Cello Based Metal? Apocalyptica Leaves Audience Stunned At Packed First Avenue Show


I still haven’t fully recovered from my weekend in Miami but the concert gods clearly don’t care and they put a show on Tuesday night that I just could not say no to. Apocalyptica isn’t my normal cup of tea and they aren’t a band that I will listen to on a daily basis but they are a band that I would drop everything to see live and that’s exactly what I did on Tuesday. After grabbing a bite to eat with some good friends, we made our way to First Avenue for what was sure to be a stunning show of pure talent and creativity and although I would have loved to be in bed catching up on sleep, I was ready to be left in awe.

Italian band Lacuna Coil was the sole opener on the Tuesday night show and took the stage promptly at 8 PM. I’m pretty sure I have seen this act before but it has been years and I was excited for a refresher course on just how solid this band is. Although their music is a bit more in the hard rock vein of things than I tend to go, the vocals of Cristina Scabbia are more than enough to make them a stand-out band for me. As soon as the band took the stage, there was a roar of applause from the packed audience. Lacuna Coil doesn’t come around often so when they do, it’s always a big deal and it was impossible not to get wrapped up in that excitement. Although my eyes were basically glued to Cristina throughout the show, there’s no denying the power of the rest of this band. Complete with a hype man of sorts who added some vocals from time to time but seemed to spend the rest of the time just hyping everyone up, the amount of power that Lacuna Coil brought to the stage was amazing and just what I needed to continue regardless of my exhaustion level. I was a bit surprised that the audience wasn’t moving around more than they were but I’m going to chalk that up to the pure excitement over the chance to catch this band live for the first time in years.

I was at the show on Tuesday night with my ride-or-die best friend and her fiancé. Although she’s my bestie and will be for life, her taste in music has always been questionable at best in my mind. That being said, I honestly don’t know that I would have any clue who Apolcayptica is without her so I truly owe her for that. As I mentioned, their music isn’t quite my normal cup of tea but what this band is doing is so unique and so cool that I can look past everything else. Hailing from Finland, Apocalyptica is a symphonic metal band but I don’t mean that in the way that their songs are epic or anything like that– they are a literal symphony of cellos. Yes, you read that right. A metal band made out of three cellos, drums, and the occasional vocals. If you know me, you know I love the quirky, obscure, and somewhat weird and if this doesn’t check all of those boxes, I don’t know what will. Although these guys gained notoriety for their cello-based covers of Metallica hits, they also have multiple albums of their own original songs. We were treated to both on Tuesday and I honestly don’t know which tracks I liked more– the familiar ones or the unfamiliar ones that truly showcased the raw talent of this band.

I’m pretty sure my jaw hit the floor the second the group took the stage and never quite made it back up to my face. They wasted no time jumping into their sixteen-song set starting with “Ashes of the Modern World”. Like a well-oiled machine, the four-piece powered through their set with very few breaks and pauses other than to thank the crowd and give them those charming Finnish-metal-man smiles that may as well be a signature look for this band. I’m not sure I moved much more than an inch throughout their set because I was just in awe. Watching these musicians’ technical abilities up close and personal and hearing them be able to make guitar-like sounds out of an orchestral string instrument will just never get old to me and will always leave me a bit starstruck like a kid in a candy store.

Although my eyes were on the cellos, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the sheer talent that vocalist Franky Perez brought to the stage on the few songs he did with the band. Sure, his style is definitely more in that hard rock vein of things than the metal and punk vibe that I call home but the power he brought to the songs he sang was immeasurable. Much like the sounds the cellos were making, his vocals seemed to adapt to each song and word in such a perfect and flawless way. I loved the way that although the vocals reigned supreme over everything else, Franky never intentionally stole the spotlight from the three cellists on stage or tried to outshine them in any way. It just made it feel like such a perfectly balanced set regardless of if there were vocals or not.

I grew up as a classically trained pianist but kind of took a step back as I found myself getting deeper and deeper into the punk and metal scenes because I felt like there was no way for me to intertwine the two. Seeing an act like Apocalyptica was a good reminder that there are no boundaries in music and, even if you are a classically trained musician, there is a place for you in other scenes, you just have to make it yourself. That’s exactly what they did and to say they are killing it as they blaze their own path would be an understatement.