Band of the Month – Emphatic

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Emphatic is an American hard rock band from Omaha, Nebraska.

Emphatic was founded in 2004 by songwriter and lead guitarist Justin McCain. The band released their debut self-titled EP in 2004. In 2005 Emphatic released a full-length self-titled studio album which included four tracks from the EP plus four new tracks. In the same year Emphatic signed with Universal, but never released any material under the label.

In 2008 the band’s EP Goodbye Girl spent 17 weeks on the Billboard’s North West Central Top Heatseekers Chart. After Justin McCain met A&R executive, Jeff Blue, on a phone consultation, the two met in Nebraska to write their first song “Put Down The Drink”. The band signed to Jeff Blue’s Rock Shop Music Group in early 2009, Jeff and Justin wasted no time in getting to work on some new material. Jeff took the demo to various record labels, eventually Emphatic signed with Atlantic in December 2009 and the band inked a management deal with In De Goot Entertainment as well.

Emphatic consisted of only three members up until that point, Justin McCain (songwriter, guitarist), Patrick Michael Wilson (vocalist) and Alan Larson (bassist). Justin and Patrick went into the studio to start recording their major label debut with multi-platinum producer Howard Benson. Josh Freese played the drums on the record and Paul Bushnell played the bass. After the record was completed the band brought in Lance Dowdle on guitar and Dylan Wood on drums. The band’s first studio album and major label debut “Damage” released on the 12th of July 2011.

Emphatic was offered an opening slot on The Carnival of Madness Tour and unfortunately Patrick Wilson suffered a vocal injury (fractured larynx) which almost put the brakes on the project. Justin McCain was developing an Omaha-based rock band then, called “The Wreckage”, so he decided to pull vocalist Grant Joshua Kendrick from the project to fill in for Patrick. The band’s first single “Bounce” and the tour helped gather thousands of new fans and helped launch the second single “Get Paid”. After The Carnival of Madness tour, Emphatic had the opportunity to tour with Art of Dying, Adelitas Way and New Medicine with yet another new vocalist, Bryan Scott from Dev Electric.

After that the band took a break due to Patrick not being fully recovered yet. During this time the band was featured on an episode of Criminal Minds with their song “Do I”, their cover of Quiet Riot’s”Metal Health”appeared on the Footloose (Deluxe version) and their version of The Corre’s theme song “End of Days” appeared on WWE.

After 10 months Patrick Wilson finally returned along with a new drummer Patrick Mussack and hit the road to tour as support for Halestorm and New Medicine. Octane (active rock radio station) started playing the band’s third single off their debut album called “Put Down The Drink” which landed on the BIG UNS’ countdown and spent 4 weeks at No.1. Halfway through the band’s tour with Halestorm Justin McCain found out that the label wasn’t going to pick up their next option on the contract. After the tour Patrick Wilson, Lance Dowdle and Alan Larson left the band.

Justin McCain wanted to rebuild the band and contacted Toryn Green via Facebook,  receiving a phone call from him an hour later. Toryn is the former frontman of platinum selling bands Fuel and Apocalyptica. Actor/musician Jesse Saint (Scum of the Earth/The Autumn Offering) joined the band as the new bass player and Bill Hudson of Cellador joined as the co-lead guitar player. Justin managed to land the band another record deal with Epochal Artist Records/Capitol and they started working on new material set to record in early 2013. Justin and Toryn joined forces creatively in the making of the record, both supplying songs from their own arsenal and contributing to creating new ones. The record includes collaborations with “Sahaj” Ticotin from Ra, Tommy Henriksen, Brian Vodinh of 10 Years, Bobby Huff, Tobin Esperance from Papa Roach and Johnny Andrews.

The new album “Another Life”, produced by Justin McCain and co-produced by Ryan Greene released through Epochal Artists Records on the 22nd of October 2013. The single “Remember Me” was written by Justin McCain, Toryn Green and Sahaj. The song hit the radio on the 30th of July 2013  and released on iTunes on the 20th August 2013. In support of the album, Emphatic toured with Red and Gemini Syndrome in February 2014. The tour took place without the presence of Toryn Green and co-lead guitarist Bill Hudson. Grant Kendrick replaced Toryn Green on vocals and Lance Dowdle replaced Bill Hudson on lead and rhythm guitar as it was announced on the band’s official website on the 2nd of February 2014. Toryn Green announced his departure from the band on the 9th of February 2014 due to creative differences with Justin McCain. Unfortunately Epochol Artists Records folded and the band had to decide to give up or rebuild again.The band ran a campaign on Indiegogo in 2014.

