–by Randy Thompson and Vicki Lee
–photos by Greg Artime
Apocalyptica’s “Cell – 0 Tour” came to Pop’s on Monday with Leprous and Wheel to give us a helping of Northern European Metal that left us reeling with excitement.
We’d never been to Pop’s before and while it definitely has a roadhouse vibe (as Franky Perez noted) it was also a surprisingly intimate venue with solid acoustics. Wheel came out and set the stage for the rest of the night with their strong percussion, strident guitars, and amazing vocal harmonizing. I got the impression that the crowd wasn’t sure who these guys were to start but by the time the set was over everyone was firmly a fan.
Leprous dominated the stage with strong vocals and powerful instrumentals. The lead singer, Einar Solberg, has an incredible falsetto, and Raphael Weinroth-Browne, the cellist, added symphonic depth to the heavy metal sound. Drummer Baard Kolstad, provided a driving beat that pulsated with the lighting effects of strobes in blue, black and red.
Solberg, with his powerful voice, can take a delicate melody and turn it into a growl. Leprous ended their set with the hypnotic pulsating rhythms of “The Sky Is Red” from Pitfalls that started quietly evolving into a big sonic sound and dropping back to a haunting cello with low background vocals.
Apocalyptica arrived on stage and began with “Ashes of the Modern World” full of lush undertones, haunting atmospherics, and symphonic crescendos with a sharp metal edge. They mixed original songs from their albums Cell – 0 and Shadowmaker with classic metal songs and orchestral pieces. They were able to flow easily from one genre to the other effortlessly including music by Cream, Sepultura, Metallica, Edvard Grieg, and their own compositions.
The four instrumentalists and vocalist, Franky Perez, came together to fill the entire hall with the uncompromising power of a hurricane, while insinuating pathos and boundless energy.
Drummer Miko Siren is a force unto himself; holding the band steady while lifting the sound. He would stand and play the extensive drum set with spiral symbols and large metal tubes that reverberated, sounding like more instruments than just a drum was playing behind the three cellos. Cellist Paavo Lotjonen can transform from heavy metal sneer to engaging smile whether bowing madly or plucking smoothly.
Perttu Kivilaakso is the lead cellist on most songs and writes original music with the band’s founder, cellist Eicca Toppinen. Together they compose most of the band’s original music.
Apocalyptica is an integrated unit that moves with energy and creativity. They are always engaged with each other and the audience. They interact with humor, whether it’s Paavo poking Franky with a bow at the end of a song or Perttu playing the “Wedding March” and proposing to Paavo. They encourage fans to sing and clap along, asking “Hey, do you know this one?” After playing together for over 20 years they are a musical family. Their mastery amazed the audience by playing cellos on their knees, over their heads, on their backs, with the front of the cello facing away and two players performing together on one cello, when Raphael Weintoth-Browne of Leprous came join in on “Inquisition Symphony”.
We left amazed and stayed engaged for hours afterwards. They are a juggernaut that takes you with them on a journey. A journey that you should not miss.
Be sure to check out the gallery of photos after the setlists below.
Out of Here
From the Flame
The Sky is Red
Ashes of the Modern World
I’m not Jesus
Not Strong Enough
Scream for the Silent
En Route to Mayhem
I Don’t Care
Nothing Else Matters
Seek and Destroy
In the Hall of the Mountain King