Today marks the UK release of Apocalyptica’s eighth studio album, Shadowmaker. I’ve been a fan of Apocalyptica for a long time, ever since I stumbled across their 2007 collaboration with Three Days Grace’s ex-singer Adam Gontier, I Don’t Care.
To anyone reading who may not be familiar with the Finnish cello-metal band, the concept may seem a little strange. “But cellos are classical instruments!” I hear you cry! Well since their formation in 1993, Apocalyptica have combined said cellos with thrashing percussion and heavy hitting vocals from famous names in the metal world. Apocalyptica have collaborated with Slipknot/Stone Sour vocalist Corey Taylor, Rammstein’s Till Lindemann and The Rasmus’s Lauri Ylönen, amongst others. They even started life as a Metallica cover band! Just watch any of their music videos to get an idea of how the band manage to write flawless metal songs using classical instruments.
Shadowmaker certainly differs from the rest of Apocalyptica’s original work in that all of the songs with vocals are sung by the same vocalist, Franky Perez. This adds another level of continuity to the album, making it feel more like a complete album and less like a collection of singles lumped together.
The instrumental tracks are outstanding: they flow beautifully, and definitely don’t struggle due to their lack of vocals. In fact, the instrumentals throughout the entire album are excellent. Considering Shadowmaker is Apocalyptica’s eighth album, the band are still more than capable of producing interesting and original music.
The deluxe version, which I listened to on Spotify, is 12 tracks long, adding up to just over an hour of cello-metal goodness. A few of the tracks are pretty lengthy (Dead Man’s Eyes is almost 10 minutes long) but if anything the album was over with too quickly. Shadowmaker is an extremely dynamic album and a triumph from beginning to end: it doesn’t flag, drag or run out of energy at any point.
Whether you’re an Apocalyptica veteran or you only heard of them for the first time today, this album is a must-listen LP for 2015. The Finnish five-piece will certainly find Shadowmaker difficult to top in years to come.
Highlights: Slow Burn, Reign Of Fear, Riot Lights, Till Death Do Us Part