After the tour Justin McCain announced that they had signed with Pavement Entertainment and a new album was in the works and would be due late 2014. Grant Kendrick was welcomed as an official member of the band after being a long-time touring band member on the band’s Facebook page. Justin revealed that the new album would feature guest appearances from artists such as Sahaj from Ra and Phil Anson from Venaculas, and a collaboration with Jonny Hetherington of Art of Dying.

The label (Pavement Entertainment) appointed Justin as producer and the band is now recording at ARC studio in Omaha with the record set for release in early 2015.

Emphatic has a unique blend of contemporary hard rock and grunge rock and I find that really appealing. I like the nostalgia that their music conjures within the listener, but it is tinged with a raw edge which is refreshing.

Listen to “Remember Me” below:

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Band of the Month – Skillet

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Skillet is a Christian rock band formed in Memphis, Tennessee in 1996 and the band is based in the USA. The band now consists of husband and wife couple John (Lead Vocals & Bass) and Korey Cooper (Rhythm guitar, keyboard, backing vocals), along with Jen Ledger (drums, vocals) and Seth Morrison (Lead Guitar). Founder John Cooper is the only remaining original member in the band.

Skillet was formed in 1996 by two members John Cooper (former vocalist for Tennessee progressive rock band Seraph) and Ken Steorts, former guitarist for Urgent Cry. The two bands met while touring together, but the bands disbanded soon after, so the pair’s pastor encouraged them to form their own band as a side-project. Both of them came from different styles of rock music, so they named the band Skillet. According to John Cooper the initial reason Skillet was formed, was to do outreach for his church. He thought they would do a couple of outreachactivities and that he would still play in his other band. Trey McClurkin joined the band as a temporary drummer. Skillet was only together for a month before they piqued the interest of major Christian record label ForeFront Records. In 1996 they released a self-titled debut Skillet. It was well-received and the trio continued to write new material while touring through the USA. Apparently the band members still joke among themselves about the band’s name, John still claims that he does not like the name. Skillet recorded the follow-up to their debut album throughout 1997 titled “Hey You, I Love Your Soul” which was released in April of 1998. With the second album the style of the band changed from their first release, abandoning their post-grunge style and changing to a lighter alternative rock. John’s wife Korey was recruited to play the keyboard to lighten John’s live performance duties.

Shortly before the band started recording for their third album, Invincible, Ken left the band to be with his family and he launched the Visible Music College, a modern music ministry college located in Memphis. Kevin Haaland joined the band as the new lead guitarist. Korey Cooper joined the band permanently and played keyboard for the recording of the third album. This caused the third studio album to have a more electronic sound. Soon after the release of Invincible in 2000, Trey McClurkin parted ways with the band and Lori Peters assumed the position of the drummer.

The band released their fourth album and first live album titled “Ardent Worship” in late 2000. The band had little time left between recording and touring, Skillet released “Alien Youth” on the 28th of August 2001, retaining the same style and sound from “Invincible”. It was John Cooper’s first time taking over production duties. Before Alien Youth was released Kevin Haaland left the band and Ben Kasica took over on guitar. The first single the title track was a major hit in the Christian market and allowed Skillet to headline their own shows for the first time.

On the 18th of November 2003, the band’s sixth studio album “Collide” was released by Ardent Records. The album became extremely popular and grabbed the attention of Andy Karp,  the Head of A&R of Lava Records. In 2004 Lava Records, an imprint of “Atlantic Records” bought the rights to Collide. On the 25th of May 2004, Collide was re-released by Lava Records with an added track called “Open Wounds”. The album was nominated for “Best Rock Gospel Album” in 2005. John Cooper cited P.O.D as the inspiration on the band’s musical shift on “Collide”.

