Apoptygma Berzerk
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Apoptygma Berzerk

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Tonight, my first night back in LA I went straight to the Knitting Factory to see an European band that is currently touring US and Canada: Apoptygma Berzerk. The band went through some major line-up change. Basically everybody was replaced besides Stephan. The new line-up includes Jonas Groth on keys, Thomas Jakobsen on drums and Brandon Smith (The Anix) on Guitar. So I was very curious how that would be.

As I entered the venue it was very crowded and you could see many Goths. More than I usually see at European Apop shows. They began performing shortly after I arrived. The cheering was loud as the guys entered the stage. It was weird seeing Apop with such a different line-up but things change and they all did a great job. You could tell the four guys had fun on stage and enjoyed their performance. For a song Chris Dinger (also The Anix) joined the stage to play guitar for a song. So did Logan (The Anix), he came up to drum one song while Thomas was playing guitar. There was a lot of action on stage not only because of all these people coming and playing for a while, but also because they were all moving around during their performance. The audience didn’t stand still either. They stand along as much as they could and cheered out loud after every song. Apop played old and new songs. As they performed “Apollo (Live On Your TV)” Benji madden came up on stage performing with them. Apop came back twice for encore. Everybody had a great time during the show. - Templores Magazine - Nina Mende


Apoptygma Berzerk changed my life. Before they entered my frame of existence back in 2004, my father's Kraftwerk LPs and post-OK Computer Radiohead were the only exposure I'd ever had to real electronic music. Yes, I -- the man whose musical entity seems practically defined by synthesizers a mere five years later -- had never actually explored the possibilities of electronica. I liked what I'd heard, but somehow my then-high school freshman self never really considered pursuing the genre any further. And then Apop happened. The album was Harmonizer, the song was "Until the End of the World." It was during those five and half minutes that my musical focus was altered irreversibly. The rest, as they say, is history.

When a full-time college student who is in between jobs spends an alarmingly large sum of money to fly literally across the country to see a mid-week concert, one damn well better expect this kind of backstory. Frankly, I can't think of another band I might have done this for. There were plenty of times, not the least of which was when I stood out of breath on the jetway after having come within five minutes of missing my flight, when I was forced to stop and ask myself, "Is this really worth it? Really?" But now all is said and done and I can look back on the experience with a definitive answer. It's not just a yes: it's a hell yes. I'd even go one step further, but children might be reading.

Now I remember why going to a concert can be such a religious experience. Now I remember the true feeling of esctacy that can take hold of you when you are physically in the middle of the music you love so much. For weeks before the show, lmc and I had discussed the logistics of finally seeing an Ultimate Band -- a band so special to you personally that few, past or present, could ever top them. As I stood in anticipation at D.C.'s 9:30 Club, I started to wonder if my lofty expectations could ever be met. Would they play what I wanted -- nay, needed -- to hear? What would the showmanship be like? Especially after having seen Apop's brothers-in-arms VNV Nation play a ridiculously fantastic show at the exact same venue in July, there was much to live up to.

The instant the band took the stage, every ounce of consternation immediately melted off my body. The next hour and a half were spent rocking out harder than I have ever rocked out at a show before. I often dream of bands playing The Perfect Setlist. In all the concerts I have ever gone to, I do believe Apop has come the closest to reaching this plateau. When I did my inevitable post-show "I wish they had played..." list, seriously all I could come up with were nitpicks. All of my huge need-to-hear songs were fulfilled, and my "oh my god I never thought they'd play that" ratio was so high that I really couldn't have given a damn. Yeah, "Paranoia" is a great song and it would've been awesome to hear, but really now.

The infallible one-two punch of "Starsign" and "Eclipse" kickstarted the evening, before the band started their journey through a remarkably even-handed representation of literally all aspects of their sound. Everything from early industrial staples ("Love Never Dies, Pt. 1," "Deep Red") to middle-period EBM/future-pop ("Kathy's Song," "Unicorn"), to their more recent synth-rock ("In This Together," "You Keep Me from Breaking Apart") was included, and despite stylistic differences, it all jelled perfectly. Probably due in large part to the fact that their (frankly kinda disappointing) 2009 album Rocket Science has yet to be released in the Americas, the selection of brand new stuff was somewhat limited. Still, they played "Asleep or Awake?" and that was the one new song I was really hoping for anyway. And yes, they played "Until the End of the World." I could have died happy.

Many of the surprises came with their selections of old school material. Since the beginning, "Burnin' Heretic" has been one of my favorite Apop songs, but it's such a "minor" track in their discography that I never would have dreamed I'd hear it in concert. Its inclusion just about knocked me over. The same went for "Non-Stop Violence," the highlight (in my opinion) of their 1996 album Seven; even though it was performed without its brilliant coda, it was tremendous. And, more recently, "Lost in Translation" has always been one of my top tracks from You and Me Against the World. Yeah, sure, it may have been one of the concert's more mellow moments, but it was a lovely inclusion.

As if this essay-length review wasn't already an indicator, this was a tremendous show for me. It surpassed all of my expectations and re-cemented the band's already permanent position in my all-time upper tier. Stephan Groth is a master performer with amazing energy and stage presence: he gives his songs the exuberance they deserve, and makes his shows as wonderful as possible for everyone present. That buzzing in my head after it was all over wasn't just from the amps - www.wouldbeshipster.com


CD Review – Apoptygma Berzerk
Rocket Science
Metropolis

Veterans of the synth arena; Apoptygma Berzerk are very careful about their studio releases, concentrating more on singles and generally following the trend of the industry. Rocket Science is a full-length studio album that comes four years after You and Me Against the World. Striking with a couple of hits here and there, Apoptygma Berzerk generally has been making music of predictable quality in the past and nothing indicates future changes to this.

This time the bonus touch on the record is the guest appearance of Amanda Palmer from The Dresden Dolls. It makes a difference the and otherwise mediocre tracks stand out a bit, as if they are trying to even out the gap between the hits and the rest of the release. Speaking of hits, disregarding the “Apollo – Live on Your TV” single status, “Shadow” has to be one of the most catchy tracks on the album. Synth-pop and rock artists are generally famous for the fact that their lyrics aren’t “empty” and if you invest some time you’ll probably find considerable depth in Rocket Science too.

Even though Apoptygma Berzerk have been on the scene long enough to know better, they seem to be falling for the Depeche Mode image complex. The music doesn’t really feel new, but they still, do it very well by compensating with tracks like “Pitch Black Heat Death”. The future of synth-rock is quite uncertain and all that’s left, is to hope that old-school artists evolve themselves and reinvent the genre, otherwise we will be stuck with one or two worthy track albums forever. At this point the only ones to benefit from this will only be iTunes.

apoptygmaberzerk.de - Abort Magazine


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