Apocalyptica is a Finnish cello metal band from Helsinki, 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. They have sold over four million albums to date.
Apocalyptica was formed in 1993 when four cellists, Eicca Toppinen, Paavo Lötjönen, Max Lilja, and Antero Manninen gathered to play Metallica covers at Sibelius Academy. In 1996, Apocalyptica released their debut studio album, Plays Metallica by Four Cellos, which consisted solely of Metallica covers played on cellos. They were later featured on two songs on the Waltari album Space Avenue in 1997. In 1998, Apocalyptica released their second studio album, Inquisition Symphony, which was produced by Hiili Hiilesmaa. Inquisition Symphony once again contained covers of Metallica, but also contained covers of Faith No More, Sepultura, and Pantera. For this album the band also decided to include three original songs written by Eicca Toppinen.
In 1999, Antero Manninen left the group, and was replaced by Perttu Kivilaakso who had appeared in the line-up already in 1995. In 2000, Apocalyptica released their third studio album, Cult, which featured 10 original songs, and 3 covers. Soon after the recording of Cult, the first Apocalyptica track featuring vocals was released, "Path Vol. 2". In 2002, Max Lilja left the group and joined Hevein, leaving Apocalyptica with only three members.
In 2003, Apocalyptica released their fourth studio album, Reflections, which consisted for the first time of all original songs. Reflections featured a more experimental sound, instead of the previous acoustic style arrangements found on Inquisition Symphony and Cult. Dave Lombardo from Slayer played drums on five songs from Reflections, with session drummer Sami Kuoppamäki playing on the rest of the songs. As Lombardo was unable to join the band on stage on the following tour, the band hired Mikko Sirén, who would stay with the band for future tours as well as the recording of the next album.
In 2005, Apocalyptica released their self-titled fifth studio album. It featured a number of guest musicians including Ville Valo of HIM, Lauri Ylönen of The Rasmus, and once again Dave Lombardo. The band itself were guest musicians on the track "Intro" from Bullet for My Valentine's 2005 The Poison album. The group performed with Marta Jandová and represented Baden-Württemberg in the Bundesvision Song Contest 2005 with the song "Wie weit", placing 5th with 77 points. In December 2005 Mikko Sirén was announced as an official band member after having played around 200 shows with the band.
Apocalyptica released their sixth studio album, Worlds Collide, on 17 September 2007. It was produced by Jacob Hellner. (Rammstein´s producer) To the surprise of many, the album includes a cover of the German version of David Bowie's song "Heroes". Till Lindemann of Rammstein, for whom they opened on the Reise, Reise tour, was the guest vocalist on the track "Helden".Worlds Collide was released on April 15, 2008 in the United States. The first single "I'm Not Jesus" featuring Corey Taylor of Slipknot and Stone Sour from the "Worlds Collide" album cracked the top 10 of both the Active rock and Alternative rock charts.
To end 2007, the band toured Europe successfully, selling out many of the venues they played. In 2008 the tour continued in US and included numerous festivals in Europe.
In June 2008, during the Rock in Rio concert in Lisbon, Apocalyptica joined the Greenpeace "energy [r]evolution campaign" and played the Beethoven 5th symphony from the stage.
The band also appeared on Last Call with Carson Daly on October 31, 2008. Here they made their American television debut with a performance of "I Don't Care" with Toryn Green.
In November 2008, Apocalyptica featuring Adam Gontier of Three Days Grace hit first at the BDS and Mediabase Active Rock radio charts with the single "I Don't Care". Later that month, the band ranked 3rd on Billboard's Hot Modern Rock Track chart and 2nd on Billboard's Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks chart just after AC/DC and just ahead of Metallica, an ironic twist since the band's origins lie in performing Metallica covers. Recently, it reached No. 1 on the Billboard rock chart, making Apocalyptica the first Finnish band to top the US charts. The song "I Don't Care" was also featured in the 16th episode of Season 8 of the TV series Smallville, which aired on March 19, 2009.
The seventh Apocalyptica studio album entitled 7th Symphony, produced by Joe Barresi and Howard Benson (on two tracks), was released on August 23, 2010 in Europe (Germany on August 20, 2010), and August 24 in the U.S. The first single aired on radio June 29, 2010.
The album features eight instrumentals plus four tracks with guest vocals. The first single, "End of Me", features Gavin Rossdale, best known as the vocalist of the British alternative rock band Bush, who had previously collaborated with the band. Slayer drummer, Dave Lombardo plays on "2010", "Bring Them to Light" features Joseph Duplantier, singer and guitarist of the French death metal band Gojira, "Broken Pieces" is a cooperation with the late Flyleaf singer Lacey Mosley, (Sturm) and "Not Strong Enough" is sung by Brent Smith (Shinedown).
