Metal Songs with Violin – Part 2

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Last year I penned a blog post about the 10 best metal songs featuring violin, not only as some hardly distinguishable part of an orchestral tapestry in the background but as a prominent instrument, perhaps even pulling off a solo of some sort. Then, because of the crude fact that I had obviously done my homework in a somewhat sloppy manner, I could barely round up 10 songs to meet this criteria and had to include a couple of songs that fell more into the symphonic metal category reinforced with an orchestral backing or downright vintage prog that had none whatsoever to do with metal, for which misconduct I did get some feedback on social media. Yeah, I did forget a band or two – or in fact a whole gamut of metal bands that feature violinist in their regular line-up. Shame on me!

It turns out that this particular blog post of mine is still, a year and a half after its publishing, proving to become one of my most popular contributions to Tuonela Magazine, so I reckon the topic must be of spectacular interest to the online metal crowd. Thus, I decided it might be in order to right some terrible wrongs and write a sequel to that article, to take on where it took off and round up some more metal songs that feature violin in this aforementioned manner. This time, I did my homework better – plus, I decided to include a few songs that might not exactly come off as particularly “metal” but otherwise meet the criteria so splendidly that it is a must to spread the word for these beauties. Well, sort of like last time but only this time better, y’know. So, the list includes a couple of prog gems as well as a few symphonic metal bangers. For the most part, however, it’s as metal as you could possibly get. This time, I could round up 35 songs, most of which I myself wasn’t exactly familiar with before but now, these new finds are part and parcel of my musical diet. So, this was quite a pleasant and worthwhile expedition for me as well. Here goes! Perhaps I should insert a subheading of sorts here: 

35 METAL & PROG SONGS FEATURING PROMINENT VIOLIN

Fleshgod Apocalypse: Thru Our Scars

For some reason, this uptempo banger gets mentioned almost everywhere as a prime specimen for a metal song featuring violin, so I felt obliged to look it up. Well, yeah, there is a bit of violin, although the violin part is discernible for perhaps a few seconds in the song’s intro. If there’s more, you cannot really hear it from beneath the punchy riffs. I decided to include this beast in spite of this peculiar trait, nevertheless; if you really listen to the song, those melodramatic sections where the band’s vocalist Tommaso Ricardi drops some pretty high-register operatic lines, those dueling guitar legatos progress along rather violin-like trajectories, you know, something of the sort Antonio Vivaldi might have knocked up back in the day. Yeah, this was not perhaps the best foot forward in terms of compiling this list, but as a rather peculiar oddity, I wanted to bring up this opening track from the band’s first EP “Mafia” (2010). Italians have developed a knack over the centuries for putting violins to one hell of good use, so maybe these ruffians should give it some more thought, eh?

The Circle: Of Awakening (featuring Tim of Ne Obliviscaris)

Symphonic gloom with blast beats and vocalist Asim Searah‘s haunting versatility are the secret ingredients that make this song slap extremely hard. The song also features Tim Charles of NE OBLIVISCARIS on violin and his trademark legatos elevate this song to a league of its own, putting the icing on the proverbial cake. Mark my words, this new album by these German metal extremists, THE CIRCE, is something to talk very fondly about when this year draws to a close and it’s time to rank the albums we were blessed with over the past 12 months.

Einvera: Static Ascension

This was a new acquaintance for me, unearthed from the dark vaults of the Internet. EINVERA released their debut “In Your Image” in 2011, but the unrestrained avant-garde mayhem oozing from this opener harkens even further back in time to the early days of one of Mike Patton‘s many side hustles, MR. BUNGLE. Obviously, this exercise in musical madness would slap harder if the band’s vocalist had a vocal range like that of Patton, but the violin licks make up for some of that lack.

Subrosa: The Usher

It turns out that this experimental doom squad hailing from Salt Lake City, USA, features two violinists, actually. This opening track from the band’s 2013 album “More Constant than the Gods” does not necessarily come off as very “metal” per se, but rather as a peculiar cross between SONIC YOUTH and BLACK SABBATH. This 14-minute stoner epic utilizes violins as psychedelic nightmare fuel for the weak of heart. This band was also a fresh find for me and, judging by this one track alone, I really need to get back to their catalog later.

