I was rather excited to get my hands on a copy of the new Apocalyptica album World's Collide because I already knew that the band which consisted of only three cellists and a drummer was one of the most interesting endeavors that I have heard in the realms of Experimental and Avantgarde types of Metal in some time. To me, the band not only raises the bar in the creative sense but also reminds us of just how many different roads one can take in a Heavy Metal band. The idea intrigued me from the beginning and I had owned copies of their Cult and Reflections albums along with their concert DVD Life Burns Tour, so while in possession of some idea of what they could do I was admittedly curious about what we would find with their newest CD. Over the past few years the band has seemed to be on a rather steady climb in terms of their success and overall appeal to a wide musical demographic and found fans of conventional Metal joining in with more Experimental fans at their shows. They have had guest spots on their albums by notable singers such as Ville Vallo (from HIM) and Lauri Ylonen (The Rasmus) as well as performing on a track for The 69 Eyes and this couldn't do anything less than help them out in the long run. World's Collide finds the band in exceptional form once again but when it came to the guest appearances I had to say that I think they over extended this a little bit. The opening track is classic Apocalyptica as far as dramatic presentation goes and one feels as though they are at a classical recital that was done next to a Metal rehearsal studio. "Ion" finds the first guest in some fashion with composer Tomoyasu Hotei offering his wares up for the band and this was also a great number and still instrumental. It's with the next track "I'm Not Jesus" that it starts to get weird for me, and don't take this wrong as I love how Corey Taylor sings and I am a big fan of Stone Sour and Slipknot but with him singing the vocals on the tune it comes off as less of an Apocalyptica track and more of a Stone Sour one. Granted this will get a whole new listener base for the band and I am sure that's why so many guests are presented with the album but I had to say that despite this being an awesome tune and quite the rocker, it didn't feel like Apocalyptica was even a part of it. "Ion" returns to the instrumental side of the band and what they have done is offer up such a track and then follow up with a vocal one for much of the rest of the album. This number was quite heavy and reminded me of some of their "Reflections" material. They would surprise me a little bit with their next choice as it was not only a guest vocalist appearance but also a cover. The song is David Bowie's "Heroes" but it's the one performed in German and thus becomes "Helden". This is one of Bowie's most moving numbers and when sung in German by Rammstein's Till Lindemann it has such a different power to it. It has an interesting eeriness to it as well which I think many will enjoy.
Slayer's Dave Lombardo drops by for "Last Hope" and the drummer is a lock in for what these guys are all about with his having played on a number of songs from their Reflections album a couple of years ago. The band keeps it up tempo and fast paced but it is not like a Slayer track if one were to analyze it against the output of the legendary Thrashers. I actually found the track "Stroke" that preceded it a little bit heavier when it came down to it. Adam Gontier of Three Days Grace is the next guest vocalist up on the CD and I found the same issue here as with Taylor's contribution in that it sounds less like the main bands music and more like the guest stars own group. It's another good radio-friendly Alternative Metal Rock track, but Apocalyptica seems to be so far in the background that I hardly feel that any TDG fans will get what the actual point of having this singer involved was done for. "S.O.S. (Anything But Love)" features Cristina Scabbia from Lacuna Coil and I didn't find her track sounding to much like her main band but more like a solo effort that featured the guys in Apocalyptica. She has a great voice and she worked well with the group but I felt more appreciation for the bookend instrumentals of "Burn" and "Peace" that preceded and follow this tune. The bottom line for me with this album was that it seemed like the band used too many guests in the hopes of reaching a number of different bands fan bases in one fell swoop as opposed to only one or two as had been done in the past. It's an admirable idea as they are worthy of a tremendous following themselves for this unique effort and presentation but as referenced before, my main issue was that the tunes didn't sound as much like Apocalyptica songs and instead something that those groups whom the singers belonged to would have done. I'm not too sure about some of these bands have fans that will be clued in to just how incredible Apocalyptica is based on these songs alone. The difference in these songs compared to their own originals is quite vast and if you have a programmable CD player I advise listening to all the instrumentals first and then listen to the guest stars songs. I enjoyed it much more when I did it like this to be totally honest with you. The members of Apocalyptica for those in need of reference are Eicca Toppinen (cello), Paavo Lotjonen (cello), Perttu Kiviaakso (cello) and Mikko Siren (drums).
This is still a solid album but one that I found a mix of two different aspects in Heavy Rock music, and truly the title of World's Collide applies when it comes down to it. Conventional AOR Hard Rock meeting the Classical Symphonic Metal side at every turn. If you are a fan of heavy music that explores and expands the levels of creativity and continues to work outside of the box then you should definitely start listening to some Apocalyptica. It is a journey you will not soon forget.
1. World's Collide
3. I'm Not Jesus
7. Last Hope
8. I Don't Care
10. S.O.S. (Anything But Love)