Midnite Mixtape Massacre - Symphony Of Pain Print E-mail
Written by Tracie Law & Pam Chowhan   
Sunday, 05 January 2014 04:00



‘Hydeology’ the 2012 album by Symphony Of Pain has been described as an exquisite blend of dark horror fuelled rock juxtaposed with the dynamics of classical instrumentation and soaring violin solos. It’s something band mainstays Tracie Law & Pam Chowhan like to call “dramatic horror fuelled melodic rock with gothic overtones.”


So what influences the duo to make such music? Read on and all will be revealed.


Joint selection


1.) ‘Mein Herz Brennt’ - Rammstein (from the album ‘Mutter’)


Tracie: We’re sharing this one.  I remember when I first heard this, I got so excited about its mix of heavy guitar and catchy classical strings motif. Soon as I could, I played it to Pam and she loved it as much as I did; it was the track that stimulated her interest in hard rock music, and has been an inspiration to us ever since.


Pam: This track made an enormous impression on me - I’d simply never heard anything like it in my life. The orchestral string intro doesn’t prepare you at all for the main part of the song - it’s such a shock, it just grabs you by the throat, especially Till Lindemann’s gravelly vocals and that loping, low-strung bass line. The piano outro, of course, is a harbinger for the later solo piano/vocal version, which is intensely melancholic, and has motivated us to try similar ‘unplugged’ versions of some of our own songs.   

Tracie Law - Vocals, Bass, Guitar, Drums


2.) ‘The Boys Are Back In Town’ - Thin Lizzy (from the album ‘Jailbreak’)


My first heavy rock album, and this is the pick of the lot.  Lizzy were completely unique. The drummer, Brian Downey, had a completely individual swing style that was pure Lizzy, and of course you’ve got those twin leads, Phil Lynott's pumping bass lines and unforgettable voice, deep and full of swagger.


3.) ‘Bomber’ - Motorhead (from the album of the same name)


What can you say about the loudest band in the world! The first Motorhead song I actually heard was “No Class” from ‘Overkill’, which I bought for 20p in Woolworth's on vinyl. I was instantly hooked, and when I went on to purchase my next single, “Bomber”, and then after that, the album, that was it - I became a Motorheadbanger! I bought every album, every single, T-shirts, merch - anything I could lay my hands on, and saw them live as much as possible.  They were so unpopular with the regular Quo type rock fans, but that made me love them even more.  I once met Lemmy and asked him how to make it in the music industry, and he just raised his fist and in that gruff tone shouted, "Try!" Well, here I am, still trying, Lemmy, cheers for the inspiration.

4.) ‘Suite Sister Mary’ - Queensryche (from the album ‘Operation Mindcrime’)


The ‘80s were coming to a close,  grunge was about to take a hold,  American bands were all the rage, and things were wham, bam, glam, when this Washington five piece dubbed ‘thinking man’s metal’ brought out a colossal album, ‘Operation Mindcrime’.  This track was the cream of the crop. At almost 11 minutes long, it is packed full of drama and atmosphere, as the operatic Geoff Tate and Pamela Moore vocals duel menacingly throughout the brilliant, discordant guitar riffs. It took another 14 years for an album (Rammstein – ‘Mutter’) to grab my attention like this.


5.) ‘Over My Head’ – King’s X (from the album ‘Gretchen Goes To Nebraska’)


It's hard to choose just one King’s X track because there are so many belters, but this was my first encounter with this brilliant three piece from Missouri. On the live version, Pinnick's intense volley of extreme falsetto screams in the opening section gives you that ‘hairs on the back of the neck’ feeling.  And again, it's the discordant guitars that grab me. I love that uneasiness they create within the beautiful harmonies; we use that same technique in Symphony.


