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 (shared with US Power Metal & Neoclassical Metal):
  • DippoMagoo (leader)
  • adg211288
  • Sisslith

power metal top albums

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LOVEBITES Clockwork Immortality Album Cover Clockwork Immortality
LOVEBITES
4.86 | 7 ratings
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HELLOWEEN Keeper of the Seven Keys Part II Album Cover Keeper of the Seven Keys Part II
HELLOWEEN
4.51 | 114 ratings
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JUDAS PRIEST Painkiller Album Cover Painkiller
JUDAS PRIEST
4.47 | 121 ratings
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SABATON Heroes Album Cover Heroes
SABATON
4.80 | 7 ratings
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LOVEBITES Battle Against Damnation Album Cover Battle Against Damnation
LOVEBITES
4.90 | 5 ratings
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HELLOWEEN Keeper of the Seven Keys Part I Album Cover Keeper of the Seven Keys Part I
HELLOWEEN
4.45 | 94 ratings
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MINDMAZE Back from the Edge Album Cover Back from the Edge
MINDMAZE
4.61 | 11 ratings
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SEVEN KINGDOMS Brothers of the Night Album Cover Brothers of the Night
SEVEN KINGDOMS
4.72 | 7 ratings
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3 INCHES OF BLOOD Fire Up the Blades Album Cover Fire Up the Blades
3 INCHES OF BLOOD
4.68 | 8 ratings
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NIGHTMARE The Dominion Gate Album Cover The Dominion Gate
NIGHTMARE
4.80 | 5 ratings
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ARMORY Empyrean Realms Album Cover Empyrean Realms
ARMORY
4.68 | 6 ratings
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TRIOSPHERE The Heart of the Matter Album Cover The Heart of the Matter
TRIOSPHERE
4.67 | 6 ratings
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power metal Music Reviews

BLIND GUARDIAN Somewhere Far Beyond

Album · 1992 · Power Metal
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martindavey87
Blind Guardian’s fourth studio album, ‘Somewhere Far Beyond’, was released in 1992, and follows on from the bands previous three albums, in which this is mostly generic power/speed metal, but with outside influences creeping in. Prior to this the band had dabbled with folk and Gaelic influences, and here the band incorporates subtle medieval and pop influences.

Overall however, this is still very much a power metal album, and much like the bands prior efforts, I struggle to really pick out many highlights. The production has been improved, making the music heavier and giving it more clarity and depth, but the writing overall is still pretty lacking, with most songs having uninspired guitar riffs and bland melodies throughout.

Now, I know this is sacrilegious, but hear me out! I swear, I do love Blind Guardian! But this is a simple matter of taste. I love the bands later material, the epic, orchestral and progressive stuff. So perhaps this is what these earlier albums are missing? Because all I’m hearing here is one speed riff after another.

If I had to pick out any highlights, opening track ‘Time What is Time?’ is decent enough, and ‘Theatre of Pain’ introduces some of the more orchestral elements that the band would really excel at, but ultimately, probably the most memorable track from this album is a cover of Queen’s ‘Spread Your Wings’, which, while Blind Guardian do a great job of this, truly making it sound like one of their own songs, it also speaks volumes about the quality of their own material, at this point, anyway.

To any fans that are furious at my blasphemy, I swear, I love this band, I really do! But it would just seem that these earlier, straight-up power metal albums just aren’t for me. Bring on the concept albums and orchestras!

CHRIS CAFFERY Pins and Needles

Album · 2007 · Power Metal
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martindavey87
2007’s ‘Pins and Needles’ is the second studio album (or third, depending on whether you consider ‘W.A.R.P.E.D.’ a compilation or not), by American heavy metal guitarist Chris Caffery. Best known for his work with Savatage and the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Caffery’s solo work is a lot heavier and aggressive than any of his bands, and following on from his previous solo efforts, we’re in for plenty more heavy goodness.