"Broken Pieces" and "Not Strong Enough" were released as the second and third singles from the album. Due to distribution rights on Smith's vocals, "Not Strong Enough" was re-recorded with Doug Robb of Hoobastank before being released to US radio on January 18, 2011.
On October 7, 2011, RCA Music Group announced it was disbanding Jive Records along with Arista Records and J Records. With the shutdown, the band (and all other artists previously signed to these three labels) will release their future material on the RCA Records brand.
On December 5, 2011, Apocalyptica performed live with Metallica on three songs, "No Leaf Clover", "One" and "Seek & Destroy" in celebration of Metallica's 30th Anniversary.
On October 28, 2011, the band released an exclusive pledgers-only song "Solo Tu" featuring Erik Canales of Allison via fan-funding website Pledgemusic, as part of their Apocalyptica photo book project.
After concluding the 7th Symphony world tour in Beijing September 2012, Apocalyptica took a year off from touring and recording. During the break the band worked on a crossover musical and theatrical project titled Wagner Reloaded, combining Wagner's music with the sound of Apocalyptica, to celebrate German composer Richard Wagner's 200th birthday with two live performances in Wagner's birthtown Leipzig July 5–6, 2013.
Eicca Toppinen has arranged and composed the music, and the band performed live on stage as part of the production. In November 2013, the band released an album titled Wagner Reloaded-Live in Leipzig, comprising original music recorded live at the event.
On May 10, 2013, Apocalyptica released "Psalm", a new song that Perttu Kivilaakso performed on their most recent tour. The band also announced a tour with Finnish Avanti! Chamber Orchestra, premiering in March 2014. The set will consist solely of instrumentally performed Apocalyptica songs, especially arranged for the band and the 25-piece orchestra.
On October 21, 2014, it was announced on the Eleven Seven Music website that the band will be signing to their label. Their eighth studio album, titled Shadowmaker, with Franky Perez singing on all vocal tracks, was released through Better Noise imprint of Eleven Seven Music Group in April 17, 2015. Regarding the possibility of having Perez as an official member, Eicca said "it's too early to think about it but nothing is decided! Now we got the record done and then we will have touring more or less for 2 years and at the end of that time or sometime during those 2 years we will know. But it wouldn't be an impossible option to have Franky [...]". They also released a collaborative single with Vamps titled "Sin in Justice" on November 20.
Apocalyptica made the music for the episode "On Finn Ice" of Rovio Entertainment's video game Angry Birds Seasons.
Apocalyptica celebrated their 20th anniversary of the first album Plays Metallica by Four Cellos in 2016 and it was re-released with 3 brand new bonus tracks. A tour was based on the celebration with Antero Manninen returning to perform with them for the first-time after a 8-year hiatus during his job as an orchestral cellist. On November 16, 2018, a live album version of the tour was announced, containing not only the original tracklists but all the other Metallica songs they've covered on other studio albums, as well as the inclusion of two unreleased covers and the 3 bonus tracks from the remastered first album.
Following Antero Manninen's departure from the band in late 2018, they brought in a new touring member, Lauri Kankkunen, the first cellist of the Helsinki Chamber Orchestra, to continue on the 20th anniversary tour in April 2019.
In February 2019, the band released their first single with Finnish lyrics, featuring Sanni and Tippa. They performed the song at the 2019 Emma Gala in Helsinki.
The band's ninth studio album, an instrumental, Cell-0 was released on January 10, 2020.
Plays Metallica by Four Cellos (1996)
Inquisition Symphony (1998)
Worlds Collide (2007)
Mag S.V.E.R. (2010) ep Original Soundtrack from the Video Game
7th Symphony (2010)
Aquarela (2019) Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Eicca Toppinen – bandleader, lead cello (original and occasional role) rhythm cello (current role), programming (1993–present)
Paavo Lötjönen – rhythm/bass cello (1993–present), lead cello on Master of Puppets only (1996-present)
Perttu Kivilaakso – lead cello (current role), programming (1995, 1999–present), rhythm cello (1995, 1999–2002)
Mikko Sirén – drums, percussion, programming (touring member: 2003–2004 official member: 2005-present)
Max Lilja – lead cello (1993–2002)
Antero Manninen – lead/rhythm cello (main member: 1993–1999; live member: 2002–2009; touring member: 2017-2018)
Tipe Johnson (Leningrad Cowboys) vocals (touring member: 2009-2012, 2019)
Franky Perez – vocals (touring member 2014–2016)
Lauri Kankkunen - lead/rhythm cello (touring member: 2019)