Symphonic Metal

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Symphonic metal, sometimes known as operatic metal when referring to artists fronted by an (usually female) operatic singer, is a sub-genre of heavy metal music. Symphonic metal is heavily influenced by classical music, with bands creating symphonies to back a more traditional metal setup of vocals, guitars, bass and drums. The sound is most typically created with a synthesiser; however actual orchestration is often used as well, and choirs are also a commodity within the genre. Unlike other metal music styles, the keyboards generally have more of a leading role in an artist’s sound than the guitars.

Symphonic metal finds its roots in the Swedish band Therion, who originally played death metal. The 1996 album Yeah! Yeah! Die! Die! Death Metal Symphony in Deep C by Finnish band Waltari is also considered to have been an important influence on the genre. Therion had dabbled in experimental ideas and classical influences, but with the release of their fifth album Theli in 1996 the band was producing what is now considered to be symphonic metal. Such releases provided the template for bands such as Nightwish and Within Temptation, who both released their first albums in 1997, although each had elements of other genres in their sounds, those being power and folk metal on Nightwish’s Angel’s Fall First and gothic metal on Within Temptation’s Enter, which is actually best considered a gothic metal release, although the band would later become more symphonic based with the release of their second album, Mother Earth in 2000. Although the birth of symphonic metal as a genre is associated with the late 90s, metal artists had made use of symphonic elements long before that - for instance, Celtic Frost's To Mega Therion (1985) and Into the Pandemonium (1987) both contain tracks that feature symphonic elements, and in 1969, proto-metallers Deep Purple released Concerto for Group and Orchestra which features The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.

The term symphonic metal is sometimes used to describe any band that uses symphonic elements, particularly if those symphonic elements are greater than what is normal for the genre in question. There are a few notable and common hybrid symphonic metal styles; symphonic black metal, symphonic power metal and symphonic gothic metal, although there are some less common hybrids such as symphonic death metal, and with the emergence of artists like Across the Sun and Winds of Plague, symphonic metalcore. Each of these styles retains the elements of said style without the symphonic prefix however, which means that when considering symphonic metal as a standalone genre there are not as many artists that can be considered as such as there may initially appear. Even many of the most known artists of the style containing many elements of other metal styles, such as power metal in Nightwish and progressive metal in Epica. Therefore symphonic metal bands are best defined as such if they have a dominant classical influence to them. This is especially important where symphonic gothic metal acts are concerned, as there can be much overlap between the two styles.

While many symphonic metal bands feature a female lead singer, it is not a staple of the genre, although such bands tend to have been more commercial successful both within and without of the metal circles due to having more mainstream accessibility to their music. Many female vocalists in the genre sing in an operatic classical style, which works to effect with the classical inspired symphonic backing. It is this particular brand of symphonic metal that has been alternately labelled as operatic metal. Some artists such as Epica, After Forever, and the early work of Within Temptation combines the female vocals with death growls, in a style that is commonly referred to as ‘Beauty and the Beast’ vocals. This approach has also been utilised in some female fronted gothic metal artists.

Although symphonic metal is widely seen as one of the more commercial metal genres, there exists an extreme variant of the style. Taking more cues from extreme metal sub-genres than normal but retaining the dominant classical influence, the term is best used to describe bands that are influenced by black and death metal, but keeping their main focus on the classical influences. Such artists are less common however, and the term extreme symphonic metal has been used interchangeably with symphonic black metal.

- Written by adg211288 with the input of the Metal Music Archives Admin Team

Sub-genre collaborators:
  • adg211288
  • DippoMagoo

symphonic metal top albums

Showing only albums and EPs | Based on members ratings & MMA custom algorithm | 60 min. caching

EPICA The Holographic Principle Album Cover The Holographic Principle
EPICA
4.89 | 11 ratings
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XANDRIA Theater of Dimensions Album Cover Theater of Dimensions
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APOCALYPTICA Apocalyptica Album Cover Apocalyptica
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EPICA Design Your Universe Album Cover Design Your Universe
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THERION Theli Album Cover Theli
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EPICA Requiem for the Indifferent Album Cover Requiem for the Indifferent
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WITHIN TEMPTATION Mother Earth Album Cover Mother Earth
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symphonic metal Music Reviews

