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Apocalyptica – 7th Symphony: Review

The cellist group Apocalyptica gained much fame from their cello covers of Metallica. On August 23, they are due to release a new record entitled 7th Symphony. Up until now, I have not delved deep into much of the band’s material. It is extremely shocking how four cellists playing metal can sound so generic.

The Music (rating: C-)

  1. At the Gates of Manala
  2. End of Me
  3. Not Strong Enough
  4. 2010
  5. Beautiful
  6. Broken Pieces
  7. On the Rooftop With Quasimodo
  8. Bring Them to Light
  9. Sacra
  10. Rage of Poseidon

7th Symphony has a mixture of instrumentals and vocal songs. There is a distinct separation between the two, although both place a large emphasis on the symphonic element. Instrumental are longer and have more complex song structures, while the vocals are much simpler and conformist. For the latter, guest vocalists were brought into the studio from bands such as Bush, Shinedown, and Flyleaf. As you can tell, they are all from the mainstream portion of metal.

That being said, the guests musician are only partly to “blame” for the standard sound on the album. For much of the album, particularly the vocal songs, the instruments are lacking inspiration and substance. Consequently, the listener’s focus is directed to the vocal melody, making it seem as though the quality of the music is solely their responsibility. Although this is not usually a negative statement, the singing in this album offers next to nothing. There is very little to be appreciated technically, creatively, or musically. They are standard, minimalist vocals that are void of capability and ingenuity. In turn, any song which this applies to loses all potential for uniqueness, becoming just another coin in the pocket. This, as many would see, is a failure.

But it should be stressed again that part of the blame belongs to the instrumentalists. In 7th Symphony, the presence of the cello seems to exist only to tag the word “symphonic” to the album. Seeing how there are more than plenty of symphonic albums available, this aspect has little merit. The cellists are unable to stand out or impress. In fact, there were times throughout my listen when I had forgotten that Apocalyptica was a band of cellists!

Even worse, there are times when I questioned whether Apocalyptica is a band of musicians… No guest vocalist can turn what rhythm lines the band produced into an unforgettable song. And even though there is a potential betterment regarding the instrumental songs, they did not live up to the band’s hype. The riffs are musically mundane and often lead to nowhere. Strangely enough, in the instrumental songs, no instruments stand out; what is the point? For certain, they are much better than the songs with singing. However, that is a very unimpressive statement, and there are numerous metal instrumentals that cleanly surpass the quality of Apocalyptica’s.

From my listen through this album, I feel that Apocalyptica is merely a gimmick band. Four cellos playing metal; doesn’t that sound interesting? Well, it’s not. 7th Symphony conforms to every watered-down musical norm and executes poorly. It is a terrible album which has led me to believe that Apocalyptica’s success is based solely on hype. Everyone had a guilty, pleasurable laugh with the Metallica covers, but the overdrawn joke is rotten and the band must stop riding the coattails of this shallow gesture. By all means, avoid this album.

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  1. August 19, 2010 at 9:23 am

    You cannot be serious! Are you deaf? “7th Symphony” is probably one of the group’s best albums to date. Not only are they great songs, they are played by fantastic musicians who have won many awards, and are beloved by fans and music critics alike (except you, it seems).
    Just how deeply did you “delve” into their music? This is their 7th album, and it has been 14 years since “Plays Metallica by Four Cellos” was released. Gimmick album? Maybe the first…but these classically-trained cellists have more than proved themselves through the years. They now write most of their own material. Please do yourself a favor and listen to the albums – all of them, preferably in sequence. Not only will you see growth and change, but the emergence of true genius.
    I would be very interested in knowing the other metal instrumentals that “cleanly surpass the quality of Apocalyptica’s.”
    And not to put too fine a point on it, you must learn to proofread if you are going to write reviews that the world might read. Your grammar is in need of improvement (“It is extremely shock how…”)
    Sincerely, you have missed out on not only a great album, but a fantastic group of musicians. Give their music another listen.

    • CJ
      August 19, 2010 at 11:42 am

      Thanks for the comment (and the proofread), sorry if I happened to offend you in any way. You’ve put a lot of thought into this, and I greatly appreciate and respect that.

      Still, I feel that Apocalyptica’s classical training is absent, particularily in the vocal songs. As for the instrumentals, they were unable to consistently hold me. Maybe they needed more time settle, which I did not give them. But I feel that there are much better instrumentals out there, such as Metallica‘s “Orion,” and the more recently released Canvas Solaris album, Irradiance. Guitar virtuoso Paul Gilbert just put out his new album, Fuzz Universe, which, despite being a heavily guitar-centralized album, I thought had more musical merit than 7th Symphony. All are very different, and perhaps personal preference comes into play here, but I honestly think this album is definitively weaker than the others.

      I am not sure when (or if) I will go through Apocalyptica’s collection. But if I do, it will be because of this comment. And if I do, I will personally get back to you.

      Thanks, again.

    • Alex-Mx
      September 24, 2010 at 12:07 am

      I don’t mean to offend anyone, but as you say “listen to the albums – all of them, preferably in sequence”

      Everyone can note the musical evolution of the band, but there’s only so much evolution before the band lose it’s roots.

      “Reflections”, marked the future of what the band was going to. The not so needed (but not undesirable) inclusion of the drums helped the band adding the power that the cellos couldn’t bring in some parts of the melody. And the inclusion of guest singers was just a spicy addition to every album.

      But, in my humble opinion, the band maxed at “Apocalyptica”. That album, sans Life Burns and Bittersweet was just great.

      Worlds collide was a good album too, but there was something that just didn’t do it for me.

      Three years passed and 7th Symphony came, I was really excited about it, and I was more than eager to listen it. And so I did… painfully.

      But then again I told myself that they deserved a second (and a third) chance, and still, I just wondered what happened to their music. The cellos weren’t there… some overdriven guitar-like music was though.

      Call me a purist, but you won’t disagree that what made them great in the first place was their music; four cellists playing music with nothing but four cellos.

  2. Sahil
    August 21, 2010 at 10:56 am

    You go girl! I meant CJ.

  3. jorge_cruz7
    September 2, 2010 at 9:41 pm

    This album is terrible! I cannot believe the kind of crap found on this CD. I was really dissapointed, in fact, i’m big fan of the Metallica covers, Inquisition Symphony and Worlds Collide albums. I’ve enjoyed their music for a long time ago and i could tell you, this is bullshit. Flyleaf singer? Oh come on! 2010 Was the only track that reminds me that cello spirit. This band has decayed into a level of poor quality plastic groups that live only beacuse the fanbase. Even the photoshop artwork of the album sucks!

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