When you think of the apocalypse, classically trained Finnish cellists are probably the last thing on your mind. That is, unless you are acquainted with Apocalyptica. They pioneered the genre of cello metal in 1996 with their debut, a collection of instrumental Metallica covers. Five albums later, “Worlds Collide” features mostly original compositions, a drummer and occasional vocalists.
Apocalyptica’s appeal has always been the way they merge classical cello with metal. They pluck, strum and draw their bows through interweaving melodies and distorted breakdowns alike. All the while, the cello’s distinct, mournful timbre creates a unique sound.
In addition, guest vocalists and instrumentalists keep “Worlds Collide” from growing stale.
Cons: Instead of covering Metallica, Apocalyptica takes on David Bowie’s “Heroes,” featuring Till Lindemann of Rammstein on vocals. But Till’s tuneless delivery falls far short of the yearning, emotive original.
Throughout the album, when Apocalyptica tries to add vocals, the results are catchy but produce forgettable tunes plagued by simplified structures with all too little cello and bottom-of-the-barrel metal lyrics.
The beginning of album-closer “Peace” lives up to its title. A lilting dual cello melody is accented by a third cello plucking bass notes underneath. But then distorted cello and drums burst in and crash the party. The remainder of the song is enriched by this dichotomy between euphony and cacophony, classical sensibilities and contemporary ones.
“Worlds Collide” may be Apocalyptica’s most accessible album to date. But by sacrificing traditional sounds and complex arrangements for muddy distortion and radio-friendly rock songs, Apocalyptica has come dangerously close to losing what makes them special. They still bring the worlds of classical music and metal together — but it’s more of fender-bender than a full-on collision.
Staff writer Nick Sheidies can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.