Brimming with skull-crushing guitar riffs and Caffery’s rather unique vocal phrasing with angry, cynical and sarcastic lyrics, ‘Pins and Needles’ continues to demonstrate why the man is such an underrated player and writer. Without the restraints and expectations of mainstream record labels, Caffery is given free-reign to rant and speak his mind to his heart’s content.

But unlike its predecessors, which were solid albums from top-to-bottom, the quality of the music on ‘Pins and Needles’ does tend to drop a bit towards the end, especially when you consider that this album consists of fifteen tracks, there’s bound to be a bit of filler material in there.

But for good material, there’s still an abundance of tracks here that hold up well to Caffery’s previous work. ‘Pins and Needles’, ‘66’, ‘Chained’, ‘It’s S-A-D’, ‘Reach Out and Torment Again’, ‘Y.G.B.F.K.M.’ and ‘Mettle Eastern’ are all exceptional songs, and bonus track ‘Once Upon a Time’ ends the album on an uplifting note, which might seem odd and out-of-place, yet Caffery pulls it off effortlessly.

Overall, ‘Pins and Needles’ isn’t quite as good as 2004’s ‘Faces’ or 2005’s ‘W.A.R.P.E.D.’, but it’s still a pretty solid release with enough highlights to make it worth a listen or two, and if you like your music heavy and full of attitude then you won’t be disappointed.

BEAST IN BLACK From Hell With Love

Album · 2019 · Power Metal
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DippoMagoo
The combination of heavy/power metal is one that’s obviously been done a lot over the years, originating with the likes of Grave Digger, Primal Fear and others, but while some bands within that style can be fairly predictable, others have found ways to innovate and throw in many surprises to help take their music to the next level.

One of my favorite composers in the field is Anton Kabanen, who started out making three very strong releases with Finnish band Battle Beast, before parting ways with the band in 2015, and then starting his own new band called Beast in Black. While Battle Beast has moved into a slightly lighter, more accessible direction,

Anton has continued evolving his sound and managed to create possibly his best album to date with Berserker in 2017, an album that picked up from where he left off with his former band, while also moving in a new, more keyboard driven direction, and throwing in a ton of surprises to help make it feel equal parts fresh and familiar, in the best way possible.

Now, nearly a year and a half later, he’s back with the second Beast in Black release, From Hell With Love, and this time he has taken things even further, creating his catchiest, most consistently entertaining album to date, and one that builds upon everything that made the previous release special and improves upon it, resulting in the first masterpiece I’ve heard in 2019!

Fans of Berserker, as well as the second and third Battle Beast albums, should have a pretty good idea of what to expect here, as From Hell With Love is very much in line with any of Anton’s previous releases, stylistically.

So, you can expect to hear a nice mix of heard hitting guitar work, speedy power metal tempos, some more mid paced rhythms, extremely fun and catchy choruses, and an extremely wide range of keyboard work, with everything from more modern electronic keys, to classic 80’s synth and even some parts that go into disco territory. Yes, Anton clearly loves 80’s music, and so his albums always have a ton of that influence to them, with this one being no exception.

Apart from the weird dance elements, there’s also hints of classic AOR on a couple tracks, which was also true of the debut. At the same time, fans of heavy metal can still expect some heavy guitar work at times, as well as some more epic, melodic heavy metal, to go along with all the catchiness and keyboard insanity. Performances are absolutely amazing across the board, with the keyboards in particular standing out, once again, though the guitar work is also impressive, being equal parts heavy and very melodic at different times, with some of the solos in particular being technically solid, but also quite beautiful.

Songwriting has proven to be one of Anton’s biggest strengths over the years, and so it’s no surprise that this album is both consistently engaging, and extremely varied, with some faster tracks,some more mid paced tracks, a ballad, a couple of tracks that lean heavily into that kinda disco mixed with AOR sound I described, and in general the songs are just ridiculously fun and addictive, just like with the debut, except where that release had a couple tracks that didn’t quite impress me, this one is absolutely flawless. In fact, that’s the one real difference here: Stylistically, it’s very much in line with Berserker, and it doesn’t have anything as surprising as “Crazy, Mad, Insane”, but on a song to song level, the level of energy and excitement never slips even in the slightest, and so that’s what helps make it an even better release than the band’s already amazing debut. I think track placement is the key, here, as there are no points where the pacing slips off, thanks to the tracks being placed in such a way that you’re never getting too much of one sound right together, which was the only slight complaint I had with the debut. Obviously, the production is absolutely perfect, and everything sounds amazing, as usual.

