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Original and very well-done cover album - 85%

OSheaman, July 16th, 2003

Sure, it's only a cover album, but I'll bet you wish that you had thought of it.

Apocalyptica introduces itself to the world with their first album, an original cover of the best Metallica songs (you know, when Metallica was a real metal band, as opposed to the dog shit they are today) played by four cellos hooked up to amps. And you know what? Cellos can play some pretty awesome riffs when they want to. There aren't any vocals on the album (instead, one of the cellos plays the melody being sung), but the classic melodies are there and any old-school Metallica fan will soon be headbanging to their favorite tunes.

Granted, Apocalyptica's work is more of a novelty than that of an actual band, at least with this first album (the band exapns its sound in later albums to include original works and eventually adding some more traditional metal instruments, i.e. drums, guitar, etc.). But it's very entertaining, and the sound of the cellos provides a unique twist to many of the songs. As a violin player who works with a lot of cellos, I can attest to the skill with which these guys play their cellos, and the idea of playing Heavy Metal on a classical instrument goes off very smoothly in the album.

The highlight of the album is the cover version of The Unforgiven, one of Metallica's more mournful, ballad-type classics. It's a beautiful song, and it sounds really great when played on the cellos with long, flowing sounds and great uses of dynamics to accentuate the stylistic beauty of the song. Other songs that come off really well are Master of Puppets (the cello playing the melody is raw and ass-kicking, just like Hetfield's vocals), Creeping Death (it just sounds so . . . so damn cool!) and Welcome Home (Sanitarium) (excellent use of pizzicato [plucking the string instead of bowing it] to contrast with the melody).

Not all of the covers come off without a hitch, however. Enter Sandman is interesting, but it doesn't really mirror the feeling of the opening part of the song very well at all, and Harvester of Sorrow is done a bit too slowly, and just doesn't have the power required to play the opening (and the rest of the song sucks even when Metallica plays it, so there's really no point in anything except the opening 1:30 or so). In general, however, the covers are true to the melody and the feeling behind the songs.

This is something that any Metallica fan should have, as well as anybody who thinks classical instruments are sissy and can't play any *real* music.