My Dying Bride: Your Broken Shore

This was one of the bands whose very existence somehow had escaped me while writing the first part of this violin-themed blog series, which was rather peculiar since I was not entirely stranger to MY DYING BRIDE‘s music. For this list, I chose a relatively new song that I wasn’t yet familiar with. “Your Broken Shore” is from the band’s 2020 album, “The Ghost of Orion,” and it features those sorrowful violin legatos that have become the band’s hallmark. In fact, it was a rather nice turn of events that I was kindly reminded of this band’s great music once again since this new album had completely slipped through my radar.

Thank You Scientist: The Amateur Arsonist’s Handbook

This New Jersey bunch is not exactly metal but their progressive outlook is of such unique caliber that I simply had to include the song, “The Amateur Arsonist’s Handbook,” from their 2016 album “Stranger Heads Prevail,” because, not only does it feature delicious violin licks, but it also kicks some major ass. When it comes to the violin part, it is executed as nothing short of a fired-up solo that nods more than slightly toward some of the most robust jazz-rock fusion bangers from the 1970s. What makes this all a good deal more intriguing is the fact that the band’s vocalist Salvatore Marrano‘s signature sound is reminiscent of Michael Jackson to a haunting degree. Just think about a funky prog act with a full-fledged brass section and violins and all – and then, it’s fronted by the king of pop!

Turisas: Rasputin

I’m actually old enough to remember the halcyon days of the German pop and Eurodisco group BONEY M. So, when I first heard the cover rendition of one of their biggest bangers, “Rasputin,” by the Finnish folk-metal rogues, TURISAS, there was no way I could take it seriously. I’m still not taking it seriously, but it does capture the appropriate Slavic, vodka-lubricated “Rillumarei” spirit, which the original did not, in spite of the song being about that one peculiar Russian character, who befriended the imperial family under rather dubious circumstances. Oh, and this version features some nice, gypsy-jazz-and-folksy violins too.

Huldre: Ulvevinter

This Danish folk-metal outfit is something that I found by accident while compiling this list – and I was blown away by the sheer awesomeness of their signature sound! It is like a hybrid of folk of the Nordic noir variety and pure, raw black-metal aesthetic. As per the conventions of the folk genre, the lyrics are not in English, but in Danish, I guess. Of course, I cannot avoid thinking about “Mareridt”-era MYRKUR, although this particular song is perhaps not that prominently black-metal-tinted, but leaning more toward the folksy side of things.

Elvenking: Swallowtail

Judging by the first few bars, one could mistake this song for one coming from the Norwegian school of Viking metal, but ELVENKING does actually come from Sacile, Italy. Then again, I guess the folk tradition is really not that different even in the far-away parts of Europe in terms of music; it is just as easy to down a cold beer to an Irish jig that’s in compound triple meter as it is to get drunk to some Balkan folk music that gallops in 9/8 time signature. The violin stuff in this song does have a peculiar Viking aura to it, anyhow.

Eluveitie: Jezaig

The folk-metal theme only seems to get stronger; I must admit that I’m not exactly well-versed in ELUVEITIE‘s back catalog but I guess one could pick any one of their albums in order to find some violin-infested folk-metal blasting. This instrumental track is from the band’s 2003 album “Ven.” Perhaps it’s not the best calling card of their craft but it does have a unique vibe to it. For one thing, the song’s tempo is remarkably slower than usual when it comes to this type of folk-metal riffing. You do not even have to resort to funeral-doom tempos for these types of Renaissance-fair melodies to start sound rather ominous.

Estradasphere: A Corporate Merger

I took the liberty to stretch the definition of metal in order to squeeze this darling into the mix as well; yeah, this is not metal at all, but instead experimental surrealism à la “California”-era MR. BUNGLE. And what is that exactly? Well, here it is off-kilter Klezmer Prog where instruments (including violin) are having boss battles with each other, with the rhythm section dropping some evil funk at one point and frantic blast beats the next. This is also one of those fresh finds that I really had to bookmark for checking out in depth later. This is fucking brilliant!

