Unearthing the Metal Underground: Cello Metal Ensembles
Each week in "Unearthing the Metal Underground," we'll be putting a few quality underground bands in the spotlight in an attempt to get the word out about them. The first time I featured cello and violin metal, I put the genre in context with an introduction about Apocalyptica's influence, and featured three fantastic cello and violin metal bands, Judgement Day, Heavin, and Grayceon. Those bands tend to use both violins and cellos, but today I'm going to focus on some more bands that have followed more closely in Apocalyptica's footsteps and are largely classical cello ensembles who cover or play heavy metal.
Primitivity is a cello and percussion ensemble from the Washington, DC area that blends elements of classical and heavy metal music. Cellist Loren Westbrook-Fritts composes the music and provides the leads, while cellists David Teie of the National Symphony, Kristin Ostling of the Baltimore Symphony, and Mauricio Betanzo of the Maryland Symphony all shred out intense riffs and harmonies. Percussionist Robby Burns from the University of Maryland completes the band with rumbling drum hits. Specializing in the music of Megadeth, Apocalyptica, and Metallica, Primitivity has also written some of their own original compositions. The band released "Plays Megadeth For Cello" earlier this year.
Check out one of the band's original compositions, "Convergence" below.
For one of their heavier original songs, also check out "Sacrifice" on their MySpace player, as well as numerous metal covers.
Angaschmäng (or Angaschmaeng without the umlaut) was founded as a classical ensemble in the spring of 2005 by four young cellists. Under the influence of their conductor-turned-drummer, they began experimenting in the melodies of hard rock and metal. The band has been touring since 2006 and played much of Eastern Europe as wel as Switzerland and the Frektal Open Air. In the winter of 2006/2007 they place their first professionally produced EP, "Fury out in Neverland," and the next record is already being planned.
You can check out some of the band's material on their MySpace and live videos of "Get It" and "Rolling Thunder" below.
Clawed Forehead is a young group consisting of three celloists and a violinist. The band hails from the Czech Republic and started out like many others of their kind covering Apocalypica's covers of Metallica their own songs. The band finally branched out and began recording original material and in 2007 released their first album, "At The End Of Spring." You can download a couple of MP3s including the title track and "Crushed" from the band's official site and hear more on their MySpace player. Videos of the band covering "For Whom The Bell Tolls" and "Fade To Black" can be viewed below.
"For Whom The Bell Tolls"
"Fade to Black"
Like eary Apocalyptica, Clawed Forehead has not yet found their heaviness in composition, and should take a lesson from fellow Czechs Hyperion.
The Czech band consisting of four cellos (and sharing a name with many other same-named bands) was formed 2002 in Ostrava. Hyperion released two demos and one full length album in 2007 entitled "Monochrome."
The band first started out in 2003 by recording home demo of Christmas carols in jazz and rock arrangements and two metal covers. From there, they later recorded covers of Sepultura's "Inquisition Symphony" and Metallica's "Nothing Else Matters" and "Unforgiven." The band made an appearance on a mini CD by the Czech underground band Root in 2006 before finally recording their debut album, "Monochrome."
Those of us outside of Europe likely never had the chance to experience this band and, unfortunately, likely never will. Sadly, Hyperion announced their last show late last year. But since I had already researched them, I decided to feature them here anyway (as a bonus entry). The band's sole full-length album is available by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. And you can check out two songs, "Faust vol II" and "Patterns of the Hidden" by downloading them for free here or on Last.fm. Of the bands featured in this column, Hyperion has the fullest and heaviest sound by far, owed to both the instruments and vocals, which contain some death growls.
Check out this video of Hyperion live at Paganfest 2008:
Here's another video of the band performing "Heart"
This is how heavy metal on cellos is done (moreso referring to the MP3s than the last video above), and it's a shame Hyperion is no longer active.
There are many more violin and cello metal bands than one would imagine and I'll be unearthing more of these acts with some more variety in a future installment of Unearthing the Metal Underground.
Check back every Monday as we delve into a different scene or genre to unearth some new underground metal bands.
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