Have you ever considered that classical music and heavy metal could be combined? This is exactly what Apocalyptica does – A Finnish band that has defied all standards of classical cello and its technique.
A little history…
Apocalyptica was born in 1993 as a tribute to Metallica. The founding members, Eicca Toppinen, Paavo Lötjönen, Max Lilja, and Antero Manninen are all classically trained musicians. They were studying in the prestigious Sibelius Conservatory in Helsinki when they created a project about playing Metallica with four cellos.
In 1999, Antero Manninen was replaced by cellist Perttu Kivilaakso, a renowned and talented cellist who, like them, had studied in the Sibelius Conservatory. In 2002, Max Lilja left the band, leaving the group with only 3 cellists.
As their music progressed, they incorporated vocals and drums to their songs. They have had many guests singers from pop and rock backgrounds, such as Nina Hagen, Till Lindemann, Lauri Ylönen, and Corey Taylor just to name a few.
They also started working with drummer Dave Lombardo from Slayer on their fourth album, but he couldn’t commit to the tour, so they hired Mikko Sirén, who would later become an official member of the band.
Plays Metallica by Four Cellos (1996)
Toppinen recalls that when they recorded the Metallica Covers album, they were expecting to sell about 1000 copies, get a few gigs and they’d be happy with that. The album includes 8 covers from Metallica arranged by Eicca Toppinen and played by the original members.
Inquisition Symphony (1998)
The success of their first album led them to record another one in 1998 – Inquisition Symphony. This album also contained covers form Metallica, as well as from Faith No More, Sepultura, and Pantera. They also introduced 3 original songs by Toppinen.
This time they were excited to make original music that could feature both classical traces in the melodies as well as metal styles in the rhythms. They only had 3 covers, and the rest was music composed by Eicca. They also included two songs that were sung by Sandra Nasic and Matthias Sayer.
This album is characterized because they introduce a different sound. They leave behind the acoustic sound of Inquisition Symphony and Cult and bring drums and vocals to the songs. This album created a new style for the band. This album has 2 songs that are sung. Rammstein’s Seeman – featuring Nina Hagen, and Faraway – featuring Swedish celebrity Linda Sundblad.
Amplified: A Decade of Reinventing the Cello (2006)
This album is compiled with the bands most famous songs, both original and covers. They also included two new songs: Repressed and Ange of Death from Salyer.
Worlds Collide (2007)
You can find songs performed by great musicians such as Till Lindemann from Rammstein and Corey Taylor from Slipknot. The songs I’m not Jesus was ranked in the top 10 in both the Active Rock and Alternative Rock charts.
Wagner Reloaded-Live in Leipzig (2013)
The band prepared a live event to celebrate the 200th birthday of the Richard Wagner. The show was a collaboration between German choreographer Gregor Seyffert and Apocalyptica, and it took place in Wagner’s hometown, Leipzig. The music was composed by Eicca Toppinen and was inspired by Wagner.
This is the first time the band has one singer for all songs that included vocals. Franky Perez, an American singer who joined the band to record the album and perform in the tour for the following two years.
Plays Metallica by Four Cellos Remastered (2016)
In celebration of their 20th anniversary, the band released their first album with some bonus tracks. They are currently on tour promoting this album.
Apocalyptica’s Most Popular Songs
These are really just a few of them. 20 years of amazing music is bound to have way too many cool songs.
Apocalyptica is a perfect example of how classical music can lead up to unexpected genres, such as metal! These classically trained musicians have developed their own style and have been pioneers and inspiration for many other cello groups that have formed, like Cello Fury, and 2Cellos.
I can safely say that Apocalyptica made playing the cello cool. And for that, we are forever grateful!