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Symphonic Metal Special: Epica, Delain and the queens of the corset

Like Nightwish and their operatic bombast? Here are six more bands to wrap your ears around

The Prodigy might have grabbed the headlines when The Day Is My Enemy, their first studio album in six years, hit the top of the UK chart earlier this month. But just 11 places below Keith Flint & Co. were Nightwish and their brand new full-length, Endless Forms Most Beautiful, their first with new singer Floor Jansen. Symphonic metal isn't a new phenomenon – Nightwish, for example, formed in 1996 – but its enormous success is largely undocumented beyond specialist outlets. Typically a Northern European phenomenon, there are dozens, possibly hundreds, of heavily orchestrated, outrageously bombastic combos out there vying for your attention. The best symphonic metal bands feature glamorous mezzo-soprano female singers in alluring gothic attire; their vocals are often counterbalanced by male 'death grunt' vocals. The lavish sound has its roots in classical music and power metal; two extremes combined. The end result is so epic, many record stores now file Rick Wakeman albums under 'skiffle'. Here are six more leading symphonic metal bands that you should check out.

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