DOL AMMAD Star Tales

Album · 2004 · Symphonic Metal
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siLLy puPPy
Having named his project after a fuel refinery in the Descent 3 computer game, Greek keyboard wizard Thanasis Lightbridge decided to take the electronic influences of Jean Michel Jarre and Vangelis to new heights when he formed his experimental avant-garde metal band DOL AMMAD in 2000. After churning out a couple demos he recorded a full debut album titled STAR TALES which took a few cues from Therion’s “Theli” and expanded the roles of the electronica involved. STAR TALES consists of four musicians cranking out the usual rock instruments which includes guitars, drums, bass and synthesizers but following in the footsteps of the Swedes is the addition of the 12-piece Europa Choir consisting equally of men and women covering the whole range from bass all the way up to soprano. The album could loosely be called electronic opera metal as it contains a number of swirling electronic effects, the choir adding a wide range of vocal nuances which are all accompanied by heavy metal guitar riffing. Unlike Therion, Thanasis never came from a metal background so in effect DOL AMMAD sounds more like an electronic opera album that happens to have metal involved rather than the other way around.

This album is busy and bombastic to say the least. The album focuses on strong epic melodic developments that groove on into more complex pieces. The scales are somewhat classical in nature as to add the most effectiveness for the opera performers. The symphonic touches heavily fortify the overall glut of sounds with different synthesizer sounds oozing around and wriggling about like a million landed eels after a coastal tsunami. The music rather resembles the artwork that graces the cover with a busy layout of electronica and vocalizations doing gymnastics around each other while the metal sequences chug along in a rather mundane fashion. Unlike Therion there are never really any major metal outbursts as the heavy guitar distortion remains subordinate to the airy swirl of synthesizers and vocals. The whole idea of electronica art metal is quite the unexplored idea to say the least and one that is demanding as to keep up with all the different parts, however the simple rhythmic drives guarantees you can tune in and out of the deeper constructs at will without missing a beat.

What’s even stranger is that despite 12 choir members belting out notes in varying timbres and dynamics, this appears to be completely wordless and nothing more than a series of ooo-ing and aah-ing in what sounds like some sort of ritualistic summoning of Zeus and the god gang from far above. There is a flighty spaced out effect from the constant plethora of vocalizations with the treble section winning out because the bass and tenor tend to get melded with the metal instrumentation. While the overall mood is quite consistent throughout the slightly over hour listening experience, the tracks are varied enough to keep a sustained listened and there are purely electronic intros and overtures to change things up from time to time. This is certainly a grandiose and overweening production job that must have taken forever to mix in the perfect way and for that it is utterly amazing along with other twists and turns that include ethnic percussion sections and angelic harps just to name a few.

While the whole thing comes off to me as some sort of epic video game soundtrack as i can picture different scenarios where a player is fighting the gods in chariots in the sky or some sort, the music is sophisticated enough to hold up on its own two feet. While certainly not for the faint of heart and the bane for those who cannot decipher subtleties between a ridiculous amount of sonic elements, the music overall comes across on many levels depending on how deeply one wishes to focus therefore it is equally compelling as background music as it is a contemplative active experience. For the most part, this is a relentless hyperactive driven album with galloping guitar riffs surrounded by zooming synth parts swirling about in every direction but when it all slows down and the metal drops out, it becomes a progressive electronic heavenly experience. While often compared to Therion, and rightly so is a direct lineage, DOL AMMAD takes the whole concept of operatic metal to a completely different universe and one that i really love to visit.

