Apocalyptica Apocalyptica

The three metal cellos return for another round. Opener "Life Burns!” is a hard rocker (with guest vocals by Lauri Ylönen from the Rasmus) that hardly reveals its cello foundation. But from there Apocalyptica quickly delve into the kind of string melody and madness we’ve come to expect. H.I.M.’s Ville Valo joins Ylönen on "Bittersweet,” but otherwise (well, aside from the "text” for "Betrayal” and the secret track) the album follows the band’s characteristic instrumental path. Dave Lombardo again lends his drumming, but only briefly — the rest of the drum tracks are by Mikko Siren. The album’s programming is subtle, and the double bass on two of the songs is a nice touch, adding a rich weight to the bottom-end. These cellos can rock pretty hard, but the record’s dominant notes take shape in its slower lead melodies. Apocalyptica tend to be most successful when they’re at one extreme or the other — delicately lyrical or totally rocking out — and this latest self-titled release features plenty of both. (Universal)