Plays Metallica By Four Cellos (Remastered)

(Odyssey Music Network)

     When Andrea Amati, the Italian craftsman most often credited with the creation of the cello first perfected the long-suffering instrument circa 1572, it's unlikely the world-renowned luthier could have anticipated the sonic blasphemies that would be unleashed by the Helsinki, Finland-based 'Cello Metal' quartet Apocalyptica nearly four hundred years later. Initially conceived as a Metallica tribute band with the founding members were attending the prestigious Sibelius Academy (i.e. Sibelius-Akatemia), their full-length debut Plays Metallica By Four Cellos (1996) found them at the epicenter of arguably unlikely international intrigue via their unorthodox renditions of “Enter Sandman”, “The Unforgiven”, “Wherever I May Roam” and, most notably, “Welcome Home (Sanitarium)” Now, twenty (!) years later, the group has revisited their once-pioneering roots with Plays Metallica By Four Cellos (Remastered), courtesy of German label/publishing veterans Odyssey Music Network.

     On the brilliant Plays Metallica By Four Cellos (Remastered) (2016), an expertly assembled eleven song collection of 're-interpreted' Heavy Metal, each track, beginning with the burgeoning--albeit ultimately fist-pumping--“Enter Sandman” and the relentlessly pummeling, psychologically-charged lament “Harvester Of Sorrow”, immediately commands the rapt and undivided attention of even the most jaded and unimaginative of listeners, myself most definitely included. Effectively establishing their reputation as a bona fide creative and commercial force not to be ignored, the group unleashes what was then a quasi-revolutionary amalgamation of the Alternative, Neoclassical and Progressive Metal genres. The resulting excursions, while not necessarily as immediately accessible as many of their later works (most notably the 2005 tome Reflections, which would find the group wisely focusing on original, self-penned materials) are entirely exhaustive and assiduously enjoyable.

     Continuing with the maddeningly infectious tirade “Sad But True” and the Biblical-fueled tome “Creeping Death” (the original composition focused on Chapter 12 of the Book Of Exodus and detailed many of the ensuing ten strikes), the steadfast--to say the very least--combination of lead cellist/double bassist/percussionist Eicca Toppinen, rhythm cellist Paavo Lötjönen and cellists Max Lilja and Antero Manninen steamrolls ahead at what can only be described as a carefully calculated pace. Exploring a then previously uncharted auditory dimension with an earnest and eager level of enthusiasm, the group wisely avoids the stereotypical trappings of Classical and the Heavy Metal genres by deftly capturing the true essence(s) of the source material. Firing on all cylinders early and often, the group bridges the more-than-considerable distances between their 'tastes' and 'training' despite the fruits of their labors existing far beyond the limited transient attention of the public at large.

     Fortified throughout via the bonus tracks “Battery”, “Nothing Else Matters (2016 Version)” and the “Seek And Destroy”, other standouts, including the delightfully incendiary “Wherever I May Roam” and the equally impressive closer “Welcome Home (Sanitarium)”, boldly showcase the group's prototypical origins without, believe it or not, overwhelming the 'charm' of the original release. Plunging the proverbial average listener headlong into a into a lush and seductive realm that engulfs it's partakers senses with an onslaught truly worthy of the highest of critical accolades, only time will tell if the group's efforts will aid them in continuing to succeed on an international level. An absolute must-have for both clueless newcomers and die-hard completists alike, the all-consuming menagerie that is the groundbreaking Plays Metallica By Four Cellos (Remastered) sees the group laying the foundation for what would soon become an unprecedented and unparalleled sub-genre.

     But why should you really care? Although initially dismissed by some as a mere gimmick or novelty (i.e. the seemingly endless array of 'There's Always Room For Cello' puns that plagued their earliest reviews), the majority--if not all--of the decidedly adventurous wares contained herein remain as serve as a much-welcomed reminder of the group's oft-trailblazing origins. Even if you somehow find yourself less-than-enthralled with their undeniably insatiable penchant for embracing unconventional arrangements and instrumentation, one must, at the very least, sincerely admire the wealth of intestinal fortitude necessary for embarking on such a perilous musical journey. Needless to say, if you've once again found yourself in search of a trip down memory lane that doesn't involve wholeheartedly embracing a morbidly obese expanse of Velveeta-clad spandex, then this, my friends, might just be the high-octane cure-all for what ails you. Trust me, you will not be disappointed.

Select Discography

Plays Metallica By Four Cellos (Remastered) (2016)

Shadowmaker (2015)

Wagner Reloaded: Live In Leipzig (2013)

7th Symphony (2010)

Worlds Collide (2008)

Amplified // A Decade Of Reinventing The Cello (2006)

Apocalyptica (2005)

Reflections (2003)

Cult (2000)

Inquisition Symphony (1998)

Plays Metallica By Four Cellos (1996)


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