Apocalyptica – Shadowmaker


Released: 20th April 

Symphonic Heavy Metal

Released via Better Noise, part of Eleven Seven Music Group & Harmageddon Records

Apocalyptica is one of those bands whose career I’ve followed right from the start. I still remember the time when they only played cello covers of Metallica songs. They revolutionized the cello, a classical and primarily orchestral instrument by making it “metal” and as much a part of alternative music as the drums or the guitar. They quickly moved on from just covering metal songs to writing their own material. Several albums, a handful of line-up changes and various guest vocalists later, they have undergone yet another transformation – for the first time in the band’s history they have a full-time singer, an American called Franky Perez. ‘Shadowmaker’ is the first album to feature him on vocals. This review is for the limited edition CD, which contains two extra tracks.

After the eerie-sounding instrumental intro I-III-V Seed of Chaos comes the first full track, Cold Blood which underlines just how well Franky Perez’s singing works with the cellos and the drums. However, it is title track that deserves the spotlight. Once again the vocals are perfectly adjusted to the speed and the overall tone of the instruments. The cellos are melancholic and slow at the start but then they pick up the pace and the latter part of the song sounds almost playful as though it were meant for a dance. I can actually imagine some sort of shadow puppet play with this music in the background. Perez’s vocal style ranges from soft and melodic as evident on the ballad Sea Song (You Waded Out), to the harsh, near growl variety audible on songs such as House of Chains.

The bonus instrumental track Reign of Fear is reminiscent of older Apocalyptica songs. That track has a haunting feel to it due to the sinister cello riffs and the gradual shift in pace from slow to quick. Then there’s the melodic and sombre-sounding love song ‘Hole in My Soul’ which is far more gentle and pleasant compared to its predecessor. Another track that caught my attention is the catchy and fast-paced instrumental Riot Lights. It illustrates just how versatile a cello can be offering an impressive range of multifaceted sounds which are then paired with the drums to create a true masterpiece of a song. Then there’s the final song, the sombre-sounding yet beautiful Dead Man’s Eyes which seems like a fitting end to what has been an emotional experience.

Overall, if you’re a fan of Apocalyptica’s earlier works, this album may not be an instant hit. It took me a while to get accustomed to Franky Perez’s vocals and only after the second (and with some songs even the third listen), did I actually start to fully appreciate ‘Shadowmaker’. Yes, Apocalyptica has changed a lot over the years but luckily the addition of a singer has proven to be a good move for the band.


Iza Raittila

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