One other area that’s as reliably great as ever, is the vocals. Yannis Papadopoulos had his major breakthrough performance on Berserker, after being with a couple other bands previously (most notably Wardrum), and doing a solid job, but he was certainly never as dynamic or as exciting before as he was on Berserker. This continues on From Hell With Love, as his full vocal range is once again on display, with him doing everything from crazy falsettos, to lighter, more melodic vocals, to some very soft, almost feminine vocals, to some pure, intense heavy metal vocals. The amount of range he displays is spectacular, and the fact that he can pull everything off so fluidly, so seamlessly and with so much skill in every area, just goes to show how great a singer he truly is. While the music is already excellent, Yannis definitely takes the songs to the next level, and is one of the absolute best things about the band, along with the keyboards and songwriting.

Speaking of songwriting, the album wastes absolutely no time at the start, opening up with one of its best tracks in “Cry Out for a Hero”, a speedy, epic, bombastic power metal track, with an insanely catchy chorus, with a great mix between some of Anton’s heavier guitar work, as well as some 80’s sounding synths. Yannis mostly sticks with his wild heavy metal vocals and falsetto on this one, and excels during the chorus, while Anton provides a very melodic and beautiful guitar solo in the second half. Overall, it’s a very fun track, and an excellent way to start the album. Things start taking a (not so surprising) turn for the weird with the title track, with some very 80’s sounding synths, and a beat that certainly falls into disco territory. Yep, this is a fun, mid paced stomper of a track with a very retro sound to it, mixing some occasionally heavy guitar work, with disco beats, cheesy keyboards and a very fun, insanely catchy chorus. It’s the exact kind of thing that Anton has proven to be an expert at with his past couple of albums, as well as being very unique in the metal world, and being one of the things that helps make Beast in Black distinct from any other metal band, as it’s certainly not something you’ll ever hear from anything else.

Up next is another 80’s sounding track in “Sweet True Lies”, the lead single. It has a classic AOR sound, with some very melodic guitar work, as well as an extensive use of synths, though not in the kinda bouncy way of the title track, but in a more relaxed way, as is common for the genre. It has a slight hard rock edge to it, and the main melody certainly reminds me of some Bon Jovi tracks. It’s a very fun, insanely catchy track, with an amazing chorus, and it shows Yannis expertly alternating between his softer and more powerful vocals. The second single, “Die by the Blade” is also very old school, with more of those cheesy, yet absolutely delightful keyboards, though it’s a slightly more upbeat track, feeling like 80’s music mixed with modern power metal, in an absolutely amazing way. It moves at a slow pace during the verses, before speeding up and becoming quite intense and epic during the chorus, and it has another melodic, technical and beautiful guitar solo in the second half. In between those two tracks is “Repentless”, which must have had the band borrowing a dictionary from Slayer. Anyway, it’s another insanely fun, very epic track, with an extensive use of sytnth horns, as well as having a slight symphonic feel to its keyboards. It’s one of the more modern sounding tracks here, and it moves at a great pace, with a pretty fast, heavy and insanely addictive chorus, while Yannis stays mostly aggressive with his vocals, getting slightly theatrical during the chorus. It’s a really fun track overall, and probably one of my favorites.

The lone ballad of the album is “Oceandeep”, and it’s another track with a slight use of symphonic elements, while being a very beautiful, mostly acoustic guitar led, track with some amazing soft vocals from Yannis, where he uses some of his more feminine sounding vocals to great effect early on, before opening up with some more powerful vocals towards the middle, which gives way to an absolutely amazing, very emotional, guitar solo, before the song closes out fairly quietly. I find it to be slightly better than “Ghost in the Rain”, from the debut, though perhaps having it in the middle of the album, instead of the end, is a part of that.

