Review Summary: Apocalyptica is constrained by inconsistency, but does a well job within the scope of each track in 7th Symphony
Since the 90's Apocalyptica has been showing up with their style of musicianship, blending metal with a touch of classical tinge. They have been known for playing well known metal classics such as Metallica, and Sepultra on the cello. After their first two cover albums "Plays Metallica" and "Inquisition Symphony" they headed toward the direction of writing their own original work. Their first album "Cult" is possibly the most individualized among their materials. Later an addition of a member on drums changed the band's sound dramatically. After their albums "Reflection" and a self-titled, Apocalyptica seemed to have won the claim of a worldwide audience and fanbase. Following their very mainstream 2007 release "World's Collide" is 7th Symphony.
The formula that Apocalyptica uses in 7th Symphony is the same formula they've used since their beginnings. but it still sheds of the dynamics and possibilities of their instrumental prowess. The album begins with "At The Gates of Mandala", which is one of its two 7-9 minute epics, introducing the music with the cellos angrily beckoning at the listener in its first half, and speaking with a soothing, full, and powerful tone in its last half. Definitely a great away to start off an album. Yet in the next song "End of Me" the sound changes dramatically into a much more streamlined style. The presence of alternative rock band Bush strongly reflects on that sudden change. While the hard rock hooks of "End of Me" makes the song attractive, it forces the cellos to play along to a simple rock ballad that can at times bore the listener. "Not Strong Enough" also has alternative rock band Shinedown's Brent Smith producing the same effect.
Yet in "2010" Apocalyptica is able to recover without the constraints and limits of alternative rock singers, and returns to their more thrash roots. The presence of Slayer's drummer Dave Lombardo is a treat in this particular song. The next song "Beautiful" also hints of a return of their more classically inspired roots, even though it serves only as a very short interlude before "Broken Pieces" featuring Flyleaf's Lacey Mosley. Mosley actually does better justice as one of the album's vocal spotlights, and Gojira's Joe Duplantier also contributes to the album in what has to be the heaviest song of the album "Bring Them To The Light". These songs shows that one of the best aspect of Apocalyptica's musicianship is their ability to match the style of various artists, and build emotion and strength into their sound. In the last half of 7th Symphony, the strength that was displayed in the album opener "At The Gates..." returns. "On The Rooftop With Quasimodo" has a very ambient and foreboding sound with a post-metal edge, and the sombre "Sacra" brims with emotion. The final closing 8 minute long "Rage Of Poseidon" does a well job to close the album. It is a conclusion that wraps up Apocalyptica's musical taste in its entirety. The grandiose and epic feel of the music is well composed and keeps the listener on their musical toes.
While Apocalyptica definitely made some great pieces in this album, there should still be said of the flaws. One of the obvious is how they constantly tug between the three worlds of mainstream hard rock, metal. and classical music. While they try to blend the three for audiences, the display of inconsistency in each song lingers. The featured vocals of various rock bands were interesting and worked within their scope, but there is still the feeling that they are just getting in the way of the sound and potential the stringed cello are displaying. After all, it is Apocalyptica's own individual uniqueness that highlights their popularity, and being able to hear the potential of classical instruments being harnessed is one of the main reason people listen to them. Original standalone materials is one of the most often wanted things from listeners who witness to this band with so much possibility.
It would also not be a hasty assumption to say that Apocalyptica has taken the novelty of their own existence in the music world too much into their advantage, especially with their more commercialized background and connections to popular rock bands. It seems that Apocalyptica has begun this tradition of inviting all the popular alternative/hard rock artists of this decade into their works. This doesn't imply that Apocalyptica's music is now any less sincere than their previous works, but it may cause a hesitating cringe in those who are noticing their trends, and creates the question of whether the band will ever be able to seriously set themselves apart in the musical world.
At the Gates of Manala
Bring Them To The Light
Rage of Poseidon