Tuska Utopia: Apocalyptica – 27/11/2020

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In a year that almost all live events had to be put on hold, bands and organizations are trying to be creative to still be able to offer something to their fans who are stuck at home. The team behind the Finnish metal festival in Helsinki City, Tuska, are now coming with something rather different again. ‘Tuska Utopia’: a series of shows with a prominent Finnish band playing a concert at a special location, Samy Elbanna showing some interesting spots and short interviews with the band. Making it a musical experience combined with a travel show and more…

For the third and last installment in the first season of Tuska Utopia, they were bringing one of the most unique and captivating bands Finland had and still has to offer. Apocalyptica (****1/2) turned a lot of heads when they popped up as 4 cellists playing Metallica songs on antique instruments and have ever since more than once proved that they’re no one trick pony. Besides covering other great metal tracks, they’ve shown tremendous music writing skills with their intricate, mesmerizing and simply churning and burning originals. They set up the guys in the ruins of a Medieval church in the middle of nowhere in Finland to deliver yet another great show for us.

One thing that has been a returning factor in these Tuska Utopia shows, is the rather impressive lights added to the unique locations where the bands play. And yet again, the production team behind that has done some stellar work with the lights in the church ruins, creating an atmosphere that simply can’t be ignored as a high value addition to the overall show quality. Once the Apocalyptica guys took their spots in the setting, they kicked off the show with ‘Ashes of the Modern World’, a song from their 2020 release ‘Cell-O’. Which was a return to form with fully instrumental originals, the thing that made me fall in love with the band from the beginning.

As to be expected, after that first song, like in all the other episodes, we got a short intermezzo in which Samy Elbanna from Lost Society came with some interesting facts about Finland and the area where the stage was set up. Some really cool things were told about old pre-medieval graves and what is so special about this specific church. But just like before, it takes you out of the concert’s vibe a little bit. No idea how they could’ve done it better, though I must say that I’m starting to get used to it now and don’t necessarily mind it that much anymore.

Back at the church with Apocalyptica, they took a leap back to their origins and essence as a band with some of my favorite tracks from their early years. With ‘Hope Vol. 2’ and ‘Path’, both from their 3rd full-length ‘Cult’, they brought 2 songs that I still hold near and dear to my heart and that took me back to my teenage years, having just discovered them. They hold up the test of time and are simply classics. The magic of their music and the passion with which they perform these tracks easily take me to another place, despite the “distance” of a streaming show like this. And the projections on the church wall behind the band were another really cool addition. During ‘Path’, I couldn’t help myself from hearing Sandra Nasić singing, but I guess that’s a given since I played that version of the track on repeat when I was younger.

‘En Route to Mayhem’ takes us back to their latest release ‘Cell-O’, but fits in perfectly with their old work. The steady build-up towards the frantic mayhem that is the climax in this song, is absolutely banger. And that was a great lead into the first cover of the set: ‘Refuse/Resist’, originally by Sepultura. On of my favorite tracks of their 2nd full-length ‘Inquisition Symphony’ and the one that got me banging my head in front of the screen to no end. After that great set of 4 tracks, it was time for yet another intermezzo through a short interview with Eicca and Perttu, which you can watch right here:

Back to the show for the last couple of tracks, they changed the set-up a little bit, with the 3 cellists now facing their drummer. First track came again from this year’s release ‘Cell-O’ with ‘Rise’. A track that starts off very calm and with a strong emotional vibe, that steadily builds up to rise into yet another climax, strongly supported by the perfect lighting. ‘Burn’ is another churner of a song, that was the only one that didn’t stem from either their early years or their most recent album. A track that fitted in nicely in the “back to the roots” approach of this show. Continuing the high energy, they wrapped up their set with ‘Inquisition Symphony’, the title track of one of my favorite releases and another Sepultura cover. They couldn’t have ended it better for me and I actually loved the absence of any and all Metallica covers. The whole show was top quality again, the setlist felt quite balanced to me by combining some of their oldest tracks with brand new ones and got me to dig up my old Apocalyptica albums, getting ready for whenever I can catch them live again in real life!

Ashes of the Modern World

Hope Vol. 2
En Route to Mayhem
Refuse/Resist (Sepultura cover)

Inquisition Symphony (Sepultura cover)

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