Dominia: Beautiful Innocence

It’s a no-brainer that violins and Slavic melancholy go hand in hand. On the same note, what could be more haunting than romantic violin legatos paired with gloomy and Gothic melodeath? DOMINIA, hailing from St. Petersburg, Russia, has been around since 1999, but this song is from the band’s album “Divine Revolution,” released in 2005. Once again, this is a relatively unknown bunch for me, but judging by this one track, I might have to take the time to dig deeper later. If Russian authors are anything to go by, our Eastern neighbors have a knack for melodrama, so it’s kind of strange that the country has not produced more bands of this sort.

Månegarm: Hervors Arv

Here is yet another Viking/black/folk metal squad, this time from Sweden. These rogues have also been around for a bit longer, with the band having been founded already in 1995. So, these old dogs know how many bones make five. As per their labels definition, “warm violin interludes infuse most songs,” and, “lend an epic character to frost-clad metal tunes” – ’nuff said.

Haggard: Hijo de la Luna

This song is actually a cover; the original appeared on the 1986 album by the Spanish band, MECANO, although it is perhaps better known in the non-Spanish-speaking world as a cover version by Montserrat Caballé, Sarah Brightman, or the German metal band, HAGGARD. This is one of the songs that forced me to break my own rules here; violin is not particularly prominent in this song, but rather just a part of the orchestral background. However, this version of that timeless classic is worth checking out if symphonic metal is in any way your cup of tea.

Tetriconia: Etherea

Mexican metal bands are not something you come across very often in these neighborhoods, so I simply had to include TETRICONIA in this list. This song is from the band’s independently released 2005 album “Eve,” and it showcases quite a lot of budding promise. I have no idea what happened to the band afterward, but this symphonic banger features some prominent violin work, so you’d better check it out. For me, there is a nice, somewhat 1990s-tinted vibe to the band’s signature sound – slightly unpolished, yes, but nonetheless interesting.

Unexpect: Novae

Apparently, this Canadian band no longer exists, but while it did, it sure mixed some strange brews together, from far-out avant-garde flourishes to progressive death metal to medieval opera to electric gypsy jazz to deranged circus music and to whatnot. Obviously, people with an affinity for MR. BUNGLE, John Zorn‘s avant-garde endeavors, or the Australian freak circus, DARTH VEGAS, will find this 7-minute exercise in sonic over-indulgence a rather pleasant experience. Plus, there are some high-octane violins too.

Epica: Fools of Damnation – The Embrace that Smothers, pt. 9

This contender obviously falls in the symphonic metal category but, in the name of common decency, it must be noted here because not only is the song a real damn banger, but it also comes jam-packed with delicious, Middle-Eastern violin riffs that Slap with capital S. I reckon there are more than just one or two violins shredding those spicy staccato notes, but we don’t mind, do we? This is by far one of the band’s best bangers, hands down!

Illuminandi: Hymn of All Creation

This is a little bit tricky case; you see, I’m not sure whether this bunch was truly about Christian heavy metal or sarcasm of a higher and more sophisticated level. The band was from Poland, so it could basically have been either way, I guess. The clean vocals resonate with the subtle air of Mike Patton, which might explain why my initial thought was that these guys were pulling a prank on me. Anyway, the band layers their Gothic metal with prominent violin and cello melodies, so it simply has to be included. According to the Internet, the band went on a hiatus in 2014, but they might have plans to release new music under a different name in the future.

After Forever & Floor Jansen: Monolith of Doubt

From the sophomore album by the Dutch symphonic-metal outfit, AFTER FOREVER, we can find this banger. Again, this does not exactly meet the stringent criteria that I first had in mind for this list, but anyhow, this song features all sorts of ear candy, including some slapping violin licks, so I guess I can bend my rules a little.

Heidevolk: A Wolf in My Heart

Okay, enough with the symphonic metal, this is folk-metal conduct from the Netherlands. The song is from HEIDEVOLK‘s 2018 album “Vuur van Verzet.” This band was another completely new acquaintance for me, but as the song proved pretty damn good, I definitely need to pay a visit to the band’s music later. In terms of violins, there’s nothing revolutionizing here – just the basic medieval-style fiddle-playing that goes so well together with power chords leisurely chugging away. Then again, there’s an old saying in the streets that goes, “Why fix it, if it ain’t broken?”