LEAVES' EYES Sign of the Dragonhead

Album · 2018 · Symphonic Metal
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DippoMagoo
It can be hard for longtime fans of a band when a founding member suddenly departs, especially when that founding member happens to be a singer with a very distinctive voice like Liv Kristine. Well, that’s exactly what happened with Leaves’ Eyes in 2016, and while I won’t go into details (because that sort of thing is best left kept between band members) it sure sounds like the two parties didn’t part ways on good terms, which makes the situation even harder for fans to take. Personally, I’ve always found Leaves’ Eyes to be one of those bands who I can always rely on to deliver a solid album, but they rarely blow me away, outside of their 2011 release Meredead, which surprised me with its extensive focus on Celtic folk, and while I always enjoy their music, I wouldn’t put them up there with the likes of Nightwish, Epica, Within Temptation or Xandria as my favorite symphonic metal bands. With that being said, I am a fan of both Liv Kristine and her replacement Elina Siirala, and so I was interested to see what this new lineup would do all their first full-length release, following the Fires in the North EP in 2016. After waiting over a year, the band is finally set to release their seventh full-length album, Sign of the Dragonhead in 2018, but does it represent the start of a new era, or is it a sign that the band should call it quits? As usual, the truth is somewhere in between, in that there’s nothing here that truly blows me away, but it’s definitely a solid album that’s sure to please fans of the band, as long as they’re willing to give Elina Siirala a chance.

For their first few albums, Leaves’ Eyes seemed to be changing things up slightly each time, with Meredead in particular feeling like a shift into longer songs as well as being the album to put the most emphasis on folk elements, while its predecessor Njord, was perhaps the band’s heaviest and most gothic sounding album. Ever since Meredead, though, it feels like the band has started blending the two sounds together, with Symphonies of the Night and King of Kings both providing a steady mix of symphonic, gothic metal and Celtic folk, as well little bits of power metal here and there. I was curious to see whether or not the change in vocalist would also lead to a change in musical direction, but at least so far that isn’t the case, as Sign of the Dragonhead feels very similar to its two closest predecessors. Fans can expect some heavier tracks which mix in some gothic elements, including the expected death growls, as well as some lighter tracks, a ballad, some more folk-infused tracks, one speedy power metal track, and an 8-minute epic that closes out the album. Which is to say, this is quite the varied album, so at the very least it should keep most fans of the band happy, and the songwriting is fairly solid all around, with one exception. Musically, everything sounds tight as always, and while there’s nothing overly flashy going on, at least from the metal instruments, everything is well done and there are some good riffs and a few nice solos here and there. The symphonic arrangements and folk instruments stand out the most, as usual, but on the whole, it’s a nice sounding and well-produced album, as expected.

Obviously, the biggest point of interest on this album is the vocals, seeing as it’s the debut of Elina Siirala. I’ve reviewed both albums she’s done with her other band Angel Nation, so I was familiar with her voice before hearing this album and was already a fan, so it’s little surprise that I enjoy her vocals on this album a lot. She uses an operatic approach, like what Liv Kristine had been doing for a while, though her voice is a bit deeper and has a slightly darker tone. She doesn’t sound as distinct as Liv Kristine, but her voice is very nice and she does an excellent job throughout the album, sometimes using her operatic vocals in a very light and accessible way, while other times opening up a bit more and singing with more power, but she sounds equally great on every song and definitely fits in very well with the band. As usual, keyboardist Alexander Krull provides some growls, and once again, while his deep growls are powerful, they sound a bit forced to me, and there’s just something about how he uses them that I find a bit irritating, so the harsh vocal sections tend to be my least favorite parts of the album, just as they’ve always been.

The album gets off to a strong start with the title track, a rather fast-paced and epic symphonic metal track, which makes great use of its symphonic arrangements throughout. It has some pretty heavy lead riffs as well, and is definitely one of the harder hitting tracks on the album, as well as having one of the better choruses, where Elina instantly shines and proves herself to be a worthy vocalist for the band. There’s a brief harsh vocal section later on, which doesn’t bother me too much, and overall it’s an excellent start to the album. Next is “Across the Sea”, which opens up with some nice folk melodies, and it’s a very folk-infused track, where Elina’s vocals are very soft throughout in a pleasant way that carries the melodies well and blends in nicely with the music. It has a very catchy chorus and is one of my favorite tracks on the album. After that is “Like a Mountain”, a slower track which opens with a soft piano section where Elina uses some very strong operatic vocals. Once the song gets going, though, it’s a fairly standard symphonic metal track. The vocals are great throughout and there are some nice melodies, but it’s a fairly unremarkable track overall, aside from that great opening, and a similar section in the second half.

The rest of the album is quite varied and is fairly solid throughout, with a few standouts here and there. Going into some favorites, we have three folks infused tracks in “Jomsborg”, “Völva” and “Riders of the Wind”, which are all right next to each other. The first of these stands out to due to some very effective gang vocals, which add to the overall feeling of the track and help make it more epic, though musically it already has some great Celtic folk melodies, moves at a nice pace and has an excellent chorus, so it’s a very strong track overall. The middle track here is probably the least memorable of the three and is the slowest paced, though it has some great melodies and a great chorus as well, where the harsh vocals work effectively as backing vocals, though one harsh vocal section later in the track is a bit annoying. Lastly, “Riders of the Wind” is the most upbeat of the folk-infused tracks here, and it probably has the strongest Celtic folk influence, with some very nice melodies throughout, as well as some epic backing vocals and another amazing chorus. It’s a very fun and extremely catchy track which uses the folk elements particularly well, and the use of marching drums, later on, is pretty awesome. One last favorite is “Shadows of the Night”, a speedy symphonic power metal track, with great riffs and excellent vocals from Elina. Even the harsh vocal section, later on, is quite effective, and overall it’s the fastest track on the album, as well as one of the heavier songs, and it’s definitely one of the catchiest and most fun as well.

On the less memorable side of things, the ballad “Fairer Than the Sun” has some great vocals, but it never really gets going, with even the chorus not being overly strong, and aside from a nice guitar solo in the middle, there isn’t much about it that stands out. Fans may have already heard “Fires in the North” from the EP in 2016, and while it’s a solid mid-tempo track with a nice chorus, it’s another one of those songs which feel like fairly run of the mill symphonic metal to me. Lastly, we have the closing 8-minute epic “Waves of Euphoria”. To me, this track feels like the band’s attempt at a heavier, more extreme brand of symphonic metal in the style of Epica and newer Xandria, but while it has its moments, particularly the chorus where Elina really shines, the track overall comes up well short of its ambitions, unfortunately. Musically, the riffs are decent but nowhere near as strong as Epica’s guitar work, and on a compositional level, the song is decent but not as complex or impressive as what either band I mentioned has done in recent years. Worst of all, Alexander’s harsh vocals seem especially irritating on this track and really get on my nerves at points. There’s one really memorable guitar melody around halfway through, and Elina sounds excellent throughout, but otherwise, I find the track to be a fairly disappointing ending to the album.

Overall, Sign of the Dragonhead is a solid symphonic metal album which starts a new chapter for Leaves’ Eyes in much the same way as the last one ended, meaning it’s another enjoyable album, which mostly meets expectations, but musically it doesn’t quite reach the heights of some of the elite players in the genre. It does provide a nice blend of symphonic metal and Celtic folk, as well as strong gothic elements and occasional power metal elements, and I think it should please most fans of Leaves’ Eyes who are willing to give Elina Siirala a fair chance. I’d say it’s roughly on par with King of Kings and Symphonies of the Night, but not on the same level as Meredead.

originally written for myglobalmind.com: https://myglobalmind.com/2017/12/07/leaves-eyes-sign-dragonhead-review/

TRANS-SIBERIAN ORCHESTRA The Lost Christmas Eve

Album · 2004 · Symphonic Metal
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martindavey87
Forget Slade, forget Mariah Carey and forget Cliff Richards. When it comes to Christmas music you can’t get any better than Trans-Siberian Orchestra.

Lead by producer Paul O'Neill, the Trans-Siberian Orchestra brings together musicians from all different genres, and namely members of the metal band Savatage, to bring us Christmas-themed rock operas. Brilliantly arranged, with fantastic musicianship and some emotionally powerful vocals, if you're a Scrooge like me, at least this will give you something to look forward to around the holiday season.

The great thing about this group is the diversity of styles utilized in the music. Most notable are the metal and rock influences, but there's elements of blues, jazz and classical music too, with singers coming from all kinds of musical backgrounds. With such a wide pallet of dynamics and styles at their disposal, the music constantly sounds fresh and exciting throughout.

Songs such as 'The Lost Christmas Eve', 'Wizards in Winter', 'Christmas Nights in Blue', 'What Child is This?' and 'Christmas Canon Rock' make this album a joy to listen to, and it's only bought down a notch by one or two fillers.

In fact, the only major detriment with this release is that you can only really listen to it during the Christmas period, without feeling like a complete knob, that is. But when December 25th comes around, light some candles, pour some wine, and put on some Trans-Siberian Orchestra as you open presents with your loved ones. It's a truly wonderful experience.

EPICA The Solace System

EP · 2017 · Symphonic Metal
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adg211288
When Dutch symphonic metal maestros Epica wrapped up recording their last full-length album The Holographic Principle (2016), they found themselves with more songs than they needed. Uninterested in releasing a double album, a portion of these songs got dropped from the finished product. But rather than be regulated to the status of bonus tracks, they've been held back for The Solace System (2017), a six track EP release.

Lasting for a little shy of a full half hour, this is still a fairly substantial new release from Epica. I have albums passed off as full-lengths that are shorter than this. But due to its very nature one has to wonder going into it if the music will be somehow lesser than their usual high standard. After all, these are the six songs that didn't make it onto The Holographic Principle. Well overall I'd say that it's true that these ones didn't make the main album for a reason, but the good news is that The Holographic Principle has many claims to being Epica's best album, so the standard is so high that The Solace System's six cast-off songs are still very worthwhile additions to any Epica fan's collection and certainly still better than the work of the average symphonic metal band.

Sound wise the six songs are very similar to The Holographic Principle, for obvious reasons. Symphonic metal with strong progressive complexity and a bit of power metal influence. If you enjoyed that album then there's little reason not to also pick up The Solace System. It will never be as good but it's certainly essential supplemental material, especially the tracks Architect of Light, Wheel of Destiny and Decoded Poetry, that will serve well to tide listeners over while we wait for the next Epica full-length.

TRANS-SIBERIAN ORCHESTRA Christmas Eve and Other Stories

Album · 1996 · Symphonic Metal
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martindavey87
It's bad enough hearing the same Christmas songs non-stop on the radio between the 1st and 25th of December. What's even worse is that in this day and age of commercialism, most supermarkets (in the UK, at least), start playing these songs over the radio as early as the first week of November! Sounds crazy, right? So it's understandable that, between seven weeks of the same songs every year (which only seems to get more tedious as you get older), that heartwarming spark of nostalgia is replaced with utter contempt for the holiday season.

Or perhaps that's just me. I am borderline sociopathic, mind you...

Thankfully, here's the Trans-Siberian Orchestra to get us through the monotony of the Christmas period.

Sounding exactly like the metal band Savatage, but with an orchestra (which funnily enough, is exactly what this is, for lack of a better description), Trans-Siberian Orchestra ("TSO" for short) take all the classic Christmas carols that we've come to love, and gives them the full rock opera treatment, with styles ranging from rock, pop and jazz, and an assortment of vocalists, including a kids choir thrown in for good measure. There's a feeble attempt at a storyline in there somewhere, but I wouldn't bother digging too deep into it.

TSO are a great and certainly unique group, but this album as a whole just feels slightly lacking. The musicianship is incredible, and the music covers a lot of ground, from epically bombastic tracks to beautifully emotional ones. However, some of the tracks seem the complete opposite. Lifeless, dull, lacking any real emotion or depth.

Some of the highlights include 'A Mad Russians Christmas', 'First Snow', 'Promises to Keep', and the epic 'Christmas Eve/Sarajevo 12/24', which is probably the true highlight of the album and interestingly enough was also used on Savatage's album 'Dead Winter Dead'.

Arranged by rock producer Paul O'Neill, Trans-Siberian Orchestra's debut album 'Christmas Eve & Other Stories' is an ambitious record that doesn't quite hold up as well as subsequent releases, but that's mostly due to the fact that their later output is just so damn good. It's a good album though, and still worth listening to if you're fed up with hearing the same, rehashed Christmas hits every year.

symphonic metal movie reviews

NIGHTWISH Showtime, Storytime

Movie · 2013 · Symphonic Metal
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Pekka
You probably know the story. Anette Olzon, Tarja Turunen's replacement at the Nightwish mic was let go in the middle of the band's tour for Imaginaerum, and Floor Jansen was summoned to be her stand in at an extremely short notice, finally ending up as the permanent vocalist. At least for the time being, that is, knowing the band's tumultous history with their front women. While all this was happening they had the cameras rolling for a tour documentary they would probably have released anyway, but this turn of events naturally kicked the interest level up a notch or two.

