Review by Rick Ossian
Today we consider what would normally be an anomaly in today’s tunes. Not as much as it once was, of course, but still noteworthy, and that is the mixing of Metal with Classical music. Wolf Hoffmann, best known for his work with Teutonic titans Accept, has released his second solo LP of such work, following his solo debut, Classical, in 1997. Since then, he has done work with Sebastian Bach on his solo output and on a Rhandy Rhoads tribute. He also has done many wonderful guitar works for his brothers in Accept.
Headbangers Symphony, according to Hoffman, is “much more Metal” than his last solo offering, and one can’t help but wonder why it took him almost 20 years to get around to it. Again, according to the Wolf man, putting something such as this together can be “time-consuming”. It is a fair piece of work, and heads down the Prog Rock road, as might be expected, given the material.
Scherzo comes to us from old Italian, and is generally considered a playful, light, or humorous piece of music. There is plenty of guitar work here, and some pedal FX to boot, plus violins and other strings to be sure. We also have a slight building to a modest crescendo. This is mainly an instrumental lead guitar solo fest, but we do get back to the main riffs in due time. There are actually some pretty cool violin riffs here as well. It smacks of Trans-Siberian Orchestra somewhat, as it probably should, given the genre.
Mussorgsky‘s Night on Bald Mountain is up next, and features an eerie string-laden intro, then some building. The main riff is very good. As Wolf has told us, these are covers/adaptations of classical pieces, but they are more Metal this time around. There is lots of guitar work here, much like a long solo again. There is a classic fade out at the end.
Bizet‘s Je Crois Entendre Encore takes on new life as well, though it is a bit mellow at first, and in fact softer than the other tunes all around. There is some seductive guitar, cool for a plaintive ballad. A couple of nice neat solos tidy things up for us.
Vivaldi‘s Double Cello Concerto In G Minor is the next piece up for Metal modification, as it were. It features a galloping violin intro, and some nice heavy riffing, both with the guitar and the strings. A healthy, total jam, and off to the races with a healthy dose of Maiden-style pacing. There is no fade out, as with the last two tunes – everything comes to a full stop instead.
Barber‘s Adagio follows suit, and has a soft string opening with the guitar coming in about 30 seconds into the tune. This is an almost perfect piece, and the execution is brilliant – absolutely flawless. There is much more guitar, as we have come to expect at this point. I should probably dub this stuff ‘instru-Metal’, because that’s about as good of a description as any.
Mozart‘s Symphony #40 is on the box next, and this again smacked a bit of TSO, with a quick string intro and a true mix of metal and classical. The classical music term point and counterpoint comes to mind when pondering the arrangement herein. Lots of guitar, and a cool closing as well.
Tchaikovsky‘s Swan Lake is up next, and features a very riffy intro with lead work a-plenty. This is very cool, and mellow again, but can by heavy at times. There is a shift about halfway through the tune, but for the most part it is one long solo again, with a notable solo (inside a solo) at 3:00.
Puccini’s noted Italian opera, Madame Butterfly, takes the stage this time out, with another softly done string opening. A beautiful ballad with much, much more guitar.
Pathetique is the next piece up, better known as Beethoven‘s Sonata #8. It includes a classical strings opening, followed at :30 by rock riffing and more galloping. There is a big lead guitar bit at 2:00, mixed with classical runs. We are off to the races again, it seems, tempo-wise. The violins, the guitars and the drums all play their roles. At 3:10 we get another solo mixed with violin. Another nice fade out graces the closing of this tune.
The final two pieces are both from Bach, first of which is Meditation. The piano opens, with guitar soon chiming in. It has a mellow beginning, but it another beautiful elongated guitar piece. I was reminded ever-so-slightly of Yngwie or even Blackmore at times. There is a shift into lead solo at the two-minute mark, and a pretty piano bit at the close.
Air On the G String is an appropriate closing piece, beautiful work on the guitar and the violin as well. Another gorgeous closing reminds us that though we DO love our Metal, it is okay to occasionally dilute it with other genres of music – especially classical. Bravo, Herr Hoffmann!