Apocalyptica - 7th Symphony
Finland's Apocalyptica are a strange proposition; Classical musicians who play metal with a twist, they appeal mainly to those who like to view themselves as being musically open-minded when they are, in fact, most well known for playing Metallica covers. Certainly Apocalyptica are no small part gimmick, spending much of their time playing classical instruments, but doing their best to mimic the sound of a guitar-driven rock band. Whilst initially interesting, the sound of cellos masquerading as electric guitars eventually begs the question "What's the point?"
Album opener 'At The Gates Of Manala' starts things of nicely, initially uptempo with some interesting time changes, this successfully builds the tension before easing back into a soothing Eastern vibe and leading into the first of the guest-fronted songs...
As with previous Apocalyptica albums 7th Symphony follows the formula of being predominantly instrumental with a few tracks featuring guest vocalists from various other bands (though this time round there's no one of the calibre of Corey Taylor or Ville Valo). Bush's Gavin Rossdale is the first guest to make an appearance, sounding strangely similar to Peter Gabriel on first single from the album, the catchy 'End Of Me'. Brent Smith of Shinedown performs vocals on the aptly titled 'Not Strong Enough', a weak power ballad type of thing, complete with bad high school poetry such as 'I'm so confused, so hard to choose, between the place I'm around the pain, and I know it's wrong, and I know it's right.' Slayer's Dave Lombardo lends his drumming skills to the brooding instrumental '2010', and Lacey Mosley from Flyleaf features on 'Broken Piece', sounding reminiscent of Avril Lavigne impersonating Evanescence on this catchy piece of radio friendly pop/rock. The most energetic of the guest vocal tracks is the frenetic 'Bring Them to Light'; featuring Gojira's Joe Duplantier, this is, as you would expect, the heaviest song on here, but also the most satisfying.
7th symphony is by no means a bad album, but it's not great either. In short, it's typical Apocalyptica fare- plenty of chugging cellos with a few exceptions, such as the appropriately named instrumental 'Beautiful'. No pretend guitars here, this is cellos sounding unashamedly like cellos, and very nice, if somewhat doleful, it is too.
Apocalyptica's inconsistent choice of guest vocalists gives 7th Symphony a slightly disjointed feel, whilst many of the instrumentals have the feel of musical interludes rather than standalone compositions. Also, the group's decision to jettison the cover versions completely may be an attempt to reduce the novelty factor, but it remains to be seen whether their own material is strong enough to support this in the long term.