Power Metal

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Introduction

Power Metal is one of the sub-genres of heavy metal music that first appeared during the 1980's, drawing influence from traditional heavy metal, especially the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, and speed metal. The term power metal actually refers to two different but closely related metal styles, nowadays known as US/American Power Metal (USPM) and European Power Metal (or Melodic Power Metal), named after the geographic regions in which the styles originated. Artists from either place are not tied down to playing that particular kind of power metal of course, such as the US band Kamelot who play the European style, while there are also artists from other countries who play power metal such as Brazil's Angra and Japan's Galneryus. These days power metal bands come from many places and have many different styles, documented further on. This page primarily deals with the European brand of power metal, with USPM placed under its own child sub-genre.

European Power Metal

Though it developed a little later than USPM, in the late 1980's, specifically Germany, the European, melodic power metal sound is no doubt what most first think of when the term power metal is mentioned. Indeed it is more distinct in sound than USPM, but features the same basic influences, with the key difference to USPM being that European power metal draws more heavily on the speed metal influences rather than traditional heavy metal ones. Indeed in the late 1980's power metal was instead referred to as melodic speed metal.

European power metal is widely credited to have been started by Germany's Helloween in 1987 with the release of their Keeper of the Seven Keys Part I album. Prior to that, Helloween had been a speed metal band. Blind Guardian, another popular German power metal act, had similar roots while other bands such as Grave Digger started more in the traditional heavy metal vein. Others like Running Wild blended both before becoming power metal bands later in their careers. Compared to USPM European power metal acts often feature keyboards, catchy lyrics and are generally less hard hitting, though the German scene is quite notable for its additional heaviness. Popular power metal acts from other countries include Italy's Rhapsody of Fire, Finland's Stratovarius and Sweden's Sabaton.

Sub-genres of Power Metal

Aside from the standard USPM and European power metal styles, there are a number of different sub-genres, or hybrid genres in some cases, of power metal that have since developed.

Symphonic Power Metal: A style of power metal typically only applicable to the European sound, symphonic power metal increases the use of keyboards to create a symphonic backing, drawing on classical music. The use of symphonic elements in such bands can vary greatly with some artists using them as a main element of their sound, such as Rhapsody of Fire, while some merely use symphonic elements to flavour their music, such as Avantasia. Symphonic power metal releases are always placed under power metal on MMA.

Heavy Power Metal: Not to be confused with USPM, which is closer to traditional heavy metal to begin with, this refers to a hybrid of European power metal with traditional heavy metal. Bands are typically less speed orientated than pure melodic power metal acts. HammerFall is a heavy power metal act from Sweden while Nightmare are from France. Some artists which fall into this category featured a harder hitting, more aggressive sound, such as Grave Digger of Germany, but are still considered to belong to the European power metal genre rather than USPM. They are included under power metal on MMA, although some such artists have also made albums more directly rooted in traditional heavy metal and have those tagged accordingly. Some of the older heavy power metal acts, including Grave Digger and Nightmare, started as heavy metal acts before adding power metal into their sounds later in their careers.

Folk Power Metal: The folk metal as a genre can take its metal elements from almost any other metal genre going, including power metal. Elvenking and Falconer are folk power metal bands. They are typically included under folk metal on MMA, but with cases such as Falconer where folk influences are normally minimal per album, they are included under power metal instead. Additionally some power metal artists, especially Blind Guardian but also Grave Digger, have utilised folk influences in their music.

Power-Thrash: A hybrid of power metal and thrash metal, which can be considered sister genres due to both evolving from speed metal. The so called blue collar USPM can also be considered to be power-thrash but the term typically refers to European power metal mixed with thrash metal, although the early work of Iced Earth is considered to be power-thrash. The mix of elements can vary even within the same artist with some being primarily power metal and others primarily thrash metal. As well as Iced Earth, Dark Empire and Paradox have also released power-thrash albums, while some power metal bands have included thrash metal elements in their sound in smaller amounts, such as Seven Kingdoms and Persuader. Power-thrash artists are treated on a case by case basis on MMA, for example Tales of the Weird (2012) by Paradox is placed under thrash metal, but The Fateful dark (2014) by Savage Messiah is placed under power metal.

Progressive Power Metal: Drawing influences from progressive rock and metal music as well as power metal of either the European or US variety, these acts are typically included under power metal on MMA, such as Pyramaze and Kamelot. The exception is when an artist’s progressive influences become the most recognisable thing about their sound. Illusion Suite is an example of such a progressive power metal act. Vandroya and Wuthering Heights are progressive power metal bands, the latter of which also being classifiable under folk power metal.

