Apocalyptica in Bucharest – or how live music is the closest we get to magic

Apocalyptica descended upon Bucharest in a show we will surely remember. They have been celebrating their 20th anniversary for a few years, so we were glad to see them return with Apocalyptica plays Metallica by 4 cellos.

First of all, we all know Apocalyptica, the world famous metal cello band. I had seen them last year in a festival so I already knew just how incredible their live show was. That being said, we were not ready for what came. It was an incredible night of emotional music, that left us all wondering how they can do all of that with just cellos. But more than that, their stage presence, their charisma, their wit, all made for a great evening.

The show had two parts, the first seeing the 4 celloists in front of panels, creating such a powerful image. Would have been much appreciated if the stage was not so low, and most of us could have actually seen that. The magic of a cello show is that the audience can be heard so much louder, somehow making a 1700 people show seem so intimate and special. Though you’d expect the public to singalong a bit more loudly to well known Metallica songs.

They started strong with bangers like Enter Sandman and Master of Puppets, continuing to play songs from their first ever album (obviously Metallica cover album). It was really magical from beginning to end. Even for those who knew the band, myself included, it was surprising and incredible to hear it all and know it’s being done just with 4 cellos. The sound and atmosphere was just so intense.

Photo credits: Adelina Sahlean

The second part of the show was heavier, with the appearance of drummer Mikko Sirén and hist very interesting drum set. They took us through well known songs, but also included some gems such as Orion or Escape. And for a little snippet for those who paid attention, during Seek & Destroy, they also gave us some tunes from AC/DC’s Thunderstruck.

Photo credits: Adelina Sahlean

What I must definitely mention is that I have rarely seen better interaction with the public. Eicca and Perttu took turns engaging the crowd, sharing anecdotes, being funny and very charming. Kudos to Perttu for being quick silver on stage, running all around while playing a cello. And a huge bow to Eicca, who clearly fought through fever and illness to still give us one hell of a show.

It’s been a couple of days and I am still thinking of how great the show was. We all knew they are great musicians, but seeing them on stage is something else. The whole show is just something else, pure magic. I am so glad we were able to see them in Bucharest once again, and let’s hope we do this again soon.

Septicflesh live in Bucharest – concert review

The first months of 2019 were pretty quite regarding big shows, but somehow March and April unleashed the mayhem. Everyting started on a Saturday night, on 31th March, when I was heading to Quantic club to attend a very special show of one of my favorite bands. Maximum Rock announced that Septicflesh will return to our lands months ago and the hype got really real.

Science of Disorder was the first act of the night. Knew nothing of them and had no expectations. Though I arrived a short time after they started playing I managed to listen enough to have an opinion. The first thought that came through my mind was the similar sound they had to Septicflesh. Actually, I think they might have been the closest band to the headliner from that night, which is never a bad thing. I always enjoy seeing bands that come from the same range of vibes and sounds. Not saying they have the same songs or hit the same notes, but was definitely something different from those generic fast heavy riffs. They had a pretty decent public which they managed to engage and keep alive. The funny thing was the aspect of the band members. For what was going to happen that night in Quantic, the guys seemed a bit „soft”. However, the show was a real success and got the audience hyped for rest of the night.

Photo by Carlos Funes

Diabolical was the band that caught my attention from the very first song. Though I find the capes a bit generic and mainstream for this kind of bands, their unique sound was really intriguing. There was this perfect balance between heavy riffs, melodic parts, and growling and kept me there, starring. They made such a transition between the first band and those who were to come, that you would have no doubt you came to the right Death/Black metal show. Diabolical is certainly a band focused on atmospheric elements, from the black capes to the warm light colors and a constant feeling of darkness. You know a band is good when the people outside the venue are starting to come and watch, nodding their heads and whispering to each other, while keeping their eyes on the stage. I really hope to see them again soon.

Photo by Carlos Funes

About Krisiun I don’t precisely what to say because I knew them before but I was never really a fan. However, they made a show to remember and the audience loved every moment. Despite their raw riffs coming from Moyses Kolesne, the brothers Kolesne are the perfect driving force behind the band with vocalist Alex Camargo‘s brutal “approach”. It was a show on point, full of energy, moshpits, and smiles, marked by surprising cover. I didn’t get the chance to see Motorhead live, but Krisiun made “Ace of Spades” sound really authentic.

