Neoclassical metal

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Neoclassical Metal is a sub-genre of metal music that draws strong influence from classical music in its playing and composition style. The most notable performer of the genre is Yngwie Malmsteen.

While neoclassical metal bands do exist, with a notable branch of the genre being neoclassical power metal, it is more commonly played by solo performers such as the aforementioned Yngwie Malmsteen. Instrumental artists are very common in the neoclassical metal genre.

Sub-genre collaborators:
  • Sisslith

neoclassical metal top albums

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CACOPHONY Speed Metal Symphony Album Cover Speed Metal Symphony
CACOPHONY
4.31 | 16 ratings
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YNGWIE J. MALMSTEEN Rising Force Album Cover Rising Force
YNGWIE J. MALMSTEEN
4.17 | 42 ratings
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JASON BECKER Perpetual Burn Album Cover Perpetual Burn
JASON BECKER
4.32 | 7 ratings
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YNGWIE J. MALMSTEEN Inspiration Album Cover Inspiration
YNGWIE J. MALMSTEEN
4.22 | 9 ratings
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MARTY FRIEDMAN Dragon's Kiss Album Cover Dragon's Kiss
MARTY FRIEDMAN
4.15 | 13 ratings
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YNGWIE J. MALMSTEEN Concerto Suite for Electric Guitar and Orchestra in E Flat Minor: Op. 1 Album Cover Concerto Suite for Electric Guitar and Orchestra in E Flat Minor: Op. 1
YNGWIE J. MALMSTEEN
4.10 | 11 ratings
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TONY MACALPINE Maximum Security Album Cover Maximum Security
TONY MACALPINE
4.04 | 9 ratings
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TONY MACALPINE Edge Of Insanity Album Cover Edge Of Insanity
TONY MACALPINE
3.94 | 7 ratings
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YNGWIE J. MALMSTEEN Facing the Animal Album Cover Facing the Animal
YNGWIE J. MALMSTEEN
3.92 | 8 ratings
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YNGWIE J. MALMSTEEN Alchemy Album Cover Alchemy
YNGWIE J. MALMSTEEN
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YNGWIE J. MALMSTEEN Marching Out Album Cover Marching Out
YNGWIE J. MALMSTEEN
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YNGWIE J. MALMSTEEN Trilogy Album Cover Trilogy
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neoclassical metal Music Reviews

YNGWIE J. MALMSTEEN Rising Force

Album · 1984 · Neoclassical metal
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martindavey87
Yngwie Malmsteen’s 1984 debut, ‘Rising Force’, is the album that inspired a whole generation to grab a guitar and learn how to play it really, really fast, as well as giving birth to what’s known as the neoclassical subgenre, a hybrid of metal guitar playing with classical music themes. It’s a highly influential album. But does it hold up well today?

Not really.

I went into this album with some intrigue. The outspoken Malmsteen has never been too modest to tell us underlings of his superior musical abilities, so I was interested to see what the fuss was about. And to be honest, I find it pretty boring. Don’t get me wrong, he plays with absolute precision and intensity, and no doubt in 1984 this was groundbreaking stuff. But by today’s standards, it just sounds like the same recycled classical lick played over and over.

There are a few songs with vocals which aren’t too bad, ‘Now Your Ships Are Burned’ and ‘As Above, So Below’, and in this aspect Malmsteen’s playing suits the music well. But for the most part, I just find this album dull, with all the songs serving as a self-indulgent excuse to play the same guitar scales as fast as possible.

Except for one song; ‘Icarus’ Dream Suite Op. 4’.

Wow! Where did this come from?! I can tolerate mindless shredding here, because the melodies when the song slows down are incredible. The clean guitar playing, the keyboards, everything here just comes together perfectly! This song itself is pretty damn amazing, and while ‘Rising Force’ generally bores the hell out of me, this song alone is enough for me to at least come back for more and see what else the master of men can conjure up.

No doubt this is highly regarded by fans, and in particular, by other guitarists, as a classic. But it just doesn’t work for me.