Neo-classical Power Metal: Melodic power metal that uses neo-classical guitar playing for its lead guitar parts. Magic Kingdom and Concerto Moon are neo-classical power metal acts, while other power metal acts such as Amberian Dawn and At Vance have incorporated aspects of neo-classical metal into their sounds. As there is no neo-classical metal sub on MMA all such acts are placed under power metal by default, while non-power metal based neo-classical acts are typically placed under traditional heavy metal, or sometimes progressive metal, with which there can also be crossover, as with Symphony X.

Extreme Power Metal: This particular sub-genre combines power metal with melodic death metal and covers artists such as Children of Bodom, the first album of Wintersun and to a lesser extent the first album from Seven Kingdoms. Extreme power metal typically features power metal music but with primarily growling vocals rather than power metal’s traditional clean singing. Such artists are treated with a case by case basis as to their placement on MMA. The genre is sometimes also called Power-Death.

Power Metal Inclusive Genres

Melodic Metal is sometimes included under Power Metal but usually under Traditional Heavy Metal. Melodic metal features a presence of melody akin to European power metal but lacks the focus on speed. Many melodic metal releases tend to use some actual power metal elements as well as hard rock and sometimes other genres. An example of a melodic metal release that is placed under power metal instead of traditional heavy metal is Arven's Black is the Colour (2013).

- Written by adg211288 (April 2013)

Sub-genre collaborators:
  • DippoMagoo (leader)
  • adg211288

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power metal Music Reviews

NIGHTMARE Dead Sun

Album · 2016 · Power Metal
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adg211288
One of the biggest shocks within the current power metal scene within the last couple of years has to be that the brothers Jo and David Amore had left their band Nightmare. Jo Amore had been with the band since 1980, originally as the drummer in the eighties and after getting back together in 1999 as the vocalist, which was the point that his brother David Amore took his place behind the kit. They weren't original members, that distinction has long been the sole claim of bassist Yves Campion, but Jo Amore at least may as well have been since the band's first release came after he joined and since changing to vocals he was a massive part of the band's heavy/power metal sound. I'm not sure of exactly what happened to prompt their joint exit in 2015, but it's been difficult to imagine Nightmare without Jo Amore's Dio-esque vocals. Nevertheless the French band is back with a new line-up and their tenth full-length album, Dead Sun (2016).

The ironic thing about all this is, I didn't actually enjoy the previous Nightmare album The Aftermath (2014) all that much, to the point that I'd even call it the group's weakest album. Given what happened with the Amore brothers next, it certainly wasn't a good note for them to exit on, so it's been my hope that despite any other misgivings I may have, that a new line-up would actually revitalise Nightmare.

And that's exactly what's happened. Now fronted by Magali Luyten (Virus IV, Beautiful Sin et al), the band have found a perfect vocalist to fill the void left by Jo Amore. Because of Magali Luyten's classic metal vocal style the band's switch from male to female vocals hasn't actually affected their music all that much. On the instrumental front they are sticking with the tried and true modern heavy/power metal sound with a few touches of thrash in the riffs and few quick uses of symphonic parts in the background, but that's actually what I think we needed to hear at this point after The Aftermath included some less typical ideas for them which to my ears at least didn't work. The band treats us to eleven solid tracks which may just be their best group of songs since the Genetic Disorder (2007) album. Dead Sun as an album doesn't break the mould, but boy does it hit the spot. A few key tracks for me are Red Marble & Gold, Dead Sun, Ikarus and Serpentine, on which Kelly Sundown Carpenter (Darkology) also lends his voice to, proving a good pairing with Magali Luyten.

While the music on Dead Sun does have a way to go before it could be considered on par with the best Nightmare works of the Amore era, it does the job it needed to. It proves that Nightmare is still a viable group. I'm excited to hear the releases that will hopefully follow this one.

ENBOUND The Blackened Heart

Album · 2016 · Power Metal
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DippoMagoo
Metal and pop aren’t supposed to go together, for obvious reasons, yet many modern bands have managed to blend the two together in effective ways, and have found success in doing so. The latest band to attempt something similar is Swedish melodic metal band Enbound, whose debut, And She Says Gold, was solid enough, though it never left much of an impression on me. Now, five years later the band has returned with their sophomore effort, The Blackened Heart, and I’m much more impressed this time around. The power metal foundation of their sound has been left intact, but this time the band has experimented with different elements, and yes some tracks definitely do have pop sensibilities, much more so than I would have expected.

