Full metal jammin

Heavy metal choir Hellscore sings through COVID hellscape

The only heavy metal choir in Israel — and possibly the world — recorded a Linkin Park cover ahead of the latest lockdown

Jessica Steinberg covers the Sabra scene from south to north and back to the center.

Ever considered the similarities between the loud intensity of heavy metal music and orchestration and the rhythm of classical music?

It’s right there in the sound, says Noa Gruman, a classically trained musician who founded and conducts Hellscore, the only heavy metal choir in Israel — and possibly worldwide.

“They’re just two genres that are very powerful and epic,” said Gruman. “There’s a lot of classical influence in the harmonies and structures of heavy metal songs.”

The choir spent the last year denied performances due to coronavirus, but recently produced a new video, a cover of Linkin Park song “In The End,” whose lyrics are appropriate for life under lockdown.

The song was recorded by gathering ‘capsules’ of ten singers every day over the course of three days. It’s the latest in a long string of performances and videos for Hellscore, which was launched in 2016.

“I think I’ve never met any choir like ours, and I know a lot of choirs,” said Gruman.

Gruman will often take a classical piece, or write something classical on the piano and then translate it into a part for guitar or bass.

“It’s kind of like the same music, but with a different sound,” she said.

Gruman studied piano at the Jerusalem Music Academy, and was raised by musician parents — a classically-oriented mother and rock-and-roll father — so she learned to love both genres while singing in choirs, opera and vocal ensembles.

The love for the strong, loud vocal sound of heavy metal was born during her teen years, and she eventually formed Scardust, a progressive metal band that combines heavy metal with folk, classical and choral.

When the 2017 Scardust album “Sands of Time” was recorded with 40 enthusiastic choral singers, Gruman realized she had to take all of that talent and turn it into its own entity, which became acapella group Hellscore.

“We have this community of singers who share the same weird areas of interest,” said Gruman. “We’re geeks. This music always comes along with a D&D session,” referring to fantasy role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons.

The choir’s performances include many concerts outside, often in city plazas, where audiences are surprised by what they hear and often get to participate in an improv piece. They’re in demand for their unique sound, said Gruman, and recently recorded vocals for international symphonic metal band Therion that wanted to incorporate choral music into their album of 14 tracks.

“This choir? It’s a full-time job,” said Gruman.

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