Music Review: Apocalyptica – Plays Metallica Vol 2

Written by: Paul Monkhouse


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Plays Metallica Vol 2


First bursting onto the scene twenty-eight years ago with Plays Metallica by Four Cellos, groundbreaking Finnish trio Apocalyptica once more return to that rich seam with this second bite. Having grown their own very successful brand off that back of their debut, this switch is maybe an unexpected one but the results speak for themselves. Cherry-picking nine songs, the band have made some interesting choices to weave their magic, the whole a mix of favourites and deeper cuts.

How this album is received is purely down to the listener, some Metallica fanatics might not appreciate the tinkering with the formula, but others may wholeheartedly embrace them as a fresh interpretation that shines new light through old windows. Probably the best way to approach Plays Metallica Vol 2 is to view the tracks on their own merits, blocking any thought of the crushing originals as difficult as that may be. What’s captured here is the complexity and dynamic nature of both bands, the arrangements by Apocalyptica breathless and full of their own fireworks.

Opener Ride the Lightning treads safe ground, the drama and thrust perfectly suited to the wailing cellos, a heavy duty backing adding real punch as it builds to a tumultuous climax. Following that, the much maligned St Anger is much more of a mixed bag where the sublime, gentler movements are broken up with buzzsawing instrumentation, the jarring effect striking but tonally misplaced, forcing most to probably skip this one. Fortunately, a stately The Unforgiven II redresses the balance, its light touch morphing into a cannon blaze at the midpoint and a visceral Blackened will have many reaching for their air cellos, its layers revealing some dazzling playing.

The ideal soundtrack for that next Heavy Metal dinner party with friends.

With the unnerving dark power of The Call of Ktulu, freight train drive of The Four Horsemen and a huge Holier Than Thou giving way to the delightfully delicate To Live is to Die, the album brings out the really big guns for the finale. Harking back to what was done on Symphony & Metallica, a new take on One amps up the orchestral as the trio are joined by Rob Trujillo and James Hetfield, the latter providing some portentous narration. It works well, particularly as a novelty, but arguably the instrumental version that follows on its heels to close the album is even better, the bells and whistles of having the guests stripped and the music itself once more given the space to breathe. Overall, the album was probably a riot in the studio and retains that passion still but its ironically niche appeal may mean it’s not as widely heard as it deserves. This album is the ideal soundtrack for that next Heavy Metal dinner party with friends.



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Track Listing

  1. Ride the Lightning
  2. St Anger
  3. The Unforgiven II
  4. Blackened
  5. The Call of Ktulu (in memory of Cliff Burton)
  6. The Four Horsemen (ft. Rob Trujillo)
  7. Holier Than Thou
  8. To Live Is To Die
  9. One (Ft. James Hetfield)
  10. One (Instrumental)
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