Enbound was formed by drummer Mike Cameron Force, who I had previous heard with the long disbanded power metal group Zonata, and so I knew to expect some excellent drumming on this album, and he has delivered as always. Musically there is a pretty wide variety of the songs here, with some tracks expectedly having a more traditional power metal sound, with a focus on speed, riffs and vocal melodies, while other tracks have a much more modern sound to them, with some occasional very minor influences from modern alternative metal acts in the guitar sound, while some tracks are softer and more keyboard drove, with slight hard rock elements, and there’re a couple tracks here that blend modern metal and classic power metal together in effective ways. Oh, the whole, though, this album is very much driven by its melodies, so if those don’t work for you, chances are you won’t find much to like. Luckily, I happen to love the melodies on display, and vocalist Lee Hunter does an excellent job, at times sounding a bit pop-ish in his delivery, while at other times using the kind of soaring vocals you’d expect from a power metal album. The band also uses symphonic elements on and off, something I noticed on their debut as well, though this time around these elements seems much more prominent, and even dominate at times.

Folks scared off by my initial mention of pop elements may want to skip opening track “Falling”, as the track opens with keyboards and some of the most pop-like vocals I’ve ever heard on a metal album, though the rest of the band does kick in soon afterward, and for the remainder of the track it turns into a mid-tempo melodic metal song with some nice riffs and some nice supporting vocals from guest Linnéa Wikström. Some may hate that opening section, but personally I think Lee does an excellent job and he definitely gives the album an extra level of accessibility. Also on the lighter side of things, “Get Ready For” starts off with piano and symphonic elements, initially feeling like a pop ballad, though once the drums and guitars kick in it turns into more of a classic hard rock style track, with some bouncy vocal sections and a fun chorus. Another nice softer track is “Twelve”, a mid-tempo track where the symphonic elements are in full force and combine with the guitars to make for an excellent take on modern symphonic metal, complete with a great chorus. There’s one ballad on the album, “They Don’t Really Know”, and while the majority of the track is a bit sleepy with not much happening and nothing to really grab onto, Lee manages to save it during the 45 seconds with an incredible vocal section that shows how emotional and powerful he can be in his delivery.

Fans looking for some great power metal should find quite a bit to like on this album, starting with “Give Me Light”. This track features some of those modern guitar riffs I mentioned, and it alternates nicely between mid-tempo and somewhat fast paced sections during its verses, before going full speed during its epic chorus. It still sounds very light compared to most power metal, but the guitars sound great on it, and it’s an excellent track overall. Immediately following that track is “Crossroad”, one of the more traditional power metal tracks on the album, with the verses dominated by keys while the chorus is, of course, speedy and features some excellent vocal work. There’s also a really nice extended guitar solo in the second half. Two more similar songs are “Feel My Flame” and closing track “Make You So Unreal”, both of which are faster tracks with nice guitar work. The former has a really nice extended instrumental section towards the end, while the latter has by far the catchiest chorus on the album and is probably my favorite track overall, as well as probably the most classic power metal sounding of the bunch. Another favorite is “Holy Grail”, a consistently fast paced track which has a nice melodic chorus, while the verses remind me a bit of modern In Flames, mostly in how the guitar tone sounds. Lastly, “HIO” is an interesting track that constantly switches between light, bouncy sections where Lee uses his more pop like vocals, and faster sections, with the second verse, in particular, doing an excellent job of blending the two together in a way that somehow works. It’s a bit of an oddball track to be sure, but the band pulled it off wonderfully.

Overall, The Blackened Heart is an excellent and very fun melodic metal album that fans of lighter power metal should be able to enjoy. Some folks may be scared off by the pop elements I mentioned, but really those are more in the vocals than anything else, and musically this is still largely a metal album. Enbound may not have blown me away with their debut, but this time around they have left a much stronger impression, and I can’t wait to hear more from them in the future.

originally written for myglobalmind.com: http://myglobalmind.com/2016/11/17/enbound-the-blackened-heart-review/

FREEDOM CALL Master of Light

Album · 2016 · Power Metal
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DippoMagoo
Power metal has a reputation as being rather light and happy compared to most other metal sub-genres, with some detractors referring to it as “flower metal”. Obviously, as a huge fan of the genre I could easily provide counter examples of bands that play harder edged power metal, but today I’ll be talking about a band that most definitely fits all descriptions such detractors may have, and yet they also happen to be one of the most fun and addictive bands in all of metal.

That would be German band Freedom Call, who stormed onto the scene in 1999 with their impressive debut Stairway to Fairyland, an album which introduced fans to their brand of super epic and very cheerful power metal. With their third release Eternity, they perfected this sound, producing a masterful album full of epic melodies and huge choruses, and while their next few albums featured some experimentation, with not everything working (Legend of the Shadowking, in particular, had some pretty major lows,) the band’s heart and soul were always there. With their previous album Beyond, the band fully embraced everything that made their early albums so special, while maintaining just a tiny bit of their modern experimentation, which resulted in their best album since Eternity, so I was very excited to see if their next release would keep the resurgence going. Well, their ninth full-length release, Master of Light, is nowhere, and I can say right off the bat this thing feels like classic Freedom Call through and through, and it’s not only an improvement over the already awesome Beyond: It may very well be their best release to date!

