Top 10 Iconic Metal Songs with Clear Classical Influences (Except Symphonic and Neo-Classical Metal)Metal_Treasure Symphonic metal and Neo-classical metal are excluded because everybody knows they have classical influences and it's very easy to detect classical elements in these 2 genres.
Metal music is heavily influenced by classical music and this was the most important difference with hard rock. It's not necessary to hear absolutely clearly classical music in metal songs because metal music also developed its own forms that are, again, based on classical, but are more indirectly related to classical.
However, in some of the most iconic metal songs you can hear clearly classical influences - from thrash to death metal and everything in between. Here are some songs from different subgenres and decades.
The Top Ten
1995. This is probably the most iconic death metal song, sharing the crown with Lack of Comprehension (also by Death). Just play the song sample. What was Chuck playing on the guitar? Classical. - Metal_TreasureUListen to Sample
1986. The riff is something that a string section would play. No wonder Apocalyptica (a cello cover band) started with Metallica covers - Metallica songs sound good on cellos.
Also try this cover (it sounds like a classical piece): Apocalyptica - Welcome Home (Sanitarium).
Yeah, metal bands actually play modified versions of classical music but on electric guitars. - Metal_Treasure
1990. What do you think Megadeth play in the amazing intro? Classical music. Yeah, metalheads actually listen to modified classical music non-stop (some of them - without even knowing it)! - Metal_TreasureUListen to Sample
1980. Everybody knows this song so no need to explain much. Its classical vibe was very important for the next stages of development of metal music because Iron Maiden became the most influenial band of the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal, and this way - leaders in metal music in the early 80s. - Metal_TreasureUListen to Sample
2001. This song is progressive power metal. It's epic and definitely classical-based. Similar to many compositions in classical music, this song is so intricate and with so many tracks that it alone required as much production time as the rest of the album (A Night at the Opera, 2002). I prefer the re-recorded version of 2012 over the original (the sample is from the new version, 2012). - Metal_TreasureUListen to Sample
1988. This is a technical thrash instrumental. It's classical-based start to finish. One of the best metal instrumentals of all time. - Metal_TreasureUListen to Sample
Very confusing with metal and hard rock about this song. I read that the organ solo and guitar solo are based on Johann Sebastian Bach's composition. - zxm
Thanks for adding this iconic song, zxm. I can't believe I forgot it, provided that it was probably the first metal song of this type. Yes, it's related to Johann Sebastian Bach but it's more correct to say that Deep Purple used Bach-like chord sequences. - Metal_TreasureUListen to Sample
1995. This is classic heavy metal with significant thrash elements but you can clearly hear classical elements, too. Even on the sample below. - Metal_TreasureUListen to Sample
1995. You can hear part of it on the sample. This song deserves to be higher in general but I already put a Death song at #1 and wanted to include other bands from other subgenres in the top 10. - Metal_TreasureUListen to Sample
1994. Progressive metal. There are many classical elements all the way. A great song about a Japanese diplomat in the USSR who saved jews in WW II by issuing exit visas (against the orders of his government). - Metal_TreasureUListen to Sample
2011. This is a technical death metal song. It became famous for its insane drumming but here we are interested in its symphonic arrangement and direct quotes from classical composers that go very well with death metal. - Metal_TreasureUListen to Sample
Most often 4:00-5:05 and the intro but not only. - Metal_TreasureUListen to Sample
1979. Proto symphonic metal 20 years before the peak of the genre in the late 1990s. This song came out after Dio departure and the singer is Graham Bonnet but he's very good. - Metal_TreasureUListen to Sample
A song of 1992.
Also give a listen to the impressive cover version Blind Guardian made in 1996 - Theatre of Pain (Orchestral Version). You will understand that in 1992 Blind Guardian actually wrote a classical music piece. - Metal_Treasure
Guitars, esp. Kirk guitar in the 2nd half. - Metal_TreasureUListen to Sample
The intro is Gustav Holst's 'Mars the Bringer of War' - HEAVYMETALTHUNDER12345UListen to Sample
2008. Folk metal. Probably the most iconic metal instrumental since 2000 (not a typical instrumental though). - Metal_TreasureUListen to Sample
1989. Thrash metal. Listen to guitars (esp. solo). Alex Skolnick is one of the best students of Joe Satriani and Alex often plays neo-classical style. - Metal_TreasureUListen to Sample
1985. Iconic speed metal song from an iconic album (Walls of Jericho). Classical is most used in the solo at 4:15. - Metal_TreasureUListen to Sample
2011. Christian progressive power metal (just play the sample). This song quickly became a metal anthem, especially for Christian metal fans. - Metal_TreasureUListen to Sample
It's mostly in the intro - Metal_TreasureUListen to Sample
Play the sample - Metal_TreasureUListen to Sample
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2. Master of Puppets - Metallica
3. Holy Wars... the Punishment Due - Megadeth
2. Lack of Comprehension - Death
3. Phantom of the Opera - Iron Maiden