Photo by Carlos Funes

After half-an-hour set change and sound checking, we finally got to be introduced to the Greek Gods. In my opinion, Septicflesh is one the best bands one can see live. They know how to put up a show like no one else. Their connection with the audience, the way they are always trying to engage the people, the record-like sound, the attitude of Seth, all of these are the pieces of an exceptional show. The only downfall was the heavy amount of dry ice which never really cleared so anyone could catch a proper view of the band. In a way it was a plus for the atmosphere.

Photo by Carlos Funes

The classical „Destroy Style” Septicflesh atmosphere never really left the stage. The show started with „Portrait of the Headless Man” and lasted a little more than an hour, where each song seemed to have every human emotion playing on stage with the raspy high-pitched vocals of Seth.

The thing I love about Seth, the leader of the band, is how he interacts with the crowd and how he s trying to make them a part of this huge orchestration. You could really feel that each band member was well prepared to give everything they had, and so they did.

Photo by Carlos Funes

We got the chance to listen to songs from Codex Omega like “Enemy of Truth” and “Martyr”, but the best moments of the show were the crowd became really enthusiastic were during “Pyramid God”, “Prometheus” and „Persepolis”. However, “Anubis” was the moment when everyone lost their minds, singing, screaming, jumping, feeling every note.

Photo by Carlos Funes

I didn’t realize how full the club was until I called it a night a left the club. The night overall was a big success, and I cannot wait to see the bands again, soon. Until then, many thanks to Maximum Rock for make it happen this time.

Godsmack/Like a Storm live in Bucharest – concert review

On a lovely 1st April Monday, a perfect combo I might say, my steps took me to Arenele Romane, where I was going to fully enjoy a Godsmack and Like a Storm show. I knew the schedule will have no delay so I was at the venue by 7:30 PM.

Photo by Carlos Funes

Like A Storm is a band that came to our lovely country from New Zealand. I am a big fan of those guys for some years now and had some expectations regarding their show. With a sound so loud it forced me to wear earplugs, the guys took the stage, opening things up with lead singer Chris Brooks on the didgeridoo (very unusual instrument for such a band). As this was a first for me, and likely for most in attendance, but the combination of didgeridoo with the heavy guitar riffs of Matt Brooks, coupled with the strong bass lines of Kent Brooks, seemed to work perfectly. Like A Storm performed a short, but extremly energetic set that included past hits such as “Wish You Hell”, “Become The Enemy”, and closing with “Love The Way You Hate Me” (favorite song). The last song had a little special moment when Chris threw himself in the audience, jumping and singing around. They engaged the public in such a way that by the end of the show they definitely left with a strong romanian fan base. However, the sound was so loud I could barely understand the vocals in some songs. Overall the show was great and raised to my expectations.

Photo by Carlos Funes

So this was Godsmack’s second show in Bucharest. Usually, two days in a raw shows make me skeptical about the audience. To my surprise, the show was almost sold out (the first one was a full-house) and there was little space to move or breath.

Áfter the usually “move things around the stage” break, the Boston natives attacked with the song “Someday” from their latest release “When legends Rise”. With his trademark vocal power, frontman Sully Erna delivered a high energy set with records like “When Legends Rise”, “Unforgettable”, “Someday”, and “Bulletproof”. Guitarist Tony Rombola delivered the goods in his own inimitable style, and although he may not be flashy, he can certainly hold his own music wise, putting out some of the heaviest guitar riffs.

Photo by Carlos Funes

As for Shannon himself, he is just a treat to watch, putting on a drum show that might as well stand for himself. With arms flying in ways that the human body isn’t meant to move or catching his drum sticks while holding down the beat, Shannon truly is a master at what he does. However, the highlight of the drumming part was the battle between Sully and Shannon, “Batalla de los Tambores”. Featuring two drum sets that move out towards the front of the stage, Sully and Shannon have a drum off, taking turns drumming back and forth and also together at times with killer precision. Judging by the smiles on their faces, this might be their favorite part of the show too.

Sully didnt’t waste too much time chattering between songs, so Godsmack delivered a killer 2 hours set of heavy rock, which also included hits from the past including “1000HP”, “Cryin’ Like A Bitch”, “Voodoo”, and “Whatever”. Still, I don’t know if it was because of the stress or weariness but Sully missed many notes on some songs, kinda ruining them. Also, the sound was still a bit too loud, but far better than what Like a Storm had.

They closed out the evening with “I Stand Alone” and a funny cover of ACDC’s Highway to Hell. Godsmack is one of those bands that let you know the rock n roll is alive and well. And nothing tells you that more than the Godsmack women panties from the merchandise area. :))

About the organization there is not much to say. They were on point with everything, there were no lines at the bars or at the counters, the access was on time, no delays in the schedule, everyone left happy. Overall, the night was pretty awesome and I can’t wait to see both bands again soon. Until then, thank you Metalhead for making things happen.