Evergrey: Solitude Within

In contrast to the iconic melodeath sound of the city, Gothenburg has given us yet another sound that has only grown more spectacular over the years – namely, that of EVERGREY. This banger is from the band’s sophomore album “Solitude, Dominance, Tragedy,” released in 1999. The opening track, “Solitude Within,” features a banging violin solo. Time has taken rather kindly to this song, as well as to the album as a whole, so it might not be such a bad idea to have a bottle of good Pinot Noir and dedicate some Saturday night to listening to this beast in depth!

Maudlin of the Well: Interlude 3

Okay, this is quite an outlier; you see, this song could not be further from even the most far-reaching notions of metal. This is an acoustic lounge-music piece sandwiched between all sorts of avant-garde metal outbursts on the band’s 2001 album “Leaving Your Body Map.” However, the song has quite a haunting violin motif that’s worth checking out. I’m not really sure what to make of this band; this particular song could be from THE CINEMATIC ORCHESTRA or BONOBO songbooks – that is, chill-out music to cool off to – while the rest of the album is anything but! Just listen to, say, “Stones of October’s Sobbing” right after this one and then ask yourself, is this really the same band?!

Therion: The Flight of the Lord of the Flies

Well, if the previous song was hard to put in the context of metal, this one is perhaps hard to put in any context. Is THERION having a piss-take on the orchestral interlude, “Flight of the Bumblebee,” written by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, here?

Korpiklaani: Louhen Yhdeksäs Poika

If I recall correctly, I did include one KORPIKLAANI song in my original blog post about this violin theme; however, this one is way too good of a banger not to include in this list. Violin-wise, this is just what the doctor ordered – tradition-savvy, folksy shredding.

A Forest of Stars: Decomposing Deity Dance Hall

Dubbing themselves a brotherhood of Victorian Englishmen, this Yorkshire group has found itself a musical expression in hypnotic and ghostly black metal that is expertly streaked with elements of ambient and psychedelic kind. This song from their 2018 album “Grave Mounds and Grave Mistakes” evolves from krautrockish synth riffathon to ambient and heart-wrenching melancholy to black-metal crescendos over the course of 9 minutes. Violin is at the forefront most prominently in the song’s intro. A FOREST OF STARS proved such a gem that it went straight to my “All-Time Greatest Bangers” playlist on Spotify.

Lumsk: Ormin Lange

Hailing from Trondheim, Norway, this folk-metal brigade draws from Nordic mythology, well, as they all do, but these sages have added a peculiar twist of their own into the mix when it comes to the serving of these mythological tales dressed up in metal riffs. Taken from their 2003 album “Åsmund Frægdegjevar,” this song is a good example of their signature sound. The violin is not very prominent in this track, just a part of a chamber orchestra of some sort, I would reckon, but this song slaps hard, so it simply needs to be on this list. Just listen to those vocal layers in the song’s coda!

Chthonic: One Thousand Eyes

This ended up on this list partly due to the fact that it doesn’t happen very often that you get to hear Taiwanese symphonic black metal. The other factor was that I read from some online sources that the Chinese violin, erhu, is prominently featured in the band’s music. Perhaps it cannot be heard in this particular track, but as compensation, there are lots of strings of a tad more traditional Western sort, by the looks of it. The very concept of Taiwanese black metal is way too intriguing not to check out – and, in this case, checking these ruffians out really paid off! The song is actually quite a banger! And it definitely showcases some interesting nuances that the band’s Western cousins would probably not dare to even dream of putting in a black-metal song.

The Sins of Thy Beloved: Until the Dark

As it happens, this band is yet another one of those whose story came to a close a long time ago. Founded in Bryne, Norway, in the mid-1990s, THE SINS OF THY BELOVED was one of those bands that pioneered “The Beauty and the Beast” vocals that characterize modern Gothic metal – that is, the combination of a female soprano voice and a grunting, death-metal male voice. What made this bunch stand out was the prominent use of violins in the death-doom context. In this song, there is a distinctly dreamy and ethereal vibe to it, almost as though DEAD CAN DANCE and PARADISE LOST had a lovechild or something.

