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100 Best Symphonic Metal Bands

I have been an online writer for over six years. I am passionate about books, philosophy, music, and the music industry.

Nightwish live in Paris, France, on April 6, 2008.

Nightwish live in Paris, France, on April 6, 2008.

Heavy Metal With an Orchestral Twist

Symphonic metal music is a heavy metal subgenre that is characterized by its complex time signatures and orchestral arrangements. Bands in this genre are heavily influenced by classical music. This is what gives the genre its distinct sound.

The list below showcases a diverse number of symphonic metal bands, including symphonic black metal, symphonic power metal, symphonic death metal, and symphonic progressive metal bands. If you are a fan of this metal subgenre, you will have something to say. Feel free to express your views and opinions in the comments section.

Top 10 Symphonic Metal Bands

  1. Nightwish
  2. Epica
  3. Rhapsody of Fire
  4. Therion
  5. Avantasia
  6. Within Temptation
  7. Xandria
  8. Kamelot
  9. Delain
  10. After Forever

The Development of This Metal Subgenre

The development of symphonic metal began in the ‘80s, when a few bands in the gothic metal genre and early death metal genre started experimenting with sectional changes in metal compositions. This small, but vital musical revolution paved the way for the success of the subgenre. The band Therion is credited with having laid the foundation for the subgenre by incorporating classical compositional techniques and live orchestral elements in their music.

Believer, a thrash metal band from the United States, came up with a song called “Dies Irae.” This song, which appeared on the Sanity Obscure album, is considered one of the earliest symphonic metal songs. A number of symphonic metal bands influenced by power metal and progressive metal came to light by the mid '90s. Post 2000, a number of acts associated with the subgenre have emerged, featuring operatic vocals of classically trained female singers.

Best Symphonic Metal Bands #11–20

11. Leaves’ Eyes

12. ReVamp

13. Sirenia

14. Lacuna Coil

15. Tristania

16. Edenbridge

17. Sonata Arctica

18. Haggard

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19. Evanescence

20. Fleshgod Apocalypse

Symphonic Themes and Influences

In this genre, songs are often structured like orchestral compositions. Intricate keyboard passages, double bass drum parts, complex guitar solos, solid bass, and wide ranging vocals form this genre's identity.

This music takes listeners on a journey through dark fantasy and mythological folklore. These songs borrow heavily from many progressive bands. Many of these compositions are based on tales of mythology and feature operatic vocals. Like progressive metal, symphonic metal lyrics are highly conceptual. The musical structure and sound of these bands are often described as "epic."

Great Symphonic Heavy Metal Groups #21–40

21. Amberian Dawn

22. Symphony X

23. Visions of Atlantis

24. Dark Moor

25. Believer

26. Ayreon

27. Trans-Siberian Orchestra

28. Blind Guardian

29. Wintersun

30. Pathfinder

31. Serenity

32. Dol Ammad

33. Septicflesh

34. Diablo Swing Orchestra

35. Lacrimosa

36. Fairyland

37. Bal-Sagoth

38. Eternal Tears of Sorrow

39. Krypteria

40. Ancient Bards

Operatic Voices in Heavy Metal

A number of symphonic bands are fronted by female vocalists. These vocalists showcase the operatic vocals in epic, sweeping song arrangements. These singers and band are often referred to as "operatic symphonic metal." While high-pitched voices are a common feature in metal, it is not surprising to come across vocalists that perform signature death growls.

Bands in this genre are known for being musically diverse while remaining melodically consistent. The element of dirge and romanticism encompassed in these operatic ballads is truly phenomenal. Symphonic metal songs are known for their theatrical elements.

Best Artists in Symphonic Metal #41–60

41. Symfonia

42. Dimmu Borgir

43. Adagio

44. Stravaganzza

45. Angtoria

46. Stratovarious

47. Hollenthon

48. Pythia

49. Turisas

50. Powerwolf

51. Apocalyptica

52. Sons of Seasons

53. Phoenix Rising

54. Waltari

55. Angra

56. Twilight Force

57. Diabulus in Musica

58. Anorexia Nervosa

59. Thy Majestie

60. Lunatica

Classically Trained Female Singers in Metal

Symphonic metal singers are known for their wide vocal range. A number of bands feature operatic vocals that have become integral parts of the genre's development. Over the years, a number of symphonic bands have emerged that are led by classically trained female singers. This has led to the development of the operatic metal (or opera metal) subgenre. Notable female singers associated with symphonic and operatic metal are listed below.

