By Alma Reed
Written by Wes Lytz
Apocalyptica fuse Metallica and Mozart at Nashville’s James K Polk Theater Thursday night. Apocalyptica is on their “Plays Metallica by Four Cellos” US tour.
For the uninitiated, Apocalyptica are four metalheads who also happen to be classically trained cellists. Though they have recorded several studio albums of original material, they are probably most widely known for their one album of Metallica songs covered in the baroque style of Bach or Vivaldi.
The performance demonstrates a delightful juxtaposition of the ‘fuck you, shove it up your ass’ attitude of thrash metal with the subdued and refined sanctimoniousness of classical style music. Amplifying this is the fact that the members of Apocalyptica are from Finland, arguably the black metal capital of the world. There’s just something about the Finnish “way” that’s metal AF. You’re watching vikings playing the cello.
Part one of the show is the classical portion. Four cellists are seated in a row playing Enter Sandman. It’s not dainty or hoity toity. It rips. You want to throw up the horns, bang your head and run face first into a mosh pit. A vague sense of decorum constrains you. You can’t shake the feeling being “at the symphony”, and that’s not how proper adults behave amongst polite company. As the show advances, the members of Apocalyptica foment destruction of this facade.
Like any proper classical music concert, there is an intermission halfway through the performance. Part two is the heavy metal portion of the show. Drummer Mikko Sirén joins Apocalyptica onstage and together they’re about to kick your ass. No longer seated, the cellists are commanding all points on stage. Cellists Perttu Kivilaakso and Eicca Toppinen launch into some expert synchronized windmill headbanging. Relieved of the tenuous veneer of urbanity, the crowd is on their feet with horns held high.
Apocalyptica runs through most of the Metallica you know and love, focusing mostly on “classic” Metallica period, i.e. everything before they cut their hair in 1996. They opened with Enter Sandman, then Master of Puppets. They performed particularly impressive performances of Battery and Welcome Home (Sanitarium). They closed with an encore performance of One. It’s fuckin’ awesome, so go check it out.