Moving towards the end, we have “Unlimited Sin”, which is yet another song driven by 80’s sounding synths and a slight disco feel, with a very cool rhythm to it, while still having a metal edge and having some strong vocals during the verses, which lead into one of the catchiest, and most amazing choruses on the album. It’s yet another insanely addictive track, and probably one of my favorites here. However, things only get better with “True Believer”, a song which combines classic AOR and power metal in the absolute most delightful way possible. In fact, it reminds me a lot of Dragony’s cover of the David Hasselhoff song “True Survivor”, except it’s somehow even more epic and more insanely fun and catchy than that was, with the keyboards just sounding amazing, and Yannis totally steals the show during the chorus, being slightly edgy, yet still melodic and very smooth at the same time. It’s one of the most hopelessly addictive songs I’ve ever heard on a metal album, and it manages to be equal parts retro and cheesy, yet still heavy at the same time. I think only Anton would be crazy enough to attempt such a thing, but I sure am glad he did! Moving back into heavier territory, “This is War” is an epic, mid tempo heavy metal song, with some heavy guitar work during the verses, before opening up for a very melodic and catchy chorus. It’s one of the more guitar driven tracks here, with another great solo in the second half, while still having some nice sounding keyboards, during the choruses, and in a really beautiful section near the end. It also references Battle Beast’s debut in the lyrics, which is pretty neat. After that is “Heart of Steel”, which is every bit as epic and cheesy as its name would suggest, bringing in some more delightful 80’s sounding synths. It’s a more relaxed track, moving at a fairly slow pace during its verses, while picking up slightly for a heavy, yet very epic and fun chorus, where Yannis shines, as always. It gets more epic as it goes along, with the second chorus being more eventful than the first, bringing in some choral elements, and then the solo section is quite amazing, as usual.

Closing out the album is “No Surrender”, a fast paced power metal track, which manages to strike a perfect balance between heavy guitar work, light sounding keyboards and some amazing vocals from Yannis. In fact, the chorus might be some of his best work on the album, as he’s equal parts intense, epic and very melodic at the same time. Of course, the chorus itself is incredible as well, and the song has some of the best melodies on the album, while also being one of the heavier and faster tracks. It’s probably my favorite, just because I love speedy power metal when it’s done perfectly, as it is here, though every song on the album is fantastic. It, of course, has another very melodic, and very beautiful guitar solo, with some of Anton’s best work on the album, and overall it’s a much stronger finish than what their debut had, which is probably another reason I’d give this album the slight edge over that one. The physical digipak edition includes two bonus tracks, which are covers of “Killed by Death” by Motorhead, and “No Easy Way Out” by Robert Tepper, though neither of those are on my promo copy, so I can’t comment on them.

I was expecting a lot from Beast in Black, after their debut proved to be amazing and by far my favorite release from mastermind Anton Kabanen up to that point, but I was not prepared to be as completely, utterly floored by From Hell With Love as I have been! It’s an absolutely flawless album, which seamlessly blends together elements of heavy/power metal, with some classic 80’s sounding synths, some disco beats, and all kinds of epic, crazy melodies. Fans of the debut, as well as the first three Battle Beast albums, shouldn’t need me to tell them this one’s a must hear, while fans of heavy metal and power metal looking for something fresh and unique, as well as anyone looking for an incredibly fun and addictive album, should definitely give this one a try. I’m sure there will be many great releases to come in 2019, but Beast in Black have certainly set the bar very high!

originally written for myglobalmind.com: https://myglobalmind.com/2019/01/25/beast-in-black-from-hell-with-love-review/

