone in our group is smiling and I am still feeling a little embarrassed by the incident so I tried to look all serious and “metal”. I hate sharing pictures of myself, as I am no beauty queen; but this encompasses the wonderful time I had with everyone during the night, that I will take one for the team and show it!

A fun time was had by all, and the show hasn't even started yet!
(Photo provided courtesy of the official Kamelot Facebook page.)

Now that our time at the meet-and-greet was over, all that there was left to do was wait for the show to begin!

Part Three: Eklipse

At 8 o'clock sharp, the first band of the night, Eklipse, hit the stage. This was an ensemble of little more than 4 ladies with violins and cellos, but they rocked just as hard as any metal band. To say I was impressed would be an understatement. Their take on classic '80s staples like “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)” and “You Spin me Round (Like a Record)”, as well as modern hits like “Cry me a River”, were pleasing to the ear; and for a moment, made you forget that you were listening to pop songs! The four women all stood at the center of the stage; each one dressed in white, but all in different styles. Their energy and stage presence was every bit as intense as the metal bands. Sometimes being understated can pack the heaviest punch, and this is certainly the case with Eklipse. I think they were a perfect fit for the symphonic metal audience, many of us who appreciate and enjoy classical music.

The ladies of Eklipse

Part Four: Delain

Eklipse played a solid set for about half an hour, and then at a quarter to nine, the Dutch symphonic metal outfit Delain began their set. For me, I was just as excited to see Delain as I was to see Kamelot; maybe even more so because I had already seen Kamelot twice and have never seen Delain live at all (and I have been a fan of Delain for a long time). The opening notes of “Mother Machine” hit, and the crowd went nuts.

Delain's setlist; via

Delain was on fire! Their set was high-intensity from beginning to end. Charlotte Wessels, Delain's frontwoman, has a dramatic stage presence, and her vocals are just as spot-on as they are on the studio records; in some respects even more so. She does a lot of headbanging and jumping around onstage. In fact, the entire band does their share of headbanging and moving around a lot. Even the band's keyboardist, Martijn Westerholt, is back there behind his keys rocking out; moving his head up and down while his body sways in time to the heavy riffs.

Delain onstage

“Go Away”, a track off their second album April Rain, was a pleasure to hear live; and “Get the Devil Out of Me” showcases the best of Charlotte's vocal prowess. Her voice is so strong that it could probably be heard clear across the street! They all look like they are having a blast onstage, and it shows. The fans are just as into it too, especially when they start playing classic tunes like “Sleepwalkers Dream” and “The Gathering” from their debut album, Lucidity. Newer favorites such as “Electricity” (where Charlotte really gets things started with some hair-whipping headbanging) and “Not Enough” get just as much an enthusiastic feedback from the crowd.

Charlotte Wessels

The 10-song set closed with the title track from their most recent full-length album, We Are the Others; an anti-bullying anthem written for a teenage girl who tragically committed suicide after constant torment from her peers at school. I'm pretty sure most metalheads in the crowd can relate to the lyrics about being cast-outs and being shunned for their differences. After all, how many of us hear on a regular basis the stereotypes that people think defines those who listen to metal music? It's a perfect song to close the show, and both the crowd and band were jumping to the music; many of them singing along to the inspirational lyrics: “normal is not the norm; it's just a uniform”.

Delain onstage

After Delain's set, they thanked the fans for their support, hinting that they would be back soon. They took a bow, and were gone. The lights came back up and there was only one band left to wait for.

Part Five: Kamelot

At 10 o'clock sharp, the lights dimmed one last time and the intro music hit, as the members of Kamelot, one by one, each took their places on the stage. The opening notes to the Ghost Opera favorite “Rule the World” began to play, and Kamelot began their set with all guns blazing!

Kamelot's setlist, via

From there, the energy did not let up at all; Silverthorn's “Torn” keeps up the frenetic pace, while Tommy runs to and fro across the stage, bassist Sean Tibbetts animatedly jumps up and down, and Thomas Youngblood headbangs his heart out. Temporary female vocalist Alissa White-Gluz stands on an elevated portion of the stage, donning a black dress with a flowing cape as she moves along to the music, raising her arms for emphasis as the cape flies like a flag in the wind.

