Whenever the subject of UK thrash metal arises, Bristolian act Onslaught are always one of the first names mentioned. From their 1985 debut to their split in 1991 and eventual reformation in 2005, the band have been one of the leading lights of the genre. Often heralded as the “English Slayer”, like their now defunct US counterparts, Onslaught draw from a history of both punk and classic metal to make their point.
Apocalyptica has been touring Europe to start 2014, recently performing their ‘Apocalyptic Symphony’ project with help from the The Avanti! Chamber Orchestra. Performing the works of great classical composer Richard Wagner from last year’s Wagner Reloaded (BMG) album, as well as hits from their own twenty-plus year career, the group is still finding ways to delight audiences. TJ Fowler of Ghost Cult caught up with Paavo Lötjönen before a homeland performance in Tampere, FI to discuss the tour, their last album, their ambitious new performances, and what the future holds.
I remember hearing about Apocalyptica back in the mid-90’s when everyone thought Metallica could do no wrong and that an orchestra/cello group had paid Metallica to cover their songs. I was thinking, yeah…ok. (I will keep my opinion of Metallica out of this for the sake objectivity).Soon after the news of the Metallica/cello crossover I forgot all about Apocalyptica as in Tennessee, you don’t really have access to a lot of cello metal bands. Fast forward 20 years, and I am now living in Finland and was given an opportunity to interview Apocalyptica and photograph them for their Apocalyptic Symphony show, playing material from their recent album Wagner Reloaded.As I said earlier I never kept up with the band over the years much like I never did with Metallica, who Apocalyptica by their own admission, would not be where they are today without doing those covers. So career wise Apocalyptica hit the right time cover the Metallica songs when that band was riding high. But for me I had no idea what their other material or compositions really sounded like and if they could stand on their own. So seeing them live was going to be a new experience for me as I was going in blind.
As for the venue, Tampere-talo was a great place for the band to play in, as it is specially set up for performances just like this and as a result the sound put forth sounded great and very professional. The venue itself is very pristine and elegant while also being minimalistic in its décor.This night Apocalyptica were performing with the Avanti! Chamber Orchestra instead of just cellos, recreating a lot of Wagner’s classical pieces in a more metal tradition. The show was split up in two parts with an intermission halfway through. The first half of the show seemed to be a set list that was more bombastic, aggressive and something that should make a lot of metal heads very proud. The band sounded very sharp, the orchestra was spot on and of course it was very theatrical with a great light show. The band really sounded great here and showed that they could play aggressive, hard music but still sound grounded in the classical music.
When the band stopped for intermission the audience was allowed to go out in the waiting areas of the concert hall and purchase beverages and snacks while they waited for the second half of the show. As the second half began, it was a very slow and emotional arrangement. This seemed to mark the trend for what the second half would be, a more slow and moody type set. In my opinion I thought Apocalyptica really showed off their musical talent in playing these instrumentals as they really helped capture a more emotional theme in what was being played. Great job here.Apocalyptica are a force to be reckoned with and they have a musical niche that belongs to them alone and that is why they are one of the most popular bands in Finland and abroad. This was made even more evident by the fact that people in the audience were of all classes of people, metal heads, young, middle aged and old. When you have a musical appeal such as that and are also genuine in what you do, you have a recipe for success that enables the band to no longer have to rely on Metallica’s success. [slideshow_deploy id=’5449′]