Great Female Opera Metal Singers

  • Simone Simmons
  • Tarja Turunen
  • Sharon den Adel
  • Floor Jansen
  • Lori Lewis
  • Vibeke Stene
  • Manuela Kraller
  • Liv Kristine
  • Dianne van Giersbergen
  • Ailyn
  • Charlotte Wessels
  • Melissa Ferlaak
  • Anette Olzon
  • Heidi Parviainen
  • Amanda Somerville
  • Lisa Middelhauve
  • Alissa White-Gluz
  • Elisa Martin

61. Dragonland

62. Carach Angren

63. Skillet

64. Dreamtale

65. Savatage

66. Kerion

67. Stream of Passion

68. Emperor

69. Versailles

70. Shade Empire

71. Virgin Steele

72. Almora

73. HB

74. Coronatus

75. Divinefire

76. Kingfisher Sky

77. Indica

78. Enslavement of Beauty

79. Hecate Enthroned

80. Veni Domine

Emergence of Crossover Bands

Over the years, the term "symphonic metal" has been used as an umbrella term to describe metal bands performing songs with orchestral or symphonic elements. A number of progressive metal bands and power metal bands that incorporate orchestral elements and neo-classical themes in their music also fall under this label.

Generically, the term is used with a number of crossover metal bands that have incorporated diverse orchestral forms in their music. In the late '90s, several avant-garde metal bands started being associated with the genre because of their incorporation of theatrical and classical song structures in their compositions. Over the years, a number of symphonic metal subgenres have emerged, garnering a cult following with metal fans.

Since its inception, symphonic metal has evolved a great deal. What's next for this diverse genre? Only time will tell, perhaps it will evolve and become more mainstream. No one truly knows. But, one thing's for sure, the genre isn't going away!

Killer Bands in Symphonic, Opera, and Orchestral Metal #81–100

81. Trail of Tears

82. Avalon

83. X Japan

84. Luca Turilli Band

85. Shadow Gallery

86. Graveworm

87. Ignea

88. Mechanical Poet

89. Hanging Doll

90. Galneryus

91. Cradle of Filth

92. ReinXeed (Majestica)

93. Katra

94. MoonSun

95. Freedom Call

96. Amaranthe

97. Opera IX

98. Summoning

99. Mayan

100. Suspyre

Other Notable Symphonic and Operatic Metal Bands

  • Vesania
  • Lyriel
  • Beyond The Black
  • Welicoruss
  • Moi dix Mois
  • Gloryhammer
  • Whyzdom
  • Meden Agan
  • Imperia
  • Spheric Universe Experience
  • Vesperian Sorrow
  • Angelical Tears
  • Battlelore
  • Sound Horizon
  • Virgin Black
  • Magni Animi Viri
  • The Murder of My Sweet
  • Valkyre
  • Dimlight
  • Savior Machine
  • Nemesea
  • Visionatica
  • Moonspell
  • Kobra and the Lotus
  • Bare Infinity
  • Eyes of Eden
  • Scarleth
  • Enemy of Reality
  • Sound Horizon
  • Limbonic Art
  • Herjalf
  • Perpetual Legacy
  • Theatre of Tragedy
  • Winds of Plague
  • Dawn of Destiny
  • Nightfall
  • Lureaway
  • Forest Stream
  • Bendida
  • Crimson Moonlight
  • Gwyllion
  • Temperance
  • Sebastien
  • Magica
  • Lux Occulta
  • Eternal Oath
  • Arven
  • Ice Nine Kills
  • Dark Lunacy
  • Sleeping Romance
  • Manora
  • Ex Libris
  • Forgotten Tales
  • DarkSun
  • Walk in Darkness
  • Imperial Vengeance
  • Lyria
  • Abigail Williams
  • Magion
  • Celesty
  • Kells
  • Atargatis
  • Estatic Fear
  • AfterTime
  • The Gentle Storm
  • Hevein
  • Liquid Sky
  • Metalwings
  • Damnation Angels
  • Neperia
  • Dreamquest
  • Tvangeste
  • Darzamat
  • Magic Kingdom
  • Karelia
  • Liva
  • Illuminata
  • Xerath
  • Morphia
  • Adrana
  • Wildpath
  • Pergana
  • Neopera
  • Forever Slave
  • Claymore
  • Van Canto
  • Catharsis
  • Matenrou Opera
  • Solisia
  • Dakrya
  • Unshine
  • Angizia
  • Lorenguard
  • Villielain
  • Season’s End
  • Akroma
  • The Legion of Hetheria
  • Nostra Morte
  • Voices of Destiny
  • Mirrorthrone
  • Holy Knights
  • Molllust
  • Crimfall
  • Imperial Age
  • Legenda Aurea
  • Ceremonial Castings
  • Afterlife Symphony
  • Inchiuvatu
  • Lost in Thought
  • Wonderonce
  • Sigh
  • Ravenia
  • Dark Sarah
  • Aquilus
  • Mutum
  • Divina Enema
  • Secret Sphere
  • Equilibrium
  • Season of Tears
  • Xystus
  • Arcane Symphony
  • Twilight Ophera
  • Dysrider
  • Obsidian Gate
  • The Black Mages
  • HolyHell
  • Domain
  • Fogalord
  • Suncrown
  • Opus Doria

© 2019 Ansel Pereira

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