Dec 162010

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.


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.


  1. That second Apocalyptica song is blocked by YT already. Motherfo’s!

  2. My god Lodi is bad. I wanted to hurl after watching that abortion. Absolutely fucking terrible. It’s like somebody took Kiss, Alice Cooper, Gwar and Rob Zombie and put them in a blender, took all the cheesy crap that came out and decided to make a “band”. And then suffered brain death.

    Lordi, what you’ve just played is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent “song” were you even close to anything that could be considered metal. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.

  3. Oh and thanks for posting Nightwish. That will make my wife happy. Which makes me happy. If ya know what I mean.

    I love Apocalyptica. Not a big fan of them using vocals and drums, but I see the progression. But I will still listen to their stuff.

    • Yeah, I know about that wife-happy-you-happy equation. My problem is that my wife doesn’t like any of the music I like. I find other ways to make her happy.

      • GENKI-GENKI!

        • Someone please make him stop.

          • Come on, it’s a one stop shop!

            What do you want…asphyxiation? Insects? Eels? Frogs? Gender fucking/strap ons? Octopus?

            What you want (and what will give you horrific nightmares) is what they’ve got.

            • Dude. Lodi almost made me want to hurl. Now you are telling me that there are people that have a sex fetish that include FROGS!!!!!!

              WHAT. THE . FUCK.

              and just in case I wasn’t clear.

              WHAT. THE. FUCK.

              Dude, you need to get the hell out of japan while what remains/passes for your sanity is intact.

              • What he said.

                For the record (in the unlikely event my wife ever visits NCS), I have not visited that site. I will not visit that site. I do not want to think about that site.

              • Japan really didn’t do anything to me…I like it here because I feel at home!


                I’m not sure what the name is (don’t all fetishes have cool name?), but yah….

                The frogs don’t always make it out alive either.

                I want to emphasize: I’m not turned on by this at all, but it’s so….fascinating…

                Like watching a train wreck. In a vagina. Okay, that was a terrible simile…

      • My wife can handle the extremes in small doses. She likes it, she just can’t listen to it all the time like we can. And yeah, I have sold my musical soul to make her happy, listening to some the craptastic shit she listens too.

        Shinedown and Nickleback anyone???

        • God DAMN, man, that’s brutal in all the wrong ways.

          Ahhh….the things we do for love…….

          Just out of curiosity: have you ever mentioned how shitty her music is or do you just keep that to yourself.

          What the hell is your avatar, by the way?

          • Yes I have mentioned the fact that the shit she likes is shitty. She got annoyed with it rather quickly. I learned to keep my mouth shut. Thankfully, like I said, she will listen to my kind of music. Normally on Saturday we will fire up Itunes and let it go bat shit crazy on random. Everyone gets to listen to what they like. I will say that this situation is better than my ex-wife. It was all country, all the time. I was not allowed to play anykind of metal, or rock even for 6 years. Needless to say, that was hell and I will gladly put up with Shinedown if it means I get to blow my eardrums out to Fleshgod Apocalypse or Nile.

            My avatar is Richard, Chief Warlock of the Brothers of Darkness, Lord of the Thirteen Hells, Master of the Bones, Emperor of the Black, Lord of the Undead and Mayor of a little village up the coast. He is a charcter in the excellent webcomic, Looking for Group, who is done by the same guys that do Least I Could Do.


            Here is a video of Richard doing a parody of “A Part of Your World” from The Little Mermaid.


  4. The Apocalyptica video was blocked for me…so thanks for the video with lyrics. At first I thought Trent Reznor was doing vocals…
    The Path video was really cool…I wonder if they were going for an allusion to the Allegory of the Cave or just having fun with shadows. What I’m confused about: there’s clearly some distortion going on, but the cellos don’t look electric to me. Is the distortion a guitar track or do they have some effects hooked up to their cellos? (I realize the video is not a reflection of actual performance…)

    I used to love Nightwish, when I first got into metal. Oh, how the times have changed!

    I must confess to having enjoyed Lordi the summer they won that europop competition (or whatever the hell happened). It’s still on my MP3 player, but I rarely let a track play……..

    • I assume they use some distortion effects in the studio on certain tracks, but I’m really not sure. They amplify the cellos in the live shows, of course, and they get some amazing tones out of them. In a further update, I just added another video of a live performance to show what I mean.

      • That was fucking awesome!!!

        I see what you mean about tone…they do a good job of accentuating the natural (I’m guessing) tone of the cellow with tinge of distortion.

