APOCALYPTICA Releases Cover Of METALLICA's 'The Call Of Ktulu' Featuring CLIFF BURTON's Original Bassline

June 5, 2024

Finnish cello rockers APOCALYPTICA have announced the fourth and final exciting single from "Apocalyptica Plays Metallica, Vol. 2" – the hotly anticipated sequel to their legendary debut record. "The Call Of Ktulu" follows on from a rapturous response to the preceding three singles: stunning reinterpretations of "The Four Horsemen", "The Unforgiven II" and "One". Most notably, "The Call of Ktulu" features the original bassline laid down by METALLICA bassist Cliff Burton, who tragically lost his life in a tour bus accident in 1986.

APOCALYPTICA's "The Call Of Ktulu", the original of which first appeared on METALLICA's second album — 1984 landmark "Ride The Lightning" — is more than just a reimagining of that defining moment in thrash history. It represents a resounding seal of approval given by METALLICA and the family of Cliff Burton themselves, who were all enthusiastically behind the idea. It also serves as a powerful tribute to a legendary bassist whose colossal musical legacy lives on.

APOCALYPTICA founder Eicca Toppinen comments: "I've learned in life that if you have crazy ideas it's always worth asking, so I called Lars [Ulrich, METALLICA drummer]! He was, like, 'I love that you guys always think outside of the box!' James [Hetfield, METALLICA frontman] loved the idea, and I met one of Cliff's close relatives and she did too. It was a spiritual experience working on this. We wanted to treat this with honor and maximum respect, and it was magical to have people so close to Cliff say that he would have loved it."

Due on June 7 via Throwdown Entertainment, "Apocalyptica Plays Metallica Vol. 2" will continue the journey that began in 1996 when cellists from Helsinki's world-renowned Sibelius Academy played symphonic tribute to the biggest of the big four–heavy metal titans METALLICA.

In a stunning development, the "One" single sees Hetfield joining proceedings for a soul-stirring, spoken word of those inimitable, now-immortal lyrics. More than a unique collaboration, this is history in the making.

Speaking to Mexico's Summa Inferno, APOCALYPTICA's lead cellist Perttu Kivilaakso explained how Hetfield's involvement with his band's version of "One" came about. He said:  "I all the time had this idea of, I want to make a very epic cinematic version, like a movie type of soundtrack type of a version out of 'One', because it's one of absolute most important and beloved tracks for me personally, as for so many others too. And that's why I actually thought that the story of 'One' is really important and interesting, exciting and touching story that for a movie aesthetics or cinematic aesthetics, it would be so cool to have a narrator in the track to talk the lyrics. And we didn't really even consider having anything sung in this album, but this narrator idea, I think what the approach is really cool because it brings a different type of flavor to this soldier's story and kind of inside his mind. And, of course, in the very starting point, James Hetfield naturally was kind of the number one choice for us when we were speaking: 'It would be so cool if James does his own lyrics.' But we didn't even consider that he would ever step away from METALLICA to do something else. And that's why, at some period of time, we had maybe other ideas of involving some cool actor — Mads Mikkelsen or somebody like that — with a great charismatic voice there. But then, when our recordings were all done and we came into the finalizing the post-production of the album, all of a sudden James informed us that, basically, like, 'Why wouldn't you ask me to do [it]?' It kind of felt even that he wanted to do it — he really, really wanted [to do it]. And that was a mind-blowing experience."

He continued: "For me, I remember when I received, actually, all the files James had recorded in States, and I was working at my home in Finland, and I got all his tracks and I imported them to my session and I started to edit Hetfield at home, I fell to my knees crying because it felt like, in a way, of course, like a dream come true and the full circle going on. And eventually Trujillo wanted to play also bass to 'One' because they apparently loved the version, the demo, the original demo that I sent to the guys. And even that was exciting because I had spoken those lyrics or the poetic approach, the narrative with my own sound, with my everything else but perfect English. [Laughs] And I'm just sending these own demo versions to James and [I said], 'Oh, I hope you don't mind that I had to do it myself. But this would be the idea. Please do whatever you want. It's gonna be amazing.' But also, yeah, still speaking about 'One', it was very fascinating and highly exciting to get to work with the wonderful special effects person Jussi Tegelman, who works in Los Angeles and he has been working for Skywalker Sound and made sound effect designs for many, many great movies, starting from Marvel and 'Dr. Strange' and 'Spider-Man' and stuff like that. So we also had this element in there. I'm a big movie fan and big Marvel fan, actually, as well, and to work with absolutely greatest people in the world, having a great orchestra from Budapest to make it, it's by far the most bombastic and biggest thing we have done, this this particular song, for sure."

When APOCALYPTICA's version of "One" was first released, APOCALYPTICA's Eicca Toppinen said in a statement: "I think it's incredible that James wanted to do it. We were always thinking, 'It'd be great to someday do something with METALLICA!' I think the excitement for him came from the different approach we were taking — sometimes the craziest ideas are what excites people and that was our challenge."

