Neoclassical metal

MetalMusicArchives.com — the ultimate metal music online community, from the creators of progarchives.com

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 (shared with Power Metal & US Power Metal):
  • DippoMagoo (leader)
  • adg211288
  • Sisslith

neoclassical metal top albums

Showing only albums and EPs | Based on members ratings & MMA custom algorithm | 24 hours caching

CACOPHONY Speed Metal Symphony Album Cover Speed Metal Symphony
CACOPHONY
4.24 | 19 ratings
Buy this album from MMA partners
YNGWIE J. MALMSTEEN Inspiration Album Cover Inspiration
YNGWIE J. MALMSTEEN
4.19 | 11 ratings
Buy this album from MMA partners
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
4.17 | 11 ratings
Buy this album from MMA partners
MARTY FRIEDMAN Dragon's Kiss Album Cover Dragon's Kiss
MARTY FRIEDMAN
4.11 | 14 ratings
Buy this album from MMA partners
YNGWIE J. MALMSTEEN Rising Force Album Cover Rising Force
YNGWIE J. MALMSTEEN
4.03 | 49 ratings
Buy this album from MMA partners
TONY MACALPINE Edge Of Insanity Album Cover Edge Of Insanity
TONY MACALPINE
3.91 | 8 ratings
Buy this album from MMA partners
YNGWIE J. MALMSTEEN Facing the Animal Album Cover Facing the Animal
YNGWIE J. MALMSTEEN
3.88 | 9 ratings
Buy this album from MMA partners
YNGWIE J. MALMSTEEN Alchemy Album Cover Alchemy
YNGWIE J. MALMSTEEN
3.83 | 11 ratings
Buy this album from MMA partners
TONY MACALPINE Maximum Security Album Cover Maximum Security
TONY MACALPINE
3.83 | 11 ratings
Buy this album from MMA partners
YNGWIE J. MALMSTEEN Odyssey Album Cover Odyssey
YNGWIE J. MALMSTEEN
3.76 | 28 ratings
Buy this album from MMA partners
YNGWIE J. MALMSTEEN Trilogy Album Cover Trilogy
YNGWIE J. MALMSTEEN
3.72 | 27 ratings
Buy this album from MMA partners
YNGWIE J. MALMSTEEN Marching Out Album Cover Marching Out
YNGWIE J. MALMSTEEN
3.69 | 29 ratings
Buy this album from MMA partners
This list is in progress since the site is new. We invite all logged in members to use the "quick rating" widget (stars bellow album covers) or post full reviews to increase the weight of your rating in the global average value (see FAQ for more details). Enjoy MMA!

neoclassical metal online videos

neoclassical metal New Releases

neoclassical metal Music Reviews

STORMWIND Heaven Can Wait

Album · 1999 · Neoclassical metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
lukretion
After two LPs recorded with different guest musicians, Swedish guitarist Thomas Wolf decided to gather a proper, stable line-up for his neoclassical metal project Stormwind. Joining Wolf on th band’s third full-length, Heaven Can Wait, are singer Thomas Vikström (ex-Candlemass), keyboard player Kaspar Dahlqvist (Treasure Land) and drummer Patrick Johansson (who will shortly afterwards join Yngwie Malmsteen’s band). All three newcomers are first-class musicians, who definitely elevate Wolf’s project to a whole new level compared to the previous instalments of the band. This allowed Wolf to write songs that are more aggressive and technical than the ones he had written for his previous two records, straying away from the melodic neoclassical hard rock sound of those albums and towards a neoclassical power metal style similar to that pursued by Malmsteen around the same time.