Skillet’s seventh studio album “Comatose” was released on the 3rd of October 2006. This was the band’s first album to become gold certified. On the 7th December 2007 the album received a Grammy nomination for Best Rock or Rap Gospel album. In January 2008, it was announced that Lori Peters will be retiring from the band, as she felt it was time to start a new chapter in her life. She performed with Skillet for the last time on the 31st of December 2007. During the 2007 Christmas season she took time to train Skillet’s new drummer Jen Ledger. On the 21st of October 2008, “Comatose Comes Alive” was released, a CD/DVD combo featuring live recordings of the band’s May 9, 2008 concert in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Skillet announced that they will be entering the studio on the 12th of January 2009. They entered the studio with Grammy-nominated producer Howard Benson. They added two songs from their new album to their setlist (“Monster” and “Hero”) on the 2nd April 2009 in Evansville, Indiana as part of their “Comatose” tour 2009. Skillet’s eighth album “Awake”, has 12 songs and was released on the 25th of August 2009. It charted at a staggering No 2 on the Billboard 200 selling around 68, 000 units in its first week. “Monster” was released as a single on the 14 July 2009. “Awake” was one of only three rock albums to be certified platinum in 2012, along with the  Black Keys’ El Camino and Mumford & Sons’ Babel. They later released a deluxe version of the album with bonus tracks “Dead Inside”, “Would It Matter” and a radio edit of “Monster”. “Monster” and “Hero” were used many times in the media by the WWE, Football stadiums, TV shows, video games etc. Skillet was nominated for six Dove Awards for the 41st Annual GMA Dove Awards. “Awake” was certified Gold on the 2nd of July 2010.

On the 14th of February 2011, Skillet announced that lead guitarist Ben Kasica would be leaving the band. Up until that point Ben had been part of the band for 10 years. Ben planned to play his last concert with Skillet on the 20th of March. The band announced that they had chosen solo artist Jonathan Salas to be their new lead guitarist, but Salas confirmed via Twitter that he had left the band on the 9th of April. Ben returned and continued touring until a new guitarist had been trained. On the 16th of April Seth Morrison replaced Kasica as the lead guitarist.

Skillet announced the release of Awake and Remixed EP in early March 2011. The remixes were mainly done Korey Cooper and Ben Kasica. The four-song EP was released on the 22nd of March 2011.

“Awake” was nominated and won the “Top Christian Album” Award at the Billboards Music Awards 2011.

On the 21st of June 2011 John Cooper posted a tweet saying that the band had been busy rehearsing new music for the first time and preparing for a new album. The band planned to start recording in January/February 2012, but the band was scheduled to headline the Winter Jam tour. In January 2012, the band announced that they will not be touring for the most of the summer so that they can record the new album.

During an interview with on the 18th of July 2012 with RadioU, John Cooper stated that the band now had written 61 songs and would be heading to the studio in October to record the album with Howard Benson for an early 2013 release.

In an interview on the 26th of January 2013 in Beaumont TX, John Cooper announced that the new album “Rise”, would be coming out in May 2013, but was later scheduled for a 25 June 2013 release. In an interview with Noisecreep, John Cooper stated that the first single and music video “Sick of It” is scheduled to be released late April.  The album debuted at No.4 on the Billboard 200 and No.1 on the Top Rock Chart and Christian album charts selling 60, 000 copies in the US alone during the first week of release. “Rise” received critical acclaim, despite some negative reviews, the general consensus seems to be that the band had improved on their earlier release “Awake”.

Skillet was nominated and won a Dove Award for Rock Song of the Year for their sing “Sick Of It”.

The bands’ fans are humorously and affectionately called “Panheads”.

The band’s main goal is to write songs that speak to people about what they were going through and encourage them. John has always been deeply affected by Christian music and he knew that this would be his calling since he was 15. In an interview with CMCentral John says that the best thing about his job is to write a song which could change somebody’s life.

It’s refreshing to see a Christian band do well, despite the history of rock bands that has been ridiculed for their Christian label in the past. I think the key ingredient to Skillet’s recipe is the way they convey their message and the presentation of their material. Most people who listen to the band’s material for the first time will probably not even realise that they are a Christian inspired band. The listener can take from their music what they need without feeling like they are being preached to.

You can follow Skillet on Twitter:

You can follow John Cooper on Twitter:

You can follow Jen Ledger on Twitter:

You can follow Korey Cooper on Twitter:

You can follow Seth Morrison on Twitter:

Rock Regards,

Lauren Kruger

Band of the Month – Theory of a Deadman

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Theory of a Deadman originated in Canada, more specifically in Vancouver. The band was formed in 2001. The band’s name originated from a song title with the same name that was featured on their debut album, the song was later renamed “The Last Song“.

