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The overlap between heavy metal and classical music is horrifically overstated. More often than not, metal critics with little to no knowledge of music outside of the realm of distorted guitars will do back flips for any band willing to throw a circle of fifths progression into their riff bank and call it “neoclassical”. Of course anyone with even a passing knowledge of the classical tradition will call bullshit within five seconds.

There are exceptions to this of course. The more extreme variants of the genre are rife with artists courting the grandeur and scale of the orchestra. Even if they usually settle for the surface details, the intention suggests a kinship between an army of string players and a wall of amplifiers. The same is true for the relationship between folk music and heavy metal. Plenty of bands will throw a fiddle over some half-assed pentatonic licks and call it day. But any time that a band makes the extra effort, they uncover a wealth of melodic possibilities beyond corny renaissance faire cosplaying. This is why a band like Horn is so refreshing. Where other bands role play, they do their homework. They live where the army hits the wall.

Make no mistake, Horn are not a folk act. Nor are they a classical ensemble. They aren’t going to be doing Christmas specials or Mozart tributes any time soon. But by channeling authentic folk melodies through the heft of metal they capture a classical spirit better than any number of shredders peddling harmonic minor arpeggios for music composition students. Part of what makes their music work is ornamentation, the extra trill on a passing note or the effort to make resolution conclusive. But what really sells their songs is smart and learned songwriting.

Even as someone who listens to a lot of heavy music, it is easy to take the potential of the genre for granted. A minor harmonic here, a diminished scale there. Horn are a nice reminder that the genre is a vehicle for more melodic languages than we typically assume. I’m a hipster by nature, so I typically favor the more consonant or pop leaning harmonies that you’d typically see in the modern American black metal scene. Horn's new album Turn Am Hang, on the other hand prove that the old ways, by that I mean the OLD old ways, still have a lot to teach us about whip smart melodic writing.

Stream "Alles In Einem Schnitt" below. Follow Horn on Facebook.

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