LOVEBITES Clockwork Immortality

Album · 2018 · Power Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
DippoMagoo
Japan’s power metal scene is something I’ve gotten some enjoyment out of in the past, mostly from the likes of Galneryus, MinstreliX and Aldious, but I’ve never been fully hooked on it. The latter of those three bands is an all female power metal band, which has almost become its own scene in and of itself in Japan, with that particular band leading the way, while others have risen up to follow suit. The latest such band, emerging in early 2017, is Lovebites, who released a four track EP in May of 2017, before releasing their full length debut, Awakening from Abyss, in October of that same year. Just looking at promotional photos of the band, and seeing five beautiful women in white dresses, one certainly couldn’t be blamed for thinking the band isn’t out to break any trends. However, overlooking the band and lapping them in there with the likes of Aldious and Cyntia would be a massive mistake, one which I thankfully managed to avoid making, as after seeing glowing reviews for their debut, I decided to give it a listen for myself, and suffice to say, I was not disappointed! The band has their own unique sound, which I’ll go into more detail about in the following paragraph, but essentially, they play a mix of Euro power metal and speed metal as well as some classic heavy metal elements, with just a tiny amount of the kind of J-Pop influences one would expect from the scene, to help keep that distinct Japanese flavor fully in tact. They made quite the splash with their aforementioned debut, before quickly following it up this past June with another four track EP, Battle Against Damnation. Unlike their first EP, which was essentially a mini preview of their full length debut, this one contained four new and entirely separate songs, which to date have not been reused, so it’s very much worth collecting on its own, especially since it very much kept up with the songwriting quality of their debut and some stunning moments of its own. By this point, the band had already established quite the worldwide following, and they managed to sign a deal with Arising Empire to release their second album in Europe, which should help them branch out even further. Between that and a recent European tour, it seems that band has come a long way in in just over a year and a half! Moving on, though, their second full length album, Clockwork Immortality is now here, and it’s every bit as awesome as I was hoping it would be!

One thing I was interested about when hearing this album for the first time, was whether or not it would have the same feeling of the debut, or if the band would reduce the heaviness a bit and become more like their peers. Needless to say, that hasn’t happened in the least, and so fans who were blown by the band’s previous work, should be just as pleased with this album. For those who’ve never heard the band before, they play a surprisingly hard hitting brand of power metal, led by dueling guitarists Midori and Miyaka (with the latter also playing keyboards), and the two of them are clearly the stars here, playing everything from some crushingly heavy thrash riffs, to straight Euro power metal melodies at times, to some classic Maiden style galloping riffs, to some absolutely incredible solos, where the two constantly go back and forth trying to outdo each other, and the results are always epic and absolutely stunning to listen to. Bassist Miho and drummer Haruna originally played in the now disbanded Destrose, and so they already have experience in the scene, and they both do an excellent job with the rhythm section, with the bass in particular being very noticeable in the mix, and so fans of the bass should be pleased with that.

I first discovered the band with Awakening from Abyss, and started the album from the very beginning, so I was immediately blown away by the thrashy riffs presented near the start of the first full song “The Hammer of Wrath” on that album. While there isn’t anything quite that aggressive on this release, the guitar work is still as impressive as ever, and there’s definitely still some very hard hitting riffs, especially on the likes of “Mastermind 01”, “M.D.O” and “Journey to the Other Side”, which are conveniently placed together to make for one awesome trio of heaviness. The songwriting is just as impressive as on the debut, with a perfect balance heavier tracks and more melodic tracks. The majority of the songs are very fast paced, as expected, but the band does throw in a couple of surprises, including one lighter track with some strong J-Pop influences, as well as an epic ballad, which closes out the album. Everything here is amazing, with the heavier tracks all being equal parts heavy, epic and catchy, while some of the more melodic sections are absolutely beautiful, and of the course the instrumental sections are absolutely stunning. The album is an absolute delight from start to finish, just like their first album was, and everything is perfect, from the performances to the songwriting and the production.

