Apocalyptica @ The Forum

2nd November 2010

It was clear tonight was going to be special as we trundled our way to the back of the huge queue snaking down side streets and back alleys behind The Kentish Town Forum. Finally in from the cold damn air, we were just in time for the sole support act of the night Pain of Salvation.

We were immediately stuck by a wave of crushingly heavy guitars and epic bass loud enough to jolt the earth off its orbit. Now I wasn’t even down the front, but I was having issues with the sound levels (not something that has ever bothered me before)! Even their equipment seemed not to like it as they kept shorting out during the first half of their set.

Thankfully they toned things down enough for me to discern what was being played, which was a series of epically struck guitar chords which made for a atmospheric noise prog backdrop of monstrous proportions. There was plenty of noise and not a lot of action sadly, but they excelled when they incorporated different instruments like keyboards and strings to form wondrous environments of rock sound. To match their meandering musical aspirations, their image was distinctly Prog rock too as they didn’t have a decent haircut between them. We had a Pocahontas ponytail from the vocalist, long blonde dreadlocks from the rhythm guitarist and a Chard Kroeger mullet from the bassist, not a great showing! They seemed to go down well worth the crowd, but left e very underwhelmed & slightly deaf.

Thankfully my hearing had recovered in time for tonight’s headline act, the classical metallers Apocalyptica. Immediately upon first glance you can easily tell that they are from Scandinavian, with such long and pristine hair. They stood to rapturous applause before they even got started as their armed themselves with their bows and began to play. Apocalyptica are a truly remarkable band as they play some seriously heavy metal, on three cellos’!

The sound of their instruments was astounding and utterly beautiful as the unusually sedate crowd sat back and admired the talent on display. They kicked off with some tracks from their latest album 7th Symphony which were loaded with melody and drive. With each Cellist playing a three part harmony on each track it’s easy to understand just how beautiful this was to hear. I’m not undermining their rock credentials either, as when they rock out they do so in style!

Playing a cover of Metallica’s Master of Puppets while bounding about stage was not only sounded truly spectacular but a technically impressive feat to pull off. They are masters of their instruments who just happen to love heavy metal, which is fine by us! Witnessing a room full of long haired heavy metal fans stare and admire classical musicians was a priceless sight.

For the occasional song during the set they were joined by a vocalist, who despite being in-tune was under powering. He was up against it tonight, as the cello firmly took centre stage tonight. During each song break, band leader Eicca Toppinen would talk with the crowd keeping a tight bond with his audience. Halfway through he said in his heavy Finnish accent…

Would it be alright If we played you song beautiful Cello music

To which a resounding roar replied in agreement. They each took seats and played out a few of their instrumental tunes which were astoundingly brilliant, playing some (what I’m told were) supremely technically difficult pieces with apparent ease. Of the 3 Cellist it was Perttu Kivilaakso who seemed to get the good harmony lines and his maestro looks matched his abilities.

They soon rocked it up again with some more covers, this time Sepultura’s and another Metallica tune Seek & Destroy which each had the crowd singing their hearts out before dashing off for a well earned break. They returned to play a brief encore which included sing-along hit I Don’t Care and an inspired, heavy speed metal version of the classical masterpiece Hall of The Mountain King. After nearly 2 hours they departed with monumentous applause echoing round the venue!

Such a show cannot be judged alongside any others I’ve seen before. It was simply unique and stunningly great. It was brilliant to see musical genius’s melding 2 genres which seem to co-exist with such grace. Lovers of both classical and metal will find something to love about one of the most enigmatic bands I’ve ever seen! Sheer Virtuosity!

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