One thing that I can say about myself that is absolutely true, is that my taste in music will never be found on the Hot 100 Chart. The music that I mostly listen to might’ve been found on the Hot 100 over 25 years ago or so. But anything that I listen to today, that’s modern, is outside of what is considered to be popular by the masses. I just prefer my music to have a little bit more complexity than what pop music, especially today’s pop music, has to offer. Don’t get me wrong, pop is catchy, as it was designed to be, but it doesn’t move me in ways like the musical subgenre of symphonic metal does. It’s the perfect combination of metal and classical music infused into one harmonious sound. Some songs go more the route of sounding like heavy metal music, while other songs use more classical elements, like symphonic instruments or full-on choirs. It may sound like complete chaos, but in truth, it’s quite the opposite. Here are five symphonic metal bands who are not only truly talented, but also deserve much more recognition than they receive.
1. Leaves’ Eyes
I first found this symphonic metal band back when I was living in downtown Denver in 2014. At that point in time, my knowledge of symphonic metal wasn’t very extensive, and only included the bands of Skillet and Evanescence; which most people know who they are. I decided to expand my tastes a bit into something different, and decided to google Norwegian gothic metal bands. That’s when I stumbled across Leaves’ Eyes. The band name caught my attention, and I typed it into Spotify, and soon found myself in love with not just their style, but their lyrics as well. Even though I found them under gothic metal bands, they’re actually a symphonic metal band who uses gothic styles throughout their music. The original singer, Liv Kristine, accurately describes their style as “beauty and the beast.” I could not agree with Kristine more on this, as some of the songs are just purely beautiful, while others share elements of beauty with rough growled vocals. It works really well for them, and still does even with their new singer Elina Siirala, who joined Leaves’ Eyes in 2016. Some of my all-time favorite songs from them include, “Senses Capture”, “Njord”, “Edge of Steel”, “At Heaven’s End” and “Dark Love Empress”, which is off their newest album, “The Last Viking.” Each of these songs are truly amazing and diverse in their own ways. I will say that “Senses Capture” and “Dark Love Empress” are two of the most hauntingly beautiful songs I’ve heard so far in my life.
I didn’t really get into Nightwish until about 2018, and I realize I was way late to the game with this band, considering they dropped their first album in 1997. But hey, better late than never! I love the style that Nightwish uses as it falls more under the classical side of symphonic metal, and a lot of their songs are truly the epitome of elegance. The operatic vocals that are used in a lot of Nightwish’s music are simply stunning, even though this Finnish band has had three different singers since their formation in 1996. Each singer, in my opinion, brought something different to the table, but all are equally euphonious. To be honest though, more of my favorite Nightwish songs were sung by Anette Olzon, who was with the band from 2007 to 2012. That’s not to say Tarja Turunen and Floor Jansen aren’t amazing vocalists, because they truly are! I just happened to like more of the songs Olzon sang, like “Storytime”, “Bye Bye Beautiful”, “Amaranth” and “Rest Calm”, which are off the only two albums she did with them, “Dark Passion Play” and “Imaginaerum.” You could say that those two are my favorite Nightwish albums. I’m also a huge fan of how Nightwish also implements some gothic elements into their music; it makes it almost cinematic-feeling.
I was actually first introduced to this symphonic metal band by my husband when we were still newly dating. It was different from the other symphonic metal bands that I had listened to due to this artist favoring concept albums; where the songs all weave together, and tell a story. Avantasia consists of one main member, Tobias Sammet, who brings on many different international musicians and vocalists to perform with him. Sammet is also the vocalist of Edguy, and Avantasia is his solo project, where it’s dubbed as a supergroup metal opera. One thing about this German band is, that if you want to listen to any of the albums, listen to the songs in order to better understand the tale. However, if you’re not into the idea of concept albums, each song does stand on its own. My husband’s favorite album, as well as my own, is “The Scarecrow”, there are just tons of great songs on this album, and the story is fairly interesting. This is actually the first album that is a part of The Wicked Trilogy. Some of my favorite songs from this album include, “Twisted Mind”, “What Kind of Love”, “The Toy Master” and “I don’t Believe in Your Love”. I honestly love the differences in each of the songs on “The Scarecrow”; where some songs are more ballad-like, while others are more what people think of when they hear the words ‘symphonic metal.’
4. Sonata Arctica
I remember the first time I’d ever heard of Sonata Arctica was at a Leaves’ Eyes concert that I went to four years ago, where Sonata Arctica was the headliner. The main reason I attended was to see my favorite symphonic metal band perform, and they did not disappoint. I definitely fell in love with Sonata Arctica’s style after the first few songs they played; I just adore Tony Kakko’s voice, and soon found myself adding one more band to my quickly growing list of awesome symphonic metal groups. This Finnish band that first formed back at the end of 1995 features more power metal songs, but still implements a lot of symphonic metal into their music as well. Kakko definitely nailed it when he described Sonata Arctica’s sound as being “Melodic Metal.” I honestly feel like they’re one of the more calm-sounding symphonic metal bands that I listen to, and I always find myself turning to their music after a stressful day to help myself unwind; including the time of my last finals week of college. Some of my favorite songs by them include, “I Have a Right”, “Fullmoon”, “Life”, and “Cold”, which is off their newest album “Talviyö”.
5. Within Temptation
Though Leaves’ Eyes is my all-time favorite symphonic metal band, Within Temptation is a very close second. There’s just something about Sharon den Adel’s voice that I absolutely love! Within Temptation uses elements from symphonic metal, as well as gothic metal, and I’m a huge fan of when both of these styles are used interchangeably in such a flawless way. Even though this Dutch band’s musical style took a slight change of direction in 2011, where their songs were a bit more influenced by ’80s rock and pop, I didn’t love them any less, and appreciated the inclusion of other musical styles. I honestly love when modern bands let their style be influenced by the past generation’s music; in a way, it gives something for everyone to love. By far, my favorite album by them is “The Unforgiving”, which dropped the same year that their musical style changed. Some songs off the album that are absolutely amazing include, “Shot In the Dark”, “Faster”, “In the Middle of the Night” and “A Demon’s Fate”. Fun fact about “The Unforgiving” is, that it’s actually a concept album that included a series of six comic books, as well as three short films. But of course, there are songs from other albums that I cherish as well including, “Stand My Ground”, “Angels”, “Paradise (What About Us?)” and their amazing cover of “Radioactive”.