What Is Neoclassical Metal?

Neoclassical metal is a type of guitar-driven hard rock that incorporates many elements from classical music, especially works Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, and a few others. The most fundamental beginnings of the style were in the late 1960s, and it peaked in the mid to late 1980s before declining in popularity. Neoclassical metal had a significant impact on hard rock music as a whole, and while its popularity faded over time, its influence can still be heard in the metal music genre and elsewhere.

The beginnings of neoclassical metal can be traced back to the late 1960s, when heavy metal was just getting started. The progressive rock movement, a musical style that combined elements of jazz and classical music with a hard-edged rock sound, began to gain popularity during this time period. Bands like Genesis, Yes, and King Crimson, as well as artists like Frank Zappa, were among the most popular in this genre. This music, which drew a sizable audience well into the late 1970s, was known for being technically difficult and complex in terms of composition. Many heavy metal artists were influenced the sounds of this musical style, either directly or indirectly.

The first serious incorporation of classical music and heavy metal, according to most musical experts, was in some of the work of the pioneering heavy metal band Deep Purple. Ritchie Blackmore, the band’s guitarist, and Jon Lord, the band’s organist, both had a passion for classical music, which they incorporated into many of their songs, often to create a dark and doom-filled melodic atmosphere. Deep Purple was a popular band that influenced a lot of other bands. As the 1970s progressed, bands like Iron Maiden and The Scorpions continued the tradition of combining heavy metal and classical elements in their music.

Neoclassical metal had already become a very guitar-oriented movement thanks to the technical accomplishments of guitarists like Ritchie Blackmore and Michael Schenker, and this became even more true in the 1980s. The pioneering work of Swedish metal guitarist Yngwie Malmsteen, as well as guitarist Randy Rhoads’ work with Ozzy Osbourne, helped bring the neoclassical metal movement to new heights of technical excellence. In some ways, it could be said that the guitar was the most influential aspect of the neoclassical metal movement. In the 1980s, many of the technical accomplishments and stylistic elements of neoclassical guitarists became standard parts of the hard-rock and heavy metal guitar repertoire. Several bands continued to push aspects of neoclassical metal in the following decades, and echoes of the style can be heard in the music of a wide range of artists, including progressive metal bands like Dream Theater and other heavy acts like Avenged Sevenfold.