Cell-0 (pronounced “Cell Zero”) is the ninth studio album by the Finnish cello metal band Apocalyptica. It was released on 10 January 2020. It is the band’s first fully instrumental album since 2003’s Reflections, and their first studio release since Shadowmaker, released 4 years and 9 months earlier, marking their longest gap between studio albums.
Cell-0 was prepared after a lengthy tour in celebration of the 20th anniversary of their debut album, the instrumental Metallica tribute release Plays Metallica by Four Cellos (1996). Such performances inspired them to go back to all-instrumental music, which they hadn’t done in 17 years. The audience’s positive response to instrumental songs was also taken into account.
It wasn’t intended for the tour to be so long, but the positive fan reaction to the announcement of the first shows resulted in more dates being added, increasing the total number of performances from the originally planned 30 to a total of 230. Combined with the Shadowmaker tour shows, the band had played around 500 shows between both albums.
The album revolves around a concept created by the band which relates to a “God particle”. According to drummer Mikko Sirén, “in our heads, there is this undefined thing that you cannot pinpoint, that you cannot see or feel, but it is there. That’s kind of the center of everything in this album.” He also said:
In the album, there is a lot about things, a lot about particles, how everything is made out of the tiniest little particles if you talk about cells to create something that is living, that a lot of cells are needed to create something, and atom-level, you need a lot of atoms to create something. But even though cells would create something, it doesn’t make anything living. There needs to be this ‘Cell-0’, there needs to be this essence of something. And it came basically from the musical perspective. If you think of music, it’s made of tiny particles. There are notes, there are rests, there are rhythms, there are this and this and this. When you put them together, it’s almost like music, but it’s missing the soul, the soul of the song, which is something you cannot put on a note. You cannot put it in a music sheet. It’s the emotion. The x-factor. That’s the ‘Cell-0’ for music.
He also says the album discusses “politics or social, environmental issues or something like that. It was one of those things that amazingly people have gotten disconnected from each other, from nature, from the earth and everything like that. Maybe the ‘Cell-0’ is the one thing we lost. We don’t have the ability to connect anymore, especially in the last ten years. The world has changed.”
The music also reflects humanity’s ability to build and destroy. “Humanity is incredible when it comes to building something, but we are capable of destroying even more easily. Like that, the songs burst into pieces at times. We wanted to take a philosophical look at what man builds and what he destroys.