Apocalyptica

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Plays Metallica By Four Cellos

Apocalyptica - Plays Metallica By Four Cellos ©1996 Zen Garden/Mercury
1. Enter Sandman
2. Master Of Puppets
3. Harvester Of Sorrow
4. The Unforgiven
5. Sad But True
6. Creeping Death
7. Wherever I May Roam
8. Welcome Home

A number of metal musicians have had classical longings, and a few classical musicians have performed rock compositions on their albums: violinist Nigel Kennedy, of course, and guitarist Manuel Barrueco, who managed to cover the Beatles and other pop/rock artists with more artistic success and integrity than most others. The Finnish cello quartet Apocalyptica took the latter approach to an extreme, debuting with an album comprised exclusively of instrumental covers of Metallica songs.

Sadly, what could have been a rather nifty record is rather boring, one-dimensional and uninspired. Straightforward metal songs avoid repetitiveness with different lyrics in each verse; slavish instrumental renditions of those songs don't benefit from that variety and quickly become very tedious. Additionally, Metallica is not known for their melodicism, which becomes egregiously apparent when their melodies are performed on a musical instrument. Lastly, the track listing favors Black Album-era commercialism, which begs the question of whether the world really needs to hear "Enter Sandman" ever again.

To their credit, the musicians are very accomplished and their performances are quite impressive, especially on "Master of Puppets". But the production is a little flat and lacks crucial bottom end, which makes would-be ominous rhythms sound a tad wimpy. Thankfully, Apocalyptica branched out after this first album, and their later releases are much more enjoyable than this novelty cover set.

Review by Rog The Frog Billerey-Mosier

Review date: 06/2001

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Inquisition Symphony

Apocalyptica - Inquisition Symphony ©1998 Polygram/Mercury
1. Harmageddon
2. From Out Of Nowhere
3. For Whom The Bell Tolls
4. Nothing Else Matters
5. Refuse/Resist
6. M.B.
7. Inquisition Symphony
8. Fade To Black
9. Domination
10. Toreador
11. One

After their rather tepid debut and its uninventive Metallica covers, the Finnish cello quartet Apocalyptica returns with a more varied and overall much more interesting collection of originals and covers of Sepultura, Faith No More, Pantera and Metallica songs.

The covers are still as faithful to the originals as the four-cello lineup allows them to be, with subtle harmony additions and a better sense of dynamics. "From out of Nowhere" and "Fade to Black" are the two most successful covers; but the best songs on this album are the band's original compositions, especially "Harmageddon" and "Toreador", which manage to save the group from the mediocrity of novelty and make one look forward to their third, all-original album.

Review by Rog The Frog Billerey-Mosier

Review date: 06/2001

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Cult

Apocalyptica - Cult ©2003 Spitfire Records
1. Path Vol. 2
2. Struggle
3. Romance
4. Pray!
5. In Memoriam
6. Hyperventilation
7. Beyond Time
8. Hope
9. Kaamos
10. Coma
11. Hall Of The Mountain King
12. Until It Sleeps
13. Fight Fire With Fire
14. Path

After two albums featuring mostly covers of classic metal songs performed on cellos and a handful of new compositions, Apocalyptica returns with an album featuring mostly original compositions, a more varied instrumentation, and even a guest singer on one song - and it was high time they did. Freed from the self-imposed shackles of note-for-note interpretations and spartan four-cello arrangements, the band really takes wing on this release and delivers one remarkable piece after another.

The romantic influence is still there, as are the heavy metal riffs, but the compositions are significantly more elaborate, melodic and exciting. Virtuosity is still clearly present ("Hyperventilation"), but it never takes away from the strength of the compositions, and unlike their previous albums, the mandatory Metallica covers (and most of the original songs) feature creative and often beautiful arrangements. The sense of dynamics and dry production that made their first album an unsatisfying listen are gone and instead the Finns' cello lines soar through a lush canopy of double bass, subtle cello "rhythms", and occasional drums, all of which greatly benefit from light but audible (and welcome) studio prettification.

This album is a mandatory purchase, even (especially) if you didn't enjoy the band's prior albums.

Review by Rog The Frog Billerey-Mosier

Review date: 03/2002

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