At first glance, Croatian born cellist duo Luka Šulić and Stjepan Hauser, collectively known as 2Cellos, would seem to be unlikely candidates for an ascension to rock star status. First off, is the groups glaring omission of instruments that traditionally, well…rock. Massively distorted guitar? Nope. Thundering drums? Uh-uh. Instead, the group operates entirely with (you guessed it) two cellos. In addition to Šulić and Hauser’s choice of non-rocking instrumentation, nearly their entire recorded output consists of their own unique spin on other artists songs, which is scientifically proven to be the exact opposite of awesome. Yet in spite of all of these things, the groups recently released third album Celloverse proves that a couple of cellos, a boatload of talent and a creative knack for adaptation can stand up next to even the heartiest of rockers.
Luka and Stjepan waste little time proving just how massively impressive their style is, opening Celloverse with “The Trooper Overture” a mash up of Rossini and Iron Maiden that’s every bit as complex and heavy as the originals. The song sets a high standard for the energy level of the rest of Celloverse, one that many artists would have a difficult time living up to. But the duo’s take on classic and modern rock songs throughout the record, be it “Thunderstruck” by AC/DC , “Hysteria” by Muse or “Live and Let Die” by Paul McCartney provide a constant stream of powerful adaptations that will leave you in awe and wondering how a cello can make such a fantastic racket.
Now, this isn’t the first time we’ve seen an artist come along and make classical arrangements out of rock songs. Groups like Rodrigo Y Gabriela and Apocalyptica have been putting their own style on rock music for years. What sets 2Cellos apart is their passion for playing all different styles of music. In a recent interview with Life Without Andy, they explain: “We don’t really care about genres, we don’t like to look at music as genres and divide it into categories. We just take the music as a whole and all that matters to us is the message that comes across in every song that we play.” That sentiment is echoed throughout Celloverse. In addition to some of the decidedly heavier tracks are selections from Hans Zimmer’s beautiful score for Inception, their harrowing take on Radiohead’s “Street Spirit (Fade Out)” and even pop songs like Avicii’s “Wake Me Up.” Really, that’s one of the most beautiful things about Celloverse. It takes a selection of songs that would sound like a jumbled mess if presented in their original form and transforms them into a sweeping but cohesive masterwork.
After multiple spins through Celloverse, it’s exceedingly difficult not to find something to appreciate about the album. Really, the biggest shortcoming of the record and by extension 2Cellos as a whole, is their lack of original material. The albums title track and sole original composition finishes off the album on a high note, with enough pop sensibility and creativity to leave you wishing there was more where it came from. Hopefully their next album will feature more of their own work, because it’s stunning in its own right. But until then, crank up the volume of Celloverse and witness the rise of the unlikeliest pair of rock stars the world has ever seen.