“Necroclassical”. Now, there’s a musical genre that I can safely say I’ve never heard before. In fact, it’s probably safe to say that it’s a new genre for many of you as well as it’s a term coined by Lonegoat, the sole member of Goatcraft. A few weeks ago, the artist released his fourth album, Submersion, and it’s a beautiful combination of classical gothic darkness.
To celebrate the release, we asked Lonegoat to put together a Dread X list of some of the most devastating classical symphonies throughout history. For those who have wanted to delve into the darker side of classical music, this is a magnificent foundation upon which to launch yourself into a new musical journey.
An interesting note about Submersion is that it continues Goatcraft‘s title concept of ABYSS, with the first album titled A)ll for Naught, the second B)lasphemer, the third Y)ersinia Pestis, and the latest S)ubermsion. Anyone wanna start putting down bets as to what ‘S’ word(s) the fifth album will be called?
For those unfamiliar with Anton Bruckner, the best way I can sum up his music is that he was the symphonist that Wagner never was. Massive symphonies, heavy-natured melodies, codas that bring about the apotheosis of symphonic summations; Bruckner was truly one of the best. He died before completing his 9th, so it remains unfinished in three movements (missing the finale). Even in three movements, it still clocks in at about an hour, and it will take you to some of the most majestic and hauntingly beautiful places imaginable. The 9th is like Bruckner’s coming to terms with his own mortality; epic, dark, violent, beautiful.
This one is very popular because of its second movement (featured in A Clockwork Orange) and Ode to Joy. However, the first movement of Beethoven’s 9th is fucking fantastic! It’s moody, turbulent, and the coda at the end is one of Beethoven’s best. I would recommend this movement above all others for anybody interested in the highest shelf of classical music.
This one might be hit or miss with some people, but those of you who are into metal may end up loving it because some of the melodies in the beginning sound like something Slayer would write. But as it unravels, it brings percussion to the center stage and fleshes it out as it masterly moves from violent to bleak, then to an epic resolution. Shostakovich flexed hard with his 12th!
If Bruckner’s 9th is the composer coming to terms with his own mortality, then his 8th is the existential crisis which came before. It has everything in it that Bruckner was known for, and remains as his biggest complete statement. Each movement is amazing and will take you into the depths of Bruckner’s genius. This one requires endurance though because it’s usually 80 or so minutes long! Make sure to utilize the latrine before listening to it.
Schubert’s 8th (Unfinished)
It’s a shame that Schubert kicked the bucket before completing this symphony. For those interested in romanticism, this is one of the best you could check out because it’s truly on the edge! It starts out serene not unlike a stroll through nature. Then, as it progresses, much gravitas is thrown into the face of the listener!
Brahms’ first symphony is by far my favorite by him. He put most of his best ideas into it and proved that it’s worthy to consider it “Beethoven’s 10” (the composer to follow in Beethoven’s footsteps and push romanticism to higher heights). Definite major tragedy inside his wretched soul!
This may be a controversial one, but Sibelius’ 2nd is some of most “flowing” music that I’ve heard, especially in the second movement. The coda at the end of the finale is equally as awesome! It takes a while to develop and unravel its motifs, but give it some dedicated attention and it will transport the psyche outside of time, space and causation.
Rimsky-Korsakov is like the Beethoven of Russia. This lesser-known symphony is dark in demeanor and has some of the most natural sounding melodies in it. It’s highly worth checking it out, and is a good introductory piece to the composer.
This is one of the most dismal symphonies that I’ve heard. It’s much like Shostakovich’s 12, but slower moving, creeping at a snail’s pace. Then wham! Shostakovich smacks us upside the head with the most bombastic shit he ever wrote! Then after that, it’s back to slowly submerging in itself. It feels a bit lopsided because of the bombastic part. However, it clearly communicates the graveness of its intent.
Liszt’s Dante Symphony
Liszt’s Dante Symphony was literally written to take the listener to hell. It’s very Wagnerian and devilish. Once the first movement comes to a closing, Liszt wraps the fires of Hell into a neatly tied bow. Highly recommended.