Symphonic Rock, a sampling

by FHL

(Bear with me, first post. I will grudgingly accept post criticisms.)

This is a musical genre I’ve really enjoyed for the last 5 years or so. Wikipedia describes it as heavy metal with symphonic elements. I prefer the ones with female vocalists with a classical sound, near operatic sometimes.

It started with a haunting ballad from the soundtrack of Daredevil (of all places) and I just fell in love with Amy Lee’s voice. Then a driving duet on the same album, a combination of heaven and hell, with pounding guitars,  angry rap-like lyrics, and Amy’s angelic sound wrapping it up. I was hooked. Since then, I’ve sought out more like it. I find that I’m drawn to the sheer energy of the music as well as the smooth vocals. I tend to steer clear of the growly, “Cookie Monster” vocals, although I’ll make exceptions. Here are some of the bands that have captured my fancy.

Beautiful Sin – (Norway? Belgium?) I don’t much about this band – the wiki is sparse, too  – but this is one where I like the instruments more than the vocals. This works
out fine for me, since they have long instrumental sections.

Metalwaves – Video here
Take Me Home – Link

Delain – (Netherlands) Founded by a member of Within Temptation. I discovered them (or they discovered me!) when I started following Amy Lee on Twitter
@AmyLeeEV and Delain followed me. Some songs do feature the growly vocals, but I can get past it. Seems they’ve collaborated with a lot of the other bands on
my list here (Nightwish, Leaves’ Eyes, Epica) The singer’s voice is lovely.

Sever  (features a chanting choir)   Delain – Sever (Live)

See Me In Shadow  See Me In Shadow (unplugged)
Pristine       Pristine

Edenbridge – (Austria) 7 albums so far. They have some of those funky harp sounds  in the background.

Shine (this song makes me think of Europe – The Final Countdown) Shine

Solitaire – I think this one is too new (July 2010) to have youtube videos. Has some great frantic drums, all the right pieces.

Evanescence – (Little Rock, AR) Of course, they’ve enjoyed mainstream success where no one else really has. I’ve seen them live twice – they put on a decent show. Amy Lee is really the
heart of the band, other members have changed up quite a bit over just 2 (TWO!) studio albums. The piano and Lee’s vocals are really what set them apart for me.
My Immortal just wrenches my heart.

Whisper – There’s a version of this song with a crescending (crescendoing?) choir at the beginning, but doesn’t have the chant at the end. My Dream: If I could splice the beginning of “Whisper 2000” onto the studio version Fan-made video

Lacrymosa -  (music set to Final Fantasy VIII movie)

Lacuna Coil – (Italy) This was the first band I found after Evanescence. They seem unusual in this genre in that most songs have both male and female vocals. The male part is often
angry-sounding, but not actually growly. Cristina’s vocals are also very nice. They have at least 2 songs as DLC on Rock Band, and my wife hates playing them
because of the weird rhythms.

Our Truth (love this song, but the vocals are crazy hard to mimic on RB)  Our Truth
Swamped (my favorite LC song)  Lacuna Coil – Swamped
I’m Not Afraid

Leaves’ Eyes – (Norway/Germany) These folks have an almost medieval sound.

Senses Capture (is that a bass drum?)

Vinland Saga (from a concept album about the discovery of the Americas by Leif Erikson. I dare you not to fall in love with this song.)

Nightwish – (Finland) – Wikipedia is saying this is Finland’s most successful band with 5 million album sales. Can that be right? There was a bit of controversy in that they essentially fired the lead singer and got a new one.

The original one was trained in opera, the newest one has only been on the latest studio album. (I really like the new one, but the old stuff is good, too.)

Amaranth – this is my song du jour, at least a couple times a day. No idea what the song’s about, just like the sound.

Within Temptation – (Netherlands) – I would be tempted to say that they are a more angry sounding group, but that may be unfair. No growly vocals, and I feel like the band as a whole is very talented. (The ballads are not angry, by the way.)

What Have You Done (I can not get enough of this song, it’s a great driving song)

Our Farewell – a ballad, more piano *swoon*

Xandria – (Germany) These songs really exemplify the genre, IMO, although I’d probably classify the guitar parts as more hard rock than metal. It’s a very polished sound.