Indukti: Ninth Wave

Because I have a soft spot for Polish prog (don’t we all?), it is imperative that I include INDUKTI‘s instrumental “Ninth Wave” in this list because, not only does it resonate with the air of Miles Davis‘s most haunting contributions to the world of modal jazz, namely due to the melancholy doodlings of the muted trumpet, but it also comes jam-packed with tight riffs – plus, a beautiful violin solo in the song’s outro. Well, the violin bit is relatively short but what can you do?

Kayo Dot: The Manifold Curiosity

By definition, KAYO DOT is an American avant-garde metal band, but this particular song is not necessarily metal in the strict, SLAYER sense of the term, but rather a mixture of ambient, postrock, and jazz in a somewhat similar manner to the French metal experimentalists, KLONE, although in this case, instrumentally. This song, or rather this 14-minute sonic meditation that includes quite a haunting violin solo, is from the band’s 2003 album “Choirs of the Eye,” which was released as their debut in the aftermath of the breakup of MAUDLIN OF THE WELL. So, some of these sonic mystics had something to do with that other oddball group as well? That might explain a lot of things…

Avenged Sevenfold: A Little Piece of Heaven

This is cabaret music rather than metal but, then again, some wisecracks probably wouldn’t consider AVENGED SEVENFOLD as a metal outfit to begin with. Among all other wonderful things, such as the horn section pulling off all kinds of Walt Disney cartoon-music tricks, this song does feature nice violin chops too – not as a lead instrument, though, but rather in the chamber-music setting. I’ll let this slip through just this once because this song really slaps!

Tantric: Down & Out

Violins take center stage right off the bat in the song’s intro. Of course, to consider this metal would be quite a stretch; post-grunge might be a tad more fitting label. There is a good deal of similarities between TANTRIC and bands such as COLLECTIVE SOUL, THREE DAYS GRACE, LIVE, or CANDLEBOX. The violin riffs groove like hell, nonetheless!

Wigwam: 1936 Lost in Snow

You know what? I just realized that I have included nowhere near enough vintage prog in this list and it’s already drawing to a close! Here’s one: a Finnish prog gem from the 1970s, from WIGWAM‘s sophomore 1970 album “Tombstone Valentine.” On this album, bassist Pekka Pohjola joined the group and this is one of his compositions – yeah, you can tell by those signature changes; he also played the violin parts himself.

Mahavishnu Orchestra: Meeting of the Spirits

Vintage rock-jazz fusion might be equally off the mark, considering the theme of metal songs but, nonetheless, this banger from 1971 sounds so evil that I’m pretty convinced it should go down quite smoothly with some metalheads too – with those freaky avantgardists at least! The riff played in unison by the bass and the violin is quite infectious, groovy, and – yes! – evil. Overall, this album entitled “The Inner Mounting Flame” is worth checking out; it is a true treasure trove of evil rock-jazz vibes and quantum riffs – plus, there are shitloads of violin!

Bent Knee: Terror Bird

One more prog banger for the road! Is there metal in this song? Not really. Are there prominent violins in it? Oh, yes! The violin is drenched in reverb and other effects, however. What sounds like a synth is actually a violin working its magic. This song is from the 2017 album, “Land Animal,” by this Boston-based prog four-piece. I included this on the list mainly because, here, the violin is used in a rather unconventional manner. Yeah, there’s some “basic” violin stuff too, such as those dynamically swelling layers of strings here and there, but for the most part, the violin is doing all kinds of experimental stuff that doesn’t strike you immediately as though sounding particularly violin-like. We likes it very much!

So, that’s it.

See, it wasn’t really that hard to come up with 10 metal songs that feature the violin in a somewhat prominent role, was it? I’m sure I could easily extract more than 10 songs out of these 35 that would meet the harshest criteria of what comprises a metal song. However, I decided to go the extra mile and add some exotic flavors to this mix – for your listening pleasure, of course. On the upside, I found a few new acts that really made a good impression. So, overall, this journey was for the win!

Written by Jani Lehtinen