The lead singer/guitarist for the band Tyler Connolly slipped a copy of the band’s demo to Chad Kroeger at a post-concert party. Chad Kroeger obviously saw some potential in the band as they were the first act that got signed to Chad Kroeger’s record label 604 Records.  On the band’s demo was the song which would later become the “Invisible Man”. The band’s self-titled debut album was released on the 17th of September 2002. Their music stayed within the grunge genre, but delivered powerful songs like “Make Up Your Mind” and “Nothing Could Come Between Us” both of which was released as singles.

On the 29th of March 2005 the band released their second album “Gasoline”, slowly moving away from their grunge sound by incorporating more pop-and country influence into their music. Four singles from “Gasoline” landed onto the Mainstream Rock Chart and the album cracked the Top 60 of the Billboard album chart. After the release of the album the band toured with Shinedown and No Address. Theory of a Deadman went on a promotional tour in the same year which was headlined by Breaking Benjamin and The Exies.

The band performed the theme song to World Wrestling Entertainment’s No Way Out’s pay-per-view in 2006 a cover version of “Deadly Game” from the WWE Anthology album. The song was released on WWE Wreckless Intent album. They did a cover of “No Chance In Hell” which is Vince McMahon‘s theme song, the song was released on WWE The Music Vol. 8. on the 25th of March 2008. The band performed the theme song for the 24th Annual WWE Summerslam.

On the 1st of April 2008 Theory of a Deadman released their third studio album Scars & Souvenirs which delivered 8 singles namely “So Happy”, “By The Way”, “Little Smirk“, “Bad Girlfriend”, “All or Nothing”, “Hate My Life”, “Not Meant to Be” and “Wait for Me”. “By The Way” features backing vocals from Daughtry band members Chris Daughtry and Robin Diaz. With this album the band developed their own unique sound a little more with daring lyrics and flashier sound.

Theory of a Deadman attended the Juno Awards in Calgary, Alberta after taking part in a promotional tour across Canada called Journey To The Junos. Theory of a Deadman performed in the 96th Grey Cup halftime show on the 23rd of November 2008. Hinder and Theory of a Deadman supported Mötley Crüe during the fall 2008 /winter 2009 tour as well as Crüe Fest 2.

On the 9th of April 2009 Scars and Souvenirs was certified Gold by the RIAA with 500, 000 copies sold in the US alone.

In late 2010 the band announced that they were busy recording their fourth studio album which was scheduled for a mid-2011 release date. Tyler Connolly later confirmed that the album titled “The Truth Is… would be released on the 12th of July 2011. The first single, “Lowlife” was released on the 17th of May 2011. Musically not too much has changed on their fourth album, but the band had an epiphany when it came to songwriting. The band had more confidence and Tyler was willing to be more open and honest about his feelings than ever before. Tyler thought it would be fun to write a song about a Lowlife, because their fans aren’t people wearing fancy clothing or driving around in the latest cars. Their fans are regular people who like to have a good time and listening to rock music.

In 2011 Theory of a Deadman co-headlined the second annual Carnival of Madness tour with Alter Bridge. The supporting bands were Black Stone Cherry, Adelitas Way and Emphatic.

The band contributed a song called “Head Above Water” to the Transformers:Dark of the Moon which was released on the 14th of June 2011. The band’s record label Roadrunner Records made a free download of the song “Drag Me To Hell”  available on their website on the 16th of June 2011.

The band consists of Tyler Connolly [Lead Vocals, Lead Guitar], David Brenner [Rhythm Guitar], Dean Back [Bass], Joey Dandeneau [Drums].

I’m a fan of Theory of a Deadman’s music, because they are realistic about their goals. They don’t expect to change the world with their music, they just want their fans to love, laugh, cry and share their passion for music along with them. The band compose enjoyable, catchy and honest songs/lyrics which is refreshingly different in today’s music landscape.

You can follow the band on Twitter:

You can follow Dean Back on Twitter here:

Rock Regards,

Lauren K

Theory Of A Deadman Dave Brennerby ~ChibiStalker16 Source:

Theory Of A Deadman Dave Brennerby ~ChibiStalker16

Lzzy Hale and Amy Lee duet on the Carnival of Madness tour

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I forgot to post the duet when I featured Halestorm as the band of the month. So for those of you who haven’t seen it yet, ENJOY!

