Written by Fantasma el Rey
The Apocalyptica Life Burns Tour DVD is a powerhouse showcase for this creative and talented band from Finland, in top form and rocking from the first drum kick to the last cello bow stroke. These gentlemen display their talent by mastering and mixing the moody classical world with the dark world of heavy metal to form a hybrid all their own. Their name reflects the sound, from the material they choose and by the relentless way they bang out songs on those cellos.
Formed just over a decade ago by four classically trained cellists, the band has changed little over the years. Although primarily a core of three now, Eicca Topinen, Paavo Lotjonen, and Perttu Kivilaakso are joined by drummer Mikko Siren and when on tour by original member and fourth cellist Antero Manninen. What remains the same is their power to move an audience and keep them in a frenzy for an hour and a half.
Apocalyptica moves swiftly from one song to another. Tearing through such tunes as Metallica’s “Master of Puppets,” “Nothing Else Matters,” “Enter Sandman,” and ripping the place apart with the hyper-aggressive “Seek And Destroy”. Hitting just as hard are original Apocalyptica songs like “Heat,” “Hope,” and “Life Burns.” These men have proven, and this DVD shows, that they rock just as hard and heavy as anybody else on the metal scene.
They control the crowd to the full extent, from the slower ballads to rippin’ rousers. Eicca acts as front man and co-lead along with Perttu, introducing songs and whipping their hair around in unison, much the same way that the Kiss guitarists sway together side by side on stage. Paavo is the equivalent of the bass player whose job it is to constantly interact with the crowd, keeping them worked up. He does this wonderfully by employing shouts of encouragement on choruses, pointing at them with his bow, and getting folks to clap along with the drums that crash behind him. As true showmen, they “abuse” their instruments, playing as they spin the cello, holding it in the air, or beating it as it lies on the ground, all without missing a beat or stroke. Not letting the masses forget that they are classically trained, the show closes with a hepped-up version of the classic “In The Hall Of The Mountain King.”
Now and then throughout the show there are flashes of light or minor pyrotechnics that illuminate the skull-carved backrest of the chairs they sometimes sit in as they play. Other than that, there’s nothing fancy about the stage. The music is what carries the day.
Extras include music videos, mostly of songs that the band has done with guest vocalists. The “Repressed” video begins with women who look like victims of abusive relationships but by mid “vid” it is reveled that they are members of an all-female fight club. Sepultura’s Max Cavalera and Bullet for My Valentine’s Matt Tuck provide vocals for this one and amongst the more up-tempo thrashers, this is the tune I like best. My favorite video is the slower “Seemann” filmed in black and white and featuring the darkly sexy, strong voiced German vocalist Nina Hagen, dressed in black and looking very Vampira/Morticia-esque. Wow, is all I’ve got to say about that one.
The addition of vocals also brings the addition of a more mainstream heavy metal sound. Making the cellos sound like distorted guitars and bass takes away from the band as something truly unique. The sound and musicians are good and I don’t mind Apocalyptica with vocals once or twice, but on the whole I hope that they keep to what has and will continue make them different and stand apart. If you get the chance, check them out next time they’re close to you. The DVD captures the night well but there is nothing like the vibe that these bad ass Fins possess live.