By Matt “Rabit” Martinez Red Hare Images
As a concert photographer I always love getting some extra theatrics from my bands. Whether that be an excess of crazy lighting rigs, dry ice cannons, or a laser light show. However, what really gets me excited for a show is when a band brings a more theatrical presence to their stage show with costumes, makeup, and props. Now the best of these bands doesn’t let the theatrics be their only gimmick but have a quality to their music and song writing that grabs the listener and truly makes them a fan. When I heard that Cradle of Filth was putting together the Cryptoriana Tour with Wednesday 13 and Raven Black I knew I could not pass up this show. When the Cryptoriana Tour came to the House of Blues in Anaheim, CA I knew we were in for a night of glorious theatrics and some of the best metal songs to mosh to.
Back in November I finally had the chance to see Raven Black for the first time when they played the Whiskey A Go-Go with DevilDriver. I had heard they would be coming back to SoCal a few months later with Cradle of Filth, and I have eagerly been anticipating this show since then. Raven Black is a metal band that fuses industrial and dark carnival sounding melodies along with fantasy driven lyrics. This female fronted band is led by Raven who portrays a doll like character while on stage. Though she may come across as petite and cute in her gothic Lolita dress, she harbors a sinister side that gets unleashed through her dark and demented lyrics and her ferocious growls. The other members of this demented carnival include The Doctor on guitar, Stitches on bass, and Muppet pounding away on the drums. The band has also added a rhythm guitarist to their circus of horrors who I unfortunately did not get the name of. Though their performance at the Whiskey was great, you could tell they were cramped on such a small stage. Moving onto the massive stage of the House of Blues, Raven Black filled the room with their energy and stage show. They really took advantage of the bigger stage bringing out different props to enhance each song and the story it tells. With songs like “Stick N Stones,” “Dollhouse,” “Twinkle Twinkle Little Scars,” and ending with their new song “Carnival.” Raven Black entertained and got the crowd ready for the sights and theatrics that were to come from the rest of the bands.
Full Raven Black gallery below:
Up next to the stage was a band I have now seen for the 3rd time in the last 5 months and I never get tired of them. That would be Mr. Motherfucker himself Wednesday 13. Every time I see these guys they just continue to get better and better. Starting off their set with “Hail Ming” Wednesday 13 entered the stage with a huge wool cloak covering his body. As he sang he would move around the stage like a spider as his limbs were the only thing protruding out from under the wool cloak. Roman Surman and Jack Tankersley trade off guitar duties playing some of the weirdly demented guitar riffs that give the songs their drive. While Troy Doebbler and Kyle Castronovo hold down the back end on bass and drums respectfully. One thing I love about watching Wednesday 13 is all the costume changes he goes through throughout the show. My favorite is still the backwards character he portrays during “Prey for Me” and “Get Your Grave On.” Donning a kabuki style mask on the back of his head, he stands with his back to the audience but continues to perform as if the mask is his face to give a very surreal type of movement to his performance. Performing songs like “Serpent Society,” “What the Night Brings,” and “Keep Watching the Skies,” Wednesday 13 gave the fans this night a more serious and methodical performance than the outrageous and over the top funny show I have seen in the past. Wednesday 13 is a band you can only see live to truly experience the full weight of their music.
Full Wednesday 13 gallery below:
Now Cradle of Filth was the only band on this bill that I had not had the pleasure of seeing yet. From talking with a lot of fans in the front row before the show started, I knew I was in for a treat from this extreme metal band from England. Sole original member and lead singer Dani Filth is a beast of a lead singer. Dressed like a metal version of Dracula, his ability to swiftly and smoothing change from a deep growl to a high pitch wail was an assault on the patrons of he House of Blues. While shredding and tapping killer riffs, Richard Shaw would constantly lick the back of his guitar and drool over the crowd. Seeming like a street urchin rescued by Dani’s band. Trading off guitar duties with Ashok who performed fiery solos on his flying V. Daniel Firth could be seen constantly head banging and whipping his hair around while picking on his bass, and Martin Skaroupka unleashed some of the fastest blast beats from behind his drum kit. Adding some elegance to this monstrous horde of musicians was Lindsay Schoolcraft on clean vocals and keyboards.
Playing for just under two hours and performing 16 songs, Cradle of Filth brought their brand of extreme metal to Anaheim, and the crowd was giving their intensity right back the entire time. While standing in the crowd watching the show, the mosh pit was one of the biggest and craziest I have seen at the House of Blues. Almost taking up the entire width of the standing area, the die-hard metal fans would not let the length of Cradles set stop them from moshing non-stop to their favorite songs like “Gilded Cunt,” “Bathory Aria,” “Saffron’s Curse,” “Nymphetamine (Fix),” and “Her Ghost in the Fog.” Cradle of Filth has also spanned generations as there was a young girl no more than eight years old, riding on her dads’ shoulders and losing her shit the entire time. Head banging and throwing devil horns to every song. It is always great to see the next generation of metal heads starting at such an early age.
Full Cradle of Filth gallery below:
I had high expectations for this show, and each band exceeded them. Raven Black deserved to be seen on such a large stage and hopefully they will be headlining large stages soon. Wednesday 13 is always a pleasure to see even though he skipped my favorite song this time. And Cradle of Filth tore the roof off the venue, mainly just from Dani wailing into the mic while holding it above is head. This was only the second stop of the Cryptoriana Tour, and if you have the chance to see it, get your ticket now.