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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
) 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 GenresMelodic 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).Neoclassical Metal
is sometimes included under power metal dependent on the direction of the riffs in the music (see Neoclassical Power Metal description above). Neoclassical metal artists can also be commonly found under the Traditional Heavy Metal
and Progressive Metal
sections of the MMA.
- Written by adg211288 (April 2013)Sub-genre collaborators:
Showing only albums and EPs | Based on members ratings & MMA custom algorithm | 60 min. caching
Album · 1986 ·
US Power Metal
Obscure, Forgotten and Otherwise Hard to Find Metal Albums #5
It's been a while now since I added a new entry to this review series, but much like buses I now have two planned at the same time. This, obviously, is the first. Technically speaking I should perhaps consider disqualifying Lords of the Crimson Alliance (1986), the first and only album ever to be released by the group of the same name, from this review series as it did actually get a CD reissue as recently as 2014 and as such can quite easily be found if you go to the right place, but I decided to write about it anyway as I'm not sure that too many people will have heard about this obscure eighties gem even with a reissue on the market.
Lords of the Crimson Alliance were a band of mystery. To this day it isn't known for sure who the four musicians in the band, who went by the names Far Cry (vocals), Cutterjon (guitars), Grom (bass) and Zan Zan (drums), actually were. Rumour would have it that Lords of the Crimson Alliance were actually the owners of the record label that originally released the album, Grudge Records, under pseudonyms, who also played as the band Grudge. However this was neither proven by third parties nor revealed by anyone in Grudge to be true, nor was it ever denied either. It could be true. It might not be true. Take your pick. Unless anyone involved with Lords of the Crimson Alliance breaks what is now a thirty year silence we may never know.
Personally speaking I am really not sure, but I'm leaning towards no if I have to throw my hat in for one or the other. Grudge, much like Lords of the Crimson Alliance, also released just one album, Barbarians of the New Earth (1986) and having heard both I don't detect anything all that similar about the two artists that may provide some kind of hint towards there being any truth to the old rumours. Especially the vocals on the two records don't sound at all alike but of course it is possible that if Lords of the Crimson Alliance were indeed Grudge that they didn't necessarily stick to the same roles in each band (or the singer just sang differently on purpose), which would make a kind of sense – after all what would be the point of building up all this mystery if you're just going to produce music that is a carbon copy on your other band?
Of course all this text I'm writing is worthless if in fact Lords of the Crimson Alliance were not Grudge, who frankly could just as easily chosen not to deny the rumours as owners of the record label on the basis that it may make Lords of the Crimson Alliance seem more interesting. There's the thing though, with this album Lords of the Crimson Alliance, whoever they were, had something that showed that they didn't actually need any sort of gimmick – this is an excellent album of US style power metal, one that – if this was Grudge in disguise – actually betters the other's Barbarians of the New Earth by quite a massive margin to my ears.
Sure a lot of the hallmarks typical of the genre are present here, including the love them or hate them high pitched vocals, but it's just the kind of fun eighties metal album that doesn't seem to take itself too seriously (I mean come on that band name is cheesy as hell really and then there's that cover art), the sort that manages to keep me smiling from start to finish. Typical for the time the album barely passes the thirty-five minute mark, but the length feels about right for the style. Also typically the biggest fault of the album is that the production isn't always the most flattering for the music to have as big of an impact as it could, but I don't actually find that it spoils my listening experience too much. It was the times you could say, so in its own way it does make the listening experience in 2016 seem just that bit more authentic than it would do if these songs were played exactly the same way today with modern production standards.
Lords of the Crimson Alliance is a killer record. Perhaps more than most USPM albums from the time it shows off more of the speed based music that formed the basis of the soon to be born European power metal brand though its roots were still firmly in traditional heavy metal that characterise USPM. Whatever the truth behind their story, this is certainly one of those albums that no metalhead should be overlooking.
Album · 1998 ·
Epic in Metal-Earth
What an evolution from their thrashy debut "Battalions of Fear"! With "Nightfall In Middle-Earth", BLIND GUARDIAN found at least the magic formula they were searching for. This sixth studio album is the achievement of the symphonic epic/medieval metal style the band has been crafting during the 90's. The compositions are now complex and refined, with magnificent choirs, majestic soli and powerful orchestrations. The theatrical impression has been enhanced too, with multiple different atmospheres and instruments. Some early fans can regret that the initial rage and direct approach present in the band's first compositions were left aside in favor of more polished sonorities and arrangements. Nevertheless, the music is like no other and still remains impacting.
Instead of "Lord on the Rings", from which most Tolkien's fan musicians draw their inspiration from, "Nightfall In Middle-Earth" is based on the complex "Silmarillion" collection. Each track relates an episode from the story of Middle-Earth, during a particular age. The record alternates songs and short spoken passages, sometimes with a discrete instrumentation. For this review, I will only focus on the "true" songs.
