"Headbangers Symphony"

By Colonel Angus

It has been almost 20 years since Wolf Hoffmann’s first solo disk "Classical" came out but I can’t fault him for the long delay.  Naturally, Accept is a priority and takes up most of his time but it’s nice to see that he still manages to set aside some time to record another one of his passions; classical music.  Although there have been a few guitarists that have tried it, only Hoffman and Yngwie Malmsteen seem to really have what it takes to do this justice.  On the surface, it seems like it would be an easy mix, heavy guitars alongside traditional classical instruments performing some older classical tunes (along with new compositions), but many musicians would take the situation and turn it into a shred-fest and make a mockery of the whole thing.  On "Headbangers Symphony", Hoffmann really lets the music speak for itself and gives all the instruments space they deserve.  Of course, his playing is the main focus of this record but he lets the music dictate the extent of his playing.  He adds to the music without drowning it in a sea of distorted riffs and high pitched leads.  Much credit must be given to Hoffmann for having the restraint to not overplay where the situation demands more subtly that finesse.

The record works well as a one coherent piece but like any disk, I have my favorites.  While I love the fast riffing on “Pathetique” and “Night On Bald Mountain”, the more emotional songs are where the real gold is here.  “Je Crois Entendre Encore”, “Swan Lake”, and “Meditation” are the high points of "Headbangers Symphony".  As mentioned previously, the whole disk works very well and I have listened to it from start to finish a half dozen times without wanting to fast forward through any of it.  I also like the fact that this is not a very long release so you are able to enjoy it in one sitting.  Even though this is a slightly different genre for Hoffmann, I think his fans will still get a lot out of this release.  Although "Headbangers Symphony" is not anything like Accept, most metal fans will be able to appreciate the passionate playing and the heaviness of these classical tunes.  Not many players would be able to pull it off but Hoffmann manages to mix the two genres and create something that is greater than the sum of its parts.