Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Wednesday Morning Music: Operatic Rock

It's snowing this morning. The ground's not cold enough for this to make any difference - that is, the streets aren't frozen, the snow only piles up on top of cars and shrubbery, and for all practical purposes this might as well be (a very cold) rainfall. Despite this fundamental wimpiness, it is the first snow of the season.

I'm celebrating by listening to My Winter Storm, by Tarja Turunen. This belongs to an (arguably) relatively recent genre, which I'd characterize as Operatic Rock or perhaps Operatic Metal. This sort of music is characterized by heavy metal drum and guitar riffs, balanced against more orchestral (classical and/or operatic) arrangements of other instruments. Themes and lyrics tend to focus on fantastic subjects, and the word 'melodramatic' should go in there somewhere, too. A lot of these bands are fronted by female singers, usually with operatic training.

I say this is "arguably" a recent development, as a lot of (what I grew up calling) heavy metal has always had its roots in classical and operatic themes; Queensryche is an obvious example, but you can also see the tendency in Iron Maiden, Trans-Siberian Orchestra (which is - or was - also the band Savatage, and has a nice cover of Grieg's "Hall of the Mountain King", from the Peer Gynt Suite) and, well, a bunch of other bands. (Apparently I'm too brain-dead to come up with decent examples, and too lazy to do research. Sue me.) I would argue that Evanescence also falls into this general category, though you're certainly welcome to disagree.

I stumbled onto this through one of my i-Tunes forays; I was looking for music about wolves, and pulled up "Seven Days to the Wolves" by the band Nightwish. This led me (by way of the "if you liked this, you might also be interested in" feature) to Within Temptation, Tarja Turunen, and After Forever; all very much in the same genre.

Then, a little while back, someone recommended a pair of albums by the band Kamelot: Epica and The Black Halo. Taken together, they form a retelling of the story of Faust. That, in turn, led me to the bands Epica and Katra, which are also doing interesting things from similar influences. (In fact, the lead singer from Epica makes a guest appearance on one of the Kamelot albums.)

For people who like this sort of music, these are all relatively well known bands. That being the case, I'd like to introduce one that I believe is more obscure: Xandria. I only have one of their albums - Salome The Seventh Veil - so I can't speak for their earlier work. Salome, however, is quite good, and incorporates some middle eastern influences into their songs. If you like this sort of music, and you don't know them already, give 'em a listen.

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