Another area where the band might surprise some people is the vocals, for a couple of reasons. First off, most bands in this scene tend to favor lighter, more pop infused vocals, where lead singer Asami has a very deep and powerful voice, which fits perfectly within a metal backdrop. She’s equally impressive singing on frantic, hard hitting thrash infused sections as she is singing lighter, catchier sections. While her voice is pretty deep most of the time, she does hit some really high notes on occasion, and these sound just as impressive as everything else. One other way in which the vocals differ from many Japanese bands in general (and one thing which I think helps me enjoy the band even more), is where many Japanese bands either sing entirely in Japanese, or use some kind of mix between Japanese and English, Asami sings entirely in English (with one exception on their first EP) and her pronunciations are generally quite good, with her accent being more charming than distracting. Usually when I listen to Japanese metal bands, I have to focus entirely on the music while ignoring the vocals, but with Lovebites, that isn’t the case, as Asami does an excellent job, and I find her vocals to be consistently charming, engaging and at times beautiful.

Obviously, going into this album I knew I loved the band’s overall sound, and so the one area that had even the slightest chance of coming up short was the songwriting, especially given how quickly the band has been working lately. Thankfully, any worries about a rushed release or a lack of strong creative ideas are quickly thrown out the window, as the songs here are just as engaging and as fully fleshed out as anything the band has done in the past. Obviously, the opening of Awaken from Abyss is going to be near impossible to top, but the band sure gave it their best effort here with “Addicted”. The track starts out with some very nice acoustic guitar work for close to a minute, before the full band kicks in and the heavy riffs fire up for the first time. The song moves along at a blazing fast pace and has a very classic Euro power metal feel to it, with fast, driving guitar work, fun verses, and a fast, addictive and very catchy chorus. Obviously, once the solo sections kicks in both guitarists go all out to great effect, and overall it’s an amazing track, which gets the album off to a flying start. Next is “Pledge of the Savior”, which keeps the momentum going. It’s another very fast paced track, with faint traces of those galloping riffs I mentioned earlier. It’s a slightly lighter, more melodic track than the opener, but it still moves at a blazing pace and it still has some great riffs, as well as another super fun chorus, and an excellent instrumental section. The guitar work in between verses is particularly awe inspiring, and overall the song is amazing. The lead single for the album is “Rising”, another very fast paced track, which is the lightest track up to this point, with some absolutely beautiful melodies. It’s the first track here to include some symphonic elements, mostly in the main melody and a bit during the chorus. It stays fast for most of its duration, only slowly down briefly for an epic bridge section, featuring piano work which Miyako says was influenced by the legendary Frederic Chopin, and this combined with Aaami’s vocals, help make for an epic lead in to what is probably the best solo section on the entire album, with Miyako and Midori both going all out and unleashing one stunning solo after another. Overall, it’s an absolute stunner of the track, and so the fact that it probably isn’t even one of my top three favorites here, just goes to show how amazing the album is on the whole!

The first surprise of the album is next, as “Empty Daydream” is one of the lighter songs here, having quite the distinct J-Pop feel to it. It’s a slower track, with some very nice, melodic lead guitar work, and it has slow verses, as well as an extremely light and catchy chorus. It’s one of the softest tracks the band has ever done, and yet it still has some excellent guitar work, especially during the solo section, which is the only point where the track starts to approach their usual heaviness. It’s such a fun and catchy track, though, I can’t help but love it the whole way through.

Fans hoping for more of the band’s heavier side will be quite pleased with the next portion of the album, especially the next three tracks in particular. First is “Mastermind 01”, which has a lead riff that brings the likes of Grave Digger to mind, and it stays quite heavy throughout the verses, while still giving room to a very melodic and catchy choruses. It definitely showcases the band’s heavier side very well, though, with some very hard hitting riffs and another stunning solo section. Next is my personal favorite, “M.D.O”, an absolute killer of a track, which comes charging out of the gate with some very thrashy guitar work during the verses, and it moves at an exhausting pace that doesn’t let up for a second, with a chorus that remains hard hitting, while managing to throw in just a bit of that J-Pop charm, to help make for something absolutely irresistible, and impossibly addictive! The solo section remains very heavy, and is of course amazing as usual. The softest of these three tracks is “Journey to the Other Side”, which still manages to pack in some heavy riffs during the verses, before giving way to a melodic, emotional and absolutely beautiful chorus, where Asami gets to shine. These three tracks all perfectly demonstrate what makes this band so special, as they have a classic metal edge to them, with slight thrash influences, while still staying within Euro power metal territory, as well as mixing in just enough of that distinct Japanese charm to help them stand out from the pack. The fact they have stunning guitar solos to top it all off, is just icing on the cake.

