Apocalyptica is a Finnish cello metal band consisting of classically trained cellists Eicca Toppinen, Perttu Kivilaakso, and Paavo Lotjonen, as well as drummer Mikko Siren. The three current cellists are graduates of the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki, Finland, and their music features elements from classical music, neo-classical metal, thrash metal, and symphonic metal. Apocalyptica has released six full studio albums so far: Plays Metallica by Four Cellos (1996), Inquisition Symphony (1998), Cult (2000), Reflections (2003), Apocalyptica (2005), and Worlds Collide (2007).
Apocalyptica was formed in 1993 when four cellists - Eicca Toppinen, Paavo Lotjonen, Max Lilja, and Antero Manninen - gathered to play Metallica covers at the Teatro Heavy Metal Club. Among the audience was Kari Hynninen, who worked for the independent label Zen Garden Records. After listening to Apocalyptica's set, Kari Hynninen signed them on the spot to Zen Garden Records.
In 1996, Apocalyptica released their debut studio album, Plays Metallica by Four Cellos, which consisted solely of Metallica covers played on cellos. In 1998, Apocalyptica released their second studio album, Inquisition Symphony, which was produced by Hiili Hiilesma. 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 he was replaced by Perttu Kivilaakso. In 2000, Apocalyptica released their third studio album, Cult, which featured 10 original songs and only 3 covers. After the recording of Cult, an Apocalyptica track, Path Vol. 2, featured vocals for the first time. 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. As he was unable to join the band on stage on the following tour, the band hired drummer Mikko Siren, who would stay with the band for future tours as well as the recording of the next album.
In 2005, Apocalyptica released their fifth studio album, Apocalyptica. This album featured a number of guest musicians including Ville Valo of HIM, Lauri Ylonen of The Rasmus, and once again Dave Lombardo. Apocalyptica also recorded the intro for Bullet For My Valentine's album, The Poison. In December 2005, Mikko Siren 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 September 17, 2007 (April 15, 2008 in the United States). To the surprise of many, the album included a cover of the German version of David Bowie's song "Heroes." Till Lindemann of Rammstein, for whom the band opened on the Reise tour, was the guest vocalist on the track "Helden."
To end 2007, Apocalyptica toured Europe successfully, selling out many of the venues they played at. They were directly supported by the gothic metal band Lacrimas Profundere.
Apocalyptica announced a large world tour for 2008, so far including concerts in Europe, North America, and Mexico. They have sold over two million albums to date. They played at KFMA Day in Tucson, AZ with Metallica on May 16 and at Rock in Rio Lisboa, Portugal on June 5.
In June 2008, during the Rock in Rio concert in Lisbon, Apocalyptica joined the Greenpeace "energy revolution campaign" and played Beethoven's 5th Symphony onstage.