The perfect fix for classical music fans wanting to get their Metallic rocks off.
Having been an ACCEPT fan since the 1980s I was eager to hear German Guitarist WOLF HOFFMANN’s latest solo effort, 2016’s ‘Headbangers Symphony‘. If you’re familiar with the exceptional version of “Pomp & Circumstance” he did for ACCEPT’s 1994 release ‘Death Row’ you know what to expect on this instrumental collection of classical music covers. An exquisite mash-up of Neo-classical Metal guitar with some of history’s best composers and their work.
Hoffmann’s first solo album, 1997’s ‘Classical’ was probably a little bolder, using more accessible, more easily translatable classical material. However, ‘Symphony’ plumbs plenty of killer old-time riffs from the likes of Beethoven, Bach, Mozart, and Tchaikovsky. Those maestros basically invented the Rock Star. And it’s only fitting that an European Guitarist pick up their mantle.
An even split between Metallic and Blues spirit. Hoffman is accompanied by the Czech National Symphony on all tracks with fellow-ACCEPT Bass man Peter Baltes and an assortment of Rock/Metal musicians. Well-crafted, expertly mixed (by Daniel Rowland and Andy Sneap), and with a heartfelt, proficient performance/production from Hoffmann.
On the Metal front there’s a blistering evolution of the less known 2nd movement of Beethoven’s 9th in “Scherzo“; the breathless and harrowing “Night on Bald Mountain“, a punchy 1st movement of Mozart’s “Symphony no. 40“; and a riff monster Beethoven variation of “Pathétique“.
While we get the blues-drenching of Bizet’s “Je Crois Entendre Encore” and Albinoni’s “Adagio” in G minor; a stand-out, wholly Rock-ified “Swan Lake” (this album’s “Pomp”); a haunting “Madame Butterfly“; a melodramatic “Meditation” from Massenet’s opera Thais; with an effervescent Bach’s “Air on the G-String” to close things out.
Noticeably more calm then storm. The quiet helps draw out Hoffmann’s raw emotion and the intricate Rock instrument/symphony mix. I usually consider instrumental albums as background music not warranting full attention. However, these mostly Romantic period compositions keep us engaged throughout.
Both ‘Classical’ and ‘Headbangers Symphony‘ deserve a place in your collection. Purists may cringe at the effort. But, as a non-technical fan of both Metal and classical music these 11 songs hit the sweet spot.