Sound — 8
Apocalyptica, the band that has blended metal and classical music so seamlessly, seems to be making an attempt to branch out to a much larger audience on its 6th release Worlds Collide. While Apocalyptica once gained attention as a novelty (a group of cellists that covered Metallica and Slayer tunes for a living), it no longer has to rely on other groups' hits. The Finnish band has written plenty of original material in the past, but the latest album Worlds Collide takes a turn into an even broader, more accessible direction. Apocalyptica can always make a song sound impeccable, but it is actually going -- dare I say it -- in a more mainstream direction. There are still plenty of tracks that feel like the Apocalyptica heard on early albums, but they've brought in a handful of guest musicians on Worlds Collide that take things in a very unexpected direction. The opening track Worlds Collide delivers exactly what Apocalyptica fans would hope to hear -- powerful, dark melodies that are executed flawlessly. While the first few notes sound similar to the sweet melody of Pachelbel's Canon, things are taken in a much more metal-worthy direction in no time. There's a perfect combination of the traditional cello sound and an effects-driven rock sound, and you can almost see Apocalyptica starting out any of it's stage shows with a powerful track like Worlds Collide. There were multiple guest musicians who offered their talents to the new album, with Stone Sour/Slipknot's Corey Taylor, Rammstein's Till Lindemann, and Slayer's Dave Lombardo among the impressive roster. All of them do a credible job, but they also take a chunk out of the typical Apocalyptica sound at the same time. This wouldn't be a bad thing if it meant the songs became more powerful or mind-blowing, but much of the time things just end up sounding like a typical radio song. Corey Taylor sings on I'm Not Jesus, a track that ends up feeling more like a Stone Sour track than Apocalyptica's material. The instruments get pushed too far back and it becomes all about Taylor, who although a great frontman, shouldn't necessarily steal the spotlight. This is also the case in Three Days Grace's Adam Gontier's appearance, with his contribution to I Don't Care just not matching the drama that is usually present in Apocalyptica's tracks. The exception to the guest musician issue is Rammstein's Till Lindemann, who not surprisingly delivers a stunning performance. Oddly enough, the track Helden is actually a cover of David Bowie's Heroes, but you wouldn't guess it immediately. Lindemann and the band put such a unique twist on the song that it is a true testament to their talent. Another satisfying addition to the album is Dave Lombardo, who delivers his amazing percussion skills to Last Hope.
Lyrics — 8
Although many of the tracks are instrumental, we do get a few lyrics this time thanks to the addition of guest vocalists. The most impressive track lyrically is I'm Not Jesus, which apparently was inspired by the sexual abuse occurring in the Catholic Church. The topic is a delicate one, but Corey Taylor does it justice with his emotional delivery. In one section he sings, Drift among the faithful; Bury your desires; Aberrations fill your head; You need a place to hide. It's a gutsy theme to take on, and the band deserves credit for tackling the uncomfortable subject.
Overall Impression — 8
I've got mixed emotions with Worlds Collide, primarily because there are times when Apocalyptica begins to sound a little too much like typical rock bands. At certain moments, it seems like it becomes more about the guest vocalists, and the musicianship among the band seems to be hidden, or worse, not even sound like the Apocalyptica we've heard in the past decade. But when the band is on it's own, you still get some absolutely amazing compositions that are inspired and remind you exactly why they deserve a cushy spot in the metal scene.