Music Rec Wednesdays: String Covers of Rock Songs

This is a weekly feature called Music Rec Wednesdays. As you can guess from the name, I’m going to make a post recommending a song, album, or artist I like. Not a full review, just some thoughts on what I like. 

It’s been a while since I’ve been able to put together one of these posts, so today I’m recommending three different bands. I don’t really know much about them other than that I enjoy their music. We’ll be looking at Apocalyptica, Hampton String Quartet, and Vitamin String Quartet. The commonality they all share is that they do covers of rock songs with string instruments. It’s pretty awesome.

My first recommendation is for Apocalyptica. They use cellos to recreate the sounds of guitar and bass guitar in a rock song. They started out just covering Metallica songs, so my pick here is a cover of Welcome Home (Sanitarium).

I first heard this version of the song in college as the accompanying music to a dance performance. I love the way the cellos make the song sound mysterious. It begins slowly but then builds up gradually with one cello playing a deep bass line as the melody flows along. Each cello joins in with the melody, adding layers to the performance, until it peaks in an angry-sounding frenzy around 3:30 to about 4:00. The harsh sound of the cello really drives home the emotions of the song. It’s a beautiful piece of music.

 

Next up we have Hampton String Quartet. I actually had never heard of this group until this week when their cover of Rolling Stones’ Sympathy for the Devil was featured in the most recent episode of Sleepy Hollow. Since I thought the cover sounded cool, I checked out some other songs they covered and really liked their version of Led Zepplin’s Black Dog.

This seems like such a playful cover of the original song. The guitar riff is instantly recognizable even when played by different instruments. It has a sort of old-timey feel to it that I can’t quite explain, but when I listen to it, I feel like I need to be up and dancing in a barn or something. It’s a fun twist on the original.

 

Lastly, I have a song from Vitamin String Quartet. A friend recommended them to me once and I really liked what I heard. They’re a very prolific group, having released over 250 albums of music. They also cover almost every genre, but since I’m focusing on rock music for this post, I chose a cover of Linkin Park’s Bleed It Out.

For me, Linkin Park’s music is memorable because of the vocals, so I was surprised at how much I enjoyed this song. Like the Black Dog cover, the chorus is easily recognizable. And it’s a rather simple tune, but I don’t get tired of hearing it over and over again. Like the Apocalyptica version of Welcome Home Sanitarium, this song has a steady bass line of the same note repeated to keep the beat. I think that’s what makes this cover really resonate. The simplicity of it all.

 

Overall, I think I’m just really fond of anything played on a violin and a cello, so these groups could be attempting to cover Gregorian chants and I’d probably like it. When someone covers a song, it’s always nice to see what sort of original spin they will put on it, and I think using string instruments adds a lot to these songs. So what do you think? Feel free to discuss your thoughts in the comments!

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