After humbly beginning life as a covers act, classical metal maestros Apocalyptica  have morphed into an international sensation. Equally at home at the none-more-metal Wacken Open Air aided by a fully-fledged orchestra as they are appearing on a broader-ranging event like Soundwave – they know plenty about working a festival crowd, and showmanship.
Hitting the stage to the strains of Jeff Buckley’s version of Hallelujah, the cello-wielding metallers are flanked by vocalist Franky Perez, who affords greater life to star-studded studio collaborations like infectious opener I’m Not Jesus. Sadly Corey Taylor doesn’t stop by for it, but an encouragingly-sized crowd brave the sweltering lunchtime heat to see the Finns on the main stage. Said conditions evidently take a toll on the band, too.
A monumental take on Metallica’s Seek And Destroy has Soundwave heads banging and blasts away any remaining hangovers from yesterday’s festivities. They road-test new material tearing into the bombastic title track from the upcoming Shadowmaker album and provide an instrumental snippet of the Australian national anthem before an inevitable Hall Of The Mountain King leaves all and sundry satisfied.
Animals As Leaders  are the musicians’ band who through sheer force of virtuosity have won the hearts and minds of a growing army of prog-metal devotees. The instrumental djentlemen have a mere 40 minutes to impress within the confines of such parameters, and unintentionally are the ideal soundtrack to a lie down or relaxing beer for the uninitiated merely seeking a spot away from the still potent sun.
Devotees of near-peerless musicianship pay far more attention to likes of Tooth And Claw, obviously. An acquired taste, certainly; one listener’s nirvana is another’s musical masturbation. Perhaps feeling more like a clinic than an engaging performance at times, the many ebbs and flows of their multi-faceted, jazz fusion-informed compositions nonetheless have the modest turnout down front enthralled. Tosin Abasi’s dexterous playing ensures many aspiring axemen to give up on the spot. Perhaps their powerful polyrhythms and eight-string grooves are best witnessed in a tiny club, but this has definitely whetted diehards’ appetites for a future headlining run.