Beast in Black at El Corazon in Seattle, WA

On a rare sunny Seattle spring afternoon, the Dark Connection Tour featuring Beast in Black, Seven Kingdoms, and Striker stormed into the Emerald City.

Kicking things off was Striker, the Edmonton, Canada power metal band led by John Fallon (guitar), Dan Cleary (Vocals), Tim Brown (guitar), Pete Klassen (bass), and Jono Webster (drums). The Juno Award-winning band has eight albums and a new single “Strange Love” from the album Play to Win. Everything about this band from their attire, stage presence, and album art screams an ode to the 80s. Even the cover for their new single seems reminiscent of Patrick Nagel’s art deco design for Duran Duran’s Rio.

Striker, like their album title, not only Play to Win but play hard and their fans can’t get enough of it. In fact, they came out too hard and at one point lead singer Dan Cleary joked about using too much of the smoke machine, waving his hand through the smoke so he could see his bandmates on the small El Corazon stage. Dan Cleary’s impressive vocal range and control were almost operatic and his theatrical hand movements to the lyrics intensified his performance.

Dressed in a leopard print shirt and hair styled in a curly mullet, guitarist Tim Brown showed fans why he is the master shredder. Throwing his instrument over and behind his head while playfully sticking his tongue out at fans. With a point of his finger, he singled out fans to connect.

Bassist Pete Klassen and guitarist John Fallon took turns playing with each other on different sides of the stage, almost in a brotherly show of competition and respect. Jono Webster on drums also sang backup on several songs, which is not as easy as it looks. Combine that with giant head flips and stick twirls that made fans roar. Both fists and horns were eagerly thrown into the air, rhythmically timed to each song along with several mosh pits. It was a well-rounded 30-minute performance that ended with the band taking a group shot with the audience before thanking everyone and saying good night.

Up next was the American pop-metal quartet from Florida, Seven Kingdomsled by power metal partners Sabrina Cruz (vocals), Camden Cruz (guitars), and brothers Kevin Byrd (guitars), and Keith Byrd on drums.

Wearing a hamburger crown on stage, Sabrina Cruz spoke to the crowd about not being so serious. “Life is too short, have fun!” Fans jumped up and down, made hearts with their hands, and at one point almost drowned out Sabrina’s vocals with their own. During one of the slower melodic moments of their performance, the band performed a pretty impressive cover of Don Henley’s “Boys of Summer.” Cruz and Cruz played lovingly with each other throughout the night. Without knowing the pair were partners you could feel the connection between them. 

The band launched a successful crowdfunding project to fund the release of their fifth full-length album “Zenith” through Kickstarter. The album release date is scheduled for June 17th but the first single from that album “Universal Terrestrial’ can be heard now. Before leaving the stage, Sabrina thanked the Seattle fans who were told they were the loudest audience so far on the tour.

During the changeover, fans sang along to the house music which contained a variety of tunes from Helloween, Judas Priest, and Van Halen as members of Striker were having a small meet and greet with a few lucky fans at the merch table. After 20 minutes the lights lowered, the fog machine started up and the crowd screamed as curtains fell to reveal the Beast in Black logo on the stage.

Walking onto the stage first were Anton Kabanen (lead guitar, backing vocals), Kasperi Heikkinen (rhythm guitar), Máté Molnár (bass), and Atte Palokangas (drums). Wearing a long black industrial fashioned jacket, Yannis Papadopoulos excitedly appeared from behind the stage. They jumped right into the vocals for the first song “Blade Runner” which is also the first track from their latest album Dark Connection which was released in October 2021.

Beast in Black would continue to play more songs from Dark Connection such as “Highway to Mars,” “Hardcore,” “Bella Donna,” “Moonlight Rendezvous,” and “One Night in Tokyo” during their 60-minute set. The Greek, Finnish, Hungarian heavy metal band based in Helsinki had a commanding stage presence and there was a musical choreography between Anton, Kasperi, and Máté. Kasperi’s facial expressions and eye gazes during his solo parts were mesmerizing. The very dramatic stylings of his performance sometimes overshadowed others on the stage.

A tender moment came after the fourth song when Yanni spoke to the crowd about the band’s happiness to be finally on tour in Seattle after a very long wait, thanks to pandemic-related touring issues. 

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