• Apocalyptica - Wagner Reloaded (2013)

    Three years after their least convincing studio effort “7th Symphony”, Apocalyptica comes around with a rather intriguing project. The band came together with the MDR Symphony Orchestra and different choreographers to create fourteen instrumental songs inspired by but not directly copied from legendary German composer Richard Wagner. The band performed these songs to celebrate the legend’s two hundredth birthday in his hometown Leipzig in front of a cheering but sophisticated crowd. Those who were missing the earlier years of the band inspired by instrumental works somewhere between extreme metal and classical music will finally get new exciting material from the band. Despite the addition of audiovisual effects, circus and theatre arts, dance performers and the symphonic elements, the three celli and sometimes even the drummer still stand out on here.

    The band starts with an atmospheric, disharmonic and menacing introduction in form of the short pieces “Signals” and “Genesis” that should immediately please to fans of the “Inquisition Symphony” and “Cult” records. The band even gets a lot heavier in several tracks when the pace gets faster and the drums kick in as in the second half of the dark “Fight Against Monsters” or the apocalyptic and dramatic “Flying Dutchman”. Calmer songs such as “Bubbles” or the elegiac and melodramatic “Birth Pain” offer some well-deserved breaks to the audience. The mixture of symphonic elements and the original Apocalyptica sound works best in “Path In Life” as well as in the diversified double pack “Ludwig – Wonderland” and “Ludwig – Requiem”. While all of these songs are amazing, I associate something special to the outstanding “Path In Life” that remains extremely gripping from the beginning to the end. It’s maybe the best Apocalyptica song ever written.

    In the beginning, I was afraid that this project might be too overambitious and sophisticated and at first try, it was unusual to listen to the band in that kind of way again after their chart hits with different singers such as “Life Burns!”, “I Don’t Care” or “End Of Me”. After a second try, I was entirely convinced and at my third try, I started to realize that the band delivers us a true little masterpiece on here. It’s a little bit tough to give a rating on here as I’m not familiar with all of Richard Wagner’s works and don’t know how much comes from him and how much from Apocalyptica and their partners but maybe this doesn’t really matter in the end. This album is musically diversified, emotionally profound and technically stunning as music should be. Apocalyptica fans simply can’t get around this and should even evaluate this release as a new studio release rather than a live record of the band. From that point of view, the band surpasses the amazing “Worlds Collide” and is at least on one level with “Cult” and “Apocalyptica”. Time will tell if this release is even better than those but I guess that Apocalyptica is finally back in full strength.

    Originally written for The Metal Observer

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