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

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power metal Music Reviews

BALANCE OF POWER Ten More Tales Of Grand Illusion

Album · 1999 · Power Metal
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lukretion
Formed in 1995 in England, Balance of Power play a fairly distinctive blend of melodic power metal, one where neoclassical metal riffs in the style of Rainbow and Malmsteen coexist with ultramelodic vocal hooks typical of AOR and arena rock bands like Journey, Asia, Bon Jovi and Toto. It’s a slightly unusual mix that injects a certain freshness into a genre, that of power metal, which by the late 1990s was overcrowded with dozens of Stratovarius clones all sounding exactly the same as everyone else. Ten More Tales of Grand Illusion is Balance of Power’s third full-length album, the second following the mini line-up revolution that took place after the band released their debut album When the World Falls Down in 1997. Original guitarist Paul Curtis and singer Tony Ritchie were replaced by Pete Southern and US-based vocalist Lance King, respectively. The lineup on this album is completed by drummer Lionel Hicks (who also produced the record), bassist Chris Dale and guitarist Bill Yates, with session musician James Walsh playing keyboards.

Musically, Ten More Tales ... alternates between light easy-listening tracks with plenty of catchy melodic hooks (“Day Breaker”; “Under the Spell”) and more muscular numbers, where the classic metal influences are stronger (“About to Burn”; the Priestesque title-track). Often the two style coexist in the space of the same song, as on the excellent “Prisoner of Pride” which moves between an exquisitely Rainbowesque riff in the verse and a gorgeous AOR melody in the chorus. There are also a few ballads where Balance of Power show traces of yet another of their influences, that of Queensryche (“Savage Tears”; “Blind Man”). This is partly due to King’s voice that can at times sound remarkably similar to Geoff Tate’s, but also to the emotionally powerful atmosphere of these songs that are stuck in a beautiful place between grandeur and melancholy, like many Queensryche's classics. The variety of styles and influences that are injected into each song is undoubtedly one of the strengths of the album, which sounds fresh, interesting and dynamic, and leaves no room for boredom.

The five musicians put in strong performances throughout and the band sound very tight as a result. The guitar parts are excellent. Southern’s riffs are powerful and melodic at the same time, in the best tradition of guitar greats such as Blackmore and Malmsteen. The rhythm section keeps things simple, favoring groove over intricacies. This works well as it allows the guitar work to shine. The keyboard interjections are used sparingly to add complexity to the arrangements. While the keys will be more dominant on later albums, on Ten More Tales … the guitars have the lion’s share of the music. On this excellent basis Lance King’s voice is the proverbial icing on the cake. The man has an impressive vocal range and sounds comfortable both when he uses his mid-range and when he climbs up towards the highest notes. He also manages to be expressive throughout his range, a quality that is relatively uncommon among power metal singers (I lost count of the number of sterile high-pitched squeals I had to endure while listening to power metal albums of the time). King's strong performance is one of the highlights of this album, as of all the other Balance of Power’s records where he performed.

Despite strong performances and interesting musical ideas, Ten More Tales … isn’t the strongest album Balance of Power have released in their career. Its biggest limit, in my view, is that some of the material is somewhat lackluster. It seems to me that on this album Balance of Power are still looking for the perfect formula to write the music they hear in their head. At times, everything falls into place and then we have first-rate numbers like “Prisoner of Pride”, “Savage Tears”, “About to Burn” and the title-track. But elsewhere things drag a little. The ballad “Blind Man” is overlong and tepid, its 6:51 minutes seemingly lasting forever. “The Darker Side”, yet another ballad, is too pedestrian and saccharine. Tracks like “Under the Spell”, “Under Innocence Wing” and “Sins of the World” are fairly unremarkable, lacking the melodic punch of the album’s better tracks.

Overall, the quality of the material on Ten More Tales … is too heterogeneous to allow me to rate the record higher than this. Nevertheless, this is a good album that will please fans of the more melodic side of metal. It confirms Balance of Power as a “band to watch” and Lance King’s as one of the most talented singers in the metal arena. But if you are new to the band, I recommend that you start from their next album, Perfect Balance, which is where Balance of Power's great promise will come to complete fruition.

