RFI: neo-classical metal bands

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There are quite a few metalheads on the board, or so it would seem, so I'm wondering: who are the best metal acts that incorporate classical elements (strings/horns/choirs/etc.)?

Simon H., Tuesday, 4 November 2003 22:35 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

I don't go for most of that stuff. Saw a guy in a Stratovarius T-shirt last night at an indie-rock show, though, and he didn't look like he was wearing it to be coy or anything, and I was like, "Whoa. Guy in a Stratovarius t-shirt.)

I like Nightwish & Kamelot, though - pop-metal and power-metal respectively - they sound fairly trad-metal, though neither of them have horns/strings/etc. Also, Virgin Steele is the funniest band ever.

J0hn Darn1elle (J0hn Darn1elle), Tuesday, 4 November 2003 22:59 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

you might want to try Blind Guardian's A Night At The Opera. in fact, it might be all you will ever need in the way of histrionic classical aria metal with full choirs and prog madness.

scott seward, Tuesday, 4 November 2003 23:04 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

and then there is always Mortiis.

scott seward, Tuesday, 4 November 2003 23:07 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

actually, go buy Virgin Black's latest album, "Elegant...and dying". they are from australia and make great goth opera doom metal. they are heavier on the goth then the metal.great choir action and strings on that one.

scott seward, Tuesday, 4 November 2003 23:11 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

I have trouble answering this question because I feel that LOTS of metal, all the way back to Deep Purple and Focus's "Hocus Pocus" if not Black Sabbath (who probably stole melodies from scary movies that stole melodies from classical something or others), all the way back to the Yardbirds sticking Gregorian chants in there as a matter of fact, has ALWAYS used serious European piano symphonies or operas or whatever as an influence. And right now, I'd figure you could list just about any good dark/goth/doom band, and probably quite a few stoner rock bands, under this heading. So I have no idea where to start. But you could do worse than buy a few Therion CDs, I suppose.

chuck, Tuesday, 4 November 2003 23:41 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

Too many to mention going way, way back. Uli Jon Roth-era
Scorpions, odd totally unlistenable Mahogany Rush records
like "Strange Universe," UFO on "Phenomenon" where Schenker
would insist on stuffing slow pianistic things in between the
straight boogies. Gamma Ray, Virgin Steele, Savatage and
bushel baskets of acts on dirt poor American indie metal labels
in the eighties...

George Smith, Wednesday, 5 November 2003 00:18 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

Rhapsody are fetishistically orchestral. I have "Power of the Dragonflame" and it is a fine album.

dog latin, Wednesday, 5 November 2003 00:31 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

chuck otm about Therion - about as symphonic as it gets. Blind Guardian is completely hilarious, esp. the whole album based on the Silmarillion.

J0hn Darn1elle (J0hn Darn1elle), Wednesday, 5 November 2003 03:00 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

But surely that must be one of the greatest albums ever! Not that I'm biased.

Ned Raggett (Ned), Wednesday, 5 November 2003 03:01 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

Ned if you haven't heard it I fear it is most urgent and key for you, along with several other Blind Guardian albums


J0hn Darn1elle (J0hn Darn1elle), Wednesday, 5 November 2003 03:50 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

I think of Blind Guardian, Rhapsody, and Whateverious as being classically-influenced along the lines of Bugs Bunny hamming up the symphony conductor role in an old Looney Tunes short. Rhapsody are Italians who idolize and imitate Titanic-style Hollywood soundtrack music, maybe unaware that some of the best film scores ever written were penned in Rome. They all come from the Yngwie Malmsteen school of metalmanship, for what that's worth.

I'd instead recommend 1996-onward stuff by evolved black metal bands Emperor, Arcturus, Solefald, and even by imitation Dimmu Borgir -- all with some connection to classical music beyond what you see parodied in cartoons or Home Alone movies. Also worth noting: The Czech band Master's Hammer, who began as pure black metal, then crossed over to straight classical (they did a Carl Czerny), then disappeared from sight.

