Apocalyptica - 'Shadowmaker'

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Apocalyptica - 'Shadowmaker'

This does nothing for me at all. Sorry, I'll pass.

Somewhere back in the mists of time (well, the late 1970s actually) our Lord Bon Scott proclaimed "let there be sound..." before throwing light, drums and, most pointedly, guitars into the mix as well. Yep, whichever way you slice it, the electric guitar has become synonymous with Hard Rock and Heavy Metal; a powerful phallic symbol and totem without which life would be unthinkable... or is it? If you follow the same school of thought as Finland's Apocalyptica, the answer to that one would be an emphatic "no"!

Formed in Helsinki more than twenty years ago, the band consists of three classically trained cellists (Eicca Toppinen, Paavo Lötjönen, and Perttu Kivilaakso), a drummer/double bassist Mikko Sirén and their most recent addition, American vocalist Franky Perez – although I should stress that a vocalist is nothing new to the Apocalyptica's melting pot of influences. They started out as an "alternative" Metallica tribute act – indeed, their 1996 debut 'Plays Metallica By Four Cellos' does exactly what it says on the tin – but over the years they've grown to the stage where they're making their own music and have thus far sold several million albums.



Now, revisiting my opening statement, my initial reaction was "how can it be Rock or Metal without a single note of guitar in sight?" Fearing another God-awful abortion like the Bassinvaders thing from a few years back – yes Marcus Grosskopf, thanks for that, not! – I literally had to steal myself to listen to 'Shadowmaker' (incredibly, their eighth full-length studio album), but thankfully it never got close to the same depths of banality. In fact, musically speaking those involved are all extremely gifted players; there's a darkly oppressive energy to songs like 'Cold Blood', 'Come Back Down' and 'House Of Chains' which certainly has its roots in Metallica and the ambient light and shade created throughout would be the envy of many a band.

But... and didn't you just know there was one coming... without the guitar it still smacks of gimmick and no amount of proficient musicianship is going to dissuade me from that. Sorry guys, I can appreciate the effort and abilities that went into making this record and the songs are fairly palatable (if predictable), but this does nothing for me at all. Sorry, I'll pass.

Dave Cockett

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