At their core, Freedom Call sound like a fairly traditional German power metal band, in that their music is mostly fast paced and it tends to be fairly guitar driven, with keyboards and symphonic elements used occasionally for added effect, but their music is exceptionally light and melodic, even as far as their genre goes. They tend to focus more on light melodic guitar leads and rhythms guitars, with riffs mostly used in quick bursts, and their songwriting is heavily focused on huge vocal melodies and choruses. In fact, while lead singer Chris Bay is a solid vocalist in his own right, and does a great job of carrying songs when he has to do, the band tends to use layered vocals more often than not, with a near constant use of choir vocals throughout, and that’s one thing that instantly helps them stand out from the pack. Another thing is that even compared to other bands in the genre, their lyrics tend to be very fun and upbeat in a way that is often cheesy, but combined with how the music sounds it always just feels right. Basically, if you’re having a bad day and need some cheering up, or if you just want some fun, super happy music with just a slight edge to party to, Freedom Call could easily become your go to band.

One area where the band has had ups and downs throughout their careers is in the songwriting, as I alluded to already. While albums like Eternity and Crystal Empire flowed smoothly and were pretty much flawless the whole way through, more recent albums have been less successful at times, mixing in the kind of classic, speedy feel good power metal the band specializes in with some kind of weird attempts at being dark, some overly sugary pop influenced track, or some other kind of weird experiment gone wrong. Their previous album Beyond already showed the band moving away from this trap, as even its few experiments were more successful, and overall it had the same kind of flow their early albums had, and I’m happy to report Master of Light is the same way, as most songs here are upbeat in the kind of way the band always excels at, and even the few slower tracks fit in wonderfully, with only one song initially feeling a bit weird, though even it eventually won me over, as I’ll talk about in a bit.

One thing’s for sure: Opening track “Metal Is for Everyone” wastes no time in creating a fun, positive mood, as it kicks off with some light keyboards and epic choral vocals, before the riffs slowly kick in, and then it turns into the kind of fun, super cheesy yet ultimately addictive kind of power metal the band can always be counted on to deliver, with its verses being fast and fun, and the chorus being insanely catchy and upbeat. Its bridge section is nonsensical and silly but in the kind of way that puts a smile on my face, just the way this band always does at their best. Next up, “Hammer of the Gods” is slightly slower, though still a bit up-tempo, and it’s an even lighter track where the lead melody is quite nice, and it too has an instantly engaging chorus that hooks you in and doesn’t let go.

There are many fast paced tracks here, but they tend to fall into two categories. First up, are the more traditional power metal songs that bring to mind bands like Helloween and Gamma Ray with their guitar leads, blistering fast riffs and choruses. The first of these is “Kings Rise and Fall”, a song which would very much feel at home on an album by either of the aforementioned bands, especially its chorus and solo section, though Freedom Call takes it further with their choir vocals and superb vocal melodies, while “Riders in the Sky” is similar though it has slightly heavier riffs, and if anything it’s an even faster track, with yet another outstanding chorus.

Secondly, we have tracks where the band uses everything they have and go all out, creating some of the most epic, super upbeat and cheesy, yet insanely fun power metal. After the opening track, the next example of this is “A World Beyond”, a track which starts off with some weird distortion effects in the background during an epic open choral section, which also uses some marching drums, and then the track immediately speeds up, with symphonic elements in full effect, and it becomes the kind of light, upbeat track that would have felt at home on Eternity. It has an exceptionally strong chorus, as well as an epic section with choir vocals and a surprisingly heavy section in the middle leading into the solo section, but the highlight of the track is the last run through the chorus, where the guitars sound even more happy than usual, and the whole thing is just unbelievably huge and epic sounding, eventually leading to a nice quiet section that ends the song. That is probably my favorite on the album, though “Emerald Skies” is up there as well, with its excellent use of symphonic elements during the chorus to make for a sweeping score to go along with the full speed attack of the rest of the band, and as is par for the course on this album, the chorus is extremely catchy and fun, with that orchestral score really adding a nice effect, especially during the incredibly epic final run at the end. Lastly, “Hail the Legend” is a fun, keyboard driven track that stays great the whole way through, though it once again shines during the chorus, which starts off at a pretty good pace, before the double bass drums fully kick in halfway through and from there it just becomes insane. That song also has a really cool guitar solo towards the end that sounds fairly unique and is a bit more advanced compared to other solos on the album.