The documentary starts at the turning point of the tour - the gig with the Kamelot singers while Anette was hospitalized and the heroic entry of Floor Jansen, and so naturally the viewer expects a dramatic back story of how they got to the low point. But no, the tour starts out great and everything goes smoothly and the touring machine is examined in great detail from many angles right down to Tuomas Holopainen's wine bottle stand under the keyboards. The tour continues to be a success and everyone is having fun, and suddenly they have insurmountable personnel strife that just can't be salvaged. Especially after reading the mercilessly honest and brutally detailed official band biography, it's very disappointing that the problems with Anette are in no way explained. They just couldn't continue being in the same band and that's that.

So the big potential is wasted, possibly due to Anette's refusal to be included in any form, and that may after all be a blessing in disguise, since the documentary was originally supposed to be a stand alone release. I'm only guessing here, but perhaps this bastardisation was the reason they chose to include the Wacken gig as well, and push the documentary to the second disc.

And holy hell are they on fire in the main feature! I get immense pleasure from the sense that this group that I started listening back in 1997 when I first heard The Carpenter on a metal compilation cassette (fuck yeah) made by a friend, and lost for some years after Once, has finally found the perfect line-up without a single hiccup. Tarja's voice was what made the band stand out in the beginning, but as a metal frontwoman she was always awkward, as was the pop-oriented Anette Olzon after her. Third time's the charm, and in Floor Jansen they have a true stunning metal goddess with lungs to handle any and every song from the band's catalogue while making them her own. And let's not underestimate the official addition of Troy Donockley, who brings important colour to their sound. I'll be excited to hear how the band utilises his rather metalless but extremely pleasant voice on the next album.

The band is captured touring my favourite Nightwish album, so the setlist leaves little to be desired, but it would've been nice to hear more than one track from their first three albums. And Scaretale from Imaginaerum, though that was such a perfect performance by Anette that I doubt Floor can top that. Nightwish as a musical unit is so much tied to the taped orchestrations these days that it leaves very little space for improvisation, which is why it's nice to hear a little additional keyboard solo in I Wish I Had An Angel, and which is also why it's easy to let the newly improved vocal department steal the show.

Put cameras on this show, and it's bound to be brilliant. The band were on top of their game on this tour after the personnel change, so it will be interesting to see how they make the new line-up work on record. For the first time since 2005 I'm eagerly awaiting the next Nightwish album.

Concert ***** Documentary **½

METALLICA S&M

Movie · 1999 · Symphonic Metal
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AtomicCrimsonRush
"Let's hear it for Michael Kamen yeah!" He was the only one who had the guts to do this. This is the ultimate exercise in excess, to marry Metallica with a Symphony orchestra. The DVD is a crystal clear well edited package onthe ultimate event of the year. It is great to watch the orchestra getting into the music and then to see Metallica banging along. The crowd are as raucous as any Metallicrowd and of course it is as heavy as it always is. There are some fantastic surprises such as Call Of Cthulu sounding very Gothic and powerful with the violins and brass. The concert shows in equal measure the band and orchestra trading off seamlessly. It has been done before of course with Deep Purple and other metal acts. It is almost becoming a cliche of late with many bands taking up the idea including Kiss, Within Temptation, Dream Theater and Therion, all of which are captured on DVD. Non metal acts have done it such as Camel, Yes and ELP. The weird thing about it is these orchestral and rock marriages always work for me. I love to hear that massive orchestral sound with the crunching distortion of guitars. To hear a violin sweep across when you expect a guitar solo is bliss to my ears.

There are so many highlights on this DVD including Master of Puppets, more dramatic than ever, the darkness of super heavy The Thing That Should Not Be, The Memory Remains, iconic with audience participation, Nothing Else Matters, a definitive highlight and the crowd are in raptures when this is played. For Whom the Bell Tolls sounds very Gothic with the sweeping violins, and the song One is a masterpiece with the orchestral accompaniment.

The footage is professionally shot and edited as you would expect and it is nice to see the orhestra mamebrs having fun with this. None of the songs are less heavy, they are augmented to majestic heights. Watching this concert live is the best experience which is perhaps a pinnacle of the group's existence. Soon after it all turned sour as we know, captured on the astonishing Some Kind of Monster doco, but it is so great to see Metallica at the height of their powers as we do in S & M. Check out this DVD to see metal at its grandest.