Lzzy Hale and Amy Lee

Lzzy Hale and Amy Lee duet in the rain on the Carnival of Madness tour.
Photo taken by Rob Fenn.

Amy Lee and Lzzy Hale

Amy Lee and Lzzy Hale
Photo taken by Rob Fenn

Rock Regards,

Lauren K

Band of the Month – Halestorm

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Lzzy Hale

Lzzy Hale from Halestorm taken by Rob Fenn

Today I would like to feature Halestorm in my blog post for Band of the Month. I predict that they are the next big thing to hit the rock world. They are a relativley new band since they have only released 2 studio albums and 1 live album. I first became aware of Halestorm through numerous tweets about Lzzy Hale from Brent Smith‘s Twitter account (Lead singer for Shinedown). They have become quite close I assume because they have toured together in the past and the fact that they share a record label. I decided to keep an eye out for them in the future.

So I surf the internet quite a lot and at the end of the month I scour Youtube in search of good music. I have watched numerous videos of Halestorm and slowly but surely I began to warm to their music. Their music is loud with no-holds-barred lyrics combined with a frenzy of drums performed by Lzzy’s brother Arejay.

Personally I feel Lzzy is a woman I can look up to, she is feisty and strong, she follows her own instincts and she isn’t afraid to say whatever she wants. Added to that she has a killer dress sense and can rock just as hard in the rain as she can in sky-high heels.

Both Lzzy and Arejay started learning to play piano at the young age of 5. Lzzy later progressed to keytar and Arejay to drums. Lzzy started to attend guitar lessons at the age of 16. Lzzy is 3 years Arejay’s senior. Guitarist Joe Hottinger joined in 2003. Originally Lzzy and Arejay’s father Roger played bass before Josh Smith joined the group in 2004.

Their self-titled debut album was released on April 28, 2009. Their first single ” I Get Off” is a rowdy, cheeky rock song that is a really solid introduction to the band and their style. They later on released 3 more singles off of their debut album and 4 music videos. After that they released ReAniMate:The Covers which featured covers of various genres including the impressive cover of Lady Gaga’s Bad Romance. You can listen to it here:

“Their second full length album, The Strange Case Of… was released on April 10, 2012 in the US,April 9 in the UK, and April 17 in Italy. In May 2012, Halestorm made history by becoming the first female-fronted band to top the active rock airplay chart with their song “Love Bites…(So Do I).” In the same month, Gibson Guitars created a signature series guitar for Lzzy Hale.” – Quote Obtained from Wikipedia.

In their quest for writing new material for their second album Halestorm wanted to add more depth and variety to their songs as well as to their lyrics. Halestorm started off by writing the fast, gritty and energetic Love Bites (So Do I) and after that Lzzy penned more fast, hard rock songs topped off with soaring vocals. After a personal setback Lzzy wrote a vulnerable and tender song and recorded it using her cellphone and sent it to the album’s producer, Howard Benson. He liked it and asked Lzzy to write more intimate songs. So after that the album had quite a few hard hitting songs and very soft, intimate songs which they soon realised sounded a little schizophrenic. Lzzy then wrote Mz. Hyde which tied the album together and became an expression of Lzzy’s split personality.

Halestorm has become well-known for their constant touring with a variety of bands including Disturbed, Shinedown, Godsmack, Stone Sour and more recently Evanescence to name a few. This has given Halestorm quite a lot of experience and the band is gelling better than they ever have before. I believe that there is no reason why Halestorm can’t move from strength to strength from here on out. Become acquainted with Halestorm, because they are here to stay!

Here is the official video for Love Bites (So Do I) from Halestorm’s Official Youtube Channel:


Halestorm image obtained from Halestorm’s Official Website

Lzzy Hale taken at the Carnival of Madness by Rob Fenn

Lzzy Hale on the cover of Revolver Magazine.
Image obtained from Revolver Magazine’s Official Facebook page.