With such strong premises, the expectations for Heaven Can Wait are understandably high. Unfortunately, the album falls short in multiple ways. There are two main shortcomings. First, I have the impression that on this record Wolf had not yet found the right songwriting formula to fully exploit the talents of his new line-up. By penning fast, aggressive pieces he may have tried to play to the strengths of Johansson’s ultra-technical drumming, Vikström’s powerful voice, and Dahlqvist’s fluid soloing abilities (in addition to Wolf’s own technical prowess). But, in doing so, he forgot one essential ingredient of neoclassical metal music: strong melodies. There are very few songs, or parts of songs, that are memorable and catchy here. Most of the album flows away anonymously amidst keyboard/guitar solo duels, tons of baroque-sounding riffs and leads, and a lot of other musical tricks that tick all the right boxes of the neoclassical metal style (alternation between mid-tempo pieces and faster songs; tempo halving/doubling between verse and chorus; relentless double-bass drumming), while failing to leave any lasting impression. I also think that Wolf did not yet know how to write for Vikström’s voice. The singer has an expressive tenor voice, with a good range and lots of character. Many of the parts for his voice here force him to use his upper register in a way that comes across as strained, inevitably sacrificing expressivity and character.

But what really kills this album, in my opinion, is the abysmal production. Stormwind have a history of badly produced albums (hint to all guitar heroes out there: it is OK to leave the control knobs to external producers, once in a while, if you are not up to scratch), but I think Heaven Can Wait beats them all hands down. The sound quality of this album is truly demo-like. The instruments do not blend with each other at all, either because they sound very separated in the mix or because they are piled senselessly on top of one another. The voice is way too upfront in the mix, in a way that highlights all the little imperfections in Vikström’s singing. The drums are also too loud and often drown out a lot of the other instruments. Sometimes this is actually a blessing, because Wolf’s rhythm guitar sound is terrible: muddy and raw, this is definitely not what is needed to do justice to his polished, ornate riffing. This reckless production job makes listening to this album a rather painful experience.

Overall, Heaven Can Wait is a disappointing affair. Stormwind’s previous LP Stargate was impressive, not least thanks to the use of a highly skilled female vocalist as lead singer, which is rather unusual for this style of metal. On Heaven Can Wait, Thomas Wolf put together a whole new line-up consisting of top Swedish musicians and went for a more traditional take on the neoclassical genre. The move did not pay off here: Stormwind lost something in terms of originality while at the same time did not realize huge gains in terms of improved performance or songwriting. On the contrary, the songs Wolf wrote for Heaven Can Wait are not nearly as impressive as the first 5/6 tracks that had appeared on Stargate. Add the fact that the new album sounds terrible, and it is hard to recommend Heaven Can Wait to anyone beyond the strictest circle of Stormwind’s hardcore fans and collectors.

STORMWIND Stargate

Album · 1998 · Neoclassical metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
lukretion
In the 90s Sweden was a fertile land for neoclassical metal, the metal subgenre based on a combination of hard rock, speed metal and baroque music popularized by Swedish guitar wizard Yngwie Malmsteen, who himself found inspiration in the songwriting of Ritchie Blackmore and his brainchild Rainbow. Guided by guitarist Thomas Wolf, Stormwind follow in the footsteps of the aforementioned six-string heroes. At the time of their second LP Stargate, the band was by and large a Thomas Wolf’s solo project, which is also reflected in their moniker (“Thomas Wolf’s Stormwind”). The guitarist is here aided by a score of different musicians, including Europe’s drummer Ian Haugland, keyboardist Per Hallman and bass player Kristofer Eng (who will later both play in prog rock outfit Brighteye Brison), and singer Angelica Häggström.

The presence of a female vocalist is probably the main element of novelty and interest in this album, since this is an unusual choice for neoclassical metal bands. The music on Stargate is otherwise a competent but fairly ordinary take on Rainbow’s hard rock / melodic metal style, with generous helpings of virtuoso’s showmanship that would have made Malmsteen proud. The guitar takes of course centre stage in the album’s twelve songs, where Wolf showcases a barrage of techniques, from standard hard rock riffs, to power chords, to leads inspired by typical baroque runs, to two-part guitar harmonies, and plenty of technical solos too. The keyboards mostly feature in a supplementary role, playing chords to add to the songs’ texture, and, in a couple of occasions, engaging in “solo duels” with Wolf’s guitars. Rhythmically, things are not particularly adventurous as per the genre’s standard. The drums mostly keep a straight rock tempo that does not vary much in the course of a song. Kristofer Eng’s bass playing is instead bolder, with lots of small solos and grooves that do not fail to capture the ear. The songs alternate between epic and majestic mid-tempos and faster, more aggressive numbers, in classic Rainbow/Malmsteen’s style, with a lean and focused songwriting that is centred on the repetition of verse/chorus plus the obligatory solo intermezzos.

