7th Symphony

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Apocalyptica was a cool concept to begin with: four classical cellists playing arrangements of Metallica songs. But that was their first EP, and that was a long time ago. Now they play instrumental hard rock and bring in guest vocalists, and the returns have diminished. "End of Me" features former Bush vocalist Gavin Rossdale. Brent Smith of Shinedown shows up for "Not Strong Enough," a power ballad that sounds like a performance from a televised country music awards show. When the cellos are fed through pedals, the sound can be quite impressive, like a guitar, but five times more room-filling and powerful. And the members of Apocalyptica do use many different effects on their instruments, occasionally creating sounds not unlike those you might hear on a Sunn 0))) album. The best track on 7th Symphony is "2010," which features a guest performance by Slayer drummer Dave Lombardo, who drives the music ferociously, like a speeding train straight into hell. But too often, using cellos to play metal riffs (as on "Bring Them to Light," which features vocalist Joseph Duplantier of French avant-metallers Gojira) just winds up making the album sound like "A String Tribute to [Insert Metal Band Here]," and not in the cool, rethinking-the-material way that earlier Apocalyptica releases did.

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