Metal Storm logo
Epica & Apocalyptica - The Epic Apocalypse Tour, Unibet Arena, Tallinn, Estonia, 20.01.2023

Event: Epica & Apocalyptica: The Epic Apocalypse European Tour 2023
Written by: Ivor
Published: 26.01.2023


Epica & Apocalyptica - The Epic Apocalypse Tour, Unibet Arena, Tallinn, Estonia, 20.01.2023 by Ivor (45)

The Epica-Apocalyptica co-headlining tour seemed like a good moment to catch up with bands that I haven't really kept up with for quite a long while. Even more to the point, they brought Wheel along for the ride, making it a curious mix not only of genres but also of the past and the present. I'll be honest, having seen the other two already a decade and a half ago, it was Wheel that seemed the most exciting of the three to me.

Jussi Turunen and James Lascelles (Wheel)

Admittedly it is tough being the support Wheel on this tour, if you get what I'm aiming at. Supporting a headlining band is never an easy task and they've got double of the work this time around. They unquestionably got fewer people to play to. Somehow they also got fewer lights on stage. Most definitely, however, they got the least time to play: where the others had 80–90 minutes, Wheel had to make do with a measly 30, which is a shame, really. Despite the Tool influences there's good potential in them to grow into their own selves and they are great on stage. Never mind the vibes–or actually, do mind the Tool vibes–it's not often you get to hear something with this kind of atmosphere in these parts. They were a joy to listen to even if they seemed slightly dwarfed by the stage setup that they couldn't use (read: likely weren't allowed to use) to full potential. I sincerely hope that they at least got to make a friend or two in the sparse audience during this brief time that was allotted to them to present their case.

Having already experienced Epica a couple of times, long ago though it was, I was curious to see how they fare on stage nowadays. What surprised me about them, however, is how very much the same and familiar they still sounded to me. Some of the songs I recognised and others I didn't but the uniting trait of it was the uniformity of their catalogue. Take this statement as you want but I mean it as both a compliment and a critique. On the one hand, it's the consistency of their sound matched with the consistent performance on stage. On the other hand, it's like opening a time capsule from 20 years ago. For better or worse, even Nightwish have seen bigger changes in this time.

Mark Jansen and Simone Simons (Epica)

Which is not to say that the show wasn't enjoyable. They easily filled the stage and made the difference with Wheel in production painfully evident. Their stage dynamics are also more natural even if slightly over-enthusiastic in some cases. What it basically boils down to, however, is like meeting an old friend after a long while. How do you do? All same, all same. You? Ah-ah. You talk, you reminisce, you catch up... And then you each go your own ways with the knowledge that while changes in life can and will be shit sometimes, there's an anchor point in the past and the same familiar unchanged feeling of comfort existing somewhere in the present time that–should you only so wish–you could turn to. They were very much what I expected them to be given my previous encounters and I expect them to meet these very same expectations, say, in 5 or 10 years, maybe.

Now, with Apocalyptica I was also prepared to stroll down memory lane. Instead they threw a bit of a curve ball to me. I've always been of the opinion that recruiting the drummer turned this cello quartet–or trio, depends on how you want to count the heads–into an unconventional but still kind of ordinary heavy metal band. It's not like their original material was weak when they transitioned from a cover band into the creative entity in their own right. It's just that with the introduction of drums–and I don't mean to discredit Mikko Sirén here–they kind of lost some raw sound that formed their very identity. Turns out it's not just the drums that they needed to add. It's the vocalist–and not just any vocalist but an excellent vocalist–that was still missing in order to make the transition complete.

This gig was an eye-opener in this regard. I'm aware that on the albums Apocalyptica have had a range of guest appearances from the great singers of the metal world. What didn't register with me is that Shadowmaker was recorded with only Franky Perez and that they've had him perform on stage on occasion on a more or less exclusive basis. What also went by me is that he had come along on this tour. Now, when Franky joined the band on stage it suddenly all fell into place for me. Even if this was my first encounter with Franky, he's an excellent singer and he eclipsed Eicca's backing vocals to the extent that I'd rather they had not been present at all. The bearing and presence that Franky brought was commanding and he filled the stage with his persona. Suddenly, it all sounded like a real band and it was oh so very exciting!

Eicca Toppinen and Franky Perez (Apocalyptica)

Franky made me realise something about Apocalyptica. For the first time in years I've found myself thinking that they can actually be a proper metal band. Franky–from what I understand and from how he appears on stage with him coming and going–still feels very much like a guest. From the moment of their inception Apocalyptica have been carving out their righteous place in the world of metal and they already have a considerable legacy to back it. What they need, however, is to take that final step and embrace what they can really become. As the years pile on they desperately need to be able to avoid being remembered as a metal's novelty-act. They need Franky in the band full-time. They need him because with him together they can build a legacy as a band. Together they have what it takes. The performance of the title track of Shadowmaker album alone is proof enough in my opinion.

I went to see these bands with a little bit of nostalgia for the headliners and some curiosity for the support. It underlines the touring backwater status of Estonia that bands like Epica come here for the first time 20 years into their career. Don't get me wrong, it really is good that they finally make it here at all. They are, however, not exactly past their prime but far past their immediate relevancy to me personally. And besides, the high time to surf the wave of symphonic metal was also like 15 if not 20 years ago or so. So there's that. At least it's nice to see Wheel as a counterbalance of something fresh (well, in terms of their age as a band, less so in terms of what style they play). However, the real take-away here is that even a seasoned band like Apocalyptica can serve a surprise. A glimpse of yet unrealised hidden potential is what's exciting about them. Whether this promise comes to be, time will tell. I am, however, grateful for the little show-case nevertheless.

Written on 26.01.2023 by I shoot people.

Sometimes, I also write about it.

And one day I'm going to start a band. We're going to be playing pun-rock.


Comments: 3   Visited by: 25 users
28.01.2023 - 10:33

Despite seeing Apocalyptica not too long ago (just before the Corona hit), and Epica even later (in the time of restrictions, in summer of 2021), I'm planning to attend this one in March. It's always a pleasant experience seeing these two. Of course I'm curious about Wheel on the other hand.

Although, it's quite a ride to Budapest.
28.01.2023 - 11:41
Written by Abattoir on 28.01.2023 at 10:33
I'm planning to attend this one in March.

Yeah, I saw you had it on your extensive gig list. Have a good time and let me know your impression of it. To me it worked, hopefully it'll work for you as well.

No friends for playing games
No foes who scorn my name
Computerized machines of steel and rust
No friends in my house on Mars
No foes in my house on Mars
I was born in my house on Mars
I will die in my house on Mars
-- Ayreon - My House on Mars
30.01.2023 - 14:37

It was a good gig and it was awesome to watch it from the restaurant floor (awesome view with some good wine). Shame that they booked such a large venue as it made the crowd seem small although the turnout wasn't actually as low as it seemed. The venue should have been in a black-box configuration instead of the whole arena being open.
the proggy bubblefucker

Hits total: 1848 | This month: 3