Wagner. Anybody who has seen a movie in the last century knows Wagner. If you’ve watched cartoons, you know Wagner. If you’ve ever gone to a wedding in your life, or have ever seen one on T.V., you know Wagner. If you love music, you love Wagner. There is no sugar coating it. A maverick of his time, Wagner’s music has transcended time and lives forever across the globe as as traditional music staple. Wagner is one of the most famous classical musicians who is known most widely for his Ring opera based on Norse mythology. Now Apocalyptica takes it up a notch, and brings that “over-the-top” style of Wagner’s and fuse it into a retelling of the composer’s life, but told within a metal framework – all in celebration of the composer’s 200th birthday. It’s classic, its bombastic, it RAWKS. If Wagner were alive today, he’d be throwing his horns up at Apocalyptica’s Wagner Reloaded.
Let’s peel it apart now, because Apocalyptica’s Wagner Reloaded is definitely a must hear.
First things first, this album is a compilation of pieces from a live performance, so you get to appreciate the applause and cheers from the audience. Judging by audience reaction alone, RockRevolt will someday make it to a live performance. The album opens up with Signal, an ominous and foreboding introduction. It is a warning that we are about to enter uncharted territory and by moving forward we are altering the course of nature. It glides into Genesis, similar now with a tribal beat, pushing toward a mesmerizing violin solo that dances across a bed of nefarious cellos and bass toward the end. We are propelled into a a dangerous cacophony of sound and pleasure.
Fight Against Monsters is a journey that guides the listener along with a military drum beat peppered with ominous atmospherics into potential doom as the general on the trumpet pushes the camp forward. The skirmish begins when the drums take over whilst the French horns give hopeful glimmers up until the battle takes off. The strings sing, wail, and push forward into an onslaught of drums, brass, and finally we arrive triumphant as the movement unleashes itself over and over again into the final note, leaving the listener breathless with anxious energy.
Titilating drums open the sultry air of Stormy Wagner, providing a deep contrast from the previous track. The melodies sprung forth from the strings is modern and balladic that slowly, and systematically increase in animalistic virtues and tempos, colliding into a frenzy of sound.
Flying Dutchman is classic Wagner with a modern and raw edge. Its symphonic power is propelled forward by brass sections and strings, which lead way into a power-driven meld of metal guitars and rhythm sections as flying woodwinds dance over the top, guiding right back into the symphonic arrangement in all its splendor. This song conjurs the sea and crashing waves; metal or no metal. If Wagner were awake in this day and age, he would be at the top of his game as a metal artist.
Watch the “Ludwig Wonderland” live video for Wagner Reloaded – Live In Leipzig
The violin nurtures and bathes us with warmth and tenderness. Aptly named “Lullaby,” the movement caresses us in its arms, as it exchanges the rephrain solos across instruments, from strings to woodwinds, brass, and back again. I understand that the song has a visual component that would allow for the baby cooing. I would prefer to not have those in there. I’m sure visually they add to the experience – audiowise, they distract.
With a piece called “Bubbles,” you don’t immediately think bass cleft melodies; however, that is where it starts, and its lovely and whimsical. The melody is carried by the bass, and the twinkling sounds of percussion dance across it.
Path in Life is, once again, a classic Wagner piece, instantly recognizable by all, however, doused with an Apocalyptica metal style. Passing back and forth between classic and modern, and then relying heavily on the orchestra to move us forward with only the anticipation and pushing that a violin can, it arrives back to a hand-in-hand journey between modern electric guitars and symphonic majesty. It’s a breathtaking event that makes you celebrate the times we live in. Wagner would be proud!
The ululating sounds that push right into delicious guitar and violin intricacies that drives into sticky tintinnabulation, Creation of Notes layers auditory textures and mesmerizing syncopations in the intro, but once the song dives back into the guitar and violins, the effect is practically orgasmic, and the grandeur of the sounds produced is nothing short of divinity.
Running Love is just that: Running Love. With a tambourine rasp and singing violins, this song takes hold in your chest, and lilts you along a dreamy path, with varying rhythms. This song stands out to this reviewer a song that rides along the line between modern and contemporary, appealing to listeners of both genres equally. It has the standard formula for most modern songs, making it feel like a song you have before.
The song Birth Pain has a religious tone, as it builds into almost pleading lamentation, supported by a backdrop of layered strings and brass. It takes a moment for the crowd to extend an applause, and then a solo violin continues the lament into the very end. The simplicity of this song is what gives it the beauty it exudes.
Ludwig Wonderland teases from the get go, as the strings rattle and hum along, with an almost insectan feel, but then the modern guitars and drums overflow the senses. The song is instantly recognizable, but deliciously rendered into a metal casing. As the song plays, you can hear the metal fans in the audience coo, and you will begin to question whether or not the sound is being produced by a violin or something else much more sinister. The brass explodes into the mix and you can feel time clashing between the modern and the days when this was first conceived.
Ludwig – Requiem is the rehabilitation and pardon. Simplicity and grace unfurl throughout the short 2:07 track, which push into the final Destruction intro on the piano. 3 notes played over and over again, with changing dynamics and rhythm. You can feel the unwind and release from the journey that we just came through. It is the end, and you can feel the end of the line approaching through minimalistic catharsis we are experiencing through the eyes of Wagner.
As a music lover, you can not help but yearn for more after hearing this. It’s beautiful. It’s transportive. It’s nostalgic. It’s simply divine. I give it 5 skulls!
By: Alice Roques, Managing Editor
Apocalyptica is: Eicca Toppinen, Perttu Kivilaakso, Paavo Lotjonen, Mikko Siren