[Also published on metal-archives.com]

EDGUY Mandrake

Album · 2001 · Power Metal
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lukretion
In the mid 1990s, Edguy took the power metal scene by surprise, releasing a handful of albums that, despite the band’s young age (they were merely 18 years old when they released their breakthrough album Vain Glory Opera), sounded as professional, consummated and mature as those released by some of the giants of the genre. Mandrake is Edguy’s fifth album and follows closely in the footsteps of the band’s previous releases, offering once more their trademark blend of energetic but melodic power metal. It’s a solid album that does not cover much new ground but rather consolidates Edguy’s position as a great up-and-coming power metal band.

Edguy is not the band you should be turning to if you are looking for groundbreaking or innovative songwriting. The band’s songwriting moves within a fairly well-defined canon and never strays too far from it. Edguy’s sound is heavily influenced both by the German speed/power metal tradition (Helloween) and by the classic international heavy metal sound (Iron Maiden, Judas Priest). The band’s true strength lies in the mastery with which they manage to blend these influences into tasteful and classy numbers that rarely fail to impress the listener. Mandrake is no exception in this regard. Indeed, the record’s biggest selling point is probably the class with which the band manage to navigate between their influences across the ten songs of the album. The album moves impeccably through breakneck speed metal assaults (“Golden Dawn”, “All the Clowns”, “Fallen Angels”), epic Maidenian mid-tempos (the strong opener “Tears of a Mandrake”, “The Pharaoh”), classic 1980s heavy metal belters (the outstanding “Nailed to the Wheel”) and mellow ballads (“Wash Away the Poison”). There are even a couple of episodes of hard rock-infused metal (“Painting On the Wall”, the Europe-influenced bonus track "The Devil & the Savant"), while the comedy metal piece “Save Us Now” (aka “Highspeed Alien Drum Bunny”) offers a surprisingly humorous closure to the album. This diverse material ensures that the listener never gets bored or feels as though the songs are repetitive.

The quality of the playing is remarkable. Guitarists Jens Ludwig and Dirk Sauer exchange plenty of fun riffs and solos. The rhythm session is rock solid and especially drummer Felix Bohnke displays some impressive chops, particularly when the tempo speeds up. However, Edguy’s secret weapon is undoubtedly singer Tobias Sammet. He has an expressive and distinctive voice that is convincing both when he uses his gritty mid range snarl and when he reaches for the high notes. He reminds me of both Michael Kiske and Bruce Dickinson, which is quite an achievement in and of itself. Apart from contributing a strong vocal performance, Sammet is also Edguy’s main songwriter and for that he is rightly recognized as one of the most significant personalities in the power metal scene.

The production is also very good. The album was mixed and mastered at Finnvox studios by expert sound engineers Mikko Karmila and Mika Jussila. They gave the album a clean sound that does not sacrifice neither power nor detail. My only criticism is that the albums sounds a tad too loud. I would have liked to hear more dynamics in the music, but instead nearly all of the album keeps the pedal firmly to the metal, which inevitably fatigues me in the long-run.

Overall, Mandrake delivers exactly what one would expect it to deliver: 60 minutes of high-octane melodic power metal that subsumes the best influences of the European heavy metal tradition with class and style. There are no weak spots or fillers on this album. Each track is an energetic slab of headbanging heavy metal fun, with plenty of catchy (yet not cheesy) choruses to sing along to. Edguy do not invent anything new on this album, nor do they push any boundaries. In this sense, this album is far from the masterpiece some people say it is. But if you are okay with that and just want to spend one hour of classic undiluted heavy metal, then Mandrake will not disappoint.

[Also published on https://www.metal-archives.com]

GRAVE DIGGER The Grave Digger

Album · 2001 · Power Metal
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lukretion
After completing the “Middle Ages trilogy” with their previous three albums, Tunes of War, Knights of the Cross and Excalibur, German veterans Grave Digger turn the page and seek inspiration in the horror genre that had already given them song material in the past (Heart of Darkness). Inevitably, The Grave Digger is a darker album, containing a lower dose of epicness and bombast and placing instead a stronger emphasis on gloomy atmospheres and grittiness. For those who, like me, loved the majestic themes of the previous three albums, this new sound might feel a bit like a let-down. Gone are the catchy singalong choruses, the medieval folk influences and the history-infused storytelling. Instead, we are treated with an impressively grim and heavy dose of guitar riffs, double-bass drumming and shouted vocals by Grave Digger's mastermind Chris Boltendahl.

