Classical music that sounds like the earth vomiting?
September 13, 2014 5:33 AM   Subscribe

I am looking for suggestions as to classical composers that are similar in style and feel to the darker, slower, heavier side of metal and post-metal.

As you might tell from my previous questions looking for music recommendations, I have relatively broad tastes but tend to favour heavy music with a strong beat, particularly to work by. I am at heart a metalhead but with an inclination towards the unusual and the experimental.

I particularly like post-rock and post-metal, such as Mogwai or Pelican; bands that focus on rhythm, such as the resurgent Swans, High on Fire, the Heads; and more downbeat soundscapes such as Low, Earth and Sunn O))).

Lately I have begun investigating classical music. I have tried to find suggestions for starting points in that (very broad) genre that are good for someone who already likes metal. However, most of what I have found interpret metal as quasi-romantic up-tempo progressive rock played with great skill but (at least to me) with no soul. Yngvie J Malmsteen is everything that I abhor about metal so I don't want pointers from there. I have found a few lists that seem more to my liking. Can anyone suggest more in this vein?
posted by Grinder to Media & Arts (30 answers total) 41 users marked this as a favorite
Arvo Pärt, De Profundus.
posted by Sonny Jim at 5:43 AM on September 13, 2014 [2 favorites]

Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring might be what you're looking for. Listen to it at a high volume and your brain will almost automatically replace the reoccurring driving theme with grinding, palm muted guitars.
posted by Spiced Out Calvin Coolidge at 5:44 AM on September 13, 2014 [4 favorites]

This mass by Antoine Brumel (early 16th-century) repeatedly simulates the sound of earthquakes.

(The best track on that recording is the Lamentations -- absolutely arresting).
posted by venividivici at 6:45 AM on September 13, 2014

Carmina Burana by Carl Orff, especially O Fortuna.

Mars from Gustav Holst's Planets although you might enjoy some of the other movements, e.g., Venus, too.
posted by carmicha at 7:18 AM on September 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

Oh this exists even in the Baroque style, would you know...

Rebel "Le Chaos"
posted by Namlit at 7:24 AM on September 13, 2014

Dude. Wagner.
posted by matildaben at 7:30 AM on September 13, 2014

You should investigate Apocalyptica if you haven't already.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 7:40 AM on September 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: If you like the Carmina Burana maybe also try Verdi's Requiem?

Stravinsky's a good call. The Rite of Spring is famous for a good reason, but there's a lot of great stuff he wrote that goes beyond it. The Symphony of Psalms might be up your alley (starts to pick up steam a few minutes in). Another favorite of mine is the Con Moto from the Concerto for Two Pianos, which isn't such a MASSIVE SLAB OF SOUND but has a great varied driving rhythm to it.

Another Modern Classical Crowd Pleaser with that sort of rhythmic drive is John Adams's Short Ride in a Fast Machine.

Branching off from Low, Earth, and Sunn, there's a bunch of 20th century classical music that plays with drones. LaMonte Young is a good place to start. John Cale (of the Velvet Underground) also did some stuff in that vein that you might find interesting. That stuff feeds pretty directly into the noisy end of alternative rock — drone music leads to No Wave and Glenn Branca which leads to Sonic Youth and GY!BE — so it's hard to say for sure at what point it stops being "classical."
posted by nebulawindphone at 8:19 AM on September 13, 2014

Maybe John Adams's Dr. Atomic?
posted by ferret branca at 8:28 AM on September 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

Also try Magnus Lindberg.
posted by ferret branca at 8:29 AM on September 13, 2014

Kind of a shot in the dark, but maybe this Prelude from Chopin's Op. 28 set? If that's in the right vein, a lot of Chopin's work could fit the bill.
posted by Gymnopedist at 9:22 AM on September 13, 2014

A couple of Ives' pieces are recommended in your second link; definitely check him out (esp. Variations on America and Country Band March). Crazy, discordant takes on familiar tunes. ...and the mountains rising nowhere definitely has that "earth vomiting" feel, but isn't that rhythmic.