I just saw a compilation today of "neo-classical metal" that included Metallica's "Orion," Emperor, Bathory...plus a couple few neo-Wagnerian neo-nazi lo-fi bands like Graveland, Burzum, and Absurd. Oh, those nazis, always trying to sneak in somewhere.

Ian Christe (Ian Christe), Wednesday, 5 November 2003 04:35 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

you could also just listen to Wagner.He created black metal.

scott seward, Wednesday, 5 November 2003 04:58 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

The first three Kansas albums which get progressively harder as they
vary in classicality. Essentially, Stratovarius decades
earlier with a Uriah Heep influence as opposed to Rainbow
and Priest.

"Belexes" -- from the first album -- is a fairly straight forward rip
of "Love Machine" and "Look at Yourself," the rest is ornate.

"Song for America" -- OTP classical except for a couple blues metal
stomps. Get someone to give you a copy before you buy it.

"Masque" -- ironed out all the bugs in the first two.

Nothing after is anything like these.

George Smith, Wednesday, 5 November 2003 06:26 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

and then there is always Mortiis.


tod (tod), Wednesday, 5 November 2003 08:10 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

There are hundreds of bands doing this stuff (as Chuck says, the whole classical music tradition is the melodic foundation of metal), but hands down the best is Summoning: 100% Tolkien atmosphere and 0% guitar acrobatics. Also recommended:

later Graveland (lo-fi? I think not! "Immortal Pride" and onwards for the Wagner worshipping)
Angizia (metal with
Mekong Delta (trad metal playing Mussorgsky suites)
Bathory ("Hammerheart" & "Twilight Of The Gods")
later Sigh
And yeah, Rhapsody/Rage/Therion/Blind Guardian/Gamma Ray/Savatage/Peccatum (OK maybe not)/Waltari - those too.

and who could forget:

Yngwie Malmsteen "Concerto Suite For Electric Guitar & Orchestra in Eb Minor Op 1"

Siegbran (eofor), Wednesday, 5 November 2003 09:04 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

bathory/sigh/graveland = awesome!! i need to hear the rest

geeta (geeta), Wednesday, 5 November 2003 09:12 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

it should probably be pointed out that most of those black metal bands rely heavily on keyboards when they "incorporate classical elements".

i was listening to Bathory's "Blood Fire Death" for the first time in years and that intro sounded kinda less hi-fi than i remembered it. but that doesn't keep it from being a killer album!

tod (tod), Wednesday, 5 November 2003 13:01 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

the BM/classical connection, though - I dunno, it's just so basic. The power-metal bands, however ridiculous they sometimes are, seem to have a grasp of some compositional theory; Emperor, as much as I like them, seem to have heard a little 19th-century late-romantic/early-modern classical music, thought "hey, dig that vibe," and ended their research right there. I'd say, Ian, that it's more a question of "what kind of classical music do you like" than "these bands have a genuine connection to classical music, these don't" - the black-metal bands are all Wagner/Mahler/Stravinsky, the power-metal bands dig Vivaldi.

J0hn Darn1elle (J0hn Darn1elle), Wednesday, 5 November 2003 14:02 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

Or, more pointedly, Paganini.

J0hn Darn1elle (J0hn Darn1elle), Wednesday, 5 November 2003 14:11 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

I can't believe no-one's mentioned Celtic Frost - "To Mega Therion" and "Into The Pandemonium" have opera singers, french horns, you name it. AND Tom G. Warrior invented the death grunt.

Also, Warlord were one of the founders of the whole neo-classical metal thing back in about 1983 or so, although their singer sounded like Kevin Cronin which didn't quite work.

udu wudu (udu wudu), Wednesday, 5 November 2003 19:15 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

Therion! Ha...'Theli' is awesome super-bombastic choir metal.

Stratovarious is one of the most unintentionally funny bands I've ever heard.

Symphony X is like that except they're actually good...I used to really like one of their albums, I think it's called the Divine Wings of Tragedy.

Jordan (Jordan), Wednesday, 5 November 2003 19:24 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

Oh yeah, fucking Angra. 'Holy Land' is still my favorite prog metal albums, it combines really good neo-classical power metal with bits of Brazilian pop and batucada.

