Put the cello to the metal

(About music rather than language.)

Two rock groups that exploit cellos: the Finnish metal band Apocalyptica (a quartet: three cellists plus a drummer, all male) and the American rock band Rasputina (a trio: two female cellists who also do the vocals, plus a male pianist who also works a beat-box). Amazing stuff, especially if you like the sound of cellos.

(Apocalyptica I leaned about very recently from my friend Juan, Rasputina I learned about from my daughter Elizabeth some years ago.)

Apocalyptica. From Wikipedia:

Apocalyptica is a Finnish metal band from Helsinki, Finland formed in 1993. The band is composed of classically trained cellists Eicca Toppinen, Paavo Lötjönen, and Perttu Kivilaakso (all three of whom are graduates of the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki) and drummer Mikko Sirén. Originally a Metallica classical tribute band, the band eventually adopted a neoclassical metal style without the use of conventional guitars.

Homepage here.

Accomplished cello playing, often straddling the line between classical and heavy metal music in astonishing ways. A number of their works start in a style that sounds like some late Romantic composer you can’t quite place and then heats up, morphing into frenzied heavy metal, sometimes reminiscent of the fierce, despairing late strong quartets of Shostakovich.

The band members don’t dress like sober Finns, but like defiant, transgressive rockers, sometimes pushed to the point of parody, as in this photo:


A sampling of things available on YouTube:

“Hall of the Mountain King” (by Edvard Grieg, as filtered through Apocalyptica), live in Germany in 2001; it can be viewed here.

“Cold Blood” (acoustic, live at Nova Stage in February 2015), from their latest album, Shadowmaker;  it can be viewed here.

“Harmageddon” from Inquisition Symphony (1998), a music video, seriously fierce; it can be viewed here.

“Angry Birds Theme” (with animation); it can be viewed here.

Rasputina. From Melora Creager’s site (with some self-promotion):

Pioneers in the use of cello as the sole instrument within a rock band, Rasputina has been inspiring young string players to commit a number of musical sins since [1986]. The group’s concept was written as a manifesto, and manifested accordingly by directress Melora Creager as a wily subterfuge for a plot to open audiences to adventure. The funny, the sad, the heavy, the tender — it can all exist together.

Employing elaborate costuming spanning a number of historical periods, Rasputina brings marginalized historical female figures and stories to light in the pop form, using archetypal characters such as Indian princesses, Hawaiian handmaidens and Medieval queens.

Over the years, Rasputina has performed/recorded with Marilyn Manson, Porno For Pyros, Cheap Trick, Goo Goo Dolls and many others [this is not a natural class of bands]. Hardened road-dogs, and with more than 7 albums under their belt, Rasputina continues to amaze and amuse.

The current line-up:


Founder Melora Creager (voice, cello, banjo) in the center; Carpallo Parva (cello, voice) on the right; and Luis Mojica (piano, beat-boxing( on the left.

I have their albums Thanks for the Ether of 1996 (their debut album) and How We Quit the Forest of 1998 on my iTunes.

Three samples of their work:

(audio only) “Herb Girls of Birkenau” (from How We Quit the Forest); it can be viewed here.

“Wish You Were Here” (The Lost & Found, 2002), a cover of the 1975 Pink Floyd song; it can be viewed here.

“I Go To Sleep” (live at the Earl, Athens GA, 4/13/04), a cover of a Ray Davies (of the Kinks) song, originally recorded by Peggy Lee in 1965, then by Cher and by the Pretenders; it can be viewed here.

One Response to “Put the cello to the metal”

  1. Chris Waigl (@chrys) Says:

    Re: Apocalyptica – thanks for the unexpected reminder of some good times hanging out with goth friends in England…

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