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 here: http://www.metalmusicarchives.com/subgenre/us-power-metal

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).

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:
  • adg211288
  • DippoMagoo
  • Unitron
  • 666Sharon666

power metal top albums

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FALCONER Among Beggars and Thieves Album Cover Among Beggars and Thieves
FALCONER
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PHARAOH The Longest Night Album Cover The Longest Night
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HELLOWEEN Keeper of the Seven Keys Part 2 Album Cover Keeper of the Seven Keys Part 2
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ANCIENT BARDS Soulless Child Album Cover Soulless Child
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power metal Music Reviews

DRAGONFORCE Maximum Overload

Album · 2014 · Power Metal
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Necrotica
In a way, I've felt a little bad for Dragonforce in recent years. Sure, they should have to earn their status in the music world like any other band. But when the band were thrust into the spotlight with their 2006 tune "Through the Fire and Flames" and how it became synonymous with Guitar Hero, polarization within the metal community became the ultimate result. Some called their music fun and infectious, and many others would decide that the band is composed of a bunch of hacks with abominable levels of guitar "wankery." Unfortunately, the latter was usually the more prominent opinion among metalheads when overly long-winded albums like Inhuman Rampage and Ultra Beatdown (gotta love those creative titles) hit the stores. Here's why I feel bad about all this: ever since ZP Theart's departure and new singer Marc Hudson's arrival, it seems as though Dragonforce have been trying their best to prove themselves as more than just a group of shredders who got commercially lucky. Fortunately, while The Power Within was a very admirable effort to alleviate the band's past inconsistencies, Maximum Overload goes even further and feels like a fresh new chapter in the band's work.

Now, don't get me wrong, the core sound of Maximum Overload is still based on the old Dragonforce we all know and love (and hate). The choruses still have plenty of cheese, the anthemic "stand your ground and face the world" vibe is still incredibly frequent, and the group's trademark speed continues on. In fact, speaking of speed, opener "The Game" is actually the band's fastest song to date and takes numerous cues from classic thrash metal. Having Trivium's Matt Heafy performing growls to add to the intensity always helps too, that's for sure. But, after listening to numerous tracks on the album, you might notice something pretty interesting going on... some of those song lengths are even shorter than on The Power Within! It seems like the band are getting even more committed to streamlining their sound when judging by this fact, although the balance between conciseness and ambition is what really stands out. More progressive elements are prevalent throughout, like the tempo changes and operatic midsection in "Three Hammers" or the beautiful neoclassical keyboard introduction to "Symphony of the Night" (which I'm hoping is a Castlevania reference, by the way). However, the way everything is presented is very cohesive and digestible compared to previous albums, definitely aided by those shorter song lengths and more focused song structures. There aren't any four-minute solos or ridiculously drawn-out intros here, thankfully.

That's not to say everything is streamlined though, and the band still have a tendency to lose their way because of overbearing soloing or tedious instrumental portions. It seems as though Marc Hudson has a knack for bringing the band together when he's delivering his solid vocal performances, but things get a little inconsistent once he's off the mic. Certain little annoyances start to stand out, such as the slightly unnecessary soft segment before "The Sun is Dead" climactic harmonized solo or that bizarre Incubus-esque funky middle section of "Extraction Zone." But more than this stuff, the problem lies in the fact that "Dragonforce syndrome" still exists; as in, when everything starts to run together. One can only take so many melodic death metal-influenced harmonized guitar lines and fast thrashy drum fills before things get old, and this is definitely Maximum Overload's biggest issue. Some of the band's past repetition rears its ugly head here, primarily toward the end of the album, and the Inhuman Rampage memories come back to the listener. However, on a very positive note, the Johnny Cash "Ring of Fire" cover that closes the album is FANTASTIC. It's hard to believe that a country song could translate to power/thrash metal so well like this, but it did... major props to the band for that.

And on that note, Dragonforce should just be applauded for this album in general. That 3.5 on the top of the page may not look like much, but it means quite a lot for a band who have been so mercilessly ridiculed throughout their notorious history. While it sounds as though the band are still working on perfecting their recent power/thrash/prog formula that started being established with The Power Within, everything's beginning to be pieced together quite nicely. And above these things, Maximum Overload is just a ton of fun to pop in and play at any time. It's cheesy, yeah, but what did you expect from Dragonforce signature sound and vibe? In the end, this is the band's best record since Valley of the Damned... and considering that came out over 10 years ago, that's saying something.

