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apocalyptica Große Freiheit, Hamburg, Germany
28th January 2023
Apocalyptica & Epica - “The Epic Apocalypse Tour” 2023 - Support: Wheel

On the evening of January 28, a concert of two important European Symphonic Metal bands took place at the iconic Grosse Freiheit 36 in Hamburg - the Dutch band EPICA and the Finnish APOCALYPTICA. The Finnish Prog Metal band WHEEL was invited to the concert as a warm-up.

Both bands have joined in a common project - “The Epic Apocalypse Tour” tour. The idea to organize a Symphonic Metal festival for fans - offering concerts of both bands in one evening as well as a warm-up performance - was born several years ago, but due to the restrictions of the pandemic it was postponed and changed several times. Although it is worth noting that such two-in-one tours are becoming popular in the musical environment. Like it was with EVANESCENCE and WITHIN TEMPTATION last year. We can immediately speak about the success of such an idea.

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At the end of last year, in the middle of December, a new APOCALYPTICA song ‘Rise Again’, with EPICA singer Simon Simons as a guest vocalist, reached the listeners. It is a new version of the instrumental composition ‘Rise’ found on the 2020 album ‘Cell-O’. As APOCALYPTICA founder Eicca Topine previously expressed, the new ‘Rise Again’ is perfect for Simone Simons’ unique voice. Why don’t the bands collaborate further and go on a joint tour? And so it happened. The joint tour of APOCALYPTICA & EPICA has already taken place in Tallinn, Oslo, Stockholm, Copenhagen, Amsterdam, and Hamburg and will take place in other European cities. The “Epic Apocalypse Tour” will conclude on March 23 in Leipzig, Germany.

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WHEEL is a Finnish Prog-Metal band based in Helsinki, consisting of James Lascelles (vocals / Guitar), Santeri Saksala (Drums), Aki “Conan” Virta (bass), and Jussi Turunen (lead guitar). They released their debut album ‘Moving Backwards’ in February 2019, followed by their second album ‘Resident Human’ on March 26, 2021. The EP ‘Rumination’ was released in autumn 2022. Celebrating the new release, WHEEL went on their first North America Tour with APOCALYPTICA and LEPROUS, before heading out on a massive tour through Europe in 2023.

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Music & Performance
Well, the Saturday night before the start of the “Epic Apocalypse Tour” in Hamburg started with a 200-meter line of fans waiting for the doors of Grosse Freiheit 36 to open. When it started to snow we were a little worried, but to our delight, the club opened early at 18:00 and 20 minutes later, to my surprise, WHEEL already took the stage, and the hall was not even half-full yet. The slowly filling venue and the out-of-tune sound did not play into the hands of WHEEL, however, there were still fans in the forefront who liked the band’s music… and I will not be fair if I do not say that the guys tried very hard and deserved applause.

01. Blood Drinker
02. Movement
03. Hyperion
04. Vultures
05. Wheel

Music: 7
Performance: 8
Sound: 6
Light: 6
Total: 6.8 / 10

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The story of the Dutch band EPICA began in 2002 when guitarist and composer Mark Jansen left his previous band AFTER FOREVER. He wanted to create an association that would lean more towards classical, even symphonic music. After the replacement of several members, the tandem of soloist / mezzo-soprano Simona Simons and Mark has become the core of the band. Under Jansen’s leadership, the band has gradually expanded its genre boundaries - Sympho Metal. As the organizers of the concert emphasize, elements of Gothic, Thrash Metal, Black Metal, and other Metal trends can be heard in various stages of the group’s work, which are intertwined with both Eastern and Celtic musical influences. Over the course of 20 years, EPICA has released eight studio albums and performed several hundred concerts.

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Music & Performance
As part of the “Epic Apocalypse Tour” EPICA plays gigs at fairly large venues, such as in Amsterdam, at the AFAS Arena - Grosse Freiheit certainly cannot offer such a scale, but this is a legendary old club in Hamburg, and here the six-members band played a rousing show and had a lot of fun. The setlist consisted of ten songs, 70 minutes long, which flew by too quickly. However, during this time, the fans went crazy under their favorite tracks as best they could. By the way, most of the people in the hall came in EPICA merch. The band kicked off their incendiary performance with ‘Abyss if Time - Countdown to Singularity’, and the fans were completely immersed in the necessary atmosphere.

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Simone Simons did not miss the opportunity to communicate with the fans in German from the stage. As it turned out, she had been living near Stuttgart for many years. Slow and relaxed ‘Rivers’ in contrast to hits like ‘Cry for the Moon’ and ‘Beyond the Matrix’ with slam and jumping fans, the perfect combination for a powerful performance, which the band managed 100%. Even at the end of the performance, it was very cute when the musicians depicted hearts, crossing their fingers in this way and pointing them at the audience, who in turn made the same gestures of love.

01. Abyss of Time - Countdown to Singularity
02. The Essence of Silence
03. Victims of Contingency
04. Fools of Damnation
05. The Final Lullaby
06. Rivers
07. Code of Life
08. Cry for the Moon
09. Beyond the Matrix
10. Consign to Oblivion

Music: 8
Performance: 9
Sound: 8
Light: 10
Total: 8.8 / 10

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The name of the Finnish cello band APOCALYPTICA has been known since the 90s - four academically educated students of the Sibelius Academy formed the quartet in 1993. APOCALYPTICA gained international recognition with cover versions of the most popular songs of METALLICA and other heavy music bands. However, gradually the cello quartet began to build its repertoire from its own original compositions. Nine APOCALYPTICA studio albums have been released so far (in April 2022, the leader of APOCALYPTICA, Eika Topinens, revealed to the media that the tenth is on the way), and their total circulation exceeds four million. The band has performed both with their youth idols METALLICA and performed about a thousand solo and festival concerts.

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Music & Performance
APOCALYPTICA released their latest album ‘Cell-O’ in 2020 but were unable to tour with this release due to known reasons. Therefore, the Finns present some songs live as part of The “Epic Apocalypse Tour”, so in Grosse Freiheit they started with ‘Ashes of the Modern World’ in their set. Together with ‘En Route to Mayhem’ and ‘Rise’, two more songs from the last album appeared in the set list, which were enthusiastically received by the fans. In addition to instrumental songs, the band also has songs featuring vocalists. This Saturday night, Frankie Perez supported the band on their tour and sang ‘I’m Not Jesus’ and ‘I Don’t Care’ that the fans have been waiting for. During the performance of ‘Shadowmaker’, Frankie took over for a short time as a drummer, and as it turned out, he made a good job.

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In addition to the hit METALLICA covers back in the 90s, such as ‘Nothing Else Matters’ and ‘Seek and Destroy’, APOCALYPTICA has another cherry on the cake, namely the Edvard Grieg song ‘In the Hall of the Mountain King’, which they ended this apocalyptic epic evening.

01. Ashes of the Modern World
02. Grace
03. En Route to Mayhem
04. Rise
05. I’m Not Jesus
06. Shadowmaker
07. I Don’t Care
08. Nothing Else Matters (Metallica cover)
09. Inquisition Symphony (Sepultura cover)
10. Seek & Destroy (Metallica cover)
11. In the Hall of the Mountain King

Music: 10
Performance: 9
Sound: 8
Light: 9
Total: 9 / 10

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All pictures by Iryna Kalenska

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