We’re down to our last two posts in this Finland Tribute “Week” series. Today, for the sake of completeness, we’re betraying the title and thematic focus of this site. Of the three bands we’re writing about today, only one — Apocalyptica — is a band whose music is on our personal playlists, and none of them fits our definition of extreme. But in terms of global appeal, they’re certainly among the most popular quasi-metal acts to come out of Finland in the last decade. So, we’re paying respect to them through this post. While gritting our teeth. For the sake of completeness.
Apocalyptica started in 1993 when four classically trained cellists at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki started playing Metallica songs on their cellos. They released a debut album in 1996 (Plays Metallica by Four Cellos), consisting entirely of Metallica covers. Their second album, Inquisition Symphony (1998) included more Metallica covers, plus songs by Faith No More, Sepultura, and Pantera. As fun as it was to hear metal songs covered by cellists, many people (including us) thought this would be a one-and-done novelty act.
We couldn’t have been more wrong. The third album (Cult, 2000) included mainly original songs, and the fourth one (Reflections, 2003) was nothing but original tunes and included drums along with the cellos (with Slayer’s Dave Lombardo providing the drum tracks). Guest vocalists began to appear on the band’s albums, which led to even greater heights of sky-rocketing popularity. Now, with nine albums in their discography (including a couple of “best of” releases), the band has sold over three million records worldwide and has played somewhere in the vicinity of 1,000 concerts in 50 countries. Some novelty act.
We’ve seen Apocalyptica in concert twice, and their shows are massively entertaining. The live productions are slick, but these dudes work their butts off on stage, and the fun they have while playing is irresistibly infectious. And yes, a lot of their music legitimately qualifies as metal, despite the hard-rock feel of most of those songs with guest vocalists. (more after the jump . . .)
In tribute to Apocalyptica, we’ve got two videos for you. The first one is a stripped down performance — sans vocals and drums. It’s technically demanding, quasi-experimental music (the kind of Apocalyptica music we still like best) and the visuals are interesting. The second one — Apocalyptica’s biggest hit as a single — is both a very catchy, angry song and a good video, too.
UPDATE: Apparently, the official video of “I’m Not Jesus” has been blocked by YouTube for viewers outside the U.S. (or at least viewers in The Netherlands :)), so we’re adding the clip immediately below. It’s not the video, just the music, but it does scroll the lyrics, which are worth seeing.
ANOTHER UPDATE: I thought about posting this next video in the original post, but decided that three Apocalyptica videos might be overkill. Well, this morning I wised up and figured out you could just skip ’em if you didn’t want to watch. So I’m putting up this one to give you a taste of a live performance.
On stage, Apocalyptica spends lots of time bouncing around the stage with their cellos, and on many songs they’re accompanied by drums and a touring singer, but this clip is just them sitting and playing the hell out of those cellos and headbanging and showing the technical skill they’ve got. Very cool.
WOULD YOU BELIEVE ANOTHER UPDATE?
Since it dawned on us that you could just skip videos you don’t feel like watching, that opened the floodgates. So why the fuck not add more live Apocalyptica videos? There is in fact no good reason not to. The first one is the band playing Edward Grieg’s “Hall of the Mountain King” solo (sans drums). And then after that, a different live performance of the tune with drums. Not classic metal. Classical metal. Awesome.
Six albums since 1997. Nightwish probably needs no introduction. After all, they are Finland’s most successful band, with worldwide sales of more than 7 million albums and singles since 1997. Their most recent album, 2007’s Dark Passion Play, sold almost 2 million copies alone. Those are gargantuan numbers for any band that even comes close to playing metal. And despite replacing Tarja Turunen with Anette Olzon on vocals, their popularity shows no signs of waning.
I suppose you could call the music symphonic power metal. The songwriter/keyboardist Tuomas Holopainen appears to draw thematic inspiration from movie soundtracks and fantasy novels, and it shows in the dramatic, gothic, keyboard-heavy sweep of the music. At times, it’s heavy, in a bombastic way, but infectious, emotional melodies seem to be the main ingredients in the recipe.
To be brutally honest, I don’t listen to Nightwish. Just not my thing. My NCS co-founders don’t listen to them either. Which means I don’t have the first clue which album their fans consider to be the best one, or which songs from their discography are the strongest. So, I’m picking this video as an example of Nightwish’s music because it has the most hits on YouTube — more than 42.5 million hits, and counting. If I had a nickel for every one of those YouTube hits, I’d have – uh – a lot of nickels. The song is from Dark Passion Play.
Nightwish fans will be stoked to know (and undoubtedly, they know already) that the band is now recording a new album, and it’s currently projected for release in September 2011.
Lordi was formed in 1996 by the band’s lead singer, songwriter — and costume-designer — Mr. Lordi. Yes, costumes. And monster masks, which the band-members apparently wear whenever they make any kind of public appearance as Lordi. Which means they’re big consumers of latex and cosmetic glue.
They also jealously guard their true identities, because — well, we don’t know why they do that. They also use lots of pyrotechnics during their shows. Not surprisingly, Mr. Lordi was inspired by Kiss. I guess you take your inspiration where you find it.
The albums seem to be horror-themed, and the music sounds like a blend of metal and shock-rock. Whatever you call it, it seems to be working for Lordi. They made history in 2006 by being the first Finnish band to win the Eurovision Song Contest with a record 292 points, and they’ve sold eye-popping numbers of albums worldwide.
Once again, this isn’t a band we listen to. Again, not our thing. Again, we have no clue what anyone would consider to be Lordi’s strongest songs. So we picked this one because it’s the first official video for a song from Lordi’s most recent album, Babez for Breakfast (released in September 2010). Apparently, this is heavy metal.
And if you’d like to see Lordi’s official video for the song that won the 2006 Eurovision contest, click this link (the embed code has been disabled or we’d let you see it right here).
We have one more installment in Finland Tribute “Week”. It’s tomorrow. We will attempt to go out with a bang.