Apocalyptica / Swallow The Sun – The Astoria, London

December 31st, 2008
by Hanntu

Apocalyptica

with Swallow The Sun

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The Astoria, London

12th December 2008

Live pics by HannTu

Live review by HannTu and Jess

Apocalyptica really love touring in the UK, considering this is their third visit in the space of 12 months. And with the long black-shirted line snaking around the back of the venue, it appears that London at least loves Apocalyptica too. This time, there is more metal cred than ever, with the highly rated Swallow the Sun supporting, more metalheads turned up to the Astoria than they had done at the Forum in March.

Swallow The Sun

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The Finnish melodic doom band’s incredible 2003 debut THE MORNING NEVER CAME captured many people’s ears and attention, and they followed up with the equally strong GHOSTS OF LOSS two years later in 2005. However, HOPE in 2007 seemed to be a step down in my opinion, with the orchestration and keys taking over more than they should have. Nonetheless, it was very well received as well, and the band was rewarded with a slot on the main stage at Bloodstock Open Air 2008. Their latest concept EP, PLAGUE OF BUTTERFLIES, is already receiving much praise.

 

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They’re not the most exciting band onstage, and the right balance of sound is needed to bring out the magic of their music; thankfully the sound guy that night was on form. The crushing weight of the melancholic guitars and bass on songs like ‘The Ship’ provided the backdrop for some soul-destroying growling by frontman Mikko. Who says extreme vocals can’t convey emotions other than anger and aggression? That being said, Swallow the Sun definitely sound better on CD with good headphones. Also, they didn’t play my absolute favourite song from THE MORNING NEVER CAME, ‘Through Her Silvery Body’, electing instead to go for faster numbers like ‘Swallow’.

 

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Perhaps a weird choice to open for the fast furious Apocalyptica, but infinitely preferable to that godawful indie band that opened the last time. Get PLAGUE OF BUTTERFLIES if you haven’t already, and check out what the hype is about – you won’t be disappointed.

 

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Apocalyptica

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I can hardly imagine the boys from Apocalyptica giving a bad show, but they certainly outshone the show they gave back in March in London, and by some distance too. This isn’t to say that they gave a bad or uninspired show in March, but the energy levels this time around was kicked up, the Finnish madness overtook the crowd and resistance was certainly futile.

 

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Even though they started out seated on their mountainous thrones, it took about 10 seconds before Perttu and Eicca got impatient and leaped off onto centre stage. With three Apocalyptica originals starting off the evening, it wasn’t long before a Metallica number made an appearance, and ‘Fight Fire With Fire’ got the heads banging and windmilling. They introduced ‘One’ as the “greatest metal song ever”, and it’s not hard to see why, the way Apocalyptica played it, complete with machine gun riffing and drumming at the end.

 

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It’s been a long hard journey for Apocalyptica, convincing the infamously demanding metal crowd that they have credibility as a bona fide metal act, not just a novelty band that plays Metallica on cello. Original songwriting took them the next step up, and getting guest vocalists to lend vocals was the natural progression. One of them is on 2007’s WORLDS COLLIDE, the incredibly popular ‘I’m Not Jesus’ – I have to say it works well with the crowd yelling out the lyrics to the song. Ditto for ‘For Whom The Bell Tolls’.

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“Tonight is something special, I can feel it. We’ve played 175 shows on this tour, but it’s not difficult to get excited in front of you guys. Thank you for your support.” A heartfelt speech from Eicca as they launch into ‘Betrayal/Forgiveness’, on of the best tracks on 2005’s self titled album. Unfortunately, the ‘Forgiveness’ half is left out; and one of my favourite Apocalyptica tracks sounds strangely incomplete without that beautifully haunting and morose cello solo at the end. Oh well…

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‘Bittersweet’ is dedicated to the lovely ladies in the house, while ‘Last Hope’ is apparently their “very most favourite track”. With a superb wah solo, and with Eicca trying to animate Antero into some emotion (he fails and receives only a cryptic smile – Eicca turns away in despair), and with the crowd jumping in time, ‘Last Hope’ is certainly a monster live. ‘Seek and Destroy’ gets a massive roar, and ‘Inquisition Symphony’ gets Paavo playing while rolling on the floor, and whipping Perttu with his bow (who seemed to enjoy it!).

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They came back out to ‘Nothing Else Matters’, ‘Enter Sandman’ and ‘Hall of the Mountain King’, during which Perttu amused himself by picking up bras thrown from the crowd, sniffing them and stuffing them into his trousers. Fun night all round and certainly one of the best gigs of 2008!


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Setlist

Refuse/Resist

Grace

Burn

Fight Fire With Fire

One

I’m Not Jesus

For Whom The Bell Tolls

Betrayal

Bittersweet

Last Hope

Life Burns!

Seek and Destroy

Inquisition Symphony

Nothing Else Matters (Encore)

Enter Sandman (Encore)

Hall of the Mountain King (Encore)

 

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Thanks to John Rogers at The Charm Factory

for the guest list and photo pass!

Swallow The Sun: http://www.swallowthesun.net/

Apocalyptica: http://www.apocalyptica.com/

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