The album works well for what it’s meant to offer: a relentless collection of 1980s-inspired heavy metal tunes built to take no prisoners in live concerts. The record is very effective in its simplicity. New band addition Manni Schmidt (ex-Rage) provides a vast array of fun and powerful guitar riffs. Stefan Arnold’s drumming is metronomically fast and precise and works well in conjunction with Jens Becker’s no-frill bass grooves. Chris Boltendahl rips and roars with his inimitable vocal tone, effectively conjuring up the Edgar Allan Poe-inspired horrors his lyrics talk about. There are some interesting keyboard interjections appearing here and there in the songs, but these are mostly used to create ambience (I particularly dig the spooky intro to “Raven”). The songwriting heavy lifting here is done almost entirely by the impressively solid guitar work and the tight and steady rhythmic section.

There aren’t many surprises among the eleven tracks of the album (twelve including the rather forgettable bonus track “Black Cat”). Most songs follow the canonical verse-prechours-chorus structure with very few detours. Half of the album tracks are based on breakneck tempos that I am sure went down a treat in open air live shows (“Spirits of the Dead”; “King Pest”), but there are also mid-tempos (“Raven”, “The House”, “Sacred Fire”) and even the obligatory ballad (the insipid and overlong “Silence”). The songwriting quality is fairly homogeneous, which is both good and bad. Good because the album does not contain any obvious filler (although tracks that appear in the second-half of the record, like “Sacred Fire”, “Funeral Procession” and “Silence”, feel slightly unnecessary given that the album’s main message had already been conveyed – and better – by the preceding first-half). Bad because there are very few standout moments on this record, songs that end up defining a band’s discography in the hearts and minds of fans (it is no coincidence that in the three live albums that Grave Digger have published so far since 2001 only a couple of songs have been taken from this record). The one song that stands out is the haunting mid-tempo “The House” where Grave Digger almost flirt with doom. The atmosphere of this song is truly chilling and I love how Boltendahl alternates between his usual gruffy vocal style and clean vocals on the lysergic chorus. The track also stands out for the elaborated orchestral finale that adds a layer of complexity and sophistication to it.

The album enjoys a dry but powerful and clean production by Jörg Umbreit and Vincent Sorg, the owners of Principal Studios (Germany) where the material of The Grave Digger was recorded. I really like the production work that the duo made on this record. It has a modern feel but it is not overproduced as many power metal albums that came out at that time were.

All in all, The Grave Digger is a solid album of 1980s infused heavy metal. It’s doomy and gritty, but it is not as epic or catchy as the band’s material on the previous three albums (and indeed I would not even consider this a power metal album, to be honest). But that formula had perhaps started to become a bit old, so it is refreshing to see that, nine albums in, this band of veterans were still willing to try and mix things up.

[Also published on https://www.metal-archives.com]

WUTHERING HEIGHTS Within

Album · 1999 · Power Metal
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siLLy puPPy
WUTHERING HEIGHTS was and still is the baby of guitarist, vocalist, bassist, keyboardist and sole songwriter Erik Ravn. Formed in Copenhagen, Denmark in 1999, this Danish band has featured a fair number of Swedish musicians over its two decade plus career with only Ravn remaining from the early lineups. Starting out as Angelica in 1989 and then changed to Minas Tirith, Ravn shifted gears and crafted a unique mix of power metal, progressive metal and folk music which at the time was fairly unique.

Fast forward through the 90s and by 1999, Ravn adopted the name WUTHERING HEIGHTS which despite making you think of the famous Kate Bush song about the English 19th century novel by Emily Brontë, in fact doesn’t portend Ravn’s infatuation with the novel or subject matter. In fact, WUTHERING HEIGHTS has always been fairly eclectic not only in the musical sense but in the lyric department as well with references to everything from Tolkien fantasy inspired worlds to simple good old-fashioned personal references.