On the slightly slower but still upbeat side of things, we have the title track, which starts off with a nice acoustic guitar led section that would feel at home on an Iron Maiden song, before the choir’s kick in and the song speeds up just a little bit. This track makes especially effectively use of the huge choir vocals during the chorus, and there’s also a brief but very obvious nod to classic Metallica early on, which is pretty neat. The one somewhat odd sounding track I referred to earlier is “Ghost Ballet”, and with a name that sticks out immediately when looking at the track listing, it’s no surprise it sounds a bit different from the rest of the album. It starts off with some weird electronic beats before bringing in the kind of down-tuned guitar work the band occasionally uses on their more experimental work. The song is rather slow, a bit dark and heavy at times, and its odd rhythms initially threw me off, but in the end, its fun chorus ended up winning me over, and the track definitely has that unique charm always found in Freedom Call’s music. On the lighter side of things, “Rock the Nation” is the kind of soft, mid-paced melodic metal track the band is known to bring out from time to time, relying on it’s nice melodic guitar leads and ever happy chorus to deliver something that while not as epic as many tracks on the album, is still a lot of fun and serves as a bit of a breather before the awesomeness of the last two tracks.

Speaking of which, closing track “High Up” begins with a slow preview of the chorus before picking up the pace a bit and turning into something quite similar to “Beyond Eternity” from the last album, in that it’s a very simplistic, somewhat repetitive track which mostly relies on its chorus, but when that chorus is so undeniably catchy and addictive, it all works out. Last but not least, we have the ballad, “Cradle of Angels”, a track mostly dominated by acoustic guitars, which moves nicely through its verses and chorus, before a very nice guitar solo comes in, and then the track ends with, you guessed it, a super epic final run through the chorus, which takes the song to new heights and is certainly one of the highlights of the album.

I’ve talked a lot about amazing choruses in this review, but simply put, if that’s the kind of thing you’re looking for in your power metal, to go along with insanely happy lyrics, fast paced songwriting and some insanely epic choir vocals, then Freedom Call never disappoints and Master of Light is no exception. In fact, I’d put it right up there with Eternity as the band’s best, most consistently enjoyable album to date, and it’s certainly one I’d recommend to all fans of lighter power metal, and just anyone looking for an upbeat, insanely fun album to listen to.

originally written for myglobalmind.com: http://myglobalmind.com/2016/11/09/freedom-call-master-light-review/

STRATOVARIUS Elysium

Album · 2011 · Power Metal
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Warthur
You could probably construct some sort of psychological test based around people's reaction to Stratovarius albumns: they have a very particular sound which they are quite competent at reiterating from album to album, but somehow some albums really capture my imagination whilst others leave me feeling rather lukewarm, and sometimes the distinction relies on really quite minor things. For instance, whilst I really dug Elysium's followup Nemesis, Elysium itself I just couldn't get into - for want of a more specific criticism, it feels just a little bit too "clean" to me, a bit too tidy and orderly, and a bit too reliant on the usual Stratovarius formula. It's clearly competent stuff, but it doesn't push into the upper tier of their material for me.

HAMMERFALL Built to Last

Album · 2016 · Power Metal
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DippoMagoo
Over the years, I’ve discovered that I tend to have some unique opinions on metal that differ wildly from most fans, and one of the best examples of this is with Swedish band Hammerfall. The band started out in the 90’s as a mostly pure, old school power metal band which should have been perfect for my tastes, and yet for some reason the primitive, basic songwriting of their debut Glory to the Brave, for all the energy it had in its speediest moments, never really grabbed me the way some of their more polished efforts like Renegade and Crimson Thunder did, despite the fact that many consider it to be their best album.

Likewise, in 2011 when the band made the zombie themed Infected, an album that moved away from their typical blend of epic, upbeat power metal and old school heavy metal into a darker, harder hitting and more modern-sounding heavy metal album with only occasional bursts of speed (also their one and only album to not feature their mascot Hector on the cover art) and the majority of their fans hated it, I was largely impressed. In fact, that album still stands as my favorite in their discography due to its unique feel, its powerful riffs and how much it stands out when compared to the rest of their work, which aside from that release I usually tend to judge not on which albums I like the most overall, but on which albums have more highlights. Unsurprisingly, when the band attempted something of a return to the roots on their previous album, (r)Evolution, and many of their fans thought of it as their best in years, I was left with mixed feelings. So suffice to say, I was a little bit nervous when it came time to hear their tenth full-length album, Built to Last, but against all my expectations it has ended up as one of my favorite heavy/power metal albums of the year, and I like it almost as much as Infected.

