Album Review: Apocalyptica – 7th Symphony
Apocalyptica, the Finland based cello metal band, has returned with their latest studio album, 7th Symphony. Like their last effort, Worlds Collide, the new album features a mix of instrumentals and songs with guest vocalists. While a very good album overall, at times the ten tracks struggle to maintain production and songwriting congruity.
The first single off the album, “End of Me,” features Gavin Rossdale of Bush. It’s a catchy tune with a radio-friendly riff. Unfortunately, Rossdale has lost his Bush-era edge (pre-reunion). The delivery is too smooth and lacks his well-known gravely style. The song’s production is also pretty thin, which is only really noticeable when the next track, “Not Strong Enough,” kicks-in.
Brent Smith of Shinedown takes the vocalist helm for “Not Strong Enough.” Smith’s vocals on this song are incredible, and possibly some of the best he’s ever done, and that is saying something. The production of the track is superb. Even the flatulent cello distortion in the second verse does not detract too much from the overall quality of the track.
The song “Broken Pieces” features Lacey Mosley (Sturm) of Flyleaf. This is another strong track on the album. The production on Mosley’s vocals crisp and the vocal doubling was done very well. Mosley sounds terrific as always.
By the time “Bring Them to Light,” featuring Joe Duplantier of Gojira, came around, my ears were fairly fatigued due to some mid-range production equalization issues, so it took a few listens before the song grew on me. At first it seems like a toss-away metal-core track because Duplantier’s performance sounds over the top and in your face. But if you listen closely to the nuances of what he’s vocalizing and how, it becomes very interesting. The track descends into a kind of musical and lyrical madness before a calming and peaceful ending.
The instrumental tracks are OK. “At the Gates of Manala” is a seven minute aggressive headbanger, with good changes to keep it interesting. “2010″ features Slayer’s Dave Lombardo on drums. Lombardo kicks ass on this track, but the song takes a full minute to develop into anything, and the drums eventually get buried in over-cooked cello effects, including what sounds like a talkbox.
There are two primary issues with 7th Symphony that I previously alluded to. First, the production has some core issues related to equalization, or mastering… something. The three primary instruments each have the same frequency response range, so after six or seven tracks, my ears were cooked. Big problem for people like me who try to listen to the entire album. Less of a problem for those just buying individual tracks.
The other issue has to do with the songs themselves. The guys in this band are very talented and are able to created some very compelling heavy rock music. However I am not convinced that they are good enough composers to successfully put together an entire album of mostly instrumental songs, unless they take a foray deeper into progressive metal or classical realms. The biggest arrow in my quiver to support that opinion is how much more enjoyable the tracks with vocals are compared to the instrumentals. Even the band (or label) chooses those tracks as the singles.
“At the Gates of Manala”
“End of Me” (ft. Gavin Rossdale of Bush)
“Not Strong Enough” (ft. Brent Smith of Shinedown)
“2010″ (ft. Dave Lombardo of Slayer)
“Broken Pieces” (ft. Lacey Mosley of Flyleaf)
“On the Rooftop with Quasimodo”
“Bring Them to Light” (ft. Joe Duplantier of Gojira)
“Rage of Poseidon”