Save My Life – Video

Sisters of the Light – (has a belly dance vibe)

I don’t know why I didn’t do this sooner, but I just set up a Symphonic Metal station on Pandora, adding all these groups into it. Oh, so nice. Please, though, share your favorites with me!  (Sorry, Susan M, Opeth rocks, but I need the female vocals.)

18 thoughts on “Symphonic Rock, a sampling

  1. Surprised you don’t have the Gathering listed:

    Anneke, singer of the Gathering, also did an album with Danny Cavanaugh of Anathema (but it’s not really metal):

  2. I’m a fan of this genre even though I don’t know it well so I’m pleased to see you post this, FHL. I can’t wait to check some of this stuff out.

    Coincidentally, I’m working on a post with a bunch of capsule reviews of metal-hard rock continuum albums, which includes Nightwish.

  3. I know you said you wanted female vocals, but if I want to hear anything in this vein with a female singer I always just put on the Gathering. (Mandylion and Nighttime Birds are my fave albums by them.)

    But if you haven’t checked them out, you might like Katatonia:

    Although to me they just sound like Opeth, just not quite as good. Their latest album, Night is the New Day, is excellent.

  4. This is my genre. I usually refer to Lacuna Coil and Within Temptation as Goth Metal rather than symphonic, but the main thing is that it is metal. I would also not call Evanescence metal (they are too synth), but they are definitely borderline and I love them too.

    My love of this genre started with Evanescence which led me to Within Temptation and then Lacuna Coil. Europe is pretty much the best source for this genre. A band which is definitely symphonic metal and is one of my favorites is Kamelot. The lead singer has a voice that would appear more operatic or Broadway, and is frankly excellent. It cracks me up that this band is from Florida (though the lead singer is from Europe). I hope you enjoy the video below.

  5. Wm: What do you mean by “metal-hard rock continuum albums” albums?

    Oh and forgot a link to this Anathema song:

    They don’t usually have a female vocalist though.

  6. Totally agree with you on Amy Lee. She’s brilliant. I have always loved “My Immortal” and still play it all the time. My wife hates it.

  7. I mean that my sampling so far has relied on pulling stuff that looks like it should be heavy metal out of the bins at my local library and so when I post my post there will be albums there that aren’t strictly metal, but kinda fall somewhere in the continuum that goes from hard rock (and even alternative rock) through to the doomiest metal.

    But all will be revealed Monday.

  8. I just happen to have a Within Temptation album on my stack of CDs from the library (Silent force). I listened to it last night. It was okay, but I hate the ballads and prefer the vocalist when she’s angry. Her voice seems a bit thin and warbley to me on the slow stuff.

  9. Also: I know that doom metal has it’s own particular definition. I’m not sure if anything I reviewed actually fits in the doom metal sub-genre. I used that adjective above more as a mood descriptor than a precise critical term.

  10. I don’t know about that — my library system has 618 CDs classified under Heavy Metal (Music). They don’t break that category down in to sub-genres, but it seems possible that at least a couple of those 618 might be true doom.

  11. Oh, hold on a second. They do have some subject categories:

    Heavy metal (Music) 618
    See also: Electric guitar music (Heavy metal) 1
    See also: Guitar music (Heavy metal) 1
    See also: Death metal (Music) 58
    See also: Black metal (Music) 43
    See also: Alternative metal (Music) 254

    That’s pretty awesome. Granted, it’s a huge library system.

  12. Wow–a Kulturblog post about some of my favorite music. Cool. Wish I could’ve contributed to this conversation earlier.

    Don’t have much to add–Within Temptation and Lacuna Coil are my favorite here–but I think fans of these bands may like some of what Savatage does, especially their 90’s stuff. Some of it’s probably too hard, but “Not What You See,” “Believe,” etc. are just amazing songs. Trans-Siberian Orchestra is their side project.

    And yes, I’m also a Kamelot and Opeth fan. Mad that I didn’t start reading Kulturblog until after this was posted…

    I have lots of other recommendations for fans of European metal like Kamelot (progressive/power/symphonic metal). And for the more crazy/complex/unique side of Scandinavian metal, I highly recommend Pain of Salvation.

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