Combining cellos and heavy metal is no easy feat, but Platinum-selling Finnish band Apocalyptica have never settled for anything short of the extraordinary. Formed in 1993 as a classical tribute to Metallica, Apocalyptica quickly grew to become one of Helsinki’s most famous musical exports, selling millions of albums worldwide whilst pioneering the genre of cello metal. Given the challenges posed by an instrument with an “unpredictable, dynamic sound”, the band have long pursued a sonically superior recording set-up, particularly as they now often record and mix in different locations. The answer has come courtesy of a partnership with an equally famous Finnish name: Genelec, the world leader in active monitoring.
The members of Apocalyptica – Eicca Toppinen, Paavo Lötjönen, Perttu Kivilaakso and Mikko Sirén – have much in common with Genelec, not least their core desire to push boundaries with hard work and innovative ideas. Also similar is the tremendous international success they have enjoyed whilst remaining characteristically true to their Finnish roots. It is perhaps no wonder that the band have adopted The Ones 8341 three-way coaxial monitors as the last word in uncoloured, absolutely consistent monitoring – no matter where they work.
“This is pioneering work, it hasn’t been done before,” explains Paavo Lötjönen. “The sound of a cello is very dynamic, whereas many electric instruments are far simpler to capture in terms of EQ and forming an audio image. In contrast, the sound of a cello is everywhere, there’s a lot of bass, a lot of high frequencies, many different colours. If you have low quality monitoring, you can’t hear all of those colours.”
“I’ve never had a speaker with such high definition, it’s just so natural,” adds Eicca Toppinen. “You don’t hear left and right, you hear precisely where the sound is located in the stereo image. Also, we work in different rooms which sound completely different. I have my own studio where I work and then the guys often listen somewhere else. So, for us it’s a big benefit to be able to calibrate each of those spaces using Genelec’s GLM software, and to achieve a consistent, reliably neutral sound. I can really trust what I hear. You can catch details that were not audible before.”
“We need a completely trustworthy sonic reference,” agrees Lötjönen. “With GLM, the results are consistent for everyone.”
Musing on the similarities between Apocalyptica and Genelec, Toppinen points to Finland itself as powerfully influential. “Here we are living in the woods, in the middle of nature! We need to create new ways of living, surrounded by nature. That’s something we share with Genelec. I see a bright future for our relationship because the basis of our cooperation is heartfelt. We want to create something together.”
Lötjönen agrees: “What we do is kind of unique! But you must trust yourself and your vision and follow your own path. The same is true of Genelec. It’s the Finnish mentality.”
Main Image L-R: Paavo Lötjönen, Eicca Toppinen, Perttu Kivilaakso and Mikko Sirén
We did a Q&A session with the band on Facebook. You can view the Live here.
Last year we had the opportunity to interview Eicca, Paavo and Mikko.