Friday, May 20, 2016

Apocalyptica at Irving Plaza

Apocalyptica formed in 1993 with four cellists at Sibelius Academy in Helsinki, Finland. They adopted a neoclassical metal style without the use of guitars. Initially, they played Metallica covers, but soon covered Faith No More, Sepultura, and Pantera, and began composing original songs. Later songs introduced vocals. After a couple of line-up changes, Apocalyptica presently is comprised of classically trained cellists Eicca Toppinen, Paavo Lötjönen, and Perttu Kivilaakso, and drummer Mikko Sirén. Apocalyptica has sold over four million albums, and is the first Finnish band to top the Billboard rock chart.

Headlining at Irving Plaza tonight, Apocalyptica embraced both its instrumental era and its vocal era, with Franky Perez coming on stage intermittently to lead the singing. On many songs, the cellos themselves seemed to sing. When the band roared into an eight-minute instrumental cover of Metallica's "Master of Puppets," however, it was the audience that sang along to words that were not there. In all, Apocalyptica performed four Metallica covers, including an as-yet-unrecorded cover of "Seek & Destroy," two Sepultura songs, and a metalized interpretation of Norwegian composer Edvard Greig's 19th century piece "Hall of the Mountain King." The set also included 10 original compositions. All were performed dynamically as complex progressive metal songs, often with classical bridges, with cellos that sounded identical to crunching thrash metal guitars and basses. Is this the future of cello concertos? Probably not, but Apocalyptica's testosterone-heavy headbanging performance may be remembered as the only cello concerto unique enough to generate rabid mosh pits.

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