WITHIN is the debut album which emerged the same year the band was officially formed and featured the lineup of Swedish singer Kristian Andrén as lead vocalist, bassist Kasper Gram, drummer Morten Nadgaard, keyboardist Rune Brink and Erik Ravn on guitars. With an album cover resembling something out of the Symphony X playbook, WITHIN does indeed deliver a crafty mix of progressively infused power metal that also exhibited a fair number of technical workouts as well as local Scandinavian folk flavors.

While considered a pioneer in the Scandinavian power metal scene for adopting folk music and more progressive compositions, other bands would soon follow with Sweden’s Falconer and the Danish Manticora emerging around the same time. The band also featured similarities with Germany’s Blind Guardian in how it deftly mixed classic 80s heavy metal and speed metal with the more modern sounds of power metal all the while adopting aspects of progressive rock with the extra features of folk. As with most power metal, WUTHERING HEIGHTS was primarily concerned with strong melodic hooks and clean powerful vocals but occasional engaged in some more extreme growly vocals.

WUTHERING HEIGHTS would become one of the biggest names in progressive power metal all throughout the first decade of the new millennium but on WITHIN, the band was still trying to perfect its formula into a seamless product that would really reach its full firing power until 2004’s “Far From The Maddening Crowd” however WUTHERING HEIGHTS even by today’s standards emerged as a unique sounding band that hit the ground running. The compositions are fortified with strong powerful melodic hooks and the instrumentation is distinct in how the various styles of metal switch things up to make a powerful debut.

Unfortunately WITHIN seems a bit clunky as well as the stylistic approach doesn’t seem quite accomplished and i’m also not the hugest fan original singer Kristian Andren’s vocal style. Of course this is a personal thing but it is detracting enough for me that i rarely visit these early albums but in the end WITHIN is a very well constructed album for the most part with a unique stylistic approach that the band would build upon to craft the more accomplished albums to come. Add to the positives, the production is really good and the band along with Royal Hunt kept Denmark relevant in the metal world after King Diamond, Merciful Fate and Artillery had put Denmark on the metal map.

ANGRA Rebirth

Album · 2001 · Power Metal
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lukretion
Rebirth: it would have been hard to find a more fitting title for Angra’s fourth full-length album, the first after the band split in two and was left for dead at the time by many specialized magazines. Singer Andre Matos and the entire rhythm section comprised of Luís Mariutti and Ricardo Confessori departed to form Shaman, leaving guitarists Kiko Loureiro and Rafael Bittencourt to pick up the pieces. The duo recruited Felipe Andreoli (bass), Aquiles Priester (drums) and Edu Falaschi (vocals) to try and keep the Angra ship alive. But the album does not feel like a rebirth just in terms of its revolutionized line-up. It is also a musical rebirth, after a record, Fireworks, that was probably too ambitious for its own good and ultimately felt a bit like a mixed bag.

Rebirth does not waste any time to let the listener know that things have changed. In this sense, opener (after the obligatory orchestral intro) “Nova Era” is a strong statement of intents. The Brazilian folk experimentations of the past line-up are considerably toned down (though they still surface on a couple of songs) in favour of a more direct and fast-tempo speed/power metal approach that immediately showcases the talents of the new line-up, particularly of drummer Aquiles Priester and singer Edu Falaschi. Although Falaschi does not have the unique charm of Matos’ voice, his range is impressive and his crystalline delivery shows that Angra have found an excellent substitute for their iconic former singer. Elsewhere the album moves in more progressive territories, with songs (“Millennium Sun”, “Unholy Wars”, “Running Alone”) built around complex structures, tempo changes, extended instrumental passages, and great orchestral arrangements, courtesy of Günter Werno from German prog metallers Vanden Plas.

These tracks are what elevates Rebirth above the standard power metal sound that one can find aplenty on albums released in the late 1990s / early 2000s. At the same time, the music is more streamlined, direct and powerful than what typically characterizes a prog metal release. In this way, Rebirth walks the fine line between the two worlds, pleasing fans of standard European (and especially Italian) power metal as well as those of more progressively-inclined bands like Queensrÿche and Dream Theatre.

In large part, Rebirth is a success story as the tunes are pleasant, accessible and at the same time sufficiently varied and multifaceted to keep things interesting. But, as a prog metal aficionado, I cannot help but miss the drive to experiment and push things forward and in unexpected directions that had characterized the earlier work of the band. It is particularly songs like “Acid Rain”, “Heroes of Sand” and “Judgment Day” that haven’t aged very well: lacking a strong melodic presence and deprived of interesting forward-thinking moments, these tracks fall a bit flat and bog down an album that remains nevertheless better than average.

