Saturday, 7 June 2014

Classical Music - Meet Heavy Metal

While browsing YouTube I came across a music video called Dr Who Meets Metal, which features a guitarist shredding the Doctor Theme tune and it is extremely good, if you are a fan of heavy metal that is.

However, even if you are not a fan of heavy metal, it is certainly interesting. Here it is:

And, dangerously, this got me thinking.

People who hate heavy metal  often tell me that it is a dirge, a hellish noise. The truth is while it may be noisy, typically a great guitarist plays his instrument with extreme virtuosity, similar virtuosity to any great musician.

That is one of the reasons why I genuinely love the genre.

I also read an article once that suggested that people who like classical music share almost identical personality traits as those of us who love heavy metal. What personality traits are these? Apparently classical music lovers and metalheads are both:

(a) Introverted – I am an introvert definitely. That is not the same as being shy (which I am also); I love my own company – but can be extrovert depending on the situation.

(b) Creative – Am I creative? Possibly, if you regard the bilge you are currently reading as “creative” then maybe I am – a little.

(c) At ease with myself – Definitely – more so as I get older.

Classical music devotees and heavy metal lovers are both obsessive about music, something I hold my hand up to – and have no shame about.

And as unlikely as it seems, you can actually mix the two genres.

My favourite heavy metal and hard rock songs are those that walk hand in hand with classical music. I can almost feel the scepticism, dear reader. I can sense you saying:

“Hang on! How can you possibly meld beautiful orchestral music with the dreadful noise pollution that is heavy metal? You talk a lot of rubbish normally but this is a new low even for you.”

I can understand that view – but I am right and hopefully I will prove it.

Here is an example from Rainbow, with their interpretation of Walking In The Air from The Snowman:

Rainbow also produced a song called Difficult to Cure with elements of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony:

These days, bands are not really covering classical music but writing their own versions. Dream Theater for example, a progressive metal band, produced a 42 minute epic called Six Degrees Of Inner Turbulence, split into seven parts. The first part is the overture and has all the elements of a spectacular piece of classical music, but with added drums and guitar:

 I would also like to introduce you to a concept called Symphonic Metal, which is a beautiful amalgamation of hard rock/heavy metal and classical music, including orchestral arrangements, opera and sometimes even choirs. A lot of these bands use keyboards to simulate orchestral arrangements and the effect is quite amazing.

An example of Symphonic Metal is a band I have discovered at the start of the year called Nightwish. Well, they are not exactly new, having been around for years, but they are to me. The band is from Finland and their style of music completely embraces both heavy metal and classical music, often merging the two seamlessly.

Here are a couple of examples of their work:

Another example is one of my recent discoveries, a Dutch symphonic metal band called Within Temptation who produced one of my favourite recent albums. Here are a couple of examples:

So, dear reader, there is something more to heavy metal and hard rock than noise and loud guitars; it can embrace other styles of music.

I’ll leave you with another beautiful song that has classical overtones; it is by a little known Manchester band called Ten, who I think ought to be a lot more famous than they are. This song is simply magnificent and the guitars and drums have been toned down in favour of the melody and the vocals.

I hope you like it.


Elephant's Child said...

LOVED Dr Who meets Metal. Megathnks.

Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi EC,

That surprises me, actually. I was hoping readers would find it interesting - but that's a much better reaction.

We'll make a metalhead out of you yet.




H3B said...

I'm one of those that thinks heavymetals is just ear piercing screeching noise and do enjoy classical music. Thanks for the introduction to symphonic metal, they are not bad at all.

River said...

I haven't listened to all of those videos, but I did listen to the Dr Who one. I didn't recognise most of it, only picked out a bit as Dr Who recognisably, but here's an interesting thing, as soon as the music began, Angel jumped up to the table to listen and when it was finished off he went to sit on the windowsill.
I understand the guitarists may be as purist as the classical musicians, certainly they know their instrument and play with passion, but it isn't the sound I prefer to listen to. I'm not a big fan of classical music either.

Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi H3B,

Heavy metal can be beautiful. There are many sub genres that even I don't like, mainly because they growl or screech incomprehensible lyrics on the back of horrendously ear-shattering guitar.

However, most of the stuff I like has decent vocalists, extremely tuneful melodies and, while some may be heavy, it is nicely heavy.

Progressive, metal, symphonic metal and good old gutsy hard rock are my faves.




Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi River,

Angel has taste. :-)

I like a fair amount of classical music but I have to be in the mood for it.

I am always in the mood for a good rock symphony though.




MedicatedMoo said...

Absolutely LOVE the last song by 'Ten.' Will definitely go looking for them on Spotify and iTunes...

Big D said...

I like every single one of the bands you posted. Hell, I'm wearing a Within Temptation t-shirt right now.
I also think Ten deserve a lot more love.

I will admit there is metal out there that is just a wall of noise - the Black/Death/Djent stuff - but I much prefer the stuff with melody.

And that on earth is he getting his guitar to make those sounds?

Thanks for a great post.

Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi Kath,

Glad you like it.

The song is called "The Elysian Fields" from the album "The Twilight Chronicles".




Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi Big D,

I saw Ten live in Manchester in the early 2000s - it was a tiny intimate gig in a tiny intimate venue. And they were great.

Like you, I prefer melodic metal; I'm not a lover of the really noisy stuff - but I do love the likes of Metallica, Judas Priest etc.

Sometimes you just need something heavy!