(Originally published on Sputnikmusic)

RUNNING WILD The Rivalry

Album · 1998 · Power Metal
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666sharon666
The Rivalry is the tenth Running Wild album from 1998. Conceptually it carries on with a good versus evil theme that began on the previous album Masquerade. I personally see The Rivalry as both the last rather decent Running Wild album and also their last actual power metal album.

Musically there isn't really a lot for me to write about Running Wild's music that I haven't already done in my run through reviewing their albums. There were never a band to really mess with their formula too much aside from the shift from speed metal to power metal in the late 80's and the shift towards a more dominant traditional heavy metal sound that occurred following The Rivalry. This album is closest certainly to Masquerade and is overall about on the same sort of level in terms of quality. A few standouts including fan favourite Ballad of William Kidd, but largely another typical Running Wild release. I have no problem with that, as it's better than what happened next. 4 stars.

RUNNING WILD Masquerade

Album · 1995 · Power Metal
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666sharon666
Masquerade is the ninth Running Wild album from 1995. Masquerade marks the beginning of a conceptual trilogy for Running Wild, with a theme on good versus evil. Some versions of the album include a couple of bonus tracks taken from the band's early days, namely the ones that appeared on the reasonable well-known Death Metal split from 1984 that also featured Helloween, Hellhammer and Dark Avenger.

While Masquerade has always seemed to be quite a big step back from Black Hand Inn for me, this is still quite a strong release from the band. I find that Running Wild became a bit more modern sounding when it comes to producing power metal with this album, opposed to the distinctly old-school vibes that they'd maintained up until this point. There are several highlights, my personal favourite being Wheel of Doom closely followed by the title track or perhaps Lions of the Sea, but overall it's just another solid release from a band doing what they do best; neither a masterpiece like Black Hand Inn or Death or Glory, but overall more memorable than an album like Blazon Stone. 4 Stars.

CRIMSON GLORY Transcendence

Album · 1988 · US Power Metal
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adg211288
Transcendence (1988) is the second full-length album by US metal act Crimson Glory. 1988 was quite a special year for metal music in my opinion. Not only did Iron Maiden put out their classic Seventh Son of a Seventh Son in 1988, Metallica also produced their last really excellent record in ...And Justice for All. Most metalheads probably know of those records (and if you don't you must be living under a rock or something). But I wonder if they also know about how much the power metal scene, that's both the European and US varieties, was flourishing in 1988? In Germany Helloween released Keeper of the Seven Keys Part II and Running Wild released Port Royal. Though still more of a speed metal act at that point, Blind Guardian also made their debut with Battalions of Fear. Crimson Glory's Transcendence belongs to the USPM side of the genre where in 1988 it had good company with Attacker's The Second Coming, Liege Lord's Master Control and Helstar's A Distant Thunder. Yeah, 1988 was power metal's year and I don't care who says otherwise.

The thing with Transcendence in all of this is that it's probably the most different album of the lot. USPM usually leans towards one of two ways, a harder edged sound or a more melodic sound that some refer to as blue-collar and white-collar USPM respectively. All those other releases I mentioned are of the harder kind. Transcendence focuses on the melodic side. The album is now commonly considered, along with the band's self-titled debut from 1986, to be one of the quintessential textbook albums of this sound and for good reason.

It's 2015 now which makes Transcendence twenty-seven years old at the time of writing and it's interesting to see how divided modern metalheads are on what this album actually is. I personally would belong to the group that acknowledges Transcendence as a USPM classic if forced to decide, but just as many metalheads now see the album as an early example of progressive metal, in a not too dissimilar way to how the earlier works of Fates Warning are regarded (personally I would regard Fates Warning's Awaken the Guardian (1986) as more of a USPM release as well). More still now believe artists like Crimson Glory were just traditional metal bands. In truth, I would say that there is no single right answer here or no wrong ones. Calling a releases like Transcendence progressive heavy/power metal is about the most accurate description you could find for Crimson Glory's music, though if you came to this release expecting modern or even early 90's standards for progressive metal, you'd probably come away disappointed. In my view the album's main appeal with always rest with traditional metal and power metal fans.

