Apocalyptica - Worlds Collide Review

by Dan Upton

You've never heard cellos like this before. Well, unless you've listened to Apocalyptica before, as Worlds Collide is the sixth full-length album (not counting best-of) from this Finnish group's 12 year run. For a long time, I'd only known of Apocalyptica as "that band that does the cello covers of Metallica"--that being their debut CD from 1996, Plays Metallica By Four Cellos. The sound and content of CDs morphed over time, including covers of bands other than Metallica and adding original compositions, adding distortion to the cellos, adding drums (originally courtesy of Slayer's Dave Lombardo), and finally adding non-instrumental pieces with assorted guest musicians. Worlds Collide in particular continues the trend toward guest musicians, with four guest vocalists and two other tracks with guests instrumentalists.

Let's start with the vocal tracks. The first single from the disc is "I'm Not Jesus," with vocals by Corey Taylor of Slipknot and Stone Sour. The song, evidently about child abuse by clergy, has a little bit of a Stone Sour vibe, with a slinky groove leading to a big hook and singalong chorus. Next is "Helden," a haunting German-language cover of the David Bowie song "Heroes" (also covered by The Wallflowers for the Godzilla soundtrack) with Till Lindemann of Rammstein. Adam Gontier of Three Days Grace sings on "I Don't Care," which could easily enough be a Three Days Grace song. It's somewhat less adventurous than anything else on the CD, but it's not a bad song (unless of course you absolutely hate 3DG, in which case you'll probably skip this track). Finally, Cristina Scabbia of Lacuna Coil lends her pipes to "S.O.S. (Anything but Love)." As with Adam Gontier's track, this one would easily fit on a Lacuna Coil CD, and is also probably the best pairing on the CD since the cellos lend themselves well to the gothic style we're used to hearing with Cristina.

The instrumental tracks are fairly consistent in style and quality. The disc opens with the title track, a song that starts with a steady bass line and a drifting harmonized melodic line for about a minute before building into the crashing main riff. Afterwards, the song alternates between a calmer "verse" and the more frantic reprise of the main riff, slowing down once more for a piano-driven bridge. "Grace" features Japanese guitarist Tomoyasu Hotei, who doubles a number of the cello melodies but also adds some of his own shred-like fills. Parts of this song strike me as what would happen if Vanessa-Mae decided to go heavy. "Last Hope" has Dave Lombardo sit behind the drum kit again, rather than the band's full-time drummer Mikko Sirén. Between Dave's constant thrash drumming and the craziest solos of any track on the CD, "Last Hope" is probably the most energetic track on the disc. The remaining instrumental pieces, "Ion," "Stroke," "Burn," and "Peace" follow the same sort of pattern as the other instrumental tracks, often having calmer melodic parts offset by heavier chorus-like breakdowns.

If you're already in to Apocalyptica, you probably already have this CD, maybe even having imported it since it came out in Europe about 8 months earlier. (Unless of course, you're a European reader, in which case you didn't have to import it...lucky punks.) People who aren't heavily into instrumental music and have only heard "I'm Not Jesus" may want to pass on this one, although the vocal-like melodic lines on the instrumental tracks would be a fairly good stepping stone into the world of instrumental music. As for me, I feel the need to go look up everything I missed in the interim between Plays Metallica... and Worlds Collide, and I think most people into instrumetal rock or metal will agree with me.

[ed note: Not sure if Dan meant instrumetal as a pun or it was typos, but it sounded cool so it stayed that way]

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