Alissa White-Gluz

Then as the band starts in on “The Great Pandemonium”, Thomas declares Orange County to be “Kamelot country”, and promises that they will indeed return to this very same venue (considering that the band is made up of people from various parts of the U.S. and Europe, I am willing to bet that a line similar to this is said at every show, as everywhere there is an audience could very well be “Kamelot country”, right?). He then introduces “the newest member” of the band (Tommy), and the band proceeds to rock out. As I mentioned earlier in this review, Poetry for the Poisoned is my least-favorite Kamelot album, but Tommy breathes some new life into this tune. During the middle of the song, he also does his share of thanking the fans and the audience for attending as well; jumping around enthusiastically all the way to the end.

Tommy Karevik

The bombastic Silverthorn track “Veritas” brings Alissa to center stage; her clean vocals as pure and clear as her guttural voice is wicked and intimidating. The blood-red lighting gives this powerful song an even more dramatic flair; she and Tommy standing beside each other towards the end of the song as strikingly stalwart figures bathing in the crimson glow, their linked hands raised upwards in victorious splendor.

 Kamelot onstage

The audience cheers and claps their hands as Tommy introduces the song “Center of the Universe” from their Epica album. This is one of the songs that most impressed me at the shows last year, so hearing it again was just as enjoyable the third time around. At the previous shows, Amaranthe frontwoman Elize Ryd provided the female vocals, which were a bit more operatic; but Alissa does a beautiful job here as well. Fill-in keyboardist Coen Janssen is moving his keyboard in different directions, headbanging wildly in the background while Tommy belts out some impressive high notes and Thomas shreds on the solo.

Thomas Youngblood & Tommy Karevik

Every band has a song with a social or political message, some more than others. For Kamelot, this is the Ghost Opera track “The Human Stain”; a track which Tommy introduces as being a song about how we don't treat the planet the way we ought to. Sean is headbanging, his long braided hair flying about haphazardly as the crowd pumps their fists and cheers along and Thomas provides yet another blistering solo. I've heard this song described by someone as “better than sex”; and while I probably would not go quite that far, there are worse ways to spend a Saturday night, and this is not one of them!

After a solid block of straight-up rockin' tunes, the mood quiets down as the gentle lilt of the Silverthorn ballad “Song for Jolee” begins. Tommy urges the crowd to wave their hands and get out their lighters and cell phones, as he stands alone in the middle of the stage to sing this gorgeous slow number. If this doesn't give you a tear in your eye or a lump in your throat, then you might want to get your vital signs checked!

“Song for Jolee”

As emotionally moving as “Song for Jolee” was, it was nothing compared to the sheer joy I felt when the opening notes of “EdenEcho” began, and my wish for the evening had come true. My friend and I probably squealed like little fangirls (which undoubtedly looked very funny to any onlooker, considering we are grown women who live responsible adult lives!), but we were so excited that we didn't care! I even retired my camera for the next few minutes so that I could bask in the perfection of this magnificent song. Alissa's stage outfit changed to white at this point; no doubt befitting to the lyrics “you were always there, dressed in summer white”. Tommy came over to our side of the stage at one point during the second verse, singing right to Laura, a friend of John's that I'd become acquainted with that evening. Then Tommy belts out an amazing high note during the bridge; making an already-awesome moment even better. Is there any way a fulfilled request could become more perfect? Come to find out from a friend who went to the show the following night in Tempe that this song was on the setlist there too; so while it's probably very likely that we had no influence at all whatsoever on the outcome of the inclusion of the song in the setlist, what harm does it do to think that we did?

“EdenEcho” (video provided courtesy of Andrea Granillo)

After what was definitely the highlight of the show for me, Tommy introduces Casey for the drum solo segment of the show. Now, as a lifelong Rush fan, I should probably say that I normally do not get excited when other bands introduce drum solos into their sets; because I have been spoiled rotten by Neil Peart and to my ears, all other drum solos sound like thinly-veiled attempts to copy him. There is always some angle to every other drummer's solo that is a take on what Neil has already done, so unless I am at a Rush concert and seeing the real thing, this is usually the part of the show where I just “grin and bear it” and imagine that I am hearing “O Baterista” in the meantime. The only non-Peart drum solo I have ever truly enjoyed that did not immediately sound like a tribute to Neil was Danny Carey of Tool's drum solo, but that's another story for another time!

