Can you really call music that originated in the 10th century “New Age”? At least the “New” part seems a bit questionable, but Gregorian knows how to update their namesake ancient music to be easier on our modern ears. 2011 marks the German group’s two decade anniversary, as well as the upcoming release of the eighth disc in their Masters of Chant series. Theirs is passionate, spiritual music, but unlike the classic version of the style, they do not preach or have a specific religious bent. They also include more instruments than the purely vocal classical style, adding more texture to the songs.
Most of Gregorian’s music is chant versions of pop and rock songs, in the tradition of Apocalyptica doing cello versions of Metallica songs. The choir vocals echo with power and presence, taking full advantage of their recording space – they use an actual church space for the vocals separate from the instruments and other effects. Speaking of, the instrumental sections do well to complement the vocals rather than replace or overwhelm them. Though all these covers are recognizable with a bit of mental stretch, lead Frank Peterson makes each piece unique to their chosen style. Gregorian is a fascinating experiment in genre mixing between classical and modern, rock and devotion.
Check out their version of Evanescence’s ‘Bring Me To Life’ off their mostly cover album ‘The Dark Side of the Chant’:
Similar Sounds: As symphonic metal (Nightwish, Apocalyptica etc.) is to opera and symphonies, Gregorian is to chanting. That said, if you’re looking for other bands inspired by chanting, try Enigma (these guys are more electronic than Gregorian) or E Nomine.
Final Thoughts: Gregorian succeeds at modernizing old music styles with new instrumentals and lyrics. Their powerful spiritual traditions act as a peaceful, meditative reprieve from the every day grind. I never expected to hear a choir singing AC/DC, but it works.
-Main Band Page: www.gregorianmastersofchant.com
-Facebook: Gregorian Facebook
-Myspace: Gregorian Myspace