venerdì 17 aprile 2015

Apocalyptica - Shadowmaker

Artist: Apocalyptica
Album: Shadowmaker
Release date: April 17, 2015 (Europe)
Label: Harmageddon Records
Genre: Alternative rock with cellos

You know them. They got kinda big about twenty years ago playing Metallica covers in a four-cellos lineup, then they didn't really stay big. This is their first album in five years, and for the first time they have a full-time singer, Franky Perez, formerly in the ill-fated System of a Down spinoff Scars on Broadway (he didn't sing on their only album, though). The album is technically self-produced and distributed by Harmageddon Records, which is an effective cost-cutting measure if you want to cut one of the ten or fifteen middle men between you and your record, especially if you can afford to front the money for the actual recording.

Take Riot Lights. It's a song with the right mood, a unique touch, a fresh take on the style that put Apocalyptica on the map years ago. It's also an instrumental. Yeah, I'm saying the singer thing doesn't really work. Or, rather, that it only works when you take Perez out of his element (like in Sea Song). When everything clicks, what you have is an album that is easy to listen through but mantains a gothic depth and some interesting twists and turns. Ballads like Hole in my Soul might not be original, but they show decent craft, although it's the kind of song that is least likely to impress the average listener.

Boy oh boy, everytime Apocalyptica go for a standard rock track they drop the ball. Cold Blood, Slowburn, House of Chains are terrible songs - there is no polite way to put it. It's bland, uninspired, generic sounding top 40 rock with no credible chance of ever making it to the top 40. You know Nickelback? This is worse than Nickelback. It's an astonishing divide between two "souls" of this band - except one is their legitimate soul and the other is a terrible attempt at I-don't-even-know-what, because no one who's trying to make easy listening rock songs can have that bad an outcome and choose to release it nonetheless

Half of the album is pure garbage. The other half rests between passable and good. Luckily, we live in the age of separately sold songs, so you can make your own awesome (well, kinda) listening experience and completely ignore the rest. Of course, here I judge the album as a whole, and it doesn't make me happy at all. But you, lucky reader, can skip the bad parts. If you do that, you'll probably think "man, that reviewer guy is an asshole! This is a great record". It's okay, I'm used to that.

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