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Heavy Metal...Opera?

Posted on 2009.01.05 at 00:35
Current Location: 75409
Current Music: Barry - Thempendium
Tags: ,

One of the activities I engaged in over the holidays was taking my wife out for her birthday. On that list was a run to Borders, where she could listen to new music. Borders has those computer stations throughout the store with the bar-code scanner and headphones. For the life of me, I couldn't get the one in soundtracks to work, so I approached the staff, "Pardon me, but I'm trying to listen to this album..."
"...Oh that's so simple, its self-explanatory. Just scan it at the bottom of the monitor, and put the headphones on."

I know to some teen, I'm probably the epitome of old, but the base O/S is Windows for christssake, "Yes, its that part actually, which isn't working." They then proceeded to SHOW me, explaining all the while how very simple it was. How very easy. Of course, it didn't work for them either. "Well, this one doesn't work," they went on to say, and I was led to another kiosk, and once again *shown* how it operated. I tried to not roll my eyes when I thanked them, oblivious to the fact that the errant station was my problem, not the operation of the bar-code scanner, but I digress. You see, that's how I ended up listening to my handful of scores in the Rock/Pop section of the store.

Having grown up in a household where classical and opera was predominantly played, coupled with the fact that all the dumb kids listened to heavy metal in grade school (the same ones who became stoners and drop-outs in high school, still wearing their black death metal T-shirts) I always abhorred heavy metal, and those who listened to it. From my perspective, it was quite obvious. Only later in life, as an adult, did I find highly-intelligent people who listened to metal. It was one of those life-changing events, shaking the very core of my beliefs. Could they simply be musically immature? Wasn't classical and opera the pinnacle of musical development? Or...was I missing something? Could that be possible?

I listened on and off to various suggestions and bands on and off along this path - to be honest, I couldn't tell one song from another. It amused me to think that these people probably thought the same of Beethoven and Mozart. But there I was, standing in the Rock/Pop section, scanning the covers from which to judge the contents by, and I saw what looked like a Sarah Brightman or Enya cover (albeit with a more primal expression on her face), with oddly out-of-place heavy metal font usage. Curious, I scanned it in and gave it a listen. It was definitely metal, but the lead singer had an operatic voice, speaking to me like Brünnhilde from a Wagnerian piece. I wasn't quite riveted, as all that noise seemed to get in the way, but my curiosity was certainly piqued. The cover had a sticker on it proclaiming it a solo album from the lead-singer of the group Nightwish. I found and previewed a sampling of their discs, then picked up EVERYTHING.

I even made a compilation for my dad, of some of the more operatic pieces.

Guess what?

He liked it.

So yeah, heavy metal. Usually when I use that term, I'm referring to the Elmer Bernstein film score. I immediately called two people on my FL who I know enjoy this type of music to witness to them. To share the Good News.

Color me surprised.

Tarja Turunen, former lead singer of Nightwish


prog_guy69 at 2009-01-05 13:06 (UTC) (Link)
I'm glad you enjoyed the Nightwish and Tarja Turunen CDs. I actually pulled out a couple of my scores yesterday. I'm not as much into straight classical work, but when a little umph is added or classical style pieces are played really fast on an electric guitar, I love it. I guess that why I like a lot of ELP (Emerson, Lake & Palmer) and Yngwie Malmsteen stuff.

I pulled out my "Kull The Conqueror" score and gave it a spin for the first time in a while. It's good but the electric guitars don't quite match the orchestral score. But the thunderous drums are pretty cool.

Did you know that Enya's sister is also a singer? Her name is Marie Brennan if you have not heard of her. I think her music is more Celtic and faith based than her more famous sister.
ehowton at 2009-01-05 17:27 (UTC) (Link)
Thanks! But its still going to take a little getting used to. I haven't yet found a niche in where Nightwish will fit well into my day. When I wrote my short story, I listened to their albums back-to-back without much distraction. That was nice.

Few composers are adept at integrating electric guitars with an orchestra, and there are a few on my FL who can tell you which ones succeed, and which fail. While I've always enjoyed ELP, I've never been able to appreciate either Satriani nor Malmsteen, even though I've tried.

And yes, I have heard of Marie Brennan. I have all her solo albums, as well as all of Clannad's, her group before she went solo. Good stuff.
prog_guy69 at 2009-01-06 12:48 (UTC) (Link)
Malmsteen is not one of my favs, but I know enough about his work to know that he uses a lot a classical elements. Sometimes it's too fast.