There's one song I really want to talk about more than any other from Transcendence. Red Sharks. It's the second track into the ten track album and was the first Crimson Glory song I ever heard. At the time my tastes were a bit different and I didn't go much on it, but as I got more into power metal I found an appreciate for the song and band in general and I believe I can say with confidence that Red Sharks is my favourite Crimson Glory song. A mini-masterpiece of some of the album's faster riffs, excellent melodies and killer vocals from singer Midnight (real name John Patrick McDonald, Jr.). The high register vocals nearer the end are especially good. Midnight sadly died in 2009 (Anyone else ever noticed that dying young seems to have been the fate of many vocalists from USPM acts?) and this song alone shows how much of a loss he was to the metal scene.

The album is excellent from start to finish though. Red Sharks is the highlight but certainly not one without competition from the rest of the album. Lady of Winter, Masque of the Red Death, Eternal World...all equally killer tracks. For me the album as a whole proved to be a grower but ultimately it's hard not to acknowledge that Transcendence fully deserves the classic status it is commonly deemed to hold. Metalheads around the world may not agree exactly what type of metal it is a classic of, but it's certainly one that all should be making an effort to check out whether they missed it at the time or were born later and may not have heard of Crimson Glory before. They sadly didn't leave that much of a legacy after the 80's. After Transcendence the band released Strange and Beautiful (1991), a very different record that I personally don't consider metal and after which they broke up. Reforming for a time in 1999 without Midnight they produced a fourth album, Astronomica (1999), a return to metal but in my opinion it lacked the magic of the first two albums. As far as anyone knows the band has been technically active again since 2005 and were for a time fronted by Todd La Torre (who replaced Geoff Tate in Queensrÿche in 2012), but they since seem to have faded into obscurity again, with Todd La Torre known to have quit in 2013. A crying shame really considering the strengths of both Transcendence and it's predecessor but that's how these things go sometimes I guess. 5 stars.

HIBRIA Hibria

Album · 2015 · Power Metal
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DippoMagoo
Hibria is a band I've had some serious ups and downs with. Most notably, the Brazilians started off strong with their heavily speed metal influenced debut Defying the Rules, a more classic sounding power metal album that left me impressed, while their third album Blind Ride introduced more modern elements and left me with some pretty mixed feelings. Between my disappointment with that album, and news about further lineup changes for their one, I wasn't terribly excited about the band moving forward at that point. Then their fourth release Silent Revenge came and impressed me again, feeling like a nice balance between their old sound and their newer sound. Two years later, and with more time to work together, the lineup has been left fully in tact for their latest, which they've chosen to make a self-titled release. I was very optimistic going in, as I was expecting the band to stick to what worked last time and build on it, hopefully resulting in an even better album. Unfortunately, that's not quite what happened.

Instead, this feels like a haphazard mix of sounds that don't always work together too well. The base style is familiar: They still play a very heavy, very technical guitar driven brand of power metal, but this time around they've mixed in elements of several different styles, with mixed results. It almost feels like the more straight-forward and more focused Silent Revenge never happened, and instead the band continued where they left off with Blind Ride, throwing in all kinds of odd experiments. Even Iuri Sanson has regressed again with his vocals, this time mixing in some very irritating grunts and high pitched wails to go along with his strong main vocals, especially in the second half. On the whole, I find the second half of the album very frustrating, though I will go into more detail later in the review.

Not everything is bad, though. The musicianship is fantastic as always, with excellent guitar leads, great drum work, and some amazing solos throughout. If anything, the instrumental work feels more varied and more technical than on their last two albums. The album gets off to a strong start, with the opener “Pain” being an enjoyable mostly mid tempo power metal song with a great opening, a fun chorus, fantastic instrumental work, and a pretty cool section in the middle where they added in a trumpet for extra flavor. It only gets even better with the next two tracks “Abyss” and “Tightrope”, the most traditional power metal tracks on the album. Both are speedier tracks and have some excellent vocal melodies, especially during the chorus, as well as of course some great riffs and solos. They're still quite heavy at times, but they have just enough melody to make them instantly satisfying for power metal fans. If most of the album was like those two songs, I'd have been very happy.