What distinguishes Stargate from most other albums in this style is Angelica Häggström’s performance. Her voice is a cross between Ronnie James Dio and Janis Joplin, if you can imagine how that may sound. She packs a nice vibrato, tons of husky character, and power too. She can rip and roar in the most aggressive songs (“Hit by the Sun”; “Aliens”), but she also shows plenty of shades and emotions in the more mid-tempo pieces (“Masquerade of Love”; “Stargate”). She also has good melodies to sing, especially in songs like “Masquerade of Love”, “Time Won’t Tell” and “Stargate”, which are possibly the best tracks of the record.

Unfortunately, the interesting songs are all placed in the album’s first half, while the second half is considerably weaker and lacks cohesion too, due to a couple of tracks that do not seem to fit with the rest of the material (the bluesy “Cry for Your Love”, the strange AOR/metal hybrid “Beyond Lies”). This detracts somewhat from the listening experience since after the title-track I almost invariably skip most of the remaining songs, with the exception of the good instrumental “Miramar” that closes the album. The other major weakness of Stargate is the subpar production. The sound is muddy and muffled, and there is something seriously wrong with the mastering as there are several instances of audio clipping especially when the bassist starts slapping/soloing. The levels in the mix are also far from optimal, with the guitar sometimes pushed too far back and the drum/bass combo too upfront.

Overall, Stargate is an interesting, if imperfect, record that fans of neoclassical metal should pay attention to. In a sea of music releases that often sound all too samey, Stargate stands out thanks to some inspired songwriting and the presence of an exceptional female vocalist, which is highly unusual for the genre. A weaker second half and a messy production spoil somewhat the album’s enjoyment, but not so badly to completely undermine the record, which is in fact one of the best releases from this Swedish combo.

STORMWIND Rising Symphony

Album · 2003 · Neoclassical metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
lukretion
Formed in 1995, Stormwind are the brainchild of Swedish guitar maestro Thomas Wolf. The band started playing an unusual brand of female-fronted AOR, before transitioning towards a neoclassical power metal sound that nevertheless retained distinctive AOR / hard rock influences. The band caught the attention of Massacre Records that in 2000 offered them a record deal. Stormwind will go on to release three studio albums and one live record for the German label, which Black Lodge Records is now re-releasing in remastered format with added bonus tracks. Rising Symphony is the last studio album released by Stormwind in 2003, concluding a short but prolific career, with six studio albums in the course of a mere nine years.

The first thing that is impressive about this album is the quality of Stormwind lineup. Thomas Wolf is a guitar powerhouse, following in the footsteps of giants like Ritchie Blackmore and Yngwie Malmsteen, but with a more modern, almost thrashy edge to his playing that makes it refreshing. Thomas Vikström is responsible for the vocal duties. The guy needs little introduction, his stints in Candlemass and Therion have gained him a strong reputation in the metal circles. His performance on Rising Symphony is remarkable, especially for the impressive vocal range he shows throughout the album. The rhythm section is comprised of drummer David Wallin (currently playing with HammerFall) and bassist Andreas Olsson (Royal Hunt, ex-Narnia). Their playing is tight and hyper-fast, yet precise and nuanced, as the genre dictates. The lineup is completed by keyboard player Kaspar Dahlqvist (who played on Angra’s Secret Garden album). His presence is not very prominent on this album, but in previous Stormwind’s records his duels with Thomas Wolf’s guitar were nothing short of legendary.

