It was a cold, miserable night as I sat aimlessly watching what was the start of the demise of MTV back in 1996. Just one more video, if it’s not to my liking I’m off to bed I said to myself, and then it happened, four guys came on the tellybox with cellos. As I reached for the off button, the title flashed across the bottom of the screen; Apocalyptica “Enter Sandman.” I watched it in awe and went to bed buzzing. Despite many, many conversations with friends over the coming weeks, not one had seen it or heard it, and I couldn’t help them much as I couldn’t even remember the band’s name. Then slowly over the next year Apocalytica began making in-roads into the music media.
The CD entitled Apocalyptica “Plays Metallica by Four Cellos” was originally released back in 1996. It featured eight songs by Metallica all performed by the Finnish quartet using cellos. This new approach to covering songs, especially Metallica songs, created its very own genre and laid the foundation for this kind of experimental/classical ‘rock’ music. In fact I do not think bands such as Van Canto would have had the success they have now without Apocalyptica paving the way.
This new version has been remastered with three bonus tracks to celebrate this landmark album’s 20th anniversary. Added to it are never-before-released instrumental recordings of “Battery,” “Nothing Else Matters” and “Seek & Destroy.” The album has been available from July 22 on vinyl (2 LP set) for the first time in many years.
You do not need to be a die-hard Metallica fan to appreciate this release, though it does help if you are familiar with their music. You gain an added appreciation of just how hard Apocalyptica play their cellos to convey the intensity found in Metallica’s songs. Not easy without Hetfield’s rich, emotional vocals.
The way these cellists have arranged the music to keep the original structure and dynamics of these tracks is no mean feat, I am however amazed at the vast array of notes these instruments can produce.
Times that by four, and the reworked songs certainly have depth with each cello taking a different lead part, before all joining as one for the chorus and/or main riff.
All eight of these original recordings stand the test of time, with “Master of Puppets” being the stand out offering. “Battery” is my favourite of the bonus tracks, simply because they have released a video for it.
This is/was a breakthrough album, mixing classical with heavy rock (I use the term loosely, no hate mail please) with ease and creating such dramatic results, one has to wonder why it hadn’t been thought of earlier.
This CD reissue sounds fantastic, plus the added bonus of three extra tracks makes this a must buy.
- “Enter Sandman”
- “Master of Puppets”
- “Harvester of Sorrow”
- “The Unforgiven”
- “Sad but True”
- “Creeping Death”
- “Wherever I May Roam”
- “Welcome Home (Sanitarium)”
2016 bonus tracks
- “Nothing Else Matters
- “Seek and Destroy”