Other highlights include two more interesting tracks. First up is the power ballad “Life”, where they added in an orchestra at point, for a more dramatic sound. It has some heavy riffs at points, but it's mostly a very calm and relaxing track, where Iuri gets to showcase his voice. Here he sounds powerful and emotional throughout, especially during the middle section where he really goes all out. I'm criticizing his vocals a lot in this review, but this song is an example of why, because when he just sings normally, he can be great. Not everyone is meant to be a thrash vocalist, or whatever he tries to be sometimes. I also really like the more progressive mid tempo track “Fame”, another mostly calm track, with one explosive instrumental section. Again, Iuri sounds really good here, and he's accompanied by Crucified Barbara vocalist Mia Coldheart, who also does a great job. This track is the only one in the second half that I enjoy almost as much as the first three songs.

Elsewhere, they incorporate elements of thrash, especially in the riffs and the vocals. These tracks have mixed results, especially since I find Iuri's screaming to be very obnoxious and hard on the ears at times. The best of these is “Church”, a fast paced track where the screams are a bit annoying during the verses, but then the chorus is more melodic and Iuri sings normally, so it sounds great. Even the verses almost work because of how good the guitar work is. The more mid tempo “Ghosts” is similar and also quite good, while the closer “Words” probably would have been a great track if not for some truly terrible grunts during the verses and part before the chorus, but instead it ends up being tough to get through.

For all the above tracks, the key is I find the thrashy instrumental work to be great, so there's at least something to look forward to. Well, on a couple other tracks, even the music doesn't sound so great. First off, “Legacy” is just painful, as the band goes into an all out thrash sound, but it sounds oversimplified and very sloppy, which makes the vocals harder to deal with. The song ends suddenly after just over 2 minutes, and then the similar sounding “Ashamed” kicks in and is even worse. It's mostly a mid tempo thrash/groove metal song with some really horrible gang vocals, and even musically it's just not interesting at all, for the most part. The instrumental section is unique, though, as they bring back the trumpet, and while it doesn't quite fit in with the tone of the song, it does sound kinda cool, and the following, much faster section is even better. But man, that chorus is just insufferable, and ranks along with “Shoot Me Down” as the band's low point.

Hibria is a fun, varied and at times very enjoyable listen, but like the band it;s named after, it can also be very frustrating at times. In general, I find the more power metal focused sections to be great, and the softer parts are effective as well, but when they try to add in some thrash elements, the results are very mixed, in large part due to the vocals. I'd recommend it to fans of more aggressive power metal, as long as they can handle those screams, but compared against their past works, I'd say it's probably just ahead of Blind Ride and behind all the rest. Solid, but nowhere near what they're capable of, and a definite step back from Silent Revenge.

(originally written for myglobalmind: http://myglobalmind.com/2015/08/06/hibria-hibria-review/)

power metal movie reviews

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.

ICED EARTH Live in Ancient Kourion

Movie · 2013 · US Power Metal
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Kingcrimsonprog
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.

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

ICED EARTH Festivals of the Wicked

Movie · 2011 · US Power Metal
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666sharon666
There's a lot of value for your money in this DVD package. Three full festival appearances are included, two with singer Matt Barlow and one with singer Tim "Ripper" Owens. There's also the seemingly customary documentary and all the band's music videos with the exception of the older Desert Rain back from the Night of the Stormrider era, as well as the advert for the Ten Thousand Strong video and photo slideshows. For the price this seems to retail at (I bought it for just £9.99), this is a very worthwhile package for any Iced Earth fan. The one catch is that it in reality looks more than it is, as both the Barlow fronted shows feature a completely identical setlist. It's still a very good value package to get despite this, but 4 stars is all I feel inclined to award it because of the amount of repetition. Still for the very reasonable price, if you like this band, buy it anyway.

(I originally posted this hastily written review here: http://bit.ly/pafvQh )

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