Jacob Zinn :: journalist + photographer

Apocalyptica adapt metal to cellos in Vancouver

The RunnerOnline Edition: May 25, 2012

One day, the floor of the Commodore is going to give in to stomping by ravenous metalheads craving European symphonic rock.

View slideshow in full screen for captions and image information.

That nearly happened Tuesday night as Apocalyptica brought their long-awaited cello metal to the venue for the first time in four years.

The Finnish foursome started off with a pitch-black performance of 7th Symphony’s “On the Rooftop with Quasimodo”, then moved into “2010” and “Grace” sans their original collaborators Slayer drummer Dave Lombardo and Tomoyasu Hotei, respectively.

Cellists Eicca Toppinen, Perttu Kivilaakso and Paavo Lötjönen circled the stage, stretching their strings and barely sparing their instruments from breaking throughout the night.

Drummer Mikko Sirén was sweating copiously before the band burst into “Master of Puppets”, marking the first of the night’s ‘tallica covers. The crowd got riled up, singing along as Lötjönen performed the lyrical notes on the cello.

They brought out touring vocalist Tipe Johnson for “End of Me”, the first single off their newest album. He proved to be an adequate substitute for Slipknot’s Corey Taylor on “I’m Not Jesus” and later returned for “Life Burns!” from the band’s self-titled fifth studio album.

The final song is real metal – are you ready for metal?!

Eicca Toppinen

In between, the band performed a series of instrumentals, including “Quutamo” and a solo by Perttu Kivilaakso. They also performed the melodic “Sacra”, starting with a trudging kick drum and building up to a marching beat.

Reaching back in their cover repertoire, this time an a cappella version of The Black Album’s famed slow song, “Nothing Else Matters”. The three cellists divided Kirk Hammett’s finger-picking intro among them, but still showed off an expertise with their instruments. Meanwhile, the crowd sang along, though they didn’t quite get the lyrics in order.

After taking a bow and briefly leaving the stage, the band returned for a raise-the-horns metal version of “Last Hope”, then Toppinen dragged his bow across the strings to start “Seek and Destroy” off Metallica’s 1983 debut, Kill ‘Em All.

Apart from the chorus, the fans didn’t know the words quite as well, but they at least knew how the song went.

“The final song is real metal – are you ready for metal?!” asked Toppinen of the Vancouverites, who signalled with fists raised that they were indeed ready.

The band closed off their main set with “Inquisition Symphony”, an instrumental by Brazilian metallers Sepultura. They headbanged in synch and gave another quick farewell only to come back for the actual encore.

The band jammed out the recent instrumental classic, “At the Gates of Manala”, adding a wah-wah effect to the solo.

They got Johnson onstage again for their 2008 mainstream success, “I Don’t Care”, replacing Three Days Grace’s Adam Gontier from the studio recording. Despite his slight accent, Johnson was well-received and he certainly had the range to perform the songs originally sung by so many different artists.

To close off the night, the band performed one more cover, though not one penned by James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich. Sticking to their classical origins, they arranged in their distinct symphonic metal style Edvard Grieg’s 1876 orchestral piece, “In the Hall of the Mountain King” – and it was more furious than he could have imagined.

At times, the audio seemed scratchy, as though their thick strings had become threads, and not all of their covers translated well to cello metal. But the band’s sound is their own and their performance is top-notch. If you missed out this time and you’re unlucky, you may just have to wait until 2016 for your next chance.

Concert Preview | May 16, 2012
Vancouver, BC
Commodore Ballroom
Apocalyptica bring world-ending metal to Vancouver

It’s been a few years since Apocalyptica, the world’s most popular cello metal group, played Vancouver, and fans are finally getting the opportunity to see them in full force again.

The world-renowned four-piece from Finland is bringing their thrashed uprights to the Commodore Ballroom next Tuesday. Cellists Eicca Toppinen, Paavo Lötjönen and Perttu Kivilaakso – all graduates of Helsinki’s Sibelius Academy music school – will be ready to shred the thick strings, with drummer Mikko Sirén providing the metal double-kick.

The band has toured the world extensively and performed at numerous hard rock and metal festivals, including Wacken Open Air, Rock am Ring, Download and Donington’s legendary Monsters or Rock.

This will be their first show here since the release of 2010’s 7th Symphony, but it’s likely the band will dig back in their discography for their biggest songs. Fans can count on 2007’s “I Don’t Care”, “Deathzone” from their self-titled fifth studio record and “Harmageddon” off 1998’s Inquisition Symphony.

Cuts from their debut cover album, Plays Metallica by Four Cellos, will surely make it into the set – hopefully “Enter Sandman”, “Creeping Death” and “Wherever I May Roam”.

And more neo-classical covers such as Edvard Grieg’s “Hall of the Mountain King” will wind up to appease the symphonic metalheads.

In addition to Vancouver, the group is stopping in Edmonton, Calgary and Saskatoon before touring South America and Europe through the summer. They will be accompanied by B.C.-based melodic rock band Incura on all Canadian dates.

Fans who missed Apocalyptica four years ago shouldn’t miss out on their sole Vancouver date. Here’s hoping it doesn’t take another four years to see them in our city.

Apocalyptica makes their long-awaited return to the Commodore Ballroom on Tuesday, May 22. Tickets are available through Ticketmaster for $44.00.



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