Moving towards the end of the album, “The Final Collision” is slightly lighter than the previous three tracks, and has more a classic Euro power metal sound to it, with more of a focus on keyboards, slight symphonic elements, and another super catchy and very melodic chorus, as well as another excellent solo section, as always. Out of all other Japanese power metal bands I’ve heard, Lovebites come closest to Galneryus in their sound, and while nothing here quite invites that comparison as much as “Under the Red Sky” from Battle Against Damnation, “We the United” is in similar territory, with a slight neoclassical feel to the guitars and keyboards, as well as an overwhelmingly upbeat feel to the main melody and chorus, which of course the aforementioned band is notorious for having. The chorus is the kind of epic, super catchy and uplifting music fans would expect from the scene, and the band delivers it perfectly, while also throwing in some classic heavy metal style riffs at times, as well as yet another stunning solo section. Closing out the album is “Epilogue”, a seven minute ballad which is actually very atypical, both for the band and for ballads in general. It doesn’t really have a chorus, so much as it has a slow buildup during the first two minutes, with Asami leading the way with very soft vocals, accompanied by Miyako’s piano, before slowly giving way to an epic solo section, featuring some absolutely beautiful work from both guitarists, where the music has more feeling to it than any lyrics could possibly convey. This eventually leads to a section with some very powerful and absolutely beautiful vocals from Asami, before again going back to some more amazing solo work. Overall, it’s an absolutely stunning and beautiful track, which closes out the album perfectly.

I was expecting great things from Clockwork Immortality, as Lovebites managed to become one of my favorite bands almost overnight with their previous full length album, and I’m happy to say they have not disappointed me in the least, as this release is every bit as intense, beautiful, super fun and fully fleshed out as anything they’ve done in the past, with the same perfect blend of Euro power metal, classic heavy metal, some slight thrash influences and the kind of J-Pop charm fans of the scene would expect. The band has been working very fast as of late, so you’d think they’ve more than earned a bit of a break at this point, but whenever they put out more new music, I’ll certainly be excited for it, because they have proven themselves to be one of the most promising and most refreshing power metal bands in the world over the past year and a half, and I hope they can continue to do so for many more years to come!

originally written for myglobalmind.com: https://myglobalmind.com/2019/01/13/lovebites-clockwork-immortality-review/

ORION'S REIGN Scores of War

Album · 2018 · Power Metal
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siLLy puPPy
After having gotten their feet wet in the mid-2000s with an EP and their debut album “Nuclear Winter,” the Athens based Greek band ORION’S REIGN seemingly disappeared from the scene as quickly as they emerged however a more careful analysis will find that in the decade gap between their debut and their 2018 long-awaited sophomore release SCORES OF WAR, the band were undergoing a series of lineup changes and most surprisingly of all an endless series of Christmas music singles that includes all the classics such as “We Wish A Merry Xmas,” “Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer (Heavy Metal Version),” “Carol Of The Bells (Symphonic Heavy Metal Version), “Deck The Halls,” “Jingle Bells (Heavy Metal Version)” and “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town (Symphonic Heavy Metal Version.)”

While such a path may not sound like the logical way for a metal band to find their way to their next album, somehow ORION’S REIGN made all the right decisions over the decade long period and finally release one of the most compelling displays of modern power metal that i’ve heard in a long time, a true surprise considering that the debut “Nuclear Winter” found a fledgling band checking off all the proper symphonic / power metal boxes but failed to coalesce the proper elements into totally convincing slices of modern metal that stood out from the pack. Hampered by an adequate but less than outstanding vocalist as well as a shoddy production and mixing job, “Nuclear Winter” served more as a demo that advertised the band’s potential rather than fully realized prowess. SCORES OF WAR on the other hand finally delivers on the promises of that very potential only touched upon.