That being said, I was very entertained by Casey. I don't suppose drummers can help it very much that no matter how hard they try, there is something to their method that echoes the drum god Neil Peart. Yet unlike most other drummers I have seen that consciously try to imitate this, I did not get the feeling that this was Casey's approach. He was doing his own thing, a sort of loose and free style (very much the opposite of the deadly precision of Peart); and it sounded great! For one, he does not have a behemoth of a drum kit the way Neil does, so already I appreciate that he's not trying to show off with all the bells and whistles that Peart can get away with. Casey just sticks with the fundamentals and relies on that to get his point across. Rather than trying to impress the fans with percussive magic tricks (like all other drummers do, therefore feeling to me like blatant rip-offs of Neil Peart), his skill is more in how loud he can get; his drums thumping so loud that you can feel it. There are flashing lights to accompany the various stages of the solo, and for as fast as he is going, there's a lot of drumstick-twirling going on at the same time! Pretty impressive, Casey! You've won over this die-hard Peart fan, and have joined Danny Carey among the ranks of drummers who can put on an awesome solo without making it sound like a cut-and-paste version of Neil's jam on Exit...Stage Left. Perhaps there are other Rush fans out there who can nit-pick things down to the last nanosecond, but I will leave that to them and say that I was quite entertained, and that's what matters!

After Casey's solo, Tommy returns to the stage and remarks about how dark it is getting, introducing a favorite from The Black Halo, “When the Lights Are Down”. This is one of my favorite tracks from that album, and I have never heard Tommy's take on this tune. It shouldn't have come as a surprise to me that he sounded awesome. But the highlight of the song was when temporary keyboardist Coen Janssen took to a portable keyboard that he could carry with him across the stage, shaped as an arc; and takes to center stage to provide the solo part. Who says keyboardists can't rock out?

Coen Janssen

Afterwards, Tommy wants to know how loud the crowd can get. Some festive music that he claims he has brought all the way from Sweden begins to play before the song officially starts; as he warns them that the music will control everyone before long. He then requests absolute quiet from the audience, which at this point a female in the audience takes advantage of to make a marriage proposal. At the count of three, the crowd thunders a deafening roar, and introduces the first single from Silverthorn, “Sacrimony (Angel of Afterlife)”. This song has lost no intensity or fervor over the past year of playing it hundreds of times. Alissa makes another appearance to center stage; alternating between the clean vocals once provided by Elize Ryd, and her own wickedly delightful guttural vocals; creating a bewitching ambiance when combined with the sanguine tint of the lights. While it was nice to hear the two singers contrast at the show last year, Alissa does quite well on her own too!

“Sacrimony (Angel of Afterlife)”

The stage is about to get a little crowded, as Tommy introduces the next song. He expresses how nice it is to hear that fans know and love the new songs as much as the old ones, and announces that they are going to play another new song. As the girls from Eklipse make their way to the stage, it becomes apparent that the song “My Confession” (which features Eklipse) is the next song on the line. Alissa dances on her raised platform while the girls from Eklipse rock out on hollowed-out violins and cellos lined with little lights. The population onstage has practically doubled, but everyone has room to move about freely and the addition of four more bodies along with their cumbersome instruments does not seem to hinder anyone in the least. The girls from Eklipse take their bow at the end of the song and promptly depart.

It is at this time that Tommy introduces Coen Janssen to the audience, and he proceeds to play a lovely piano solo. I wish there was more I could say about it, but it's less than two minutes long! Nonetheless, he packs a lot of beautiful harmonies in such a short time, in order to bring the show to its climax.

