This weekend I found myself reverting back to the sounds of Apocalyptica, a one-of-a-kind band who plays rock on cellos. They are little-known here in Malaysia, for certain, but they are seriously amazing.

I discovered them through my maid (yes; we are more like sisters actually), who saw them on MTV. She recommended them to me because she knew that I loved this kind of unique sound, which some people term as 'symphonic rock'. I have always liked bands and musicians who take on a modern twist on classical genres or mix the sounds of rock instruments with classical instruments.

Unfortunately, most of these bands are stereotyped as 'gothic' or 'black metal' but I think a more general term like 'alternative' is better, in the sense that this music is the alternative to the mainstream dominators of hip hop, pop and R'n'B. However, I believe that there is no point to try to categorise this kind of music with those standard terms. For one thing, 'gothic' in its true form is really very dark, gloomy - to the point of macabre and suicidal - stuff, which I personally dislike myself. 'Black metal' should also be only used for those really heavy, screaming, hardcore rockers with multiple piercings and tattoos. All in all, defining any bands' music is an extremely sensitive issue so let's all just try to be neutral and not try to fit them into any genre when coming across different music.

Therefore, I'm quite proud to say that I'm very open-minded about new material and hence, have a very wide range of interests in music genres.

This kind of attitude is very beneficial in a lot of scenarios, not just when analysing music. Because you will learn to enjoy the music (or whatever) for what it is, not what it appears to represent. For example, a few people balked when I gave them a listen to this nice song which was actually sung by a Jewish singer and contained a short bridge with Hebrew lyrics. Although they were family, and I did not hold a grudge when they slammed the song, I defended myself because I do not believe in discriminating a song for reasons like race and religion.

For one thing, the song's lyrics (both in English and Hebrew) were completely harmless. And if it's because the singer was a Jew and as a Muslim, I should condemn all Jews, that is a very poor attitude to have when all the world is preaching peace and tolerance as many countries still are at rife over racial and religious differences.

Should everything and everyone be discriminated for the clothes they wear, which God they pray to, the colour of their skin, their country of origin and so on? It's like saying "I will not listen to that band because they are all black/white/brown/yellow" "I will not watch that movie because the director is a transsexual/homosexual/bisexual" "I will not read about that book because it talks a lot about so-so religion" I mean, COME ON. Does any of those reasons have anything to do with the quality of the music/movie/book etc.? And so what if you decide to pick up a book about any religion besides your own? If you are a true practitioner of your faith, your faith should not be so easily swayed. I do not see the harm in learning about a different culture or religion if it means I become a more well-read, open-minded and broad-sighted individual.

Yet, so many people out there are so afraid to accept things that are different to what they are familiar to. So many are afraid of losing their own pride, heritage or culture if they learn others. So many are willing to keep fighting if it means to settle old grudges and bloodshed. Attitudes such as these are the reasons there will never be peace.

For these reasons, I try to never discriminate because discrimination, in any form, is bad. That is why I read all kinds of things, talk to many different people, and continue to search for and try new things (as long as it really is harmless).

Back to music, I do enjoy some of the unfairly stereotyped music that narrow-minded people think are a 'bad influence'. However, I can be certain that the ones I listen to are clean from hidden agendas and double meanings. And to be fair, I am more interested in the music; not who the artist is, what he/she had in mind when writing the lyrics or even what the lyrics really mean. I don't usually go that deep.

So, my favourites (which not many can fathom the reason why they are so) are Evanescence, Within Temptation, Apocalyptica and sometimes The Rasmus and Nightwish. These bands' public images are all dark and supposedly 'gothic' but I don't care about that. I just think the music is fantastic and highly recommend them.

Back to Apocalyptica, they sure do look like heavy rockers with their long hair, eyeliner and leather pants. But as you double-take, they are not holding electric guitars - those are cellos! This band really go beyond the traditional playing of the cello (which is bigger that a violin and is played sitting down). In fact, the cellists of the band are all students of an esteemed music academy in Finland and have played all those classical music before. But at heart, they loved rock music, especially Metallica. In fact, they were discovered when they were playing a cover of a Metallica song and signed on the spot. Their first album was suitably named "Plays Metallica On Four Cellos" whereby they played just Metallica covers.

Currently, the band is made up of 3 cellists: Eicca, Perttu and Paavo and 1 drummer, Mikko. (They're from Finland, see). By the way, Paavo is the only one with the short hair and He. Is. Mine. :P

I discovered them in 2007 and am the proud owner of a Special Edition case of their new Worlds Collide CD and Bonus DVD which I gladly paid RM60 for. Watching their videos and live performances on Youtube, I now intend to buy their older albums too, which contain amazing ballads along with the other rocking tracks. Here is a live performance of their cover of Metallica's hit, 'Nothing Else Matters'. Awe-inspiring and super cool.

And here is their video for the song 'I Don't Care' featuring Adam Gontier of Three Days Grace.

P.S. Bear in mind that the electric guitar-sounding parts are actually cellos... Isn't that just so cool? :D

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