Another good John Adams piece would be Harmonielehre. From Wikipedia: "Adams has stated that the piece was inspired by a dream he had in which he was driving across the San Francisco – Oakland Bay Bridge and saw an oil tanker on the surface of the water abruptly turn upright and take off like a Saturn V rocket."
posted by damayanti at 10:18 AM on September 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

A few obviouser ones: the first movement of Mahler's 3rd (Mahler's 6th was already on one of your lists), Hindemith's Symphonic Metamorphoses, and the Art of Fugue played on organ. Also, many things by Penderecki, HIF Biber's La Bataille, Sweelinck's Ricercar (on organ), and Messiaen's organ works, e.g. the Apparition. But maybe organ music is cheating...
posted by flechsig at 11:23 AM on September 13, 2014

Valentin Silvestrov - Symphony No. 4
Avet Terterian - Symphony No. 6
Galina Ustvolskaya - Composition No. 2
posted by misteraitch at 12:21 PM on September 13, 2014

Try out the third movement of Prokofiev's Fifth Symphony (Part 1, Part 2) and see if it floats your boat. If it does, then the rest of his symphonies might be up your alley too (except possibly for his first.)
posted by Johnny Assay at 12:50 PM on September 13, 2014

Bruckner — Symphony #9 (2nd movement)
Arvo Pärt — Tabula Rasa
Sofia Gubaidulina — The Lyre of Orpheus
Jón Leifs — Hekla
Brahms — Piano Concerto #1
Mozart — Piano Concerto #24
Beethoven — Grosse Fuge
Vivaldi — "Summer" from The Four Seasons (metal version!)
posted by John Cohen at 2:09 PM on September 13, 2014

Havergal Brian's Gothic Symphony

Ralph Vaughan Williams, Symphony #6
posted by under_petticoat_rule at 2:55 PM on September 13, 2014

I liked the piano concerto suggestions. Here are three more Musts:
Bartok's first and second piano concerto, and Prokoviev's second piano concerto (wait until the large solo in the second half of the first movement and you'll know what I mean).
posted by Namlit at 3:50 PM on September 13, 2014

Penderecki as mentioned in your links, and maybe I'm dense and missing something but Ligeti comes to mind too (Kubrick had such good music taste!).
posted by ifjuly at 6:06 PM on September 13, 2014

Edgard Varese and musique concrete maybe too.
posted by ifjuly at 6:08 PM on September 13, 2014

Husband says Modest Mussorgsky.

(Totally agree about Bruckner and Shostakovich BTW--I think the climaxes in Shostakovich sound surprisingly similar to new Swans)
posted by ifjuly at 6:12 PM on September 13, 2014

You might find that you like Also Sprach Zarathustra, even / especially past the 2001: A Space Odyssey part. The fugue that starts at around 11:00 in this video is what I think the earth would sound like if it opened up.
posted by batter_my_heart at 8:54 PM on September 13, 2014

Or for some baroque:
J. S. Bach - Passacaglia and Fugue in C minor BWV 582 yt , Prelude & Fugue BWV 543 yt

And hey, why not his phenomenally famous Toccata and Fugue in D minor?
posted by John Cohen at 9:32 PM on September 13, 2014

From listening to a couple of your links, I wonder if you might like minimalist pieces such as Glass' Violin Concerto. Similarly (somewhat), Vasks- Musica Dolorosa.

I'm not sure if Scriabin/Nemtin's Mysterium sounds like anything you linked to, but I think it fits the 'earth vomit' feel criteria. Also Vine's 3rd String Quartet (great ending). Actually neither of these latter two are slow, but they are unusual/experimental and heavy, and mostly dark, and the Vine gets a bit head-bangy especially towards the end.

Going back another few hundred years or so: Vitali Chaconne, Bach Chaconne, and finally, a friend whose musical domain is primarily metal found Vanhal's G minor Symphony appealing (specifically the first movement).
posted by SailRos at 6:03 AM on September 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

I would suggest marches, although not everyone's cup of tea, perhaps an acquired taste these days. Start with Tchaikovsky's Marche Slav.
posted by Rash at 9:03 AM on September 14, 2014

I highly recommend Liszt's Totentanz (Dance of Death). Similarly, Danse Macabre by Saint-Saëns might be up your alley.
posted by Poegar Tryden at 3:36 PM on September 14, 2014

Geysir by Jón Leifs. It is AMAZING and sounds exactly like what you are describing.
posted by Ziggy500 at 4:28 AM on September 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

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