What is symphonic metal
Symphonic metal is a combination of metal and classical elements. The influences here are typically in the Classical, Baroque and occasionally also in Romanticism. Guitar, bass and drums form a unit with orchestral instruments and often also choral arrangements. A keyboard is also typical. It is not uncommon for symphonic bands to have women behind the microphone. Often these shine through classical opera singing, mostly soprano - but this is not absolutely necessary. Clear male voices or even growls are also used and form a contrast to the female voice. Musicians from this field often work with symphony orchestras for album recordings. This constellation cannot always be realized live, of course, which is why orchestral passages mostly come from a band or keyboard. Song structures are usually quite complex, atmospheric and convey a very specific mood that is often created by the keyboard. Due to the bombast and epic contained in it, Symphonic Metal is partly reminiscent of film music or musicals. In terms of text, there are almost no limits in this area. Everything is represented, from fantasy topics to social criticism. Children's voices are also happy to recite short poems or the like.
The emergence of symphonic metal began with death and gothic metal bands incorporating symphonic elements into their songs. The Swedish band Therion pioneered the genre through their collaboration with a live orchestra and songs with classical compositions. In 1997 both Nightwish released their first album with ANGELS FALL FIRST and Within Temptation with ENTER. Especially the Finns are nowadays considered to be the figurehead of all when it comes to symphonic metal. The band around keyboardist Tuomas Holopainen and soprano Tarja Turunen set the course for many artists in this direction and is often cited as their source of inspiration. From the beginning to the middle of 2000 symphonic metal experienced its peak phase and many new groups emerged in this area. Including Epica, After Forever (PRISON OF DESIRE, 2000), Delain (LUCIDITY, 2006), Haggard (AND THOU SHALT TRUST ... THE SEER, 1997) Leaves' Eyes (LOVELORN, 2004), Edenbridge (ARCANA, 2001) or Xandria ( KILL THE SUN, 2003). In addition to the typical stylistic elements of female vocals and keyboards, Power Metal also had a certain influence on the genre.
Expressions and related genre
As is very typical for metal in general, a generic term is not sufficient for symphonic metal either. This is why numerous sub-divisions with different peculiarities developed from Symphonic Metal. We want to go into two things here in more detail:
Symphonic Gothic Metal
Symphonic Gothic Metal is characterized, for example, by the so-called “Beauty and the Beast” singing by the singer. One of the first bands to appear was the Norwegians of Theater of Tragedy. But Leaves ’Eyes or Within Temptation can also be named as prime examples. Also indispensable in this area: After Forever with singer Floor Jansen. Founding member, guitarist and singer Mark Jansen (who is not related to Floor Jansen) left the band shortly after their debut PRISON OF DESIRE and was henceforth an integral part of Epica (THE PHANTOM AGONY, 2003), which just like After Forever and Within Temptation Holland originate. Their singer Simone Simmons, according to her own statement, turned to classical singing after hearing the album OCEANBORN (1998) by Nightwish for the first time. This category also includes the gloomy formation Tristania (WIDOWS ‘WEED, 1998) from Norway and the German symphony Goths Lacrimosa, who switched to a symphonic path with their album ELODIA (2000).
Symphonic Power Metal
The pronounced use of the keyboard is typical for this sub-area. The first symphonic Power Metal song is ‘Art of Life’ by the Japanese band X Japan in 1993 with a length of 29 minutes. ‘Wishmaster’, The Poet and the Pendulum ’or Ghost Love Score’ by Nightwish also contain elements of this direction. Also worth mentioning is the Italian band Rhapsody of Fire (LEGENDARY TALES, 1997) which, unlike many of their colleagues, does not have a singer. Other symphonic power metal bands are Serenity, Kamelot, Sonata Arctica (ECLIPTICA, 1999) and Dark Moor. The all-star project Avantasia (THE METAL OPERA I, 2001) under the direction of Edguy frontman Tobias Sammet can also be assigned to symphonic metal in the broadest sense.
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