WITHIN TEMPTATION The Silent Force Tour

Movie · 2005 · Symphonic Metal
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adg211288
I find that music DVD’s can be a hit or miss thing’s with fans but this one is a definite hit. If you haven’t had the chance to see Within Temptation live then this DVD captures them at their flawless best; perfect renditions of many of their best songs, spanning all four studio releases that they had at the time, great stage sets and special guests. I’ve actually seen the band while they promoted the album that they released in 2007, The Heart of Everything and in that show they mainly only played songs from said album and The Silent Force, throwing in a couple of fan favourites from Mother Earth, so The Silent Force Tour DVD makes for a great chance to see early classics such as Candles and The Other Half (of me) performed.

Clearly the band have spared no expense to make their show one to rival that of band’s said to be the some of the greatest live performers of modern times. We see a torch light procession for Candles, huge blow up creeper things to represent the power of nature during Mother Earth and lead singer Sharon den Adel suspended above the stage in a cage for Caged. Some band’s will go out of stage and just play but not Within Temptation. This is not just music, this is a show.

But first and foremost in importance is the music. Within Temptation play without fault and Sharon den Adel never misses a single note. We even get to hear the vocals of guitarist Robert Westerholt on a couple of songs, giving fans who may have only heard The Silent Force or The Heart of Everything a chance to hear Within Temptation’s earlier ‘beauty and the beast’ style of vocal delivery. Song highlights are Deceiver of Fools, Angels, Caged, Mother Earth, Candles, The Other Half (of me), Jane Doe and It’s the Fear.

Extras wise there is three music videos for the singles that came from The Silent Force (Stand My Ground, Angels, Memories) and two shorter live appearances on the first of the two discs. The extra live shows only have songs that appear in the main show and one is the same songs as the three music videos but it’s the main concert that you should be buying this for. If you’re like me you won’t be bother by that fact after you’ve watched the main show.

On the second disc you’ll find backstage footage from various places; making of documentaries for The Silent Force album and the three music videos; some interviews; a photo gallery and a bloopers/credits section. It’s not stuff that you’d probably watch more than once but I’m giving this DVD it’s rating based on the main feature. All this extra stuff is just a bonus next to that. That in itself I feel is justification for the 100% score I’m giving this DVD. If you like this band, what are you waiting for? Go buy it.

(Review originally written for Heavy Metal Haven)

METALLICA S&M

Movie · 1999 · Symphonic Metal
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Stooge
I had owned the CD version of S&M years ago, so it is good to revisit this with the visuals thrown in. Contrary to what I remembered from the CD, there really isn’t too much toestepping between what Metallica plays and what the orchestra plays. Most of the songs sound about as smooth as the originals. In fact, the only songs that I’m still not convinced worked effectively were “Until It Sleeps”, “Wherever I May Roam”, “Sad But True”, and much of “Battery” (though I love the intro). Even “Enter Sandman” worked surprisingly well.

Most of the material in this concert comes from songs from the Black Album and later. I would have liked to see a bit more variety in their song selection as there are plenty of songs from their past that almost naturally lend themselves to orchestration. Even a tune off of Kill ‘Em All would have been an interesting attempt.

Just for fun, here are some songs I would have liked to see them attempt with the orchestra: “Fade To Black”, “Orion”, “Welcome Home (Sanitarium)”, “…And Justice For All”, and “The Unforgiven”.

Although not the first rock/metal band to perform with an orchestra, Metallica often gets credit for starting a trend for rock bands to collaborate with an orchestra. However, much of the credit for the success of S&M should be given to conductor Michael Kamen. He was the one who spearheaded the project by taking an interest in Metallica’s music and proposing that they further collaborate (he did some arranging in 1991 on “Nothing Else Matters”). His arrangements on the two previously unreleased songs, “No Leaf Clover” and “- Human”, give both songs a strong identity. It would have been interesting to hear an entire album or an EP with all new material, because the collaboration certainly had potential.

As a whole, I’d say this is a good Metallica release. The performance by all involved is good and it’s shot well. However, it would be a stretch to call this essential Metal(lica).

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