Once known for covering classic metal bands, the cello-bearing Finnish outfit Apocalyptica took inspiration from its own past for its new album, "7th Symphony."
"We had our 'Cult' album in mind," the group's Paavo Lotjonen tells Billboard.com, citing Apocalyptica's third album, which came out in 2000 and was the group's first to feature primarily original material. "I would say it's a really extraordinary album, so that was one target -- to get the kind of same feeling and vibe for this album, something brave and something new."
"7th Symphony," due out Aug. 23, is also the first Apocalyptica album to come with raised commercial expectations. The quartet's 2007 release "World Collide" was its most successful yet, marking Apocalyptica's first appearance on the Billboard 200 (No. 59) and the Rock Albums chart (No. 7). It also launched a hit single in "I Don't Care," sung by Three Days Grace frontman Adam Gontier, which topped the Rock Songs chart, was No. 2 on the Alternative survey and peaked at No. 78 on the Hot 100.
"The last album was really successful here in America," Lotjonen notes. "We wanted to create songs that would reach some new people, so there's a lot of progressive instrumental music that's, I would say, fresh -- at least, fresh for Apocalyptica."
Among those is drummer Mikko Siren's maiden foray on bass guitar, which he plays on the uncharacteristically mellow instrumental, "Beautiful." Lotjonen describes the song as the "the other side of the Apocalyptica card."
The group decided to bare all on "Beautiful" -- literally, as the four members recorded it nude in the studio. "Yeah, yeah, that's a good story for that song," Lotjonen says with a laugh. "It's true, we did it, but...why not? It was just for fun. You know, to be naked is a totally different thing for the Finns compared to Americans. Maybe for Americans it's difficult to understand the joke behind that. We were spending over one month in the studio, and you've got to get some fun happening there, too."
Apocalyptica is joined by several (presumably clothed) guests on "7th Symphony." Bush's Gavin Rossdale sings on the album's first single, "End of Me," while the group recently filmed a video for "Broken Pieces" with Flyleaf's Lacey Sturm. Brent Smith of Shinedown is featured on "Not Strong Enough" (co-written by Diane Warren and produced by Howard Benson), Gojira's Joe Duplantier growls on "Bring Them to Light" and recurring guest Dave Lombardo of Slayer joins Siren on drums for "2010."
Apocalyptica recently finished a short run of North American dates and will play festivals in Switzerland, the U.K., Finland and Russia before returning to North America with Dir En Grey in August. The group will play Europe in October and early November and is planning another trek through North America before the end of the year, Lotjonen says.