It’s fair to say that this strong lineup is what holds this album together. Don’t get me wrong, Rising Symphony is by no means a bad album. Its nine tracks alternate between fast speed metal pieces and majestic ballads and mid-tempos, always retaining a strong neoclassical power metal gusto in the spirit of legendary acts like Rainbow, Yngwie Malmsteen’s Rising Force and Stratovarius. There is also a strong hard rock component, that is most evident in songs like “Streets of Prishtine” and Queen’s cover “White Man”. Yet, I cannot shake off the impression that most of what I hear on this album has already been done (and better) elsewhere, including by Stormwind on their previous albums. Without strong performances like those provided by the band, the album would have seriously risked to fall completely flat.

Part of the problem is that Wolf’s songwriting on Rising Symphony follows a rather plain “pedal-to-metal” approach, relying on speed and heaviness rather than atmosphere and melody. Inevitably, the songs feel less nuanced and are melodically weaker than the sophisticated and vaguely proggy material Wolf had written for albums like Resurrection (2000) or Reflections (2001). Even the obligatory semi-acoustic ballad “River of Love” pales in comparison to songs like “Golden Tears” and “Seven Seas” that Stormwind had released on their previous two albums. The record also feels a tad too heterogeneous for its own sake. “Streets of Prishtine” is actually a very good song, and it would have worked perfectly well if it had been released by Whitesnake on one of their 80s albums. But it feels spectacularly out of place squeezed between the neoclassical speed metal assault of “Flyer” and the epic mid-tempo “Excalibur”. The same goes for the bluesy Queen’s cover “White Man”. Truth be told, Stormwind’s hard rock version of this track is actually more engaging that the original by Queen, but it nevertheless remains an odd choice for a power metal album.

The albums has some saving grace in songs like the epic Viking tale of “Strangers from the Sea”, which features a rich choral extravaganza, and “Excalibur”, a majestic yet vaguely sinister mid-tempo that closes the album in style. I actually wish Stormwind had relied more heavily on the use of choirs (sometimes operatic, sometimes more in the vein of Queen), as they had done on their previous album Reflections. On that album, the choirs added an unusual feel to the typical neoclassical power metal sound, elevating Stormwind above other similar bands. Unfortunately, we only get a taste of this on “Strangers from the Sea” and “River of Love”, while the rest of the album moves within much more conventional territories.

The remastered version does not sound all that different from the original 2003 CD. Noticeable differences emerge mostly on the more complex passages, like the busy chorus of “Strangers from the Sea”, where the remaster sounds smoother and more balanced. The new release contains one bonus track, the fairly anonymous “Wings of Tomorrow”, a re-recording of a song that had originally appeared on the band's debut album and was released as a bonus track on the 2003’s Japanese version of Rising Symphony. It replaces the short acoustic instrumental “Venezia” that had appeared on the 2003 European release and that, frankly, was a more pleasant and interesting piece.

All in all, at Rising Symphony may not be Stormwind’s finest hour, but this should not stop you to explore the band’s back catalogue. Albums like Resurrection and especially Reflections are excellent examples of the neoclassical power metal revival of the 1990s and can hold their ground when compared to some of the best works in the genre. Black Lodge Records has re-released both of these albums as well and, if you are a fan of this type of sound, you should definitely check them out!

[Originally written for The Metal Observer]

STORMWIND Reflections

Album · 2001 · Neoclassical metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
lukretion
When faced with a band releasing four albums in only four years one could understandably fear that the law of diminishing returns may kick in, resulting in lower and lower quality per album. Quite the contrary: with Reflections, Swedish neoclassical power metallers Stormwind have released probably their best album yet, refining to near perfection the tried-and-true formula they had already experimented with on previous releases.