[Also posted on progarchives.com and metal-archives.com]

power metal movie reviews

HELLOWEEN United Alive

Movie · 2019 · Power Metal
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Kingcrimsonprog
Imagine a Judas Priest show with both Tim Ripper Owens and Rob Halford singing together. No wait… Imagine a Sepultura show with both Max Cavelera and Derick Green singing. No wait, that’s not even it. I’ve got it… Imagine an Iron Maiden show with Paul Dianno, Bruce Dickinson and Blaze Bailey all singing. Well, maybe, if Dickinson had left after four albums and Blaze had been there ever since. Ok, Now swap out the zombie mascot for some comedy pumpkins and you’re approaching the situation here. Helloween, one of Germany’s biggest and most important bands, one of the most iconic Power Metal bands in history, with one of the most impressive family trees (Gamma Ray, Masterplan, Freedom Call, Unisonic, Iron Savior etc) make one of the most anticipated decisions in the history of the genre.

Who is your favourite Helloween singer? Is it Kai Hansen, the heaviest singer and the original? Is it Michael Kiske, the most technically accomplished and the one from their most iconic record? Or is it Andi Deris, their best frontman and the singer on the most albums? – Turns out, now you don’t have to choose. United Alive, the live video from the Pumpkins United tour sees all three join the stage together, cracking out a career spanning mixture of material from the earliest thrashiest material to the modern gems, with all the iconic genre defining masterpieces from the peerless Keepers’ era sprinkled in too.

There are over 20 tracks here (some are intros and solos, and some are medleys/combinations, but still…) that’s a lot of Helloween. All three singers take it turns to sing. Sometimes not even a song each, but rather dividing it up section by section inside each song, or all at once. It is very welcome to hear them back on some of their own tracks like ‘Heavy Metal Is The Law’ after not hearing it on the other live videos, or ‘Dr. Stein’ after having heard only Deri’s take on it previously. Conversely it is very interesting to see Kai or Kiske sing on some of the big commercial ‘90s/’00s hits like ‘Perfect Gentleman’ or ‘If I Could Fly.’

There are often 7 members on stage at the one time (or 8 if you count the keyboardist, Eddy Wrapiprou). There’s Weikath and Grosskopft on guitar and bass as always. Sascha Gerstner and Daniel Löble on guitar and drums like the last several albums. And the three aforementioned singers (with Kai also playing guitar).

There’s a mix of footage, ranging from headline shows in Madrid, Spain to festival appearances at Wacken and in Brazil. Sort of like they did already on their previous ‘Legacy World Tour 2005/2006 DVD.

Normally I really prefer a concert DVD to come from one single show, rather than complied from a series of different dates in different places with different lighting, sound and camera work, but given that the band itself is now a compilation of past and present members and some of the songs included are medleys, I don’t know why but it just works here.

The band put on a great show. There’s a lot going on. There’s video screens, a big pumpkin stage set piece around the drum kit (which has 4 kickdrums for some reason, just to add to the over-the-top feel of it all), a light show, and a few cheesy moments like members coming out dressed in a top hat and cane, or raining pumpkin balloons.

Deris, ever the consummate front man is great at revving up the crowd, and then the different members get spotlights for certain tunes and join up on others, there’s prolonged solo segments, a tribute to late drummer Ingo Schichtenberg, its all very diverse and entertaining. They even do a stripped-down bare bones version of the ballad ‘Forever And One’ straight after a super heavy Walls Of Jericho/EP medley, which pretty much shows both polar opposites of the band’s varied discography.

There’s multiple different ways you can buy it. DVD, Blu Ray, combinations thereof. Versions with CDs. The version I got it two Blu Rays. One with the concert and one with a load of extra footage. There’s a few extra songs (Including the underrated ‘Kids Of The Century’ from the oft maligned Pink Bubbles Go Ape album). There’s a bunch of behind the scenes footage looking at various aspects of the tour and production. It comes in a nice shiny digi-book with some brief liner notes and a glossy photo booklet. You know, just as if it wasn’t value for money enough already