Home Album Reviews Rock Album Review: Apocalyptica – Shadowmaker

Album Review: Apocalyptica – Shadowmaker

Apocalyptica work with vocalist Franky Perez to bring their 8th album.  Will the new vocals match with their classically trained composure, or is this better as an unspoken symphony?


Text Review:

What started as a classical tribute to metal legends has become a legend in its own right. I have always been an advocate of bringing in string an orchestral instruments into the rock scene and there may not be a better example than Apocalyptica.

Since 1993, these classically trained Finnish musicians have been performing vivid and grand performances of iconic metal songs. After years of covering Metallica, Pantera and Faith No More, original material started to surface and it blew listeners away – proving that the band were capable of much more than just playing sheet music to past works.

For bands like Apocalyptica and Russian Circles, there is audial proof that you don’t need vocals to belong in the rock genre. When vocals are added though it can make the experience that much more complete. Over the past decade Apocalyptica has featured guest vocalists like Corey Taylor, but never had a consistent singer. The focus was always on the instruments.

In comes Shadowmaker, and with it comes only one singer throughout the album. Apocalyptica were given over twenty different suggestions on vocalists and they found that Franky Perez was a natural choice. Perez, now on a two year trial with the band on tour, is the standing voice for some of the greatest cellists in the world.

In an interview with an Austrailian media outlet, Toppinenn stated that:

“We wanted to challenge ourselves even more and we wanted to be tight as a band before the pre-production and the thing that Franky was part of the pre-production, we spent weeks with him in the rehearsal room arranging the songs and getting things more defined before we went into the studio…this album is full of attitude, it’s a real attitude record.”

In February came the single Cold Blood along with one of the most unique and imagery filled videos I’ve seen in a long time. It was then when I started getting excited for the new album

Putting the video aside, this song was a great way to get people introduced to the combination of Franky Perez along with Apocalyptica. The vocals at no point overshadow the instruments and there is the perfect pacing and intensity throughout. The song has depth and flows seamlessly from verse to chorus and everything compliments each other.

Having a consistent vocalist and especially one who people may not expect WILL polarize some of Apocalyptica’s fans. It can be jarring to hear a consistent voice after either hearing guest vocals or no words at all. The beauty of Shadowmaker is that it still offers the best of both worlds.

While there are several songs like Cold Blood that work with the unique vocal pattern of Perez, there are also gorgeous instrumental pieces such as Till Death To Us Part that create a fully atmospheric world in the track.

Hearing songs like Till Death Do Us Part is what reminds me why I love music. The build in energy from slower strings to intense drumwork and a powerful rhythm is the type of experience that can literally stop you in the moment. When you look at music composing and performance, it is songs like this that should stand as an example of what can be done with creativity and the ability to build emotional reactions from sound.

Shadowmaker has its moments of gorgeous landscapes and loud energy, and throughout the album you can’t help but get the feeling that this is truly a unit of musical masterminds that put things like this together. While the style of a new vocalist may take some getting used to, it is definitely worth giving it a chance.

There are bands that may be known for one specific act like covering songs, but if you give them a chance with their own material you can be completely blown away with just how much talent and potential they have. Apocalyptica is the perfect example of this. Shadowmaker reaffirms that comparison.

Overall, Shadowmaker is the perfect album if you love the classical string selections brought into rock. Apocalyptica have proven they are capable of bringing a massive amount of energy and volume with their performance. Some of it may take getting used to when diving it head first, but it’s worth the headrush.