  5. I really liked Apocalyptica, until they started using a drummer and vocalists, for me the whole thing was that it was just the four of them tearing it up. I still try to catch them live as they are quite entertaining. It’s also one of the bands that $wife really likes (she’s not into metal), so like somebody said above, making $wife happy makes you happy, giggity!

    My favorite Apocalyptica cover though is still “Hall of the Mountain King”, the original live version without drums

    • Nice reminder. Check the second (or third?) update to the post. So cool.

      • This version with the drummer wasn’t as bad, there are some other ones where it’s almost like the drummer plays parts that previously were played on the cello, and it’s a hell of a lot more impressive on the cello.

        • I liked this one because the drummer was so unobtrusive — and because it was fun seeing a huge crowd of headbangers throwing horns to a piece of music written almost 150 years ago. It’s also ironic to read what Grieg wrote about “Hall of the Mountain King” in a letter to a friend in 1874: “I have also written something for the scene in the hall of the mountain King – something that I literally can’t bear listening to because it absolutely reeks of cow-pies, exaggerated Norwegian nationalism, and trollish self-satisfaction! But I have a hunch that the irony will be discernible.” I think his hunch proved to be wrong. 🙂

          • haha, funny how many of the most popular classical pieces were hated by their composers. For example Tchaikovsky hated the 1812 overture. From Wikipedia:

            “the resulting work, the 1812 Overture, would be ‘very loud and noisy, but I wrote it with no warm feeling of love, and therefore there will probably be no artistic merits in it.’ He also warned conductor Eduard Nápravníkth that ‘I shan’t be at all surprised and offended if you find that it is in a style unsuitable for symphony concerts.’ Nevertheless, this work has become for many…the piece by Tchaikovsky they know best.

  6. I’m not surprised at the response Lordi got here during Finnish Week. They’re a band you either have to be into from the start or not. While influenced by KISS, a lot of people draw connections to GWAR, which is understandable, yet unfair. Mr. Lordi has said that he wasn’t aware of GWAR when he put together the band, which is certainly possible, since GWAR (sadly) isn’t known worldwide. As for the costumes, I think they have everyone beat. Hell, the unfolding wings during some of the Eurovision performances put pretty much anything any band’s put into their costumes to shame.

    Musically, they’re between those two bands, kind of a PG/PG-13 version of what some bands put out, but that’s not to say it’s not good. Again, it’s something you probably have to be into at first listen. If I had to pick a song to highlight, “Blood Red Sandman” might be the one at the top of the list.

    No need to go further with Apocalyptica. Some don’t like the addition of drums. Me, I think it helps them to go beyond what they could do on their own. Adding vocals to a couple songs doesn’t bother me as long as they keep on doing what they do best – kick some ass with strings. As long as they don’t start to add a bunch more, I’ll be happy.

    As for Nightwish… With Tarja, I like the more recent stuff better. When she was doing operatic flexing of her pipes on their earlier albums, it didn’t always fit. Many bands with “classically trained” singers face the same problem; the voice doesn’t quite fit the music. There are some decent songs, but it wasn’t until she started to actually sing that Nightwish came into their own. When Century Child came out, “Slaying The Dreamer” kicked my ass back and forth a few times and let me know that Nightwish had settled on a mix that I liked. Their cover of “Phantom Of The Opera” (from the musical, not the Iron Maiden song) is perfection. The rest of the album was pretty good too, and Once upped the ante. Good album, a few killer songs that rose above the rest.

    Then came the end of Tarja’s time in the band and Anette had huge shoes to fill, but I think she’s done a great job. It can’t be easy to replace a woman whose presence helped make room for more women in metal – before the likes of Tarja, Liv Kristine or Cristina Scabbia, there were few women in metal. Now, it’s become more commonplace and they’ve gained the acceptance of the majority of metalheads (or so I’d like to believe), with only the knuckledraggers and douchebags voicing dissent. Even solo, Tarja’s done well for herself. She’s not doing the same kind of stuff anymore, but she can still put on a hell of a show.

    • I’m glad Apocalyptica added both drums and vocals — I think without those additions, they would have faded out of popularity by now, and it provides variety in the music that’s fun. At the same time, I’ve still got a big weakness for the cello-only performances, and those have still been the high points of the shows I’ve seen.

      I didn’t know Nightwish had covered “Phantom of the Opera”. That one I have to find, despite all my misgivings about their sound. Yes, I admit it — I’m a sap for that musical.

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