Released: 2008, Sony BMG
Reviewer: Lord of the Wasteland
Finnish cello masters, Apocalyptica, have come a long way since converting Metallica songs into classical movements. Beginning fully with 2000’s CULT, the trio of musicians—Eicca Toppinen, Paavo Lötjönen and Perttu Kivilaanso—started putting greater focus on their own compositions and doing fewer and fewer cover songs with each subsequent release. Along the way, Apocalyptica enlisted a full-time drummer—Mikko Sirén—and became, essentially, a true hard rock/heavy metal “band,” just one without a vocalist, guitarist or bass player. The focal point has remained the cello but on the band’s sixth studio release, the aptly named WORLDS COLLIDE, an array of guest vocalists and other musicians lend their talents to broaden Apocalyptica’s sound even further with a none-too-subtle move towards crossing over into bigger markets.
The first thing that becomes obvious with WORLDS COLLIDE is that Apocalyptica wants to bridge the gap between classical music, metal and hard rock. “I’m Not Jesus” (featuring Slipknot/Stone Sour vocalist Corey Taylor) sounds like something Nine Inch Nails might have done on its latest releases balancing a dirty, industrial groove with a melodic chorus. “I Don’t Care” (featuring Three Days Grace’s Adam Gontier) could very well be the catchiest song heard this year and is a sure-fire hit on modern rock radio. Backed with the buttery-smooth voice of Mats Levén (Therion, Yngwie Malmsteen), Lacuna Coil’s Cristina Scabbia adds her silky vocals to “S.O.S. (Anything But Love)” and the Evanescence crowd should eat this one right up with its dark melodies and emotionally-charged lyrics. Marking his third collaboration with Apocalyptica, Slayer’s Dave Lombardo delivers a pummeling drum performance on the thrashy “Last Hope,” proving once and for all that a cello can most definitely incite a mosh pit. “Ion” and the title track are mid-tempo ventures that play it safe but are certainly among the band’s best original material, leveling the playing field for Apocalyptica’s skills as songwriters.
The only real misstep on WORLDS COLLIDE is the horrendous cover of David Bowie’s “Heroes”—called “Helden” here—featuring Rammstein’s Till Lindemann on vocals and guitarist Richard Z. Kruspe. Converting Bowie’s lyrics into Rammstein’s mother tongue of German, the song loses its smooth appeal with harsh rolling R’s. Lindemann’s deep, monotonous bellow is original and instantly recognizable but it is also an acquired taste at the best of times. Chalk it up to personal taste but the experimental “Helden” is a certifiable dud.
Many people wrote Apocalyptica off as a one-trick pony coasting by on the public’s familiarity of the band through the novelty of its debut, PLAYS METALLICA BY FOUR CELLOS. But in the ensuing years, the Finns have established themselves as more than capable songwriters and musicians and never resting on the gimmick that put them on the map. WORLDS COLLIDE really takes big steps in this direction as the cross-section of musicians Apocalyptica has brought in to craft this batch of songs comes from across the globe and will surely bring much exposure to their already unique take on metal.
KILLER KUTS: “Worlds Collide,” “I’m Not Jesus,” “Ion,” “Last Hope,” “I Don’t Care,” “S.O.S. (Anything But Love)”