The opening guitar notes of the Karma classic “Forever” prompts Tommy to jump out in the audience, where a sing-along chant from the crowd begins. Sean is on our side of the stage, whipping his braids into a frenzy. Tommy messes up a lyric slightly in the second verse, but it doesn't appear that anyone notices (I probably shouldn't bring it up, but well, this is a review, and I think it's rather charming, so I'm not being critical here!). About halfway into it, he urges the crowd to mimic his vocalizations, which everyone does with emphatic gusto. There is some playful interaction between Tommy and Thomas, and then the crowd participation starts up again a couple more times, ending on a very high note from Tommy that the audience tries their best to imitate! Then more impressive note-holding from Tommy before the band takes it to its final notes.


The band departs from the stage, leaving an enthusiastic crowd begging for more. Sean rouses the crowd by running across the stage and lifting his arms in an enticement to cheer. At this point he jams on his bass for a few moments. One thing I do like about the solo segments at Kamelot concerts is that they are succinct and to-the-point! Not a lot of time showing off or noodling around unnecessarily. Not that I mind this, but it is a band, not a solo act, so I like that each person is given the opportunity to showcase their talent without being a ball hog towards anyone else (did I just make another dig at Van Halen?).

From there, the band starts in on the title track from Ghost Opera, and I don't need to tell you that any song from that album is a highlight for me! During the second verse, Tommy comes to our side of the stage again and sings directly to Laura. He must think she is cute! ;) (And Laura is a nice girl, so she deserves it!)

The show is reaching its end, and Tommy says as much as he says there are two songs left to play; introducing the title track from Karma; another favorite of mine. I got to hear this song live at their show in San Diego last year and enjoyed it very much. Knowing it much better now, I was excited to hear it again, and they did not fail to deliver. The band headbangs a lot on stage while Tommy does some lovely vocalizations before starting in on the verses. When he reaches the lyric “I know I've torn and taken life”, he reaches over for my friend Andrea's camera; she and my other friend Craig were sitting front-and-center while I was all the way on the end, so our small group had all the bases covered in the pit! So Tommy proceeds to take Andrea's camera, and let's see from the video what Tommy decides to film!

Video provided courtesy of Andrea Granillo

All good things must come to an end, and so this amazing ride reaches its final stop with the bombastic opening track from The Black Halo, and what has become Kamelot's closing song at all their live gigs: “March of Mephisto”. After “EdenEcho”, I would easily say that “March of Mephisto” is my second-favorite Kamelot song, and it seems most fans share the sentiment that it's a top favorite, considering how excited everyone got when Alissa growls out Mephisto's name, and two of the girls from Eklipse return to the stage to pound out the militant opening drumbeats of this hauntingly majestic track. Alissa makes one last return to center stage; this time shedding all the flowing capes and beautiful dresses and donning her “bad-ass gear” of leather and studs to take on her part as the malevolent voice of Mephisto. The byplay between Alissa and Tommy really got my attention at the shows last year, and they've got it down pat by now; acting out the lyrics with gestures as they headbang their way into one last sing-along from the crowd.

My last photo of the night of Tommy, according to my memory card!

The outro music plays; the final track from Silverthorn, “Continuum”. It is at this time when guitar picks and drumsticks are thrown out to the crowd, and Tommy jumps down into the audience to shake hands before taking their final bow. Yes, Tommy even shook my hand. How nice! Too bad all my friends who are in love with him do not live close to me; I could make some extra cash on the side charging for handshakes! Damn, I really could use that extra money. Oh well. One by one the band takes their leave and an incredible night has come to an end.

Or has it...?

Part 6: After the Show

You'd think that there would be nothing more to report after the gig is over, but you'd be wrong! As our group all says our goodbyes and start to head our separate ways, grapevine gossip travels fast and word is that the members of Delain are all hanging out in the lobby, signing autographs. Since my friend and I are due for a long drive back home as it is, we figure what's the harm in hanging out for a little while to see if we can get pictures with any of them?

