New approach, same magic

Apocalyptica‘s Shadowmaker has already left its mark on the band’s concept as it was the first album to have a permanent singer (the amazing Franky Peréz). The truth is, right from the start the album seems more solid but, consequently, less magic. To me, Apocalyptica have always been about their sounding, heavy and painful instrumental where the singers seemed to be custom made for the tracks (remember ‘I’m Not Jesus’ with Corey Taylor, ‘I Don’t Care’ with Adam Gontier and ‘Bittersweet’ with Ville Valo and Lauri Yllönen?). In Shadowmaker, reality is different. Apocalyptica’s created an album well balanced between slow and soft, and fast and heavy tracks. The problem is that some tracks do not resemble Apocalyptica… at all. Cold Blood, Slow Burn and Hole In My Soul are full of meaning but completely devoid of Apocalyptica’s magic and soul. Fortunately, the remaining tracks are good enough to get over them. The album starts with an interesting intro, created to lure us into it more than to be taken as a song per se. Ultimately, it does it job as that intro definitely gets your attention.

Apocalyptica have always been about their sounding, heavy and painful instrumental […] in Shadowmaker, reality is different

Shadowmaker, the first single, stands out from the crowd as one of the best tracks of the album but also as one of the most uncharacterized as well. Apocalyptica tried so hard to create a vocal instead of an instrumental track that ended up creating a track that doesn’t fit the album and resembles more Audioslave than Apocalyptica. That becomes more evident as you listen to Reign of Fear, House of Chains and Come Back Down, three of the best tracks of the record: heavy, rich and melodic. Here you can feel the good old Apocalyptica in a perfect connection with Franky that, for a moment, makes you forget their completely different backgrounds. The album finishes perfectly with Riot Lights, Sea Song, Till Death Do Us Apart and Dead Mand’s Eyes. In Riot Lights and Till Death Do Us Apart Apocalyptica dazzle us with rich, heavy and soulful instrumental tracks where the powerful chords fuse seamlessly with the menacing drum beat and grow in intensity until Apocalyptica burst into flames. In the end, Dead Man’s Eyes, the album finale, slow and introspective, may be lifting the tip of the veil for Apocalytica’s future. The style adopted in Shadowmaker may be their way of remaining unique (as if there were a lot of chords-based metal bands) now that melodic metal seems to be ‘trending’ and new groups are popping out of the underground. Nevertheless, Apocalyptica seem to have got a little out of track on their exploration of new sounds and styles. Fortunately, Shadowmaker is filled with clear signals they still know how to rock your socks off the way they have always done. 4 out of 5 stars. MRR

TRACKS TO LISTEN INCREDIBLY LOUD Reign of fear, Come Back Down and Till Death Do Us Apart

TRACKS TO FORGET Cold Blood, Slow Burn and Hole In My Soul