Stylistically ORION’S REIGN doesn’t deviate significantly from where they started a decade ago. They continue their mix of symphonic and power metal with the expected operatic and melodic vocal performances accompanied by twin guitar metal attacks in the perpetual dance with the rhythmic bombast of bass and drum action with extra attention paid to lavish symphonic backdrops and rich vocal tapestries from the addition of several guest vocalists that form a choir. On paper, the two albums are identical, however SCORES OF WAR actually succeeds in placing all the required elements into the proper places and with the arrival of the outstanding vocalist Daniel Vasconcelos, the band is truly ready for primetime as not only to they find the proper vocalist but took the required studio time for the intricacies of production and mixing. The result is a perfect power metal specimen that stands proudly above the modern day competition.

In addition to the change of guard for vocal duties, bassist Kostas was replaced by guitarist Michael Batistatos who adopted the secondary bass duties for SCORES OF WAR and rhythm guitarist Themis found a replacement by George Thanasoglou. In addition to the five official members, the cast is joined by the additional keyboard works of Bob Katsionis and four guest vocalists which include Norwegian born Marit Minniva Børresen (who participated in most of the Christmas covers), Tim “Ripper” Owens (Judas Priest, Ice Earth etc), Mark Boals (Dramatica, Holy Force etc) and Irene Chrysostomidi. The new talent on board in conjunct with the excellent compositional arrangements and perfectly placed individual elements in relation to one another guarantees one of the best power metal experiences of 2018.

As “Elder Blood” introduces the album, we are treated to a substantially improved choir experience, a Celtic jig melody and the phenomenal vocal range of newbie Daniel Vasconcelos, who whizzes up and down the scale shattering glass with notes so high only your dog can hear them. With introductions unleashed, the track wastes no time jumping into a superb mix of thundering guitar riffs, pummeling bass and drums, symphonic backdrops and an excellent arrangement of Vasconcelos’ powerful operatic vocal style and the even more outstanding mix of the choral vocalists who often initiate a call and response effect. The track finds a satisfying climactic resolution with the twin guitar ferocity of neoclassical shredding as George Thanasoglou and Michael Batistatos trade off Maiden-esque guitar inspiration as well as pure neo-wankery. A perfect power metal track that cedes into the magnanimous nature that constitutes the entire SCORES OF WAR experience.

The album continues its symphonic metal bombast with a collection of eleven tracks that deliver the expected rampage expected from an album titled SCORES OF WAR. Whereas “Nuclear Winter” often felt like an exercise in futility, SCORES OF WAR is graced with a sense of self-assurance and epic perfection. Guitars gallop in a fiery power metal fury, bass and drums follow suit and the intricate melodies which are clearly fueled by power metal standards are infused with Celtic folk and other ethnic influences that offer tastier than usual forays into the melodic metal camps. Perhaps one of the most prominent of these Celtic folk outbursts comes int he form of “Nostros.” Like any great album SCORES OF WAR isn’t always on the rampage but has near ballad tenderness in the form of “Withering Heart” but for the most part the album sallies forth like a cannonade of soldiers on the battlefield.

Modern power metal is very hit and miss with me as i require the high standards of the genre to be up to par on every detailed level. The vocals have to be powerful and epic, the guitars have to smack you in the face and the rhythmic groove has to be incessantly powerful while the symphonic elements swoosh and swirl into atmospheric perfection. ORION’S REIGN somehow despite all odds got their act together and crafted an album that takes all of the best aspects of bands like Rhapsody of Fire, Kamelot, Nightwish, Iron Maiden, Helloween, Gamma Ray and other top power metal dogs and constructs a true slice of heavy metal perfection on SCORES OF WAR. The album is dramatically paced as it deviates just enough from the epic bombast in favor of interludes of sensual softness. In all honesty, the vocals of Vasconcelos in cahoots with the choral arrangements are what put this album in top league status for me. This is an outstanding example of modern symphonic power metal and one not to be missed.

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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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