Satriani is one of my favs. He was a guitar teacher years ago and taught some big name guitarists. I would not put him in the "classical guitar" category though.

All this talk about classical music reminded me of two other thing I wanted to tell you about. One is called "steinway to Heaven." It includes 12 classical songs played by today's great rock keyboardists. It includes the keyboardists from such bands as ELP, Yes, Dream Theater, Shadow Gallery and Bon Jovi. And by classical songs, I mean Beethoven, Chopin, Brahms and Ravel.

The other person I wanted to tell you about is a German metal guitarist named Axel Rudi Pell. You may not like a lot of his work, but he normally starts each album with an instrument piece and about every 3rd album or so he includes a self composed classical metal guitar piece. (The are sub-named Opus #1, 2, 3 etc).
Melancthe the Woe, So-Called
melancthe at 2009-01-05 21:21 (UTC) (Link)
I have a good friend who has a mad crush on Máire Brennan. Heh.
Tat-Man the Zombie Hunter
scareypete at 2009-01-05 15:19 (UTC) (Link)
Yeah... Only Punk is actually devoid of skill.

Good metal requires an ability to arrange music. The New black Metal is very complex compared to its old Bass Riffing counterparts. And the "Dunces" who can actually play it are some of the most talented musicians today. With their Face paint and Spikes jackets and all.

Personally I like the Fantasy Metal, I have been burning a hole in Manowar's Gods of War album. its not as operatic as The stuff you have discovered, But the entire album tells a story from beginning to end of a Group of 4 men fighting a war with occasional spoken word interludes and songs here and there to explain the mythology that these 4 men follow and how it relates to their faith and love of battle.

Its almost enough to Convert me to Odinism.
ehowton at 2009-01-05 17:55 (UTC) (Link)
Someone on my FL shared the "Best of Manowar" with me a couple of years ago, a band I hadn't heard since the early 90s, and I listened to it all the way though, once. "Not my bag, baby." though it was quite different from my daily fare.

Its almost enough to Convert me to Odinism.
I'm shocked at how many of these metal bands are Nordic. Grab the hammer of Thor dude, and don't stop swinging ;)
Melancthe the Woe, So-Called
melancthe at 2009-01-05 21:23 (UTC) (Link)
Grab the hammer of Thor dude, and don't stop swinging ;)

Kinky! And come on, there's only one icon you should have used for this comment. ;)
ehowton at 2009-01-05 21:31 (UTC) (Link)

Speaking of Norse Traditions...

Melancthe the Woe, So-Called
melancthe at 2009-01-05 21:34 (UTC) (Link)

Re: Speaking of Norse Traditions...

BRB, going to Sweden.
prog_guy69 at 2009-01-06 12:51 (UTC) (Link)
There are a lot of metal bands from Sweden, Finland and Norway. Black metal, death metal and prog metal. I could probably name 15 or 20 bands from these three countries.
codekitten at 2009-01-06 19:11 (UTC) (Link)
love new musical discoveries! yea!
dentin at 2009-01-08 14:21 (UTC) (Link)

Finnish Death Polkas Galore

I've just uploaded some Therion to xirr:/tmp/therion, and Theatre of Tragedy to xirr:/tmp/tragedy; you might like these as well. Good songs to listen to are 'the voyage of gurdjieff', 'machine', and 'der tanz der schatten'.

And since we're talking about death metal, once you start getting used to death metal vocals, I'll Finntroll the crap out of you! They have a lot of ambient, but also a lot of really fun songs. Ursvamp and En Maktig Haar are by far my favorites.

For heavily classical bands, a couple of death metal bands that might eventually suit you are old school Children of Bodom (albums 1 and 2), and Wintersun. All in good time though, all in good time.

Ursvamp, trollfolk ge!
ehowton at 2009-01-10 05:00 (UTC) (Link)

Re: Finnish Death Polkas Galore

Thanks for the uploads! I will review with glee.
(Deleted comment)
ehowton at 2009-01-10 04:59 (UTC) (Link)
Iced Earth I've heard sometime in the not-to-distant path, but I've only heard of Faith and the Muse. Thank you for your suggestion, I will accommodate that forthwith!
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