Don’t let that last part serve as a warning, though, because this album definitely isn’t similar to Infected at all. In fact, one of my complaints about (r)Evolution was that it felt like the band was stuck in a spot where part of them wanted to go back to their early sound, while another part wanted to stick to their modern sound, and so it ended up feeling like a weird mishmash between the two, with even some songs like “Wildfire” feeling like failed attempts to do speedy power metal while incorporating modern elements, and things fell apart quickly. The highlight of that album was the lead single “Hector’s Hymn”, a track which along with “Bushido” felt like classic Hammerfall at their best, and so I was hoping the band would commit one way or another this time around, either going fully back to their roots or continuing with their modern sound. Thankfully, they did, and they made a decision I’m sure longtime fans will be pleased with: They’ve made a full on return to their classic sound, with a blend of epic speedy power metal and catchy old school heavy metal tracks, in a release that stylistically falls somewhere in between Renegade and Crimson Thunder, my two favorites from their early years, leaving very little trace of the sound found on Infected and, to a lesser extent, its predecessor No Sacrifice, No Victory.

Now that I’ve gotten that long introduction out of the way, let’s move on to the fun part. Musically the band sounds tighter and more energetic than they’ve been years, with the fast parts having more energy than they did on the previous few albums, and there are some very nice melodies and guitar solos to be found throughout. At the same time, the slower tracks are also equal parts more fun and more inventive than on the previous album, while being much lighter than Infected or its predecessor. Vocally, Joacim Cans sounds as strong as ever, and he hits some pretty high notes on a couple tracks, showing he still has it in him to deliver huge choruses the way he could in the late 90’s/early 2000’s. More importantly, the songwriting is very consistent across the board, as there’s only one less than the great track to be found (which I’ll get to in a bit). In fact, while Infected is my favorite Hammerfall album stylistically when it comes to pure songwriting quality, I’d put this right up there with Crimson Thunder as the band’s best work to date.

Things get off to a rocking start with “Bring It!”, a fast paced track with a bit of a heavy metal edge to its guitar riffs during the verses, and while its chorus falls victim to the kind of basic songwriting found on their debut, here it’s delivered with so much energy from the choirs that it ends up working in a kind of weird way. One thing’s for sure: If you listen to the song even a couple times, you’ll get that chorus stuck in your head for a long time. Next up is “Hammer High”, a slower track which starts off with nice drumming, before settling into its slow but steady verses, which then give way to the first big chorus of the album, where both Joacim and the choirs deliver some deliver some epic vocals. It’s the first of many tracks on the album that instantly gives the feeling of classic Hammerfall, and this feeling continues on the next track “The Sacred Vow”. After a brief but nice acoustic section, the song speeds up for the verses, which have nice riffs going on, before slowing down for another huge chorus where Joacim delivers some huge high notes. That chorus is possibly the catchiest on the album, and that along with a calm vocal section before the solo section are easily the highlights of the track.

After a strong start, the rest of the album settles into the kind of pattern you’d expect from the band, mixing up fast and slower songs as it goes along. Out of the speedier tracks, “Dethrone and Defy” immediately impresses with its heavy riffs and super speedy verses, while “Stormbreaker” is almost the reverse of “The Sacred Vow”, with slow, heavy verses giving way to a very fast and epic chorus, while “The Star of Home” is a more melodic track, and it has some nice melodies and a huge chorus that would fit in on any classic Hammerfall album. All three of these are equally strong and show the band at their best. The one slight oddity here is “New Breed”, a faster track which has very small traces of the most modern sound found on their later albums, especially with how the riffs sound during the verses, though it too has a very addictive chorus.

Out of the slower tracks, “Hammer High” is probably my favorite, though the title track is also great. Right from its opening melody it grabs the listener, and its verses move at a slow but steady pace that keeps you hooked in until the chorus comes in with its very creative and addictive vocal melodies. It’s equal parts cheesy and fun, which makes it the perfect title track for a Hammerfall album, especially one that represents a successful return to their roots. Out of the two ballads, closing track “Second to None” is an instant winner, hooking you in with its verses and chorus, before exploding during an epic speedy section in the second half, which eventually leads to an even more awesome speedy run through the chorus. Between that and a great use of keyboards, the track makes for an excellent end to the album, Unfortunately, the other ballad “Twilight Princess” is the one weak spot on the album and it simply doesn’t fit in at all. Following a nice intro, the track turns into a full ballad with only acoustic guitars and vocals, and while it has a nice guitar solo in the middle, the vocal melodies are surprisingly bland and boring compared to anything else on the album, and the lyrics are repetitive but not in the fun way listeners would expect, instead become really boring and irritating quickly. By the end of the track, one can’t help but be equal parts annoyed by what they’ve just sat through and relieved that it’s finally over.

