Power Metal

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Power Metal is a sub-genre of heavy metal music created during the 1980’s. The term refers to two related but distinctly different styles of metal, commonly known as US power metal (USPM) and European power metal (Melodic Power Metal), after the geographic regions in which they originated. The stylistic origins of the genre can be traced back to the 1970’s, where artists such as Ronnie James Dio and Judas Priest laid down the groundwork for what would become staples of the power metal sound, including the lyrical themes, vocal style and use of twin lead guitars. The New Wave of British Heavy Metal (NWoBHM) is considered to be an important influence on the European power metal sound in particular. The musical forerunners of power metal are considered to be traditional heavy metal and speed metal. As both USPM and European power metal refer to the regional origin of the styles it is perfectly possible for artists to come from one region and play the style of the other, such as Kamelot, a US band who plays European power metal, while artists from other regions such as Angra (Brazil) and Galneryus (Japan) also play power metal.

US power metal developed first, during the early 1980’s. It is much closer in sound to traditional heavy metal than the later European power metal, but typically played faster. High register vocals are common and artists put emphasis on melodic guitar leads, making it distinct from thrash metal, of which there can be some crossover with, such as Iced Earth. The music features a relative lack of keyboards compared to European power metal. USPM bands can be categorised into two groups, known as blue collar USPM and white collar USPM. Blue collar features a harder hitting thrashy sound while white collar is more melodic and progressive. Popular USPM bands include Jag Panzer, Vicious Rumors, Helstar and Virgin Steele.

European power metal (also known as melodic power metal) developed a bit later and was pioneered by the German band Helloween, who started as a speed metal band. The turning point for Helloween from speed metal to power metal is considered to be between their first two full-lengths, Walls of Jericho (1985) and Keeper of the Seven Keys Part I (1987) and so 1987 is considered to be the starting point of the European power metal genre. The style is much more distinct from its roots than USPM, drawing much more on speed metal, and is perhaps the sound most people think of when presented with the term power metal. European power metal is characterised by fast percussive like guitar riffs, and strong focus on melody, with artist line-ups often including a full time keyboardist. The sound is regarded as more uplifting compared to the many other sub-genres of metal music. Popular European power metal bands also include Gamma Ray, Blind Guardian (both German), Stratovarius (from Finland). Rhapsody of Fire (from Italy) and Sabaton (from Sweden).

Power metal has developed several different variations in addition to the USPM and European standards, mostly in the form of hybrid genres:

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

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power metal Music Reviews

KOBRA AND THE LOTUS High Priestess

Album · 2014 · Power Metal
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Unitron
Kobra and the Lotus-High Priestess

'High Priestess' is the follow up to Kobra and the Lotus's amazing self-titled album, and their overall third studio album.

'High Priestess' expands on everything that was set in place on the previous album, adding in thrash elements while maintaining the traditional/power style of the previous album. It begins with the fast and powerful 'Warhorse' which sets the mood of the album very well. The song 'I am, I am' is fully-blown thrash metal, which sounds very Helstar-like with the music combined with Kobra Paige's powerful vocals. My personal favorite song is 'Battle of Wrath', which can sound very menacing at times. 'Soldier' is another favorite, having great lyrics and melody and a great music video.

Unlike the previous album, there is much more of a balance between fast and angry tracks and more flowing tracks. Songs like 'Heartbeat', 'Hold On', and the finale 'Lost in the Shadows' have a softer and more flowing aspect to them.

Overall, all I can really say is that it's everything the previous album was and more. I recommend it to any fan of power metal or traditional metal, and definitely anyone who enjoyed the previous album.

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HELSTAR Nosferatu

Album · 1989 · Power Metal
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Unitron
Helstar-Nosferatu

After the masterpiece that was 'A Distant Thunder', Helstar comes back a year later to make an even stronger masterpiece of a concept album. 'Nosferatu' is a concept album about the vampire Nosferatu and actually uses sound clips from classic vampire movies, which really adds to the sound.

The album begins with the serene to chaotic intro 'Rhapsody in Black', which transitions perfectly into the Helstar classic 'Baptized in Blood'. The song starts out with shredding guitar and double bass, and Rivera's voice soon fades in. During the bridge the guitar and pounding drums compliment each-other perfectly, and soon a great solo comes in. I find it hard to describe such a masterpiece. Another favorite of mine 'Sleep Per Chance to Scream', which begins with a sound clip from an old vampire movie. Barragan's guitar shredding combined with Rivera's low menacing vocals just fits perfectly. The solo at the bridge comes in at perfect timing after it appears to be signaled in.

The instrumental 'Perseverance and Desperation' is an amazing prog-thrash piece, with relentless guitar soloing and a beautiful acoustic bridge. Next is probably my favorite song on this flawless album 'The Curse has Passed Away'. The song begins with beautiful acoustics and cold low vocal by Rivera. The electric guitar soon kicks in, and the chorus feels very heartfelt with sweet guitar shredding and Rivera's vocal being very powerful. 'Benediction' is yet another favorite, having a very loud feel to it. Rivera gives an amazing vocal performance on this track, constantly shouting and singing with amazing power. 'Harsh Reality' is a great thrash track, with constant tempo changing and awesome lyrics. i'm sure everyone will find it hard not to head-bang to this song.

The lyrics are mostly about vampires, fitting in with the concept. The song 'Harsh Reality' though has lyrics more akin to thrash lyrics at the time. Political lyrics with the best ending sentence to any song ever, 'Why is the world so fucked up?' Couldn't have said it better myself Rivera.

Overall, This is Helstar ultimate masterpiece. There are no weak moments, and I'm sure any fan of thrash, speed, and power metal will find immense enjoyment out of it. Underrated, and an essential album for any metal collection.

