Symphonic black metal is a style of black metal that uses symphonic and orchestral elements. This may include the usage of melodic instruments found in the sections of a symphony orchestra (string instruments, brass instruments, woodwinds and keys), "clean" or operatic vocals, guitars with less distortion, and song structures that are more defined or are inspired by symphonies. However, much of the characteristics of "traditional" black metal are retained, such as shrieked vocals, fast tempos and high pitched electric guitars often played with tremolo picking.
Symphonic black metal is often confused with melodic black metal and gothic metal, as there are similarities and often overlapping between the styles.
Comparison with melodic black metal
Often, there is confusion between symphonic black metal and melodic black metal
, as both are black metal subgenres, both have slower tempos, and both have a more defined song structure. That sometimes leads symphonic black metal bands to be erroneously classified as melodic black metal, and vice-versa. However, symphonic black metal makes extensive usage of instruments found in symphonies, while melodic black metal focuses more on guitar melodies and solos. Most bands combine traits from both genres, though.
Comparison with gothic metal
There is also confusion between symphonic black metal and gothic metal
. Traits such as female vocals and "clean" guitar riffs are used in both. The difference is that while symphonic black metal is a subgenre of black metal, gothic metal isn't. Also the guitar work on gothic metal is less distorted than in symphonic black metal. Apart from this, the symphonic elements synthesized in gothic metal are more influenced by classical music (so they express a stronger feeling of art and beauty), while in symphonic black metal, they are usually used to provide the music with a darker and more haunting background.
Nevertheless symphonic black metal, melodic black metal and gothic metal are often mixed together.
List of symphonic black metal bands
Bands of this subgenre include: