Apocalyptica – 7th Symphony
Since they started out with the band, the Finnish cellists of Apocalyptica have worked hard on their excellent reputation and after seven albums, it is proven once again why they are so widely respected worldwide.
With every album, they develop their unique basic principle further, a perfect combination of classic and metal music on cello. On ‘7 th Symphony’ the choice of guest musicians, and the more mature sound are the golden formula for a grandiose album.
Song by song Review
Opener ‘At The Gates Of Manala’ doesn’t have the long, epic and calm cello intro that one might expect in the line of classical symphonies. It does have an ensemble of cellists bounding their talents into a darker sound, dragging you to the gates of the underworld.
It is surprising how such a high instrument can have such an intense, aggressive side. Halfway through the song there is a turning point to a melodic cello sound. It is almost like the energy is flowing out of the strings, finding its balance into a melodic climax. A mature, more developed sound which creates high expectations.
The album has definitely been produced in an excellent manner. Every note is planned to make the music breathe, and filled with emotion. There are many layers and details, but it doesn’t get too bombastic and stays organic. The first guest, in the line of the tradition of four, appears on “End Of Me”. It is Gavin Rosdale, the prominent Bush vocalist. It is more of a classical rock song, where Apocalyptica easily switch to fewer layers but still produce a very dynamic, catchy sound.
“Not Strong Enough” has a more classical Apocalyptica sound, and Brent Smith from Shinedown also has connections with the rock music, but uses his voice totally different than the previous guest, a good contrast. The song was written by Diane Warren, the well known country and pop songwriter. This explains why the song stays in your head for a few days.
The raw diamond on this album is “2010” with groovy bass riffs and this time the guest musician is no vocalist: it’s drummer Dave Lombardo from thrash metal band Slayer. It’s no surprise that this is the darkest song that was ever done by Apocalyptica. They even manage to transform thrash metal with all its technical elements into a cello-suitable style.
There is no bigger contrast possible than to switch over to “Beautiful”, the most easy and straight forward title for this serene, peaceful song. This recording is so natural, which results in the fact that it immediately gets under your skin. The cello’s paint a landscape of emotions, slowing down your heartbeat.
Lacy of Flyleaf is the only female guest musician, she contributes on the song “Broken Pieces”. Her raw voice is not a predictable choice, with soprano vocalists dominating the metal scene nowadays. According to Apocalyptica they use a totally new approach in order to get a more programmed, electric song played by cellos. It is the first video for this album, and has a classical hit potential.
“On The Rooftop With Quasimodo” was written by drummer Mikko Sirén. The classical love story is cleverly translated into a more minimalistic way of using the instruments. At the same time it is very progressive and not always beautiful: there are raw fragments in the cello playing and you have to dare to chance it in one tone to a beautiful classical outcome.
Last but not least, there is the contribution of Joseph Duplantier of Gojira on “Bring The Light”. It is fast and very uptempo metal with a suprising aggression. Apocalyptica often surprises us with not so obvious guests and even when you have doubts about this combination, believe that it is earthshaking. The question: is who motivated who, but it is a great competition between the cello and the deep and diverse voice of Joseph. ‘Sacra’ is a continuation of that adrenaline in a more melancholic way, with only the cello in the spotlight.
The title “Rage of Poseidon” is enough to let your imagination work; you can easily paint that picture in your head. Again a certain darkness is carried on deep cello riffs, bass parts by Lauri Porra (Stratovarius) and the organic breathing between the notes. Apocalyptica displays its diversity in this last masterpiece. Eicca Toppinen wrote this song and it is a special one, a perfect ending for this symphony.
Apocalyptica has delivered a top of the bill album, with a perfect production. ‘7 th Symphony’ has the potential to become a historical piece of work. It unites classical elements with metal, in the most dynamic and talented way. I can’t help but feel that the previous Apocalyptica albums were little steps towards this mature sound. Hopefully there is no real curse on the 9th Symphony, because there are high expectations for the future of Apocalyptica. This can only lead to a more progressive and successful sound.
01. At the Gates Of Manala
02. End Of Me (Gavin Rossdale van Bush)
03. Not Strong Enough (Brent Smith van Shinedown)
04. 2010 (Dave Lombardo van Slayer)
06. Broken Pieces (Lacey Mosley van Flyleaf)
07. On The Rooftop With Quasimodo
08. Bring Them To Light (Joe Duplantier van Gojira)
10. Rage Of Poseidon
Eicca Toppinen – Cello
Paavo Lötjönen – Cello
Perttu Kivilaakso – Cello
Mikko Sirén – Drums, Double Bass