Wednesday, March 23

Apocalyptica - 7th Symphony

7th Symphony


Apocalyptica are one of those bands that I never invested myself too deeply in, aside from thoroughly enjoying their Reflections album; I appreciate what they do, feel they have brought the cello to new, distorted heights and, ultimately, respect the trio (though they now have a drummer) quite a bit.  I decided to give their latest record, 7th Symphony, an impulsive chance since I was feeling myself to be in some kind of classical crossover mood; am I glad I took the plunge? ... mostly, yes.

To get the gripes and complaints out of way immediately here, I must say that the vocal songs, aside from Bring Them To Light (which is actually quite excellent), are just awful - trite emotionless pop awful, in fact - and, sadly, the trio's musical dexterity nor prowess can save these dire pieces.  End Of Me, Not Strong Enough and Broken Pieces all feature mildly talented vocals from relatively well-known radio-friendly rock bands that leave much to be desired for anyone with an even semi-rooted history in such genres; their voices nor lyrics add to the stale compositions and, ultimately, these three tracks break up the flow of what would otherwise be a pretty fantastic record.

7th Symphony, however, is far from being all doom, gloom and disappointment; in fact, aside from the aforementioned tracks, the album features some of the most fresh and invigorating material I have heard from the band, leaving much of their traditional classical leanings in the dust in exchange for a more metallic, aggressive approach.  Sure, one of the things I appreciated most about Apocalyptica was their ability to layer the sublime, emotive tones of clean cellos atop distorted ones, however, the experimentation on 7th Symphony is so effective and successful that I do not feel disappointed by the fact that, well, there just aren't that many classical-esque moments here.  At The Gates Of Manala illustrates this point perfectly; clocking in at seven minutes, we're taken on an instrumental journey met with the coalescing of themes and variations, clearly demonstrating the band's classical background, all whilst sounding absolutely modern and, well, metal.  The track is a true success, and one of the strongest instrumental openers I've heard in some time.

2010 and On The Rooftop With Quasimodo both illustrate Apocalyptica traversing their instrumental side with consistency and quality, however, it is the closing trilogy of songs (Sacra, Rage Of Poseidon and, on the deluxe versions of the album, the rather essential The Shadow Of Venus) that really steal the show, as they say.  Sacra is relatively mellow and cold, which is perhaps due to its inclusion of a traditional Finnish piece, serving as the calm before the storm that is Rage Of Poseidon (which is, by the way, my favorite cut from the album); rather than attempting to describe its jarring movements and thrashing depths, just take the track's namesake into consideration and you'll have a fair idea of what to expect, I'm sure. ;) The Shadow Of Venus thus serves as the calm after the storm, book-ending Rage Of Poseidon quite appropriately along with Sacra; why this song was chosen to be a bonus rather than a necessity is beyond me, I'm afraid.

At the end of the day, I am glad that I decided to pick up a copy of 7th Symphony, despite the poor selection of vocalized tracks that do, again, break up the flow of this otherwise excellent album.  Let us hope Apocalyptica continues upon this new-found path of heaviness and epic bravado, perhaps even further exploring the dizzying heights of cello-summoned metal madness; to the rooftops!

7 // 10

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The Protagonist said...

A splendid review! I swear you're able to find appreciation and beauty where most others haven't or can't. Or at least express it better!

Andrew said...

Thank you kindly, my friend! :)