Story by Jonathan Sasser / Contributing Writer
With an outpouring of unusual musical tastes and genres existing under the easily accessible surface of popular music, it makes sense that such styles have formed fervent cult-like followings among listeners. In our “Getting Into It” series, we’ll explore some of these underground genres and talk about the artists that best illustrate the intriguing musical cultures they belong to.
Metal in and of itself is a niche genre of music. Many people lump all kinds of metal with each other and brand it as one whole, when in fact, there are many different sub-genres that are so different that they could be different genres entirely. Symphonic metal is one of these sub-genres that puts a lot of distance between itself and regular metal that it is just on the cusp of becoming a new genre of music.
By definition, symphonic metal is metal music accompanied by an orchestra. Yet, this is like saying jazz is like classical music, but with some instruments taken out. Symphonic metal is so much more than that. Symphonic metal takes you on a journey with the thrumming, almost electrical energy of metal, yet the soothing, sometimes bombastic melodies of orchestral instruments such as flutes or violins. There are even a few types of sub-genres in this sub-genre. There’s fantasy symphonic metal that adds elements such as adventures, dragons and magic. There’s sci-fi symphonic with spaceships, high technology and the cosmos. There’s symphonic metal that covers wars and battles, even great, historical people. Within each of these sub-genres are concept albums that tell stories across an album, or a range of multiple albums. There is a nearly endless amount of variety in this genre of music.
My favorite of all of these are fantasy symphonic metal concept albums. With flying vocals, the cacophony of electric instruments and orchestral instruments and the great, fantastical tales being told really get my blood pumping and imbue me with inspiration. The best of these bands that I recommend are Rhapsody of Fire, Dragonland and Twilight Force. Twilight Force has the more uplifting, high-flying sound while Rhapsody of Fire has the grittier, yet no less glorious, stories and music and Dragonland strides the middle between each.
If you want songs with more power to them, Sabaton is a great band to try to get into with their specialty in historical war stories. Unleash the Archers has great melody and switches between regular albums and concept albums. For a fun, historical ride, Serenity’s album, “Lionheart,” is a great choice as well and an easy listen. Those who want a slower type of listening would find their place with any album of Falconer.
Symphonic Metal is a glorious genre with much to offer. It seemingly has no boundaries and many artists can still take it to newer heights. For some other great suggestions on getting into this genre of music, I highly recommend going to Reddit’s “r/symphonicmetal” or “r/powermetal” for more general metal choices.
Check out our Spotify playlist below of some of the best tracks in the Symphonic Metal genre.
To contact Music Editor Hayden Goodridge, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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