Symphonic metal is fast becoming one of the most popular subgenres of heavy metal. It combines the electric guitar and heavy drums of traditional metal with several elements of classical music. This can include symphonic instruments, choir vocals and even full orchestras.
Symphonic metal is known for its intricate and unique sound. Keyboards are often used in the style of power ballads. The subgenre uses a large number of female vocals. This is in contrast to conventional heavy metal bands which usually prefer male lead singers. Female opera singers are a crucial characteristic of symphonic metal.
Finnish band Nightwish is perhaps the biggest symphonic metal band of all time. They have a large fan base and regularly tour all over the world. They have gone through several different singers who have changed their style considerably. They originally had soprano Tarja Turunen. Later they employed Anne Olzon and Floor Jansen as lead vocalists.
Leave’s Eyes are known for their Viking themed tunes. Their members hail from Germany and Norway. Many of their songs are influenced by legendary tales in Norse mythology. One of their most popular songs, New Found Land, depicts an ancient Viking ship searching for undiscovered worlds.
Italian band Lacuna Coil initially found a niche market in the symphonic metal subculture. However, they have since broken into the mainstream and often play at famous festivals. They did a successful cover of Depeche Mode’s Enjoy the Silence. This single was featured heavily on rock music TV stations.
Within Temptation focus heavily on the operatic vocals of their lead singer, Sharon den Adel. She brings an ethereal and Gothic edge to their songs. This band is a perfect example of mixing soft vocals with heavy instrumentation. Often the group will utilise orchestras to make their tracks more powerful.