You can follow Halestorm on Twitter here:

You can follow Lzzy Hale on Twitter here:

You can follow Arejay Hale on Twitter here:

You can follow Josh Smith on Twitter here:

You can follow Joe Hottinger on Twitter here:


Rock Regards,

Lauren K

Band of the Month – Evanescence

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Evanescence– Photo taken from Evanescence’s Facebook Page

My journey with Evanescence started in 2003 when Fallen was released along with their first single “Bring me to Life” which was featured in the movie Daredevil at the time. The music video for the song played on TV numerous times and I was always glued to the screen when it came on. The name on everyone’s lips was ” Evanescence”. I was asked by a student in my High School Class if I liked Evanescence, I reluctantly said “Yes”. I say reluctantly because everyone was listening to them at the time and I always wanted to try to be different or make up my own mind about current trends.

When “My Immortal” came into the picture I was sold. Amy’s vocals on that song is undeniably fantastic. The beauty of the music video added to the emotion of the song. Amy Lee has a stunning voice coupled with her “gothic/fairy” look was enough to make anyone a fan. I later on acquired the actual album “Fallen” and I couldn’t stop listening to it, it was so different from the music I was used to listening.

The album has meant a lot to me personally since it was about the same time that I met my current boyfriend and we started dating. It was at the height of Evanescence’s popularity and at that time their music was being played everywhere. Soon after, I purchased their live DVD Anywhere But Home. I was fascinated by the theme and the different menus on the DVD. I watched all the bonus footage and I watched the DVD enthusiastically. I should spare a mention for Evanescence’s music videos at that time which was very creative and sometimes creepy. I still love the video for “Going Under” and “Everybody’s Fool“. Evanescence entered my life at a crucial time in my teenage years. I needed something or someone to relate to and Evanescence fulfilled that need.


Cover art for Evanescence’s Debut Album “Fallen”.

Their second album “The Open Door” was released in October 2006. I’m still on the fence about their second album, because every track weren’t as differentiated as the tracks on “Fallen”. Still there are some good songs on their second album, some of my favourites were “All That I’m Living For“, “Good Enough” and “The Only One”. Their second outing was a lot heavier and darker. I’m fond of the album, but personally I prefer their 1st and 3rd album more. I loved the take on Red Riding Hood in the video for “Call Me When You’re Sober” not to mention that guy in the video that played “the wolf”. 🙂

Needless to say I was ecstatic when Amy announced that the band was in the process of writing new material for a new album proposed for release in 2010. I was holding thumbs for Evanescence to reunite, but because of the band’s constant changing lineup I wasn’t sure if it would really happen. It seems that Evanescence has been plagued with uncertainty through the years with lineup changes and their record label facing uncertain times at some point in 2010 which delayed the release of their third album. This is quite a shame, because I believe we would’ve been blessed with more albums if these situations didn’t occur. I was really surprised when I heard “What You Want”. I only heard the chorus and my first impression was that the song sounded more like pop or soft rock. When I later heard the song in its entirety I changed my mind. I was entirely convinced when I heard the whole record that Evanescence was still in fact the Evanescence I knew from 2003. The subject matter being dealt with on their third release is slightly less serious, their sound is “lighter” but they still managed to keep their signature gothic rock sound. Amy Lee’s voice is an octave higher on the whole album than it was on their previous albums. I might be wrong, but to me that is what it sounded like when I was listening to the album. I’m really happy that Amy had the courage and the motivation to release another album after that long hiatus. I hope there will be many more to come!

Evanescence is currently performing at the Carnival of Madness. Evanescence is scheduled to appear on the Carnival of Madness tour with Halestorm, Cavo, New Medicine, and Chevelle. The tour begins on July 31, 2012, at the Prairie Capital Convention Center in Springfield, Illinois, and ends September 2, 2012, at the Buffalo Outer Harbor Site in Buffalo, New York.

Now I will provide you once again with the images of the magnificent Rob Fenn at this years Carnival of Madness. I do not claim to own any of these images.

Copyright by Rob Fenn

Amy Lee from Evanescence at the Carnival of Madness by Rob Fenn Amy Lee from Evanescence at the Carnival of Madness by Rob Fenn

Amy Lee from Evanescence at the Carnival of Madness by Rob FennAmy Lee from Evanescence at the Carnival of Madness by Rob Fenn

Evanescence at the Carnival of Madness by Rob Fenn

Evanescence at the Carnival of Madness by Rob Fenn

I hope you enjoyed reading my post!

Rock Regards,

Lauren K