Although metalheads and classical music aficionados don't often see eye to eye, they do have a lot in common. One may think the other one is boring and too goody-goody while the other sees the first ones as a bunch of immature and deranged noise makers who know very little about music. Well, apparently, classical music has been directly influencing metal bands since the early days of the latter. To prove that, here are fifteen tracks that turn classical music into metal or the other way around. Oh, and out of respect for all artists and composers, we also publish the original.
The Great Kat - Flight of the Bumblebee (Rimsky Korsakov)
Why don't we just kick off with Madam Shred herself? The Great Kat has been doing this stuff for decades, and not only on guitar. She is a graduate at Juilliard School so she knows a thing or two about playing the violin. Yet, her love for bands like Motorhead and Judas Priest dragged her right into the world of fierce guitars and blasting drums. Combining the two, she created insane versions of music by Beethoven, Wagner and many others. For this article, we chose the finger-crusher 'Flight Of The Bumblebee' by Rimsky-Korsakov. By the way, you can read Kat's Songs With Stories here
German progressive thrash metal band Mekong Delta have long been wandering in the vague and mysterious underground of the metal scene. Formed in 1985, in the midst of the thrash metal heydays, this band around sound engineer Ralf Hubert, was no stranger to classical music. They covered Mussorgsky before, on their 'Dances of Death (and Other Walking Shadows)' album. Released in 1996, "Pictures at an Exhibition" was originally composed in 1874 by the Russian composer Modest Mussorgsky.
The symphonic - or gothic - corner of the metal scene has been flirting with classical music since the very beginning. For example, Spanish horde Dark Moor made an awesome version of Tchaikovsky's 'Swan Lake' in 2012, and several others as well. The Chinese rhythmic gymnastics team chose this song for their Olympic performance, which I guess is quite an honor for this band.
Of course, when we're talking about symphonic metal versions of classical music, we have to mention Therion. After a few death metal stints, this band brought in a load of influences from classical music and opera, including this piece of musical bombast, originally written by Carl Orff.
Three guys, dressed in vintage eighteenth century fashion and armed with the standard instruments to play some skull crushing metal, that's what German trio Son Of A Bach are all about. This Bourrée (named after a type of dance that originated in France) is a piece for guitar by Bach.
It isn't just metal bands that cover classical music. No, it goes the other way around too. 2 Cellos is a duo, armed with, well, two cellos and a decent knowledge about music history. Their oeuvre contains music by Bach as well as pop and rock anthems from Michael Jackson to Avicii and Led Zeppelin. For this article, we picked our their brilliant adaptation for AC/DC's 'Thunderstruck'.
If there is anything better than two cellos, it's four cellos. Of course, Apocalyptica are a chamber orchestra who decided to become a metal band by covering songs by Metallica and several other bands before writing their own songs. However, for me, this adaptation of Grieg's Hall Of The Mountain kings was such a blast when I saw it live for the first time that I became a fan forever.
This was actually the song that made me decide to write this whole article, and it comes directly from Japan To celebrate the super moon day, Japanese death metallers GYZE have presented an outstanding and fascinating Death Metal cover version of Moonlight Sonata (Pt. III) by Beethoven! Of course, every self-respecting metalhead already knows that Beethoven was the godfather of metal, and Gybe once again proves exactly that.
Perhaps this medieval ballad doesn't really fit the 'classical music' tag but if 'O Fortuna' is allowed, this one is too. After all, the whole 'Carmina Burana' is a collection of songs based on medieval poems. On to this 'Herr Mannelig' which has been covered by a number of bands and artists but this one by folk metal act Haggard is by far the greatest. Because we can't find a video for the original (they didn't have cameras back then), we'll also present the beautiful Garmarna version.
I know I know, the 'Carmina Burana' is mentioned quite a lot in this article, but hey, I guess it's just the metalhead's favorite piece of classical music. Anyway, I can't leave out this heavy rocking version of Omnia Sol Temperat by bagpipe-bangers In Extremo, can I? This was always a hit on my parties back in the days, and with good reason to. This rocks!!! Prepare to dance now...
Greek symphonic metallers and fans of everything between Nightwish and Beethoven. Orion's Reign have been around for quite some time and they have some neat cover versions. Of course, we have to go with Beethoven again (because I don't like Christmas songs and the Game Of Thrones theme isn't really suited for this article). This awesome version of 'Für Elise' will definitely rock you out of your trousers...
Right, all of that rocked pretty hard but now prepare to be dragged into the bloody rivers of hell with Czech black metal horde Cult Of Fire. What they did with Smetana's 'Moldau' is nothing short of mesmerizing. They released this unholy tune on an ep in 2014, which was released by Iron Bonehead. You can download it for free on their website now, and frankly, you should.
At this moment, we're knee deep in guitars and drums that we almost forgot about those two little words at the end of this article's title. 'Vice versa', Serge, 'Vice versa'. Well, here is a goosebumbs inducing piece by chamber orchestra Vitamin String Quartet from the USA. They cover all kind of songs but this one is definitely their highlight. Of course, 'One' has been covered a lot, and it always results in a brilliant version. I think that says a lot about the original, no?
All that classical music and not one piano in sight, that's a bit of a shame. We must do something about that. Enter mr Scott Lavender who recorded an album full of Iron Maiden covers with nothing but the piano. We selected 'Wasted Years' but there are plenty of awesome pieces to be found on this album.
And we finish this article with some blissful harp sounds. The Harp Twins make adaptations for pop and rock songs, including Metallica, Iron Maiden and many more. Yet, since those two have already been featured here, we'll go with this breathtaking version of 'Sweet Child O' Mine' by Guns 'n Roses.