I came of musical age in 1984 when many of that decade’s top rock and metal bands were at their pinnacle. American metal went though some hard times in the 90′s with the rise of the Grunge movement, but I had some alternative underground Christian bands to get me through college. Little did I know that over in Europe, metal was evolving into something unique and often quite beautiful both musically and lyrically.
Variously referred to as Symphonic Metal or Gothic Metal, this somewhat dark genre is comprised of bands who often combine reflective lyrics, heavy guitars and drums, and sweeping strings and keyboards together to create an amazing sound. Most are fronted by female with harmonized and/or operatic tendencies with some growling lyrics tossed in here and there. In America, the band most identified with the genre is Evanescence - if you are a fan, a whole world of new (and often better) music awaits!
Below I have gathered some of my favorite symphonic metal bands and songs and linked to YouTube videos of them (I make no guarantees of quality – some are probably fan-made). Clicking on the band’s picture will take you to their official website. Note that some of these bands have been around for decades and lineup changes do occur (I’ve tried to note the more improtant ones below and give a sampling of both). They are in alphabetical order, but if you want to jump to the best of the best, I recommend Nightwish, Within Temptation, Delain, and Kamelot.
If this is not enough, here is the PANDORA station I created. Enjoy!
A fairly recent addition to the genre – fairly light / pop sounding. An accessible intro to the genre.
I could listen to the gathering all day long. Classic band of the genre, good chill metal.
One of the top bands of the genre, their evolution is rather marked – I have included favorites from both of the main singers.
The unfortunately defunct band is still a favorite of mine.
A long-standing favorite. Great vocals and consistently good writing.
One of the more “Viking Metal” bands. Beautiful vocals and imagery.
Pretty much the undisputed masters of the genre – if you don’t like Nightwish, you don’t like symphonic metal! The groundbreaking “Tarja Era” gave rise to their most popular songs, but Annette’s coming on board gave us one of their best albums.
The least known of all, yet one of the best. One of the few truly original and groundbreaking Christian bands.
Leaning slightly to the “Viking Metal” side of the genre with one of the prettiest voices.
We Are the Fallen
If you like Evanescence, you’ll probably like at least 4/5 of this band as it is comprised of all the original members except Amy Lee. Now fronted by Carly Smithson of American Idol fame.
One of the most popular in the genre with more consistently good music than most. Vocals, writing, artistry – these guys have it all.
Their early period (my favorite) was just good, solid music – now with a new singer they are trying to up their game to more epic sounds.