Another instrumental album, my second this year (check out the BFS on piano one) – but Apocalyptica’s first in seventeen years. For some reason this number surprised me. Partly as I’m more familiar with their older, and therefore instrumental, material and also because I didn’t realise they’d been going for so long! I jumped at the chance to check it out in part as I did like what I’d heard in the past and I also wanted a sneaky early listen as they’re touring with Sabaton over the next couple of months. Roll on London in February!
There are nine tracks on here, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed listening to them. I do feel that I enjoy instrumentals for while I’m working or reading. I don’t get distracted by the vocals, but the music still flows right over me. This couldn’t have been any more true with Cell-0 which includes some absolute rockers, some relaxing moments and some wonderful atmospheric tones.
Without the guidance of lyrics, there’s a bit more pressure on a musical composition to tell a story with the tones and notes. Apocalyptica do this well throughout all of the numbers on here, with each track very much having its own personality. Instrumentals are like soundtracks, only without any background notes you get to make up your own story. On the whole, track length is pretty generous so they each get a chance to tell quite the tale! Opener “Ashes of the Modern World” is six-and-a-half minutes and the title track which follows is just shy of ten minutes, to give you an idea.
For those unfamiliar with the band, though they use cellos as the main focus there are other instruments present. Drums are obvious, and there are also some whistles or other woodwind on here. I’m not 100% certain if there are electric guitars or if it’s just the sheer variety of techniques being used with the cellos, though! I can hear them being thumped, plucked, tapped and scraped across with a bow (anyone know the proper verb here?), and there are definitely some effects pedals at work. “Fire & Ice” in particular is heavy in the of other instruments. It’s also one of the most haunting pieces on the album.
I don’t want to spend hundreds of words detailing each track. Partly as it’s a lot of effort and partly as I’d never do them justice. For those familiar with Apocalyptica, I’d be staggered if you were disappointed by this new release. As a more-or-less new fan I was impressed and I’d suspect that others would be as well. Is it the ideal “jumping on” album? Well, with it being instrumental, I would say for many people that would be “no”. However, if you’re all about the music then I’d recommend it. It’s not so “out there” that it’s hard to listen to and you don’t really notice the lack of vocals after about 60 seconds.
Beautifully produced, phenomenally well played and a joy to bask in. I can’t wait to see what they do live!
Header photo by Leyda Luz
Cell-0 is out on January 10th – grab it from Amazon and we get a kickback!