"Apocalyptica Plays Metallica Vol. 2" track listing:

01. Ride The Lightning
02. St. Anger
03. The Unforgiven II
04. Blackened
05. The Call Of Ktulu (in memory of Cliff Burton)
06. The Four Horsemen (feat. Rob Trujillo)
07. Holier Than Thou
08. To Live Is To Die
09. One (feat. James Hetfield and Rob Trujillo)
10. One (instrumental)

The album's lead single was "The Four Horsemen", a song that originally appeared on METALLICA's 1983 debut "Kill 'Em All". It features a guest appearance by METALLICA bassist Robert Trujillo.

Kivilaakso told the DJ Force X Podcast about how Trujillo's involvement came about: "This album concept has, in a way, been in our minds for throughout the whole career. We always knew that there are still a lot of cool [METALLICA] songs that we wanted play our style one day. So, but now after the pandemic and everything, this felt the exact right moment to dive back to the roots."

He continued: "We have always had a wonderful relation with METALLICA — they have been enormously supportive towards us always — but still we approached them to ask that would they agree, would it be fine for them if we make such an album. And through those conversations, actually, eventually Rob even offered that he could play something for us. And that's an enormous, amazing feature, of course, to be treated like that. And it really, really shows respect also from their side. And we are very, very thankful for it."

When "Apocalyptica Plays Metallica Vol. 2" was first announced, APOCALYPTICA said in a statement: "The first single we want to present to you is 'The Four Horsemen'. And we couldn't be more excited to have a great feature guest on it: Rob Trujillo himself, who is probably THE greatest bass player in this whole wide world! We've always enjoyed sharing our love for METALLICA. Now, this is next level for us as well!"

Toppinen commented: "It's the coolest thing. We didn't push; it was offered. We played the first album live and it was so much more fun and exciting than we expected, so we got the idea to do something like the first album, but we couldn't do it in exactly the same way; we needed to challenge ourselves and bring a totally new perspective to the original energy and emotion of METALLICA."

Kivilaakso added: "We've been talking about making another METALLICA album for around 20 years, as there were still so many great songs we wanted to play! We waited for the perfect moment to do it. Thinking of that teenage me who is now getting to play his favorite tracks gives me goosebumps!"

This album will be the APOCALYPTICA's final studio release with the band's longtime member, drummer Mikko Sirén, who amicably departed after the new LP's completion. "Plays Metallica Vol. 2" was produced by longtime collaborator and studio supremo Joe Barresi (QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE, SOUNDGARDEN, NINE INCH NAILS, TOOL).

Alongside the announcement, APOCALYPTICA will be touring in support of the record, taking them through Europe.

Sirén started performing live with APOCALYPTICA in 2003 but didn't become a full-time member of the band until 2005, after playing over 200 concerts with APOCALYPTICA and recording an album with the group.

In a 2019 interview with Australia's Heavy magazine, APOCALYPTICA's Paavo Lötjönen spoke about the impact of the band's 1996 "Plays Metallica By Four Cellos" debut. Consisting solely of METALLICA covers, the album cast a spotlight on the group's classically trained abilities, setting the stage for them to release their own material in ensuing years. Since the 20th anniversary of "Plays Metallica By Four Cellos" in 2016, APOCALYPTICA has been playing the album in full at select live dates.

"It's been really fantastic," he said about playing "Plays Metallica By Four Cellos". "If we are talking about music in common, if you listen to music you used to listen to 20 years ago, it's a weird thing somehow, it brings all the same feelings back. Like, you are feeling when we were 20 years younger. I would call music a time machine in that sense. The same happens for us when we play those songs. Somehow the same feelings come back to us when we felt like we were 25 years or 20 years old and touring with a shitty van around Europe playing venues. This time, all the venues are bigger and really portioned nice. There's lots of people, and it's not too hot and shitty on the stage. It's a lot of joy and fun to play those songs. The magic of METALLICA has not disappeared anywhere. It's still really strong and passionate music. It's a lot of fun to play. We have never played this well as we are playing at the moment. I'm happy to see we have learned something during these years."

In 2015, Lötjönen and Kivilaakso spoke to Austria's Mulatschag about what it was like to join METALLICA on stage at the Fillmore in San Francisco as part of the week-long celebration of the band's 30th anniversary in December 2011. Perttu said: "Of course we felt very privileged being included amongst all those amazing artists. And after the thing, what we have done during our career, it has been pleasant to realize and notice that, actually, the METALLICA guys, who are the reason for us to start to do something like this, that they do respect us at least that much that they wanted us to be a part of this big celebration of their career. Of course, it was crazy. I remember that when we started to play 'One', I'm starting this song and James Hetfield is just next to me, and I'm thinking, when I was 13 years old, he was my biggest idol and now we are playing together. So it's absurd, but just natural and logical in other terms."

Added Paavo: "You know, the connection to METALLICA has been really super great all these years. We played first time as a support to them already in '96. It was actually our fifth show for a proper rock and roll audience, and we were supporting METALLICA, so it was quite crazy. And since that, we have played many times with them at same festivals and… Let me say that the connection with METALLICA is really cool and really nice."

Photo credit: Riki Murto

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