SOP. Official Photo Roger Garnett


6.) ‘Moonlight Sonata’ - Beethoven


The ‘90s was in full swing and rock had gone all a bit grunge and I wasn't getting a buzz off it. I started listening to Classic FM and began to enjoy the typical stuff of a beginner, Bach, Vivaldi, et al. Then I began a foray into the music of Beethoven and this became my Queensryche of the classical world; for me, this sonata was the jewel in the crown.  I once had the immense pleasure of hearing it played by my then girlfriend’s 70 year old mother in her house on a grand piano in the Austrian Alps. I cannot tell you what an immense honour it was, but also at one point hilariously interjected with a jaw dropping moment when Mrs Donauer hit a bum note and shouted, "Oh, Scheisse!" (I think you know what that means) Absolutely priceless.


7.) ‘Terrible Lie’ - Nine Inch Nails (from the album ‘Pretty Hate Machine’)


I actually saw NIN with Guns and Roses, and Skid Row at Wembley, I didn't really get it at first because they were obviously a bit off the beaten rock path. But I revisited this band through hearing ‘Head Like A Hole’ from ‘Pretty Hate Machine’, and I'm glad I did. My ex-singer, Steevi used to say “terrible lie” all the time when he thought someone was talking bulls***! He said it so much I kept thinking, “Where the hell has he got that from?” Because he was saying it as it's sung. It took a few years before I actually came across ‘Terrible Lie’, the song, and I just loved the anger and venom that spits out at you; the chord progression is so menacing. Its adrenalin-fuelled hatred, and I love it. It should be force-fed to politicians every single day and this song should be every politician’s epitaph.


Pamela Chowhan - Violin, Piano, Keyboards


8.) ‘Sonne’ - Rammstein (from the album ‘Mutter’)


I love the heavy guitars, the electronics, that crazy out-of-tune vocal sample, and most of all that creepy piano single note that comes in from time to time. It just shows how effective one note can be with the right sound and the right context. We used to play a cover version of this track, and it was then, when I came to programme up the keyboard, that I realised how incredibly well-crafted this song is.


9.) ‘Closer’ - Nine Inch Nails (from the album ‘The Downward Spiral’)


So dark, so bleak, so cold, so desolate, so robotic, so damn sinister... This song chills me to the marrow.   This is one of the tracks that really turned me on to rock electronics; it’s the machine-like, almost industrial, impersonal sound that I’m particularly smitten with.


10.) ‘America Is Waiting’ - David Byrne/Brian Eno (from the album ‘My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts’)


There’s something completely unhinged about this track which totally appeals to me. There’s distorted guitar riffs, crazy drums and a generally keyed-up vibe that sets my teeth pleasantly on edge. It’s like everything’s been shoved in a tumble dryer, but it works somehow.  Actually, the whole album is brilliant; it gradually unravels and dis-integrates as you progress through the album, until the last track is barely a faltering heartbeat.


11.) ‘Arriving Somewhere But Not Here’ - Porcupine Tree (from the album ‘Deadwing’)


This is simply one of the most beautiful, saddest, most evocative tracks ever. Keep a box of tissues handy. (I do.)


12.) ‘Temple Of Love (1992)’ (with Ofra Haza) – The Sisters Of Mercy (from the album ‘A Slight Case of Overbombing : Greatest Hits Volume One’)


There’s such a lot of pent up, tense energy in this track’s driving grooves, and it’s a perfect foil for Ofra Haza’s haunting, ethereal, vocalisation which floats over the top of it. Again, it’s got that motoric, rhythmic thing which I always seem to find appealing.  


13.) ‘Music For 18 Musicians’ - Steve Reich (from the album ‘Reich: Music For 18 Musicians’)


I first got into Steve Reich when I was a teenager; his music was as much of a revelation to me as when I first heard Rammstein, because it was so completely different from anything else at that time.  This particular track is Steve Reich at his supreme best. It’s mesmeric, luscious, hypnotic, transcendental, trippy (and yes, it’s got that pulsing groove thing going on again.) Oh – and did I mention that I think it’s one of the finest musical masterpieces of the 20th Century?






Photography by Roger Garnett