Photos by Carlos Funes.

Amorphis/ Soilwork and Jinger- concert review

You know, December was fun, holidays and all, but did you ever go to an Amorphis show in January? One that was announced in August 2018? The hype is real, I am telling you. So, on this very cold evening of 22 January, in the year of Metallica/Slayer and others big gigs, I ice-skated my way to Arenele Romane, the Venue where the first big show of the year would take place. An interesting mix of Soilwork, Jinger and Nailed to Obscurity starring the finish classics of Amorphis.

Nailed to Obscurity, photo by Carlos Funes

Nailed to Obscurity is a band I didn’t know. Saw them on the poster and thought I’ll give them the live chance, so I got there shortly after they started playing (on schedule). They caught my attention really fast, as I was quite confused about what I was listening to. Went there for some melodic death metal and got some really nice mellow parts and clean vocals, combined with heavy guitar riffs and heavy drums (specific to the genre). Their approach to this style is definitely unique, with many twist and turns which gets you caught in a spiderweb. Even though I fell in love with their latest album “Black Frost”, which might be the apex of their “experiments”, I am eagerly waiting for a fifth studio album. Other than that, the show was really good, from Raimund’s voice (which happens to have a wide-range in it, with smooth transitions from low growls to clean), to a very good sound, low dark lights and lots of energy and smiles. I am sure they already had many fans in the audience but everyone loved them, overall.  

Jinger was a bit “outside” the line-up but still, put a hell of a show. Under some green and yellow cold lights, Tatiana showed again her great vocals skills, singing both with clean vocals and growls, with a contrast one has never seen before. It is really impressive how easy it seems for her to go from brutal, fast, low growl and high screams, to girlie clean vocals, a thing that can be enjoyed at its best on “Pisces”. The metalcore/progressive band was the twist of the night, one that the audience loved, but of course, Jinger has a pretty big fanbase in Romania.  Still, there wasn’t a lot of movement from the band on stage except for Tatiana, who kicks and punches and engages the crowd like a Xena of metal. The band knows their craft and they absolutely shred live, from the riffs to the intricate bass to the percussions and the dive-bombing bass drops, the band was on point.

About Soilwork I can say one thing: they are better live than on record, which was clear from the start, as they got the’s crowd attention within seconds. Dave and Sylvain’s guitars wove an amazing mesh of riffs that match perfectly with Sven’s keyboards. On the other side, Bjorn’s vocals are the power behind every moshpit. As the night was getting closer to the end, the venue was already boiling and getting really crowded, so the band had plenty to work with. Soilwork is all about power and energy and they managed to give us a great collection of old and new songs from the treasure trove that is the band’s back catalogue. Also, the chemistry between those up onstage and those in the audience is very real and pretty catchy. No matter how much you’ll try to get over and focus on something else, you’ll fail. The show was a full-speed ride.  

After a short soundcheck and a session of equipment moving, Amorphis finally came on the stage. Well, not immediately, but after a short tease with the intro from „The Bee”. The tension was growing and the public became really impatient as we all were waiting for Tomi Joutsen to take over. The concert started exactly as the song goes, with a wave of power and energy. We got the chance to enjoy songs from “Queen of Time” as Wrong Direction or Message in the Amber, but also some old “trademark”Amorphis songs. Silver Bride brought a general emotional state in the audience while House of Sleep raised all of our voices (not only when Tomi passed the microphone). There are some particular things that make Amorphis really impressive in a… different way. Their music has lots of soul and feeling, so the shows are usually full rides through hell and heaven. The connection between the band and the audience is also fantastic and you always get this feeling of “intimacy”. Also, their live performance is so close to the recorded version, it hurts, no matter the venue or the location. This is a plus that makes every show more than a live experience. You resonate with the band, being on stage, you can see them, you can feel them (because the guys are very expressive and intense while they play)  but also get covered in emotions as you hear live what you’re used to hearing in your earphones, ‘cause that’s where the journey of a fan usually begins.

Regarding the organization, can’t really complain about much. The venue was properly heated, the entrance had decent traffic so people didn’t have to stay in cold too much. The bars were, as usual, always busy, with long lines, so maybe some more people on that area next time. Also, the merch stand was pretty impressive, with a wide range of possibilities (Amorphis and Jinger had some really nice t-shirt designs). Other than that, the sound and the lights were flawless. Congratulations to the engineers and everyone who made this happen. We’re off to a good year!