On Wednesday, September 6th, the Finnish band Apocalyptica had a tour stop at the House of Blues Orlando. The band is currently on tour celebrating 20 years of their first debut album ‘Plays Metallica By Four Cellos’. The album was originally released in 1996 and was comprised of Metallica covers with no vocals. The band members at the time were all members of the Sibelius Academy, which is part of the University of Helsinki, and decided to record an album of Metallica covers. The initial response was greater than they expected and later released a second album of both Metallica covers and covers from Faith No More, Sepultura, and Pantera. The band decided to expand and starting producing original songs, which garnered excellent reviews. They had Dave Lombardo of Slayer play drums one album before hiring on a full time drummer. They brought in guest singers on future albums for songs including Till Lindemann of Rammstein, Corey Taylor of Slipknot and Stone Sour, Adam Gontier of Three Days Grace, and Gavin Rossdale of Bush. Apocalyptica’s popularity pushed them onto the Billboard charts. Albums ‘7th Symphony’ and ‘Shadowmaker’ both made it onto the Billboard 200. The band also had opportunities to play on stage with both Rammstein and Metallica. With over 4 million albums sold, Apocalyptica’s unique music and talent solidified their longevity 20 years since their first album release. Apocalyptica is Eicca Toppinen (cello), Paavo Lotjonen (cello), Perttu Kivilaakso (cello), and Mikko Siren (drums). Antero Manninen (cello) a former member and session musician joined them for this tour.
The House of Blues had a solid crowd waiting for Apocalyptica. There were 5 of us photographing that night and I could see all of us and the crowd were excited for the show. There were no openers and security had told us they were separating the show into two sets. I was assuming there’d be no vocalist for the show since the first album didn’t have one either. When the lights dimmed, Eicca, Paavo, Perttu, and Antero came on stage and took their seats, arranged like a classical symphony set. But, when those first notes of “Enter Sandman” were played, you knew this wasn’t a classical setting. It was stunning to hear how they replicated the heavy metal of Metallica with only cellos.
There was a weird sense going on as the songs were being played with no vocals being sung. So the crowd decided at times to sing the songs along with Apocalyptica. Eicca and Perttu smiled and encouraged the crowd to sing along through the songs. The entire first set was a playthrough of the original album ‘Plays Metallica By Four Cellos’ in track listing order. That setlist included “Enter Sandman”, “Master of Puppets”, “Harvester of Sorrows”, “The Unforgiven”, “Sad But True”, “Creeping Death”, “Wherever I May Roam”, and “Welcome Home (Sanitarium)”. “The Unforgiven” truly resonated with the classical cello style that night.
When they came back for the second set, a drum set was also on stage and Mikko joined them. While the first set was more classical in style, the second set was more of a heavy metal concert. Eicca and Perttu constantly headbanging while playing, both of them playing their cellos more like guitars, including some amazing speed metal, and with Mikko providing excellent drumming, you could feel how they energized the crowd. The second set included “Fade to Black”, “For Whom The Bell Tolls”, “Fight Fire With Fire”, “Orion”, “Escape”, “Battery”, and “Seek & Destroy”. Apocalyptica had the crowd excited during “Battery”. It was an breath taking performance of the song with them being able to replicate the hardcore sound and energy associated with it. The band walked off stage and did return to encore “Nothing Else Matters”, which went back to the classical style of the first set, and finish with “One” where the band gave it their all for an astonishing performance.
Besides the fact that Apocalyptica is a unique band, their musical talent, energy, and on stage presence is one always to remember. If this tour is coming to a city near you, do yourself a favor and go see it. Apocalyptica is a once in a life time experience to see live and worth every penny. You won’t regret it.