Formed by four like-minded cellists to create bizarre, wraithlike covers of heavy metal giants, Apocalyptica were an unlikely act to forge a lasting career. Yet over a decade after its debut CD, 1996's self-explanatory APOCALYPTICA PLAYS METALLICA BY FOUR CELLOS, took college radio by storm, the Finnish outfit were selling out arenas and scoring major rock hits. Far from a gimmick doomed to wear thin, Apocalyptica's cello rock dexterously explores the connection and chasm between classical and metal, balancing majestic, intricate covers with dark originals.
Take four cellos, mix with a quartet of Finnish classical-music students who possess a note-for-note knowledge of metal giants Metallica, and beat gently. Viola! You have a truly stirring album that provides tangible evidence of the dramatic passages and intricate arrangements that classical music and heavy metal share. On "Enter Sandman" and "Creeping Death," the exquisite playing of the cellists intensifies the darkness and emotion of Metallica. In the process the strength and versatility of the group's songwriting is given more credence. Perhaps the most remarkable element of the album is the faithfulness that's shown to the original songs, right down to faultlessly following the vocal melodies. With Plays Metallica by Four Cellos, Apocalyptica have proved that the universal language of good music is unbound by genre. Here is a clever concept brilliantly realized. --Steffan Chirazi
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