Fans of Finnish symphonic metal stalwarts Apocalyptica will be delighted that 2020 will be kicking off with a new album, and their ninth studio effort arriving in the form of ‘Cell-0’.
The most immediate contrast to 2015’s ‘Shadowmaker’ will be apparent from the get-go; this is an instrumental album, with no vocals on it as opposed to its predecessor.
We kick off with the slow, lumbering introduction of ‘Ashes Of The Modern World’. It certainly builds up and contains a number of tempo changes for sure, but, in spite of this, the opening passages of this album don’t really have much a striking impact. The lead cello solos in the aforementioned track could sound far more domineering too, though this could be down to a production issue. The title-track is a slight improvement, and there’s slightly more of an air of drama to this one.
‘Rise’ hones in more on their neoclassical elements and builds nicely into its closing sections, but things really pick up with ‘En Route To Mayhem’, with a relatively sparse intro building to a more thunderous, dramatic introduction. After a slow start, it really feels like ‘Cell-0’ has truly arrived at this point, and this song truly explodes near the end, with the cellos that imitate traditional metal guitar solos being used most effectively here, and the drumming of Mikko Sirén deserves some credit too.
However, ‘Call My Name’ is the true album highlight. With an almost goth-like overtone to it, this shows that Apocalyptica can truly deliver on both fronts when they’re on it. This track’s cinematic qualities shine through, capped off by a great use of percussion at the end.
‘Fire & Ice’ confirms that the record has certainly found its pace. We also return to the metal parts, which sound truly made for arenas – sounding this way is a harder art to master than it seems. The neoclassical sections by-and-large feel invigorating and moving, rather than pompous and po-faced.
‘Catharsis’ is another track which strongly leans in on the orchestral elements, and the cello melodies really carry the piece strongly all the way through. For the closing track, ‘Beyond The Stars’, the piano drives the middle section, showing further depth to the band’s sound.
Apocalyptica aren’t exactly a band who follow a tried-and-tested formula, yet fans will know what to expect to some degree. Nevertheless, anyone invested will no doubt take a lot from ‘Cell-0’ – when the album peaks, its qualities are undeniable.