Coming back around to my resolution to continue to listen to new things, it reminded me there is a unique band that caught my attention last year, but I never threw on a full album. That’s going to change today, let’s dive in to some instrumentals!
Four cellists from Finland formed a band back in 1993 called Apocalyptica. All four were attending the Sibelius Academy, a public university focused on the arts in Helsinki. They had an idea to create hard rock covers of some of their favorite music but only using their orchestral sounds.
They began hammering the local music scene, playing their unique adaptations of well-known tunes. Their grind paid off in 1995 when, after a show, a label employee offered to have the band to come down to the studio to record an album. While they were excited, a couple members of the group thought it would be a waste of time because they were unsure if anyone would ever listen to such a record. They feared it was more of a novelty—that people would come and listen to their live music in a more intimate setting, but they wouldn’t throw an album on their personal home media devices. Alas, they forged ahead and recorded their debut album which was released in June of 1996. It was a relatively short, eight tracks of nothing but Metallica covers.
Little did they know, but the album would become a bit of a smash. Other bands caught on to their unique style and asked Apocalyptica to cameo on their records. The response gave the group such newfound confidence they decided to record a sophomore album, Inquisition Symphony that dropped in September of 1998.
Their second effort was a departure from their debut in the sense that there were only four Metallica covers on this album—the rest were Faith No More, Sepultura and Pantera covers, along with a couple originals sprinkled in for good measure. They also added percussive beats, in lieu of only straight cello. Because the band had some name recognition this time around, more critics caught wind of it and it sort of got out in the mainstream.
For me, a track like ‘Nothing Else Matters’ was beautifully ripe for an orchestral redesign —and it’s arguably the standout of the record. But perhaps more interesting are those songs that you wouldn’t have ever dreamed would be remade. The band demonstrated real craftiness by slowing them down and turned into songs you don’t instantaneously want to bang your head to. If i’m trying to sum up this album in a brief sentence, it’s like you’re taking your favorite Metallica-type tunes and re-imagining them for an orchestra.
For a band that operated under they impression they’d be nothing more than a novelty, they’ve done fairly well. Apocalyptica has sold four million albums in the U.S. alone, with a couple million more across the world. Since Inquisition Symphony, they’ve worked with special guests, ranging from lead singers of metal bands like Sepultura to the eloquently voiced Gavin Rossdale, lead singer of Bush. They have nine studio albums out to date, with their most recent being released just eleven days ago. Their newer stuff is all original and they seemed to have left the covering stuff in their past, but it’s fun to enjoy the best of both worlds on Inquisition Symphony.
For some, it may be too far outside of the Matrix to try out, but I really dig it and believe it’s worth your 45 minutes today. Give something new a shot—and what better way to start your day than with a little harder, classical music? It’s not your grandmother’s Beethoven’s fifth, but it has appeal for music fans of all types. It’s something different, and you may like it, and nothing else matters. Happy Tuesday!
Top 3 Tracks:
- Nothing Else Matters (Metallica cover)
- Refuse/Resist (Sepultura cover)
- Fade To Black (Metallica cover)