Symphonic Metal. Sounds like an oxymoron no? On one hand we think about an opera singer with a classic orchestra. On the other hand, we think about long-haired men dressed in black and growling melancholic texts, that most of the time the “vulgate populus” that associate it with satanism or other occult misconception (yes you have a sub-genre within the Black Metal that has some satanist inspirations). This mix of melancholic romance and music is what we classify into the “Gothic” culture and hell no these folks are not heretic. The gothic scene is certainly where I found the friendliest band of folks, maybe feel bad for the teens that in their prime of existence are already into a state of depression.
But let’s get back to the Symphonic Metal. It surely arises from people that both get insipired by the melodics of classics and in the same time inspired by good guitar riffs and well cadenced drums. Traces of symphonic metal surely can be found in the 1970s during which the progressive rock genre came with groups such as “Pink Floyd”. He later muted into heavy metal bands such as “Iron Maiden” and “Manowar” in which heroic-fantasy and folkore tales where narrated with a stint of good guitar riffs. This is were a bifurcation occured between “Power Metal” and “Symphonic Metal”. The former marked by a heavy BPM rate and have great bands such as Kamelot, Dragonforce, Stratovarious or Sonata Artica. The latter is marked by the incorporation of classical elements (violin, brass instruments) and mostly driven by female vocal leads. Sometimes, in adddition to the vocal female lead, there is a growler or grunter giving a certain “Beauty and The Beast” that gives a certain masculinity found in the metal genre.
Mainstream, you may have heard symphonic metal in such as Amy Lee’s “Evanescence” that is very very diluted form of metal. If you wish to discover more this genre, I would recommend to try with “Within Temptation” Shannon Del Adel and “Nightwish” Tarja Turunen (in particular their album “Oceanborn”) that posed the founding blocks of the genre. In my personal opinion, Simone Simons “Epica” delivers one of the finest and most consistant quality to the genre.
Symphonic metal brought me the healing i was looking for to treat my schizophrenic love of classical music and metal music.
Want to listen some symphonic metal, try these following bands and albums.
* After Forever “After Forever” and subsequent Floor Jansen’s career as ReVamp.
* Epica “Design Your Universe” and “The Divine Conspiracy”
* Within Temptation “Black Symphony” (this is certainly their best album, a live with a real symphonic orchestra)
* Sirenia “Elixir for Existence” and “Perils of the Deep Sea”
* Nightwish “Oceanborn and Wishmaster” (my favorites are Gemunsthemane and Paraoh Sails to Orion). Special mention for “Phantom of Opera” Live 2013 in which both Tarja and Floor share the scene. A nice reconciliation between the old and the new Nightwish era!
There are just the tip of the iceberg and represents a non-exhaustive list of bands. Feel free to listen and discover but certainly a genre if you like the metal scene and were looking for classical inspiration in it.