It could be seen as a gimmick to mimic hard rock and heavy metal songs on cellos.
But it’s no gimmick.
Because what you hear are technical players playing the the vocal melody, the guitar leads, the main riffs and sometimes the drum beat.
“Plays Metallica by Four Cellos” is the debut album by Finnish metal band Apocalyptica, released in 1996. It features instrumental Metallica covers arranged and played on cellos.
The band was invited to record this album by a label employee after a 1995 show in which they performed some of the songs. The members were initially unsure and thought nobody would listen to such a record, but the employee insisted and they recorded it.
And people liked it, especially in Europe. In Finland it was certified Platinum and it was certified Gold in Germany and Poland.
When you hear the vocal melodies of James Hetfield shifted from a voice to a cello, you get to understand how musical Hetfield’s vocal melodies are.
Master Of Puppets
So many good sections in this.
The way they play the Verse and Pre-Chorus with the vocal melody is a must listen.
But you will be pressing play on this to listen to the solo sections as they move from the clean tone arpeggios to the fast sections. And that whole clean tone arpeggios section is very Ennio Morricone sounding, when played on the cellos. But I never thought that hearing it with the electrics.
Harvester Of Sorrow
Great sequencing to have these three tracks one after another. Imagine an album that had this three punch combo.
The slow metal groove on the original version is a favourite and the guys in Apocalyptica do it justice, especially the cello that becomes like the percussive drum.
This song was made to be played via orchestras and cellos however I don’t think that was the intention of Hetifeld and Co. Yes, you can hear some of those Ennio Morricone influences in the original cut that appeared on the “Black” album, but goddamn when you hear the track in this medium, it’s a soundtrack song to a Clint Eastwood Western.
The intro, the chorus and the solo sections are essential listening. You really get to hear the quality and melodicism of Metallica.
And the sequencing of these four tracks is perfect.
Sad But True
When I first heard this song, I heard a bone crushing heavy metal cut with a Kashmir like groove. But when you hear it with the cellos, you immediately pick up on the Ennio Morricone influence.
The Verses and the Chorus played on the cellos along with the vocal melody is essential listening.
Then instead of repeating the Verse and Chorus, the Apocalyptica guys go straight into the excellent Hammett lead break and the Conan The Barbarian “Die” section.
Wherever I May Roam
The middle Eastern style intro suddenly sounds like a Genghis Khan Mongolian soundtrack when played through cellos.
Welcome Home (Sanitarium)
This song was always going to work on cellos.
When the arpeggios start and Hammet’s lead begins in the Intro , its haunting and sad.
Basically if you like Metallica, you will like what Apocalyptica does here