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The Finnish cello "metal" band, Apocalyptica, is quite known and acclaimed of their innovativeness (using classical instruments for playing heavy music). On their previous album 'Reflections' Apocalyptica had diminished into trio from the quartet they used to be (since Max Lilja left the band). It also showed a new direction where Apocalyptica heads (with the drums backing the music). Their direction is still the same and Apocalyptica's fifth album is actually self-titled (implying of a new "fresh" start). This fifth album 'Apocalyptica' is occasionally even more aggressive than 'Reflections' and at times it even surprises the listener. For example, I didn't expect to hear grindcore section in their music (which has been included in the end of Fisheye).
Compositions on this album rely more on the heavier side, but Apocalyptica has also used calm still water sections to provide contrast to their songs. The Metallica influence is still quite prominent in their music (after all, Apocalyptica started out as a Metallica cover band). For example, Fatal Error contains a cello solo in the vein of Metallica's Kirk Hammett's lead work (which is unfortunate). Although some of their heavier songs are good, the classically influenced songs still make the strongest impression on me (Farewell and Ruska being the highlights on this album). Instead of using Metallica riffs in their music, Apocalyptica should concentrate on composing "more original" material. This way, their albums would contain better songs as well as more originality.
Production on this album is quite good. However, background distortion occurred few times (fortunately quite seldom). In addition, the low register got crowded sometimes making the mix "airless". Also few clips occurred, but otherwise the production has been carried out professionally.
There are few guest appearances on this album on the vocals... Lauri Ylönen (the Rasmus) sings on two songs and Ville Valo (HIM) sings on 'Bittersweet'. Granted that they aren't the best choices, they still manage to handle their role tolerably. Moreover, on this Limited Edition of the album, three alternative versions of Quutamo (the second song) have been included with vocals... There's Emmanuelle Monet's French interpretation and Marta Jandová's English and German interpretations of the song. Especially the French version was a nice addition (the lyrics were quite apt for the song). Also the other versions were rather good. However, someone might consider the bonus material fruitless since there aren't any "new" songs included. Nevertheless, the bonus material is quite good in my view. For instance, there's a video of 'Bittersweet' included, which some may find interesting.
The quality of the material on Apocalyptica's new album isn't as steady as I wish. Instead of being full of great songs, it only contains few really good compositions... Otherwise the material isn't that convincing. For some fans this might be more than enough to convince them to buy the album. However, I recommend listening the album before buying.
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- MAGE (02.02.2005)
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