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From the Pit to the Crowd: Striker with Arakara

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February 1st The Haven was treated to a very special guest, Striker. The band from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada is on tour and The Haven was one of their stops. A fellow photographer had told me great things about this band so I received photo credentials from their publicist to photograph and review their show. I was very excited about the show and arrived early. Soon enough the opening band, Arakara took the stage.

The hardcore metal band consists of Brandon Lee (vocals and bass), Zack Donovan (guitar), Vince Van Berkum (guitar), and Shawn Vanderlaan (drums). Angel Colon (guitars) also performed stepping in for Zack for a few songs. The band started off with “Blood Harvest” from their album Burial Ground. What came out from their instruments I was expecting. Hard guitars strums, quick bass, and Brandon’s fast pace singing was unreal. This was true headbanging metal and it was awesome.

The followed it up with two new songs “Digging Graves” and “Black Magic Marionettes” that will be appearing on their next EP Shadow of Violence (the band has a Kickstarter running to fund it). This band definitely had my attention. Photographing them was a lot of fun. The band played up to the camera with looks and smiles. Brandon would also have some very metal expressions while he was singing.

They also played “The Chemist”, “Shadow of Violence” and “Burial Ground”. The more I listened to them played the more I liked them. I would easily compare them to old school Metallica and Pantera. Their style of music is to hit you hard and rock your face off. This is moshing music without a doubt. The crowd appreciated them and so did I. I had the pleasure to talk to them for a few minutes after and learned they’ve played at The Haven quite often. I look forward to their new release and see more great music from them in the future.

It took no time at all before Striker hit the stage. They were ready to rock and wanted to provide The Haven a show. The band consisting of Dan Cleary (vocals), Tim Brown (guitars), John Simon Fallon (guitars), William Wallace (bass), and Adam Brown (drums) started off with a new song, “Former Glory” from their upcoming self titled album. It started out hard, fast, and headbanging all around. It brought me back to the days of 80s hair metal and I loved it. The fog machine from The Haven, Striker’s own fog blasts, and their lighting added all to the experience.

They followed up with “Crossroads” from their City of Gold album. Superb speed metal guitar work from Tim and John on this song. Adam’s drumwork was also amazing with the speed and format. Even William shredded away at the bass for the song. And The Haven crowd was loving every minute of it.  The followed it up with “Locked In” from their last album album Stand in the Fire.

I truly enjoyed photographing the band. They made every effort to make the Orlando crowd know how much their appreciated their support and to make the show fun and memorable. Dan wore an Orlando Magic shirt that night. Tim and John stepped up frequently center stage to shred in front of the crowd. All of band members made it a point to give me a gesture whether it be a fist, horns, a smile, or funny faces, which Tim did frequently, to ensure I had memorable pictures.

I feel  Striker connect with their fans through personal interaction and having fun on stage. I watched Dan while on stage talk to two people who were going to also be on the 70,000 Tons cruise. William and John were raising their guitars in the air in unison. Adam would hold his drumsticks making an X before starting off the song. Striker was enjoying their performance just as much as the crowd.

They continued through their set playing songs such as “Phoenix Lights”, one of my personal favorites from Stand in the Fire, “Born to Lose”, “Full Speed”, and “Fight for Your Life. Dan made a comment around how people say bands don’t do enough guitar solos these days. So he stepped off the stage for the rest of the band to play “Escape From Shred City” and let the rest of the band play out. Tim, John, and William tore it up on stage and Adam showed off his speed drumming on stage. A great song and even better to see it live.

The band finished up with “Terrorizer” from their Eyes in the Night album. The crowd gave them a rousing cheer when the set was done and begged for one more. The band then took time to take pictures with the fans, including myself. Tim and John even got me on the stage to take the picture with them. Fans swarmed the merchandise table especially for vinyl albums. Overall, this was a fantastic and memorable show. Arakara is an amazing local band that has high potential. Striker is a phenomenal band who I see nothing but bigger and better shows and venues in their future. Do not miss them if you have the opportunity to see it. You won’t regret it.