Friday, 4 December 2015

LIVE REVIEW: Apocalyptica with Vamps (JPN) at Bristol O2 Academy

What happens when you combine classical string instruments, Finnish melancholy, a love for old-school metal and add a sprinkle of Asian alternative hard rock? You get one of the most culturally diverse tours the UK has seen in quite some time. Promoting their newest album; "Shadowmaker" and performing on UK soil for the first time since their set at Download Festival, veteran cello-rockers Apocalyptica have spent the past week sharing the stage with Japan's VAMPS. Tonight, the final night of the tour rolls into Bristol's O2's what went down.

First and foremost, it's needed to be said that the weather outside is absolutely dire and as a result, the queue for tonights gig isn't particularly impressive...on top of that, the security levels at the venue have increased substantially. In light of recent events in Paris, its understandable that any large venue would take every precaution, but it slows entry down to a crawl resulting in a lot of people standing miserable in the cold rain getting soaked through...was it going to be one of those nights? Not if Vamps [7] have anything to say about it. The Tokyo-based rockers, formed by vocalist Hyde and lead guitarist K.A.Z. waste no time in getting everyone warmed up and moving with their eclectic blend of metal, rock 'n' roll and gothic-tinged electronica. Tracks such as "Worlds End" and "Devil Side" are bursting with energy, while "Vampire's Love", a beautifully haunting ballad, highlights Hyde's emotive vocal range and their creative diversity. Elsewhere, the anthemic "Sex, Blood Rock 'N' Roll" and "Revolution II" keep the tunes coming thick and fast and if anyone here was new to the band, you can guarantee they became fans tonight. Already stars in their native Japan, it wont be long before they follow the likes of Crossfaith and establish themselves internationally. Next time you see them, expect them to be headlining, that's a guarantee.

Facebook: /VAMPS
Twitter: @VAMPS_JPN

What happens next is somewhat surreal...drum kit aside, the tech crew practically strip the stage bare and for a brief moment you forget there's a headline act to come...but it's testament to the ability of Apcalyptica [10] who are truly world class performers in every manner. With Mikko Siren on drums...Perttu, Paavo and Eicca command the stage with just themselves and their cello's and it's nothing short of magnificent. Classically trained at the Helsinki Sibelius Academy music school and fueled with a love of heavy metal, their sound is a mesmerizing assault on the listeners ears.

Their skill and musicanship is flawless and they put many guitarists to shame with the way they manipulate riffs using cellos. Covering Metallica's "Seek And Destroy" and "Master Of Puppets" gets the crowd pumped, acting as the bands unofficial 5th member providing vocals, while there is a somber hush enveloping the entire venue as the band blissfully stroke their way through "Bittersweet", the audience hypnotized by the tracks beauty. Official vocals are provided too however, as they are joined on stage by Scars On Broadway front-man Franky Perez who collaborated with them for new album "Shadowmaker". The title track and other new offerings such as the despair-riddled "Dead Man's Eyes" stand up well alongside older hits such as "I'm Not Jesus", "I Don't Care" and "Not Strong Enough", Perez' vocal style suiting very well and he carries the bands back catalog brilliantly. All the while, the banter and level of humour between the Finn's is on point, THEY are enjoying themselves and as a result, the crowd are enjoying themselves all the more. Vamps even once again gracing the stage to perform new collaboration single "Sin In Justice" and it's a rare, live treat indeed. This is more than a gig...this is more of a family gathering and the band are just as full of gratitude and appreciation as the Bristol crowd. To put it simply...tonight was just perfect. Twenty years of reinventing the cello has well and truly paid off.

Facebook: /Apocalyptica
Twitter: @apocalypticafi

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Fuel Rock Club
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