Review by Mohsen Fayazi
- Night On Bald Mountain
- Je Crois Entendre Encore
- Double Cello Concerto in G Minor
- Symphony No. 40
- Swan Lake
- Madame Butterfly
- Air On The G String
He released his first solo album, “Classical” in 1997, which I found a treasure chest of musical magic from the first listen. Eleven songs sit next to each other in the chest just like some colourful and shiny jewel stones, each of them with its own unique colour and charm. So it is indeed great to see that Wolf Hoffmann is going to release another solo album, which is entitled reasonably “Headbangers Symphony”. It has eleven songs in its track list too and it is set to be released on 1st July 2016.
Let the classical music rock, ‘Scherzo’ is the first in the line and it is not a “joke” at all. It is a heavy metal adaptation of the very famous second movement of Beethoven’s Symphony No.9. ‘Scherzo’ is an extract of music from a larger piece, often in 3/4 time and here comes the challenge, as heavy metal music is usually written in 4/4. This sounds like a victory as Wolf could win the challenge and also he made it back with his second solo album. I know why Mr Hoffmann chose this beautiful piece of art as the first track; this song is as memorable and magnificent as ‘Teutonic Terror’, the riff of which you can easily recognise here. How can I forget that epic moment when ACCEPT came back with the “Blood Of The Nations” album and now Wolf Hoffmann’s ‘Scherzo’ promises one more great restart!
The second track in this album is ‘Night On Bald Mountain’ where maybe Wolf Hoffmann’s sense of humour is limited only to the title, as the music is very serious. I always see colours or sometime even more complex, some pictures or images when I am listening to music. Whilst listening to this track I see images of burning magma upon a high mountain, with a very strong wind. The images continue with some anxiety and anguish type feelings and I suddenly find myself with no limits of time or space, “OMG!” I can see the whole of the human’s history of pain with the eyes wide shut and witches dressed in black are escorting me. It is absolutely a great version of Mussorgsky’s ‘Night On Bare Mountain’ and Wolf was brilliantly successful to connect it to the next song by an invisible bridge, made not by music but by feelings. ‘Les Pêcheurs de Perles’ is indeed one of the most famous and emotional pieces in Western opera by Georges Bizet. Wolf Hoffmann’s adapted version of ‘Act 1’ of this masterpiece, ’Je Crois Entendre Encore’, is like a peaceful dark blue sea under a pale blue sky. While the waves are moving by the soft hands of the wind, I feel like a feather drowning in a limitless ocean of tears and emotions.
Vivaldi’s music has always been a symbol of the harmony of life to me. The next track on “Headbangers Symphony” is ‘Double Cello Concerto In G Minor’, where Wolf delivers a headbanging version of Antonio Vivaldi’s masterpiece, with almost the same name. As I followed and observed ACCEPT’s work precisely, this song must be a special song for Wolf, as they always seem to place the most special song as the fourth track in their track lists, at least on their albums from 2009. The coordination between Wolf Hoffmann’s guitar and other instruments, especially the orchestral ones, is stunning, so much so that I started to think that Mr Hoffmann tried to have a musical discussion here with Mr Vivaldi.
Jimi Hendrix was the first one who could sing with his guitar, Ritchie Blackmore was the next one and Wolf Hoffmann belongs to the next generation and to those where not many can do the same and that is the most necessary skill for playing the next song, named ‘Adagio’. I have always thought that Tomaso Albinoni was a kind of super-human or an alien as I can hardly believe his ‘Adagio in G minor’ is a work of mankind! Indeed, Wolf Hoffmann was successful to create a new version of this masterpiece with his signature of playing the electric guitar and the instrument arrangement. Absolutely loyal to the main theme, but he manages to bring more emotional feelings into it. The peaceful music flows through my mind and with my closed eyes I find myself somewhere far far away from this galaxy.
The sixth track in the list, ‘Symphony No. 40’, is my favourite one and after lots of efforts of searching different dictionaries I still cannot find the words to describe it. This masterpiece is ten times more magnificent than magnificent with indescribable elegance, Wolf Hoffmann created such an uplifting piece of neoclassical metal music. This adaptation of Mozart’s ‘Symphony No.40’ will give a huge amount of joy to both classical music lovers and also metalheads around the world!
No matter if the love between Odette and Siegfried was strong enough to defeat the curse or not, their story is one of the most romantic. Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s ballet “Swan Lake” was and still is indeed an inspiring piece of art for many musicians and perhaps you have heard a few different versions by different artists. Now, luckily we have Wolf Hoffmann who brings us a unique one. The tempo is a little bit higher which makes it more rock and roll style at the beginning, but it will also go further and become a traditional heavy metal piece of music and you can find Wolf’s trademark through the whole song. The next track in the line is another beautiful piece of art, “Madame Butterfly” which is a power ballad adaptation of Italian composer Puccini’s opera of the same name. The emotive electric guitars backed by drums create such a dreamlike and stunning atmosphere from a drama story, of which you will not have heard a version such as this before.
In this album, Beethoven rocks. two head banger heavy metal adaption songs from his symphonies are created by Wolf like three powerful monsters who are ruling this fantastic world. ‘Pathetique’ is the title of the ninth track in “Headbangers Symphony”. Wolf seems to have found a tunnel in time and brought back 27 year old Ludwig to strike the heads and bang them furiously with a new exceptional version of ‘Sonata Pathétique’. Perhaps after some hard rocking and rolling, you may need to give your necks some rest, so here comes ‘Meditation’. It starts with an aura of peacefulness with the piano and electric guitar, so just close your eyes, relax and follow the music to eternity. This adaptation of Jules Massenet’s ‘Méditation (Thaïs)’ is as good as the original one, except that it is an overdriven guitar singing instead of the solo violin.
You may have had those emotional moments when you had to leave a beautiful place or a good friend but you didn’t want to and the last piece evokes that kind of feeling. The final stage of this awesomeness is ‘Air On The G String’ where Johann Sebastian Bach at last joins the party, just to say farewell and close the curtain. Wolf played the guitar perfectly and smoothly which may leave some tears on your eyes. But don’t get too upset, there is always a replay button to press!
It is all about balance, good or bad, black or white, happiness or sadness … this world’s nature demands balance and it is what you can find in Wolf Hoffmann’s second solo album perfectly too. There are soft and mellow songs and there are also energetic and heavy ones, so almost everything your nature needs. “Headbangers Symphony” is not only a wonderful musical album, but it is a healthy food for beautiful souls and minds and it is one of those albums which you want to listen to over and over again.