Outside of that one misstep, Built to Last is an excellent album that shows Hammerfall pulling off what they attempted but failed with (r)Evolution: They’ve brought back the energy and feel of their early albums. While I’ll admit to being an unlikely source of helpful news for longtime fans of the band, just going on everything I wrote in the first two paragraphs, I highly expect this to be a well-received album for the band, and I definitely think it’s one of their most consistently entertaining albums to date, featuring the expert blend of power metal and heavy metal I’ve come to expect from the band, and doing a great job of it. Highly recommended for all fans of heavy metal and power metal, and I’d say even for people who have never heard the band’s previous work, this would be a much better starting point than any of their previous few albums, maybe even since Crimson Thunder.

originally written for myglobalmind.com: http://myglobalmind.com/2016/11/02/hammerfall-built-last-review/

power metal movie reviews

BETO VÁZQUEZ INFINITY 15 Years Alive LTD Edition

Movie · 2016 · Power Metal
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m3g52
A year ago Beto Vazquez Infinity met its 15 years ... And gave us a feast with joy, good music and diversity. And now we have the fruit in a DVD accompanied with 2 CDs with all the live sound of this recital. The show presented in this DVD contains a section of his classics, then a middle section where all played more Prog Metal and left many open mouths and an end to all motor either energizing. The DVD and limited edition cd show impeccable quality. Everything is divided as follows: The first part of the show was the memories, issues conodcidos discography BVI, renewed and with new energy, with the voices of Caro Guedes, Vero Libre, Casti and Pereyra on a solid band. The band shows with ease, stressed this fact with good camera movements. The sound and picture quality gives a good sense of what was experienced in that reecital of celebration of 15 years. Then began the most difficult part in stage movement, instrumentation and personnel. Metal Prog most part, higher flight, which leaves more than one amazed. Flutes game, rhythm guitars, harp, saxophone and a chorus that vibrated in states of metal, prog and Ethnic ... The third part returns to the strength of metal with Devil Vision by Caro flawless interpretation of Guedes and choirs Nadia Mancini, a soprano who gives the exact support. A material that is worth having, especially if you want to discover Beto Vazquez Infinity, risky in a scene (the Argentina) where it is very difficult for independent bands to achieve, first that recital that is documented, much less achieve DVD + CD unsupported's the big distributors.

ANGRA Angels Cry: 20th Anniversary Tour

Movie · 2013 · Power Metal
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Kingcrimsonprog
Angels Cry 20th Anniversary Live is a 2013 concert Blu-ray by the Brazilian Progressive/Power Metal band Angra. It features the line-up with Italian singer Fabio Lione (ex-Labyrinth, Rhapsody of Fire) on vocals performing material from all eras of the discography passionately – with some interesting guest appearances including Tarja Turunen (ex- Nightwish), Uli Jon Roth (ex-Scorpions), Amilcar Christófaro (Torture Squad) and the Familia Lima string section.

This set has quite high production values. Visually; the thing is an absolute gem. Top notch image quality, great camera work with tasteful editing, and the actual stage show contains interesting video screens with eye catching imagery. Its all just great for the eyeballs, which is why you’re getting a video recording and not an audio recording anyway, right? Well this is totally worth every penny in the visual department.

Sonically, the recording is crystal clear. You can hear every single note, every different drum and cymbal. Its like a Rush concert or something – brilliant clarity and definition. The only thing that’s not absolutely perfect is that in the stereo mix, the rhythm guitar is not as heavy as some of the studio versions, but it is still a brilliant mix nonetheless. Best of all; The performance is beyond stellar; Fabio nails it recreating the band’s different singers’ work well and injects some of his own flair into the proceedings. The guitar solos are out of this world and the tireless drumming of Ricardo Confessori sounds great. Listening to and watching the interesting music is an absolute joy.

Highlights include the fantastic renditions of ‘Evil Warning,’ ‘Nothing To Say’ and the fantastic set closer ‘Nova Era.’ The enthusiastic São Paulo audience seem really into it.

Overall; Its an absolutely great concert DVD on a technical level, and better still it’s a great concert in and of itself. The line-up is strong, the setlist is great and the guest musicians add an extra layer of interest. I highly recommend this to fans of the band, fans of this end of the musical spectrum, and fans of good quality concert recordings. It would be an unquestionable treat for existing fans but would also work really well as a first purchase for newcomers

STRATOVARIUS Under Flaming Winter Skies - Live in Tampere

Movie · 2012 · Power Metal
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Kingcrimsonprog
Under Flaming Winter Skies, Live In Tampere is the first official concert Blu-Ray by the legendary Finnish Power Metal band Stratovarius. It was filmed in Tampere, Finland on the Jörg Michael farewell tour and as such the crowd interaction is in Finnish (with English subtitles) and Jörg gives the crowd a farewell speech. In part, the setlist is built around him, such as the inclusion of `Speed Of Light’ because it was the first song he ever played with the band… although to be fair they’d have probably played that anyway. The main feature lasts around 1hr 52mins and contains 22 tracks, which works out as 17 songs when you discount the intro, guitar solo, bass solo, keyboard solo and speech. There’s a Deep Purple (`Burn’) and The Who (`Behind Blue Eyes’) cover in there, as well as all the fan favourites you’d expect like `Eagleheart’ `Kiss Of Judas’ `Hunting High And Low’ `Paradise’ `Father Time’ `Black Diamond’ etc