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ANGRA Temple of Shadows

Album · 2004 · Power Metal
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siLLy puPPy
One of the reasons TEMPLE OF SHADOWS is such a highlight in the discography of Brazilian power metal band ANGRA is because this is the album where they seriously began to incorporate progressive influences into their already powerful take on highly energetic melodic metal. They also create a behemoth of a concept album tackling the issue of a saga of a crusader knight known as The Shadow Hunter who fights against the ideals of the Catholic Church in the 11th century. The album is as energetic as any Dragonforce album but incorporates a gazillion influences like an early Dream Theater release would. The result is a diverse sounding album that takes progressive rock ideas and marries them with power metal and adds native Brazilians sounds and lots more.

Diverse influences can be found in tracks like “Wishing Well” which has a neo-prog feel to it especially in the intro reminding me a bit of Marillion. “Shadow Hunter” has flamenco and a strong Spanish feel to it. Symphonic intros and interludes are plentiful beginning with the very first track but it takes little time at all for the powerful crunch of the melodic march of thundering guitars to signify the triumph of the tasty tunes taking full form. This is an album that I like quite a bit but not to the extent that many others seem to. I find this an exciting ride up to about the last few tracks when I feel the album should have ended. The intensity of the album seems to fizzle out around then and a bunch mellow ballads are not a great way to end this album. In comparison to other successful concept albums this one does not blend the songs together as brilliantly as I think they should considering the subject matter. Nitpickiness aside, this is a great progressive power metal ride.

HELSTAR A Distant Thunder

Album · 1988 · Power Metal
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Unitron
Helstar-A Distant Thunder

After two pretty good albums, Helstar was able to find a perfect balance of the power, speed, and thrash metal styles they had been using on the previous two albums. Also shown on this album are some prog influences.

When the album begins, you're already shot right into powerful pounding and rolling drums with the opening song 'The King is Dead'. During the chorus, Rivera's lower vocals flow perfectly with the shredding guitar. Rivera's vocals are very well performed on this song, with his higher-pitched vocals being spread out to the beginning, middle, and end. 'Tyrannicide' is another strong track. The shredding guitar at both the beginning and the rest of the song is just amazing. Rivera's vocals here resembles Bruce Dickinson's vocals a bit here. 'Scorcher' is another favorite, with a beautiful acoustic intro. Rivera's vocals really shine here, with his soft vocals flowing perfectly with the acoustics. His scream signals the fast guitar and drums to come in. The bridge is another favorite part of the song, with some Medieval sounding acoustic guitar.

'Abandon Ship' is a big stand-out track, with it being the longest song on the album and showing some prog metal influences. All the instruments compliment each other perfectly, the drums rolling, the shredding guitar, and the bass all blend well together. The bridge is my favorite part of the song, before the guitar solo comes in, Larry Barragan's guitar really shines. Then beautiful acoustic guitar comes in while the electric guitar is still droning in the background, which is something I love to hear. Rivera's vocals and lyrics are very strong, his vocals complimenting the acoustics perfectly. It's definitely the masterpiece of the album.

The lyrics are much stronger on this album, with more inspirational lyrics. The song 'Bitter End' is about freedom. The lyrics for 'Abandon Ship' remind me of an Iron Maiden song, with the lyrics speaking about dreams and exploration.

Overall, this album is certainly essential to any metal collection. Helstar was at their peak, none of the songs are weak on this album. Helstar blends speed, power, thrash, and prog into a perfect blend. Their inclusion of Medieval influences is very unique as well, with it fitting pretty well with Helstar's sound. Highly recommended to any metal collection.

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HELSTAR Remnants of War

Album · 1986 · Power Metal
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Unitron
Helstar-Remnants of War

After a solid debut, Helstar began to stretch their sound. 'Remnants of War' is not as raw as their debut, but it adds in more thrash and Rivera learns how to use his higher-pitched vocals better. Power and speed is still there, but the thrash influences are easily recognized.

Instead of the instant speed of 'Burning Star', this album begins with the haunting medieval-sounding intro 'Unidos Por Tristeza' much in the vein of the acoustic beginnings to early Metallica albums. It flows well into the crunching opening riffs of the title track. The title track is a great combination of power and thrash elements, with Rivera's higher vocals sounding great and well placed. The next song is undoubtedly my favorite from the album, 'Conquest', It's a perfect headbanger song with awesome driving riffs. This song really stands out, because it's the first song where Rivera doesn't use any high-pitched vocals. It's not a power metal song, but it sure is a great thrash song. Another example of Helstar taking influence from thrash is with beginning of the song 'Destroyer'. It reminds me of what you would get if you merged Megadeth, Iron Maiden, and Helstar's own sound into one. The rest of the song has more powerful riffing and is much more in the vein of 'Burning Star'. The song 'Suicidal Nightmare' and the closer 'Angel of Death'(no relation to the Slayer song) are two other stand-out songs for me.

Rivera's vocals have improved immensely, with his higher-pitched vocals being implemented perfectly. The awkward placement of higher vocals was really the only flaw on their debut for me. There were some forgettable songs on their debut, however, and this album is no different. None of the songs on this album are bad, but I don't find myself listening to the entire album much. I usually skip over tracks like 'Face the Wicked One' or 'Dark Queen', they just don't capture my attention.

Overall, Remnants of War is yet another great album by Helstar, but still not perfect. I think they left out too much power, and focused more on bringing thrash into their sound. Their next album would balance power, speed, and thrash perfectly, however.

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power metal movie reviews

ICED EARTH Live in Ancient Kourion

Movie · 2013 · 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 · 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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