YNGWIE J. MALMSTEEN Rising Force

Album · 1984 · Neoclassical metal
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Warthur
It's rare that you can point to a specific artist and album and say that here, right at that moment, is where a particular musical subgenre got its start, but you absolutely can with neoclassical metal - Yngwie Malmsteen's Rising Force album is patient zero for this high-technicality, classical-influenced, guitar-worshipping brand of metal.

This style has been derided from time to time as being nothing more than empty technical showboating, exacerbated by the fact that whereas progressive metal (which also gets accused of such showboating from time to time) at least tends to put a spotlight on a range of different instrumentalists, your typical neoclassical metal act is essentially a virtuoso guitarist and a group of backing musicians who are there to help the guitarist look good. Whether or not you consider that stereotype to be an outrageous slur on the scene or a perceptive assessment of some of its trends, you can't say that Malmsteen hasn't contributed to that image just a little, repeating his formula over sufficient albums that it's become an overworked, tired-out cliche.

It would be unfair, however, to tarnish this excellent debut album with that brush. The difference between this and so much of Malmsteen's subsequent discography is that, as a result of coming out first, it wasn't laden down with the expectations people had placed on Malmsteen's work. The general compositional approach hadn't yet ossified into a formula from which albums could be churned out by rote, and Malmsteen hadn't yet fallen into the trap of pandering more and more to fan expectations and believing more and more in his own hype, until his music became an overwrought caricature of itself.

Instead, what you get here is some dynamite classically-influenced heavy metal, building on a foundation reminiscent of early Queen (especially when Jeff Scott Soto's vocals come in) and adding intricate classically-inspired guitar work from Malmsteen himself. The end result is an electrifying performance which not only provides an exceptional showcase for Malmsteen's guitar skills, but is also a downright entertaining album in its own right. Don't hold Malmsteen's late-career turkeys against him and listen with an open mind.

EXMORTUS Ride Forth

Album · 2016 · Neoclassical metal
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UMUR
"Ride Forth" is the 4th full-length studio album by US, California based metal act Exmortus. The album was released through Prosthetic Records in January 2016. It´s the successor to "Slave to the Sword" from 2014. There has been one lineup change since the predecessor as bassist Clodoaldo Bibiano has been replaced by Mike Cosio.

Stylistically "Ride Forth" continues the energetic and melodic death/thrash metal style of the predecessor, but with an even stronger emphasis on their neo-classical leanings. It´s an interesting combination of elements, which also includes traditional heavy metal styled riffs and lyrical themes/imagery. When Exmortus play their most raw death/thrash parts they occasionally remind me of early- to mid 90s Carcass, but that´s only a very few times during the playing time, and overall I´d say a less known artist like Arghoslent are a more valid reference (minus the white supremacy lyrical themes of their fellow countrymen).

Exmortus are an exceptionally well playing act, and the listener is exposed to raw snarling vocals, neo-classical guitar shredding (and occasionally bass ditto), a tight playing rhythm section, and just overall powerful and memorable songwriting. Sometimes it´s almost a little too polished and nice, and a bit more rawness could have made the listening experience slightly more interesting, but it´s still relatively organic sounding and I particularly enjoy how it´s clearly audible that the guitars are played by two different guitarists, and that the guitars are produced with a "human" touch. The album is overall well produced.

The material on the 9 track, 43:26 minutes long album is generally well written and memorable. I could have wished for slightly more variation between tracks, but it´s not a major issue. One of the tracks which does stand out from the rest of the material, is the instrumental classically influenced "Appassionata". Upon conclusion it´s another quality release by Exmortus and a 4 star (80%) rating is deserved.

SILVER SERAPH Silver Seraph

Album · 2001 · Neoclassical metal
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siLLy puPPy
Have you ever wondered if certain bands were cryogenically preserved for several decades and then awakened totally unaware of the current musical world and decided to release the album that was supposed to be released before their long slumber? Well Sweden’s SILVER SERAPH gives me exactly that impression when i spin their eponymous debut and so far only release. While this was put out in 2001 it sounds like something that should have rightfully been unleashed unto the public way back in the 80s.