The picture is absolutely fantastic, clear and sharp. Its helped a lot by a great but subtle stage show with intelligent use of lighting, and not too much dry ice as well as a tasteful and sensible editing job that is fast and contains enough movement to keep your interest but is slow and still enough so that you can appreciate the actual musicianship (of each member, as none are overlooked.)

The sound is even better with an absolutely crystal clear mix in which you can hear every stoke of every drum, each key get pressed (without the keys being too loud and overpowering the Metal) and every note the bass plays. The vocals are impressive and the crowd noise doesn’t overpower them, even though they sing almost every word and best of all, it all actually seems to be live and not obviously mimed or overdubbed (or indeed out-of-sync). In general, its just one of the best concert audio mixes that I’ve heard so far and very solid visually as well.

The biggest thing in this concert’s favour however is the sheer enthusiasm of the performance; the band are so into it and absolutely deliver on all levels. They are very interactive with the crowd, they interact with each other, Jörg twists and throws his sticks around, the guitars and mic stands are enthusiastically moved around and generally the band just look like they love being there.

In terms of extras; the booklet has a lot of high-quality photos and a little written interview with Jörg. The disc has a bonus 5.1 mix of the track `Elysium’ and there is a 29 minute documentary called `Rewinding From The Past To 2012.’ In terms of Blu-Ray Statistics; the screen format is 1080i/29,97/16:9(1,78:1) and the audio format is DTS HD MA 2.0/5.1 (although the documentary is only available in stereo), the disc format is BD-50 and the region code is: A/B/C.

Overall; this is an excellent, well made and masterfully performed concert Blu-Ray and I’d highly recommend it to anyone who’s into this sort of thing.

HELLOWEEN Helloween - High Live

Movie · 1997 · Power Metal
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Kingcrimsonprog
High Live is a concert DVD by the legendary German Power Metal band Helloween, recorded in Milan, Italy (and Gerona, Spain) in 1996 on the Time Of The Oath tour.

The main feature is a scorching 84-minute concert, in which an energetic and totally on-form band blast through a lot of material from Master Of The Rings and Time Of The Oath to an enthusiastic crowd. Just going off the performance, this is an absolute 5-star live album.

Songs like “Sole Survivor,” “Before The War” and “Power” sound absolutely blistering here, and I’d highly recommend checking it out on that basis. Andi’s vocals on his own material are absolutely excellent on this release, and Uli’s powerful, understated drumming absolutely kills.

There are a few downsides to the overall product however, such as the picture being a little soft and not the sharpest. The sound is pretty great in one way, and you really get that “live feel,” but you have to turn it up fairly loud for it to become clear, as things can sound a bit muddy on low volumes. Nothing show-destroying though.

The other potential downside is that at the end of some songs, it stops, when they cut to the other concert (eg. from Italy to Spain) and the transition isn’t perfectly smooth, which may interrupt the flow a little. Luckily this never happens in the middle of songs or anything outrageous like that, and for the most part isn’t actually too disruptive.

Apart from that, this is a pretty great main feature all round, and shows the band proving why they are still one of the biggest names in Power Metal. In terms of bonus features: There is a text “History” feature, a discography feature and a photo gallery. All your standard ‘90s DVD extras that don’t add too much really, but look good written on the back of the box.

There is also a five minute “review” feature by Malcome Dome, which is a brief Metal Evolution style history lesson with a mixture of archive footage of the band and talking-head footage of Dome. The dialogue is a bit stiff and the audio is a bit muffled, but as a free extra its still worth a watch.

The track-listing for the main concert is:

1. We Burn 2. Wake Up The Mountain 3. Sole Survivor 4. The Change 5. Why 6. Eagle Fly Free 7. Time Of The Oath 8. Future World 9. Dr. Stein 10. Before The War 11. Mr Ego 12. Power 13. Where The Rain Grows 14. In The Middle Of A Heartbeat 15. Perfect Gentleman 16. Steel Tormentor

Overall; If you like the band, especially if you like the Deris era, then it’s a pretty worthwhile purchase. It shows the band at their Europe-conquering best, dripping with enthusiasm and playing like they mean it. The sound and editing are a tiny bit imperfect, but the band themselves more than make up for it. Comment

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