A further blend of fusion, metal, and classical
Apocalyptica have been a one of a kind group. Ever since they debuted their 'cello metal' music with an album that consisted only of Metallica covers, they've rapidly been expanding their style and influences of their work. The early albums were raw cello power- no other instruments involved. By their third album they began doing less covers and more original music. Mainly, Apocalyptica's music was still beautifully classical, but had a harsher distortion due to the addition of electric cellos and eventually, drums. Their self titled album was a huge step forward because they began including guest vocalists, such as Ville Valo of HIM. This was a trend that really set the standard for the future. Apocalyptica's last album was a distorted beauty; possibly their most aggressive one yet. There were plenty of guest vocal contributions, namely Corey Taylor who sang on "I'm Not Jesus," which helped Apocalyptica reach mainstream success. However, on the other hand, many of the instrumental tracks were too alike. It was heavy, but so much heaviness that a lot of the quieter, beautiful passages were overlooked. 7th Symphony, their latest album, recaptures that beauty while still continuing to make their music as close to heavy metal as possible.
Like the last album, Worlds Collide, there is an even split of instrumental songs and four guest vocal tracks. Most notable is Bush singer, Gavin Rossdale, who performed on the first single, "End of Me". Compared to "I'm Not Jesus," this track is much darker and more ominous, but also sounds more classical where in the former the band seemed to try to make their cellos sound like guitars. Make no mistake, a lot of the music on this album WILL sound like guitars are involved... but the brilliant thing is they're not! Brent Smith of Shinedown performs on "Not Strong Enough," a slower, even tempo track that has more melodic verses and then the heavy strums of the cellos during the chorus, where all the energy is. This track is more similar to "I'm Not Jesus". Lacey Mosley of Flyleaf gives one of the better vocal performances on the album during "Broken Pieces;" her powerful vocals suit the drum beat perfectly, and the introduction is a perfect reminder of Apocalyptica's first album where only the cello is heard. The biggest vocal surprise, however, is Joe Duplantier of French extreme metal band Gojira. His roaring vocals are the first of its kind on any Apocalyptica album; everyone else- present and past- just sang on the album. Combined with the ferocious pace of the cellos, it sounds like the heaviest track that Apocalyptica has ever done.
The instrumental tracks are more varied. There's the soft "Beautiful" which is very short, but brings back the memories of how the album Reflections sounded. "On the Rooftops with Quasimodo" is pure, fusion fun with electronic influences and samples as the track begins a slow, ambient climb before everything just crashes down in a wave of sound. The drums are still clear over the cellos, but unlike the other tracks where everything just seems so chaotic, the music just falls right into place, like a roller coaster. It isn't fast, but it also isn't really slow like "Beautiful". "Rage of Poseidon" is a symphonic metal epic that rises and falls in tempo and pace; easily the most impressive track considering how Apocalyptica orchestrated it to sound like the score of a final battle from a film like Clash of the Titans. Dave Lombardo lends his beating skills as the drums on the more modern sounding "2010," which sounds a lot like the work of "Stroke" from Worlds Collide.
The good news about 7th Symphony is that the band is still progressing at a steady pace. They haven't stopped to try to recreate the success of Worlds Collide or take a trip back in time to make a more organic, cello-only based sound like their debut had. The distortion isn't a rough on this album, so the drums and almost each individual cello can be heard, rather than all of them working together as one sound that it becomes overwhelming. The arrangement of guest vocals are also unique, especially since they aren't placed in the same order of tracks as Worlds Collide or any other previous album by Apocalyptica. Once again, the band creates another unique, one-of-a-kind CD that will be remembered as a hallmark of music in 2010. This is the perfect album, and perfect band, to seduce those who think heavy metal is all about screaming and anger and prefer something more with 'flair and style,' like classical or jazz music. Prove them wrong!
(Columbia Records/Sony Music Australia)
More from Apocalyptica
- Worlds Collide [review]