The roots of the band’s sound go back to the days of Rainbow and Yngwie Malmsteen’s Rising Force (1980s period). Baroque but muscular guitar riffs and extended solo duels between guitar and keyboards abound here. The songs alternate between fast-tempo speed metal assaults (“War of Troy”, “Queen of Nine Days”, “Assassin of Honour”) and more majestic mid-tempos (“The Man Behind the Iron Mask”, “Reflections”, “Ramses”). There is also the obligatory semi-acoustic ballad “Golden Tears” that in truth is perhaps one of the best pieces of the album. All songs are neatly constructed around tight conventional structures (verse/bridge/chorus/solo, repeat) and feature strong choruses that are both catchy and epic. In short, Stormwind put on display the full spectrum of musical expression that one would expect to find on the best albums in this genre.

Although originality may not be the strong suit here, Reflections stand out relative to previous Stormwind’s albums for the abundant and slightly unconventional use of choirs throughout its ten compositions. Singer Thomas Vikström showcases the full range of his vocal skills here, alternating between semi-operatic bass/tenor choirs and more traditional hard rock / AOR choral singing. The overall effect is beautiful and greatly enriches the listening experience, injecting a much needed touch of novelty into the album.

The other strength of the album are the strong performances of all musicians involved. Stormwind’s mastermind Thomas Wolf is an excellent guitarist, in the vein of Blackmore and Malmsteen, but is less baroque in his solos, which have instead a more modern, almost thrashy edge. The rest of the lineup is no less impressive. Thomas Vikström (ex-Candlemass, Therion) is a powerhouse who needs little introduction. His vocal range is impressive and he particularly shines when he uses his mid-range, although he does a great job on the high notes too. Drummer Patrick Johansson is equally impressive. His playing is ultrafast, but at the same time extremely nuanced and precise. When I listen to this album I often find myself zooming in on his playing, as it is so rich and multifaceted that it deserves full attention on its own (listen to that drum mayhem on “War of Troy”, for instance). Unfortunately, this is the last album Johansson will record with Stormwind, as shortly after this release he joined Yngwie Malmsteen’s band. I also like Kaspar Dahlqvist’s keyboard arrangements and solos that greatly contribute to the neoclassical sound of the album. Bassist Andreas Olsson is perhaps the least prominent musician here, but not for lack of skills (he will later join highly-technical bands like Narnia and Royal Hunt), but rather because in the mix his instrument is a bit buried underneath the rhythm guitar, which is not unusual for the genre.

The production is otherwise a big improvement relative to the band’s previous album, Resurrection. There is more balance between the instruments, which contributes to the elegant and nuanced feel of the album. The drums sound great, and so do Vikström’s vocals. There is also more separation between keyboards and guitars, and both can be heard well when they play together (this was an issue on the previous record). The only aspect of the production I dislike slightly is the guitar tone, which is a bit too thin and light for my taste, taking away power and depth from the recordings.

Overall, Reflections is a pleasant album of neoclassical power metal that will surely not disappoint the fans of the genre. The tasteful alternation between fast speed metal pieces, majestic mid-tempos and ballads ensures that the listener stays interested throughout the 45 minutes of the record. Most songs are above-average in terms of quality and entertaining value, although perhaps the album lacks one or two “killer” tracks that could truly elevate it to the next level. Nevertheless, songs like “The Man Behind the Iron Mask”, the proggy title-track, “Golden Tears”, and the theatrical “Queen of Nine Days” are extremely well done examples of neoclassical power metal that can compete with the best works in the genre.

STORMWIND Resurrection

Album · 2000 · Neoclassical metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
lukretion
Stormwind are guitarist Thomas Wolf’s brainchild and Resurrection is their fourth album, released in 2000 via Massacre Records. Started as an AOR / hard rock outfit, the band slowly but steadily transitioned towards the neoclassical power metal genre, gaining accolades among fans of bands like Rainbow, Yngwie Malmsteen’s Rising Force and Stratovarius. Resurrection is firmly rooted in the neoclassical power metal camp, although the band’s early AOR influences do surface from time to time, especially in the hyper-melodic choruses of the songs.

