20th April 2015 – Eleven Seven Music
01. I-III-V Seed Of Chaos
02. Cold Blood
04. Slow Burn
05. Reign Of Fear
06. Hole In My Soul
07. House Of Chains
08. Riot Lights
09. Come Back Down
10. Sea Song(You Waded Out)
11. Till Death Do Us Part
12. Dead Man’s Eyes
“Ignorance breeds hate breeds violence. Everything breaks down in silence.”
Since their inception in 1993. Finland’s Apocalyptica have carved out a niche for themselves by moving away from the standard band format and instead utilising the cello instead of guitars. They started out covering the likes of Metallica, Pantera and Sepultura before moving into recording their own compositions. With guest vocalists lending their skills to various tracks over seven records, they’ve attracted the best and brightest of the metal world.
Shadowmaker becomes the band’s eighth full length, and with it a change in format. Stepping away from their standard barrage of guest vocalists, the band have enlisted the skills of one Franky Perez, known for his works with Scars On Broadway and Slash’s Snakepit. This is in many ways a step up for the band, but it also brings freshness back to a style that was in serious danger of becoming antiquated.
The first vocal-lead track comes in the shape of lead single “Cold Blood”; the darkest cut of the vocal-heavy tracks. Its violent and emotionally charged lyrics are carried by distorted cello and hammering of drums. Following tracks “Shadowmaker” and “Slow Burn” bring a different approach, retaining a similar attitude but with a more restrained approach. They feel like classic Apocalyptica; back is the classic cello sound with which long-time fans of the band first fell in love.
Those hungering for classic instrumentals need not worry; whilst there are a great deal fewer than on previous releases, they arrive in a heady and concentrated form. “Riot Lights” is a great representation of this: the triple cello and drum assault comes thick and fast, but is more concise than they’ve ever been before, whereas “Till Death Do Us Part” contrasts brilliantly, with the emotionally heavy transitioning smoothly into furiously powerful sections of all-out aural intensity.
As you move through the record it becomes apparent that the band’s choice of vocalist is a master stroke. From the abrasive “House of Chains” to the delicately captivating “Sea Song” – a song that happens to be one of the most fragile yet strongest songs on the record. Closing the record is “Dead Man’s Eyes“, a nine minute epic that reminds you just how brilliant Apocalyptica can be. Ambient and melancholic tones are carried on a undercurrent of reverberated electronics that feel both fresh and alive, while soulful and sorrowful vocals infer a profound sense of loss.
But sometimes, in the extended sections of the record, the album lacks flavour. It can have all the emotion in the world, and all the ‘necessary’ inclusions, but at times it comes across as being contrived, and because of this it sometimes falls flat.
Shadowmaker is in many ways the strongest record the band have ever released, but this is largely down to Franky Perez; his multi-textured and massive vocal is the focal point of the release – and as much as that’s a positive (especially when it distracts from the sometimes lacking musical undercurrents), it’s also a shame that the new element is the best. Hopefully his presence helps Apocalyptica up their game for the next release.