The thundering "Into The Storm" is gorgeous and haunting, it nearly touches perfection. Beginning softly, The medieval ballad "Nightfall" possesses an enchanting melody, whereas the dark "The Curse Of Feanor" contains fulminating guitar interventions. "Blood Tears" alternates calm, sad and violent moments, and is followed by the best track of the disc, "Mirror Mirror". A brilliant evolving song, catchy and powerful, with a slight medieval flavour. Mindblowing!
In contrast, "Noldor" is rather sad. Not the most remarkable track, but nonetheless pleasant. The theatrical "Time Stands Still" is also enjoyable, while "Thorn" is somber and melancholic. Then comes the piano ballad "The Eldar". Original, however a bit cheesy and out of place. Back to life with "When Sorrow Sang", an energetic and slightly gothic song that rocks! The ender "A Dark Chapter" has a middle-eastern feel but is a little hard to follow and finally uneven.
So, is "Nightfall In Middle-Earth" the ultimate symphonic / epic metal album? To be honest, it has a few flaws and I'm not a big fan of repeated spoken interludes (half of the track-list!). Nonetheless, the music is on par with the superb cover art: majestic, elaborated, heroic, complex... Some songs are just breathtaking. More theatrical, less direct than the former opuses, this disc may not instantly appeal to early 80's fans, but what the band lost in spontaneity has been gained in refinement. Unique.
"Nightfall In Middle-Earth" is an essential album of the genre, as well as BLIND GUARDIAN's summit. A treasure in the land of symphonic epic metal!
Movie · 2013 ·
US Power Metal
Live In Ancient Kourion is a live concert Blu-Ray from the American Power Metal band Iced Earth. It was filmed at the ancient Kourion Theater in Limasol, Cyprus (a site with a 6,000-year history according to the liner notes) in 2012, in support of the Dystopia album. The line up features Jon Schaffer, Brent Smedley, Troy Steele, Luke Appleton and then-new singer Stu Block.
The career-spanning set contains 27 songs from all eras of the band’s history, in a concert that lasts around 2 hours and 35 minutes. Its pretty great value for money in that regard.
The performance is very strong indeed, with all band members putting down solid performances with no weak links. Stu capably handles the material of previous singers Matt Barlow and Tim Ripper Owens in a suitable but distinctive way. He fits the band perfectly and is immensely talented. Elsewhere; the dual guitar lines and solos are sublime and the drumming is powerful and rock-solid. If you like Iced Earth then this is a really strong and representative example of what they are all about.
Highlights include strong performances of ‘Burning Times,’ ‘Wolf,’ ‘Declaration Day,’ ‘Days Of Rage’ and ‘Dantes Inferno.’ ‘Boiling Point’ and ‘Damien’ are also especially energetic and exciting here – if you were wondering if you’d enjoy this release, then I suggest trying those two tracks out.
The stage design and the simple, tasteful lightshow in conjunction with the well-integrated use of smoke and pyro perfectly complements the band’s meaty, honest approach to Metal music. The crowd get into it and both clap and sing along on many occasions. Sometimes not only singing the words but also the guitar melodies. The concert really shows a confident band delivering their best to an appreciative crowd.
The camerawork and editing are absolutely solid, the audio recording quality and live mix are spot-on and overall this is a very strong release on both the audio and visual fronts. Sometimes you’ll get a DVD with way too many flashy transitions and cheesy editing choices, or the bass guitar missing from the mix, but a lot of care has obviously gone into making this a tasteful and musician-friendly affair. Admittedly I have seen concert Blu-Rays with better picture quality (Sabaton, Gamma Ray, Stratovarius and Hammerfall spring to mind) and here it can be a tiny bit grainy, soft-focus or washed out at times depending on the lighting conditions in the venue at the time however just because better examples exist, it doesn’t mean the picture here is anything to complain about.
In terms of bonus features there are photo galleries (4 minutes of very high resolution photos of the band and the beautiful Cypriot landscape), a 9-minute world tour story (breaking down the logistics involved such as how many guitar picks and flights the band went through) which mixes photos and graphics with interview footage, as well as the 31-minute Documentary feature “The Making Of Live At Ancient Kourion.”
The version I got comes with a slipcase in a digibook-style box which contains booklet featuring photos, credits and liner notes from bandleader Jon Shaffer. It houses the Blu-Ray version, DVD version and CD version of the concert for maximum flexibility.
The Blu-Ray specs are as follows: Region 0, Format 16:9, Audio comes in a choice of Dolby Digital 2.0 or DTS HD Surround 5.1.
Overall; Live In Ancient Kourion, especially this edition, is a very worthwhile release and I whole-heartedly recommend it to fans of the band, or fans of Traditional Heavy Metal and Power Metal in general.
Movie · 1997 ·
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