It’s an interesting, if not terribly original, formula that Stormwind use well throughout the nine tracks of the record. The album ticks all the right boxes for appealing to neoclassical power metal fans. The songs alternate between fast up-tempo material and majestic, epic mid-tempos. There is the obligatory power ballad (the excellent “Seven Seas”) and we even have an instrumental guitar suite in three parts (“Synphonia Millennialis”) that moves with ease between acoustic and electric sections. All tracks feature plenty of baroque yet muscular guitar riffs as well as exciting duels between guitars and keyboards. The level of technical proficiency is high. Thomas Wolf is a skilled guitarist and his solos are always interesting and exciting. Keyboard player Kaspar Dahlqvist is a more than adequate sparring partner for Wolf’s solos, and the duels between guitars and keyboards are always one of the most interesting parts of every song. Thomas Vikström’s (ex-Candlemass, Therion) vocals rip and soar, showcasing all his talent. Meanwhile, Patrick Johansson provides quickfire drumming, fast as lightning but incredibly precise and nuanced, injecting the right oomph to the music.

The album flows away pleasantly, albeit slightly anonymously due to the lack of songs that can be real showstoppers. “Souldance” and “Samuraj” are those that grabbed my attention the most. The combination of ultra-melodic choruses and cool, classically-inspired riffs is a trick that never ceases to amuse and Stormwind pull it off really well on these two tracks. The ballad “Seven Seas” is another high point of the album. It starts slow with piano and voice, before gaining momentum and growing into a full-band, emotional finale. The other songs are also pleasant, but fail to leave a lasting mark on my musical psyche.

There is one aspect of the album, however, that I find really unfortunate, and it is the terribly poor production. The tones and levels of the instruments are a mess on this record. Guitars and keyboards constantly steal space from one another and when they play together it is really hard to figure out what’s being played by either instrument. The vocals are far too back in the mix and the drums and bass are too upfront. The sound is particularly poor when the songs gain momentum and all instruments play to the max, as one can hardly distinguish what is going on. It’s a pity, because I think I would have liked the album much better if it had had a decent production.

Overall, this one is a bit of a hit and miss for me. It leaves me with the bittersweet sense of unrealized potential. Stormwind are incredibly skilled musicians and have good songwriting chops, but on this record they somehow fail to convey these skills into truly outstanding and memorable songs. Add to this a general lack of originality and a terrible production, and the result is an OK album that unfortunately is unlikely to see the inside of my CD player again any time soon.

neoclassical metal movie reviews

No neoclassical metal movie reviews posted yet.

Artists with Neoclassical metal release(s)

MMA TOP 5 Metal ALBUMS

Rating by members, ranked by custom algorithm
Albums with 30 ratings and more
Master of Puppets Thrash Metal
METALLICA
Buy this album from our partners
Paranoid Heavy Metal
BLACK SABBATH
Buy this album from our partners
Moving Pictures Hard Rock
RUSH
Buy this album from our partners
Powerslave NWoBHM
IRON MAIDEN
Buy this album from our partners
Rising Heavy Metal
RAINBOW
Buy this album from our partners

New Metal Artists

New Metal Releases

Void Within Progressive Metal
HOURGLASS
Buy this album from MMA partners
All That Is Left To Believe Metalcore
DESOLANCE
Buy this album from MMA partners
Ordalie Metalcore
SIDEBURN
Buy this album from MMA partners
The End So Far Nu Metal
SLIPKNOT (IA)
Buy this album from MMA partners
I Am Eating My Shame Metalcore
ROTTING IN DIRT
Buy this album from MMA partners
More new releases

New Metal Online Videos

DEVIN TOWNSEND - Why? (OFFICIAL VIDEO)
DEVIN TOWNSEND
Tupan· 2 days ago
More videos

New MMA Metal Forum Topics

More in the forums

New Site interactions

More...

Latest Metal News

members-submitted

More in the forums

Social Media

Follow us