The project was created by Pete Sandberg (Midnight Sunk, Opus Atlantica) but also features Richard Andersson (Space Odyssey, Time Requiem, Majestic) on keyboards, Jens Lundahl on bass, Jörgen Birch-Jensen on guitar and Peter Wildoer on drums. The music is basically neoclassical power metal that has a throwback feel to the late 70s / early 80s and feels extremely primitive for its release date however it does have that awkward 90s feel of a neoclassical / glam metal band that suddenly feels inferior and tries to add a touch of alternative metal to the overall mix. I’m sorry to say, but this just ain’t flying with me.

To be honest, this would’ve been fairly mediocre for the 80s. It has a rather 70s Rainbow hard rock feel within the song compositions and rhythmic drive especially prevalent in the guitar and keyboard department but only occasionally flairs up to 80s standards. In reality, this is fairly weak. Sandberg’s vocals are fairly flat for a power metal vocalist, Birch-Jensen is no Malmsteen or Jason Becker as the solos are fairly cookie cutter and uninspiring and the drums of Wildoer are downright lazy. I’m blown away by how boring this album really is. The only “star” on board is Andersson with his keyboard contributions but even they are nothing new under the sun.

This was a hard album to sit through. It is so cliche, so trite and so inferior to anything to emerge as neoclassical or power metal that i simply cannot believe anyone thought that this was a good idea in the first place. The tracks are weak, the musicianship is lax and my attention span makes me feel like i’ve been banished to an inferior dimension parallel to the 80s where i’m forced to listen to crap like this for eternity. I would probably give this 3 stars if it did come out in the 80s but this is just pure crap for 2001. The track “Loving You” even tackles the stomach-hurling power ballad that was mandatory for pop glam metal bands of the 80s. Is this nostalgic? No! I’d rather listen to crappy Bon Jovi or Poison over this. The album is somewhat ok-ish but i’m left feeling pretty bored. This is no Symphony X for sure.

EXMORTUS Ride Forth

Album · 2016 · Neoclassical metal
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adg211288
Ride Forth (2016) is the fourth full-length album by US thrash metal act Exmortus. The band previously caught my attention with their previous effort Slave to the Sword (2014); an excellent thrash metal effort that had a strong footing in both the power metal and neoclassical metal camps.

This time around though the Exmortus sound has evolved to greatly favour their neoclassical element, which I’d say is the dominant sound on Ride Forth. There is still some thrash here, but I have great difficulty considering this to be a thrash metal album (especially a technical thrash metal album which is Exmortus’ usual niche). The riffs are fast paced but overall more in line with power/speed metal, a feeling only enhanced by how melodic the album is. Thrash metal implies a level of raw abrasiveness that musically Ride Forth severely lacks. The vocals are growled (yet intelligible), but that nods more towards melodic death metal, or more aptly extreme power metal (which contrary to popular belief is not what Dragonforce play), to my ears.

Of course having heard Slave to the Sword previously this all just seems like a natural progression of the band’s sound. Exmortus are pretty damn good at writing an awesome neoclassical guitar lead. Overall though, I have to say that I don’t find Ride Forth to be an as interesting album as Slave to the Sword. It’s a good well crafted release from the US band but it doesn’t have me clambering for more nor overly interested in giving it many re-listens down the line. I find that the opening track Speed of the Strike really hits its mark in terms of making the record’s new direction felt, but once you get a few tracks in the album starts to sound a bit business as usual. The instrumental Appassionata is insanely awesome though, also a clear highlight of the album.

While I do have to concede that Ride Forth is a step back for Exmortus I don’t actually feel let down by this album. I think it’s great that Exmortus choose to try something a little differently with the influences I heard on Slave to the Sword. It shows that they’re not a one trick pony who are content to make a carbon copy of their previous work, which of course means that there’s every chance that those who didn’t enjoy Slave to the Sword as much as I did will in turn enjoy Ride Forth more than I have. It takes all kinds after all.

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