Jordan (Jordan), Wednesday, 5 November 2003 19:25 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

yeah but the opera singers and whatnot on Celtic Frost albums didn't lend a "neo-classical" feel to the proceedings, they just made it weird/greater

J0hn Darn1elle (J0hn Darn1elle), Wednesday, 5 November 2003 19:26 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

Therion and their mash-faced friends in Atrocity I can hardly handle, but Rhapsody's barely metal at all. Warlord rules, especially the mid-80s home video where the guitarist cites as influential "the early works of Bach, Paginini, and the Scorpions."

Manowar's "Bridge of Death" is a great classical metal track. I'd start with Celtic Frost for 80s stuff, and Emperor for 90s, though. If you aren't a big metalhead to begin with, some of these other choices are fairly rare or esoteric.

but Randy Rhoads' solo on "Mr. Crowley" -- dude, that's classic.

Ian Christe (Ian Christe), Wednesday, 5 November 2003 20:20 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

"Black metal has enough Wagner already...we're trying to add some Xenakis."—Weasel Walter, talking about Hatewave

Phil Freeman (Phil Freeman), Wednesday, 5 November 2003 20:35 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

it's a shame hatewave were so crap.

your null fame (yournullfame), Wednesday, 5 November 2003 20:45 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

Agreed. The new Luttenbachers looks pretty good, though...I got a copy in the mail the other day and will probably check it out tomorrow.

Phil Freeman (Phil Freeman), Wednesday, 5 November 2003 21:00 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

More Xenakis metal: Nitro, the Great Kat, Nuclear Death, and Sadistik Exekution

Ian Christe (Ian Christe), Wednesday, 5 November 2003 22:03 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

goddamit, nuclear death were great. i used to correspond with their guitarist phil - he said he was tone deaf. must go unearth my pile of demos by them.

your null fame (yournullfame), Thursday, 6 November 2003 02:34 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

In defense of Hatewave: they did murder chickens onstage (which the professional chef singer/guitarist would take home, stuff, bake, and eat).

Ian Christe (Ian Christe), Thursday, 6 November 2003 16:58 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

What about Children of Bodom?

Kris (aqueduct), Thursday, 6 November 2003 17:10 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

three months pass...
If you're into female singers, Nightwish is most definitely one of the best melodic metal bands out there. But as for the rest, Stratovarius has done SOME great. A lot of it just gets old after a while though. And I also say that Blind Guardian's A Night at the Opera gets my vote!

Sarah F., Sunday, 22 February 2004 02:50 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

one month passes...
anyone heard of Otep?? FEMALES ROCK!!!!!

Michelle, Monday, 19 April 2004 21:15 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

two months pass...
alright neo classicla...alright think violins and clarinets and timpanis and flutes and oboes, and opratic singing...now.. Now add some metal Guitar Riff into it and some really low death metal vocals. what do you get .... Exactly what "Haggard" is about. German band. great music. i love metal and classical music, and now i found a band that combines the 2 *i cant find anymore if you know of anymore id love you to email me some names* but to listen to them go here "http://www.drakkar.de/haggard/" click on MUSIK. theres the tracks to their most recent cd. my favorites Are number 3 and Number 6. they start out slow but they do get into it. number 6 is my favorite of the 2. even though its in german *im german currently living in the us* check out their website if you find their music listenable *www.haggard.de/*

Marcus C., Wednesday, 23 June 2004 16:54 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

twelve years pass...

Okay, can anybody help? I have real a jones for some symphonic/power metal w/ conceptual fantasy storylines and prog elements but not taking itself too seriously and hopefully stupidly fast and overblown.

MaresNest, Friday, 17 February 2017 18:18 (one year ago) Permalink

Slough Feg?

めんどくさかった (Matt #2), Friday, 17 February 2017 18:26 (one year ago) Permalink


Siegbran, Friday, 17 February 2017 19:49 (one year ago) Permalink

six months pass...

Heard some talk of Windham Hell that made them sound awesome. Can't find any mention of them on ILX.

Robert Adam Gilmour, Tuesday, 12 September 2017 20:00 (nine months ago) Permalink

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