Thursday, August 19, 2010

Metal Briefs: Cello Metal Tributes

Since Apocalyptica's new album 7th Symphony comes out next week, I thought this would be a good time to do some cello rock reviews. Cello rock is a style of rock music played on cellos, or sometimes other string instruments. Though a few groups play original songs, it's much more common to find tribute albums.

Apocalyptica: Plays Metallica by Four Cellos (1996)

Apocalyptica Plays Metallica By Four Cellos This is the album that started the cello rock genre. While there was an American band which had formed prior to these Finns, this album came out about two months earlier than that one. I can't imagine what it was like to try to sell the idea to a record company at the time. Translating the Metallica sound into cello has the strange effect of making "Unforgiven" actually sound better than "Creeping Death", oddly enough, and "Welcome Home (Sanitarium)" is the best track on the album. You can tell they love the music, and are more faithful to the songs themselves than the technical rules of playing the cello. I give it 3 out of 5 stars. Apocalyptica have gone on to become a great band with great original songs, and I'm really looking forward to the new one.

Vitamin String Quartet: Third Eye Open: String Tribute to Tool (2001)

Third Eye Open: String Tribute to Tool Vitamin String Quartet isn't really a band at all, but instead a name Vitamin Records uses for its massive collection of string "tribute" albums played by a variety of session cellists. They're not really tributes, though--a true tribute is done by someone who loves the music. And it's clear on this one that they're more faithful to the rules of the cello than to the songs themselves. The timing seems mechanical, as if they're following sheet music to songs they've never heard. However, Tool's music translates much more naturally into cello, especially since Maynard James Keenan's vocal style is more melodic. Even so, "Opiate" was a choice that didn't work well at all. On balance, it's not a very good album, but it does have some good highlights (like "Sober", "Schism", and "Pushit"). The musicianship is superb and they put emphasis in all the right places. I give it 2 out of 5 stars.

String Tribute Players: Opeth String Tribute (2008)

Opeth String Tribute I can't find any info on this group, but they're obscenely prolific, having done covers of such bands as Lamb of God, Alice in Chains, and Slipknot--but they've also done crap like Hinder and Avenged Sevenfold, as well as regular rock bands like Tom Petty and many, many more. They make it clear that Opeth's music can translate well into a more acoustic format. However, I think the name String Tribute Players should imply there are multiple players, and that there are strings somehow involved, but this sounds like MIDI. That would imply one player, and a different definition of the word. It would also imply a lack of strings. I'm dead serious. There is little to no volume modulation, and you can't tell when they're emphasizing anything. Not Still Life, but lifeless. That, coupled with the fact they crank these albums out like so many linked sausages, makes me honestly think it's computer-generated. If you don't believe me, listen to one of their tracks. This album gets the dubious honor of being the first one to get a 0 out of 5 star rating from me. I made it partway into the 4th track and couldn't even finish it.


  1. I know you were waiting for this one, so here it is: 0 out of 5 stars. This is what a 0 star album looks like.