Ever since Metallica revolutionised the ‘rock band meets orchestra’ concept with the original S&M shows, there’s been a slew of bands following in their footsteps, hoping to get a slice of that same acclaim. Bring Me The Horizon, Alter Bridge, SepticFlesh, Dimmu Borgir and others have all tried – but none have quite matched the might and majesty of that night in San Francisco 21 years ago.
DeathOrchestra is a slightly different take on the same bombastic genre. At their nucleus is obscure Russian death metal group Buicide. Somehow (black magic was almost certainly involved), the little-known four-piece procured the funds to book the Opera Concert Club in Saint Petersburg, backed by the Olympic Symphony Orchestra.
Rather than play their own tracks though, Buicide use the pomp to pay tribute to the almighty Death – the death metal pioneers who would also go onto define technical death metal and melodic death metal as their career progressed.
New live album Symphony Of Death is a collection of highlights from that one concert, impressive in its passion and ability to add over-the-top drama to music defined by its abrasiveness and complexity.
Mostly represented are cuts from latter-day releases Symbolic and bittersweet swan song The Sound Of Perseverance. The pair’s over-the-top melodies and more spaced-out compositions lend themselves best to orchestra backing, although earlier number sneak in as well.
Destiny is a particular highlight, replacing the acoustic guitar introduction with solely violins; the novelty of hearing the grisly Pull The Plug played by classical musicians is well worth recommending too.
These moments hint at potential for a follow-up more focussed on the raw early days of Death. Yet, for the time being, what we have on our hands here is a new perspective on the legacy of one of extreme music’s greatest martyrs.