Symphonic: The Dark, Lilting Beauty of Metal

By Tabatha Spears Woodruff

Violins, chellos, deep male vocals, chiors, tear-jerking sopranic solos…these are all associated with symphonies and the opera. People have long valued the depth and elegance of the symphony, filing dressed to the nines into expensive theaters to listen.For centuries, we have enjoyed the elegance and mystery of the  music. There is no doubt that music is powerful, in all forms. The beautiful thing about it is that we have been given the gift of a genre dedicated to symphonic metal.

According to the Metal Music Archives, symphonic metal got its real start in 1996 on Therion’s fifth album, Theli; however other artists had dabbled with it even as early as 1969 in Deep Purple’s Concerto for Group and Orchestra, featuring the Philharmonic Opera. Most consider the birth of the genre to have occurred in the 1990s, but this is a rather subjective idea considering the vastness of the influence of classical music upon artists.

There are different sub-genres of symphonic metal as well; they have been identified as symphonic black metal, symphonic power metal, and symphonic gothic metal. There is even a small group of artists that create symphonic death and extreme symphonic metal. There is something for everyone’s taste to be found within this genre, one must simply be open to the dfferences. The compilations that you can find online are a great experience, and it can help the listener to find what particular sub-genre, if any, that they enjoy of symphonic metal, or any other genre honestly.

Many people think that in order to be a symphonic metal band, that it must be fronted by a female that is classically trained; this is not the case however. Take, for instance, Apocalyptica, they are not female led, and even often feature different artsts; however, they are decidely placed in the symphonic metal category based upon the significant classical inflence on thier music.

Some Recommendations:

Apocalyptica, Cult

Epica, Design Your Universe

Haggard, Eppur Si Muove

Turisas, Stand Up and Fight

Within Temptation, The Unforgiving

Therion, Theli

Damnation Angels, Bringer of Light

There are many other artists, and albums, both instrumental as well as vocally-led, these are simply some suggestions according to some online ratings, and the writer’s personal experience with the genre.

Author’s Perspective: I am partial to this genre myself, but I listen to nearly every single genre of music, not just metal. The classical influences on this particular group is one that caught my ear many years ago, about 20, and I have never really been able to find an album that I did not enjoy. My personal recommendation is to find an instrumental symphonic metal compilation online and listen to it first, then go on to songs that include lyrtics; the absolute beauty of the music itself is something that I think everyone can enjoy. Crank it up and Metal on Loud!!!

Tabatha Spears Woodruff