Apocalypitica – Plays Metallica by four Cellos (Sydney, NSW)

29 September 2019 at Sydney Opera House

When Apocalypitica first appeared, covering Metallica songs on the cello, it was a world-wide sensation, launching the name Apocalypitica into the stratosphere. Now over twenty years later and still going strong as an individual metal outfit Apocalypitica not only bring their original album to life on stage but, put on a show that Metallica would be proud of, and a setlist to dream of.

Attending any show at the Sydney Opera House always feels like a big occasion and this was no different. There is something magical in the way Apocalypitica sound when performing, especially when it’s playing Metallica. They started the show performing the entire first album as it was recorded. The Cello is a powerful instrument with a gorgeous sound so, mountainous songs like Master of Puppets (especially that instrumental refrain), Creeping Death and Welcome Home (Sanitarium) sound insane. Playing with perfection the guys in Apocalypitica are truly brilliant musicians stirring the crowd and willing them to chant and sing along.

When returning from the intermission the (surprisingly not quite) sold out crowd at the Opera House was treated to something really special. Apocalypitica have had drummer Mikko Sirén in their ranks for some time now, and when he launched his attack in that ending of the immortal Fade to Black, just wow. He isn’t just a random drummer, but a full percussionist, the layers that he added to the songs simply through rhythm and his drums were astounding. The set never let up, with classic track after classic track re-imagined and refined through Apocalypitica’s sound and delivered with an enthusiastic energy. For Whom the Bell Tolls was as gigantic as you would expect, Fight Fire with Fire was jaw-dropping, the speed and accuracy of Apocalypitica just melting my brain, with the harmonised solo never sounding better. Until it Sleeps was a chilling surprise addition, it sounded haunting through the cellos. Orion was a spectacle all to itself, once again Mikko Sirén adding layers of rhythm combined with the amazing playing of the guys in Apocalypitica, it was just amazing. Now the real surprise of the night happened, Eicca Toppinen graced us with a tale re-telling why the original songs had been chosen and how he could only afford one book of tabs from Metallica, and that Escape was the first song they tried, but never played it live, since Metallica never did. Now we go back to speed, with the recent remastered re-release of the Metallica by four Cellos album Apocalypitica recorded three bonus tracks, they acknowledged that Battery was simply too difficult for them in the nineties, but damn they smashed it out of the park. Closing the main set with the almighty Seek and Destroy Apocalypitica just kept delivering the goods, with the crowd loving every second.

The whole show was something really special, but the delicacy and grace in Nothing Else Matters especially when performed by four brilliant cellists at the Opera House, it set one hell of a mood which swept the crowd away in a wash of emotion. One is one of the greatest songs ever written, arguably the greatest Metallica song, it’s definitely my favourite. With a message of love and friendship it closed what was a very special show. Apocalypitica absolutely crushed it tonight, in a very unique way, in a way that only they can do it.


Line-up: Apocalypitica

Reviewer: Jonathan Hurley
Photocredits: Mira Live Photography