I haven’t looked lately, but I think Apocalyptica are still the only heavy metal band with three cello players out there. That right there is enough reason to give this a listen, but throw in the fact that they are performing with the MDR Leipzig Symphony Orchestra and it should be irresistible. The band created new compositions for this release, which is based on German composer Richard Wagner’s life and his body of work. The album’s release is perfectly timed too, since 2013 marks the 200th anniversary of Wagner’s birth.
Apocalyptica is a Finnish quartet made up of three cellists and a drummer. Starting out as a Metallica tribute band, they have expanded their sound over the course of seven studio albums. Guests on those albums have included Corey Taylor (Slipknot), Brent Smith (Shinedown), and Dave Lombardo, to name only a few. This latest recording is by far their most adventurous, though. The band teamed with award-winning choreographer and dancer Gregor Seyffert to stage a brilliant live concert and theatrical production. With a stage set the size of a large Third World country, and props that included a metal dragon in which our worthy cellists perform, I found myself yearning for a visual accompaniment while listening to these songs. Songs like “Lullaby” and “Creation Of Notes” have added theatrical sounds that enhance the listening experience even more, too. Crying infants and the low moan of what sounds like an approaching mythical beast are things that make this fun to listen to. The expressive soloing of cellists Eicca Toppinen, Paavo Lötjönen, and Perttu Kivilaakso is what makes this another bold step forward for the groundbreaking outfit.
Having three string players, especially with the deep tones of the cello, gives an artist great opportunity to create tension and atmosphere, and that’s what they do here. The haunting sound of the cello gives the higher end strings of the orchestra a canvas in which to paint their sounds. But, aside from the chilling tones of the cellos and the symphony, its drummer Mikko Sirén that gives the whole thing a metallic edge. His complex rapid fire runs and his more intricate artistic work is the glue that holds all of these tremendous sounds together and drives them forward.
If you are looking to hear something truly unique and artistic with a dark orchestral heaviness, this is the album for you. My only hope is that Apocalyptica unleash a full visual to all these songs very soon so I can compare them to the constant film that’s been playing in my head.