As we head to the lobby, we notice Craig talking to someone from Eklipse, but the area is small and crowded, so we opt to keep going and see if we can find anyone from Delain. I use this opportunity to call home, as my better half has the uncanny knack of calling me whenever I am unable to answer right away! He is glad to hear that I had an excellent time at the show and wishes us luck in meeting up with Delain. A hilarious moment ensues when I end my call with “love you, talk to you later”, and a guy walking by thinks that I am talking to him! Well, much as I love my fellow metalheads, we've only just met! I'm not that kind of gal; married old woman I am, remember?

The first person from Delain that I notice is Martijn Westerholt, who is a very nice guy and pleasant to talk to. Since meeting Delain was not something we had planned, I only brought one thing along with me in the instance that it might happen, and it was only something Martijn could sign: the “Ice Queen” single from his former band, Within Temptation. Seeing it sparks memories for him and he says to me that the item I have in my possession is “very rare!”, and then he goes on to mention what a nice woman his sister-in-law Sharon is (which I already knew, seeing as how I met her back in 2007!). He and I take a picture, and the band's guitarist (unfortunately, I cannot remember his name!) jumps into the photo with us as well.

I have good fortune getting autographs with most of the bandmembers; I never did see the band's drummer anywhere, though. However, I was more concerned with getting autographs for the card I bought for my friend's son. I thought it would make his day to see not only a full set of Kamelot signatures, but nearly a full set of Delain as well. So I spent more time getting that signed than trying to get any pictures or anything for myself.

The last person we see, naturally, is Charlotte. As expected, she has a swarm of people around her and because it's an informal meeting, there is no set rule as to how people can approach her; so folks just sort of jump in when they find an opportunity. By this time, Laura and I had met up in the crowd again, and I ask her if she can take a picture on her camera with me and Charlotte, as my memory card was officially full and I did not want to waste anyone's time going through it to see which photo could afford to be deleted in its place. Laura agrees, and we go on to meet Charlotte. The only thing I have for her to sign is an old glossy photo that was given to me by a friend of mine who lives in Amsterdam; she got this at a festival Delain was playing at in the Netherlands back in their early days, and sent it to me because she knew I was a fan. Charlotte seems surprised to see this photo and asks me where I got it. She is the only member of the band besides Martijn who can sign it, as no one else in the photo is with the band any longer. However, I already got my single signed by Martijn as well as the card, so I did not want to ask for another, and settled for having Charlotte's signature on this photo alone. She was also approachable and kind to fans; when I asked her to sign the card for my friend's son, she was not only happy to do it, but she asked his name so that she could write him a message. It is at this time that my friend (his mom) arrives and sees what I am doing, so Charlotte writes him a personal message wishing him luck on the competition that he went to over the weekend. (I still don't know if he won or not!) What a sweetheart!

I suppose at this time I could share the pictures I took, but I still have not received my picture with Charlotte from Laura! :( But not only that, you all have heard enough from me and been good sports about it; I think showing you my homely mug would just be too much, don't you?

Eventually we make our way outside, where we say goodbye to all of our friends as we all head back to our everyday lives outside of metal concerts. But there is always the promise of another show, so we know that somewhere along the line, we will see each other again soon. As for me, it is time for our little group to get back on the long road home. I find myself back home at 4:30 in the morning; returning to my ordinary world where my man and my dog wait for me, and the magical wonder of Kamelot is a not-so-distant memory.


---Special thanks to my metal family from Oceansouls of America and Sonic Cathedral: Tisa Douglas, Adam Douglas (and Aaron Douglas, who had to miss the show!), John Thornburgh, Tim Borzi, Craig Frantz, Andrea Granillo, Laura Medina, Ashley Gabriele, Katerick Lash, Don Thornburgh; the “Tommy-girls”: Desiree Smith, Sara Letourneau, Allyson Kenning, and Robin Stryker; my fellow Kamelot travelers who hit other shows on the tour: Max Levites, Lindsay Schoolcraft, Zoë Federoff, David (DVDVampire); John Wolff, my loyal review readers, anyone I met at the Kamelot gig whose names I cannot remember, and whoever else I forgot to name! See you at the next metal family reunion...will it be ReVamp? Within Temptation? A Sound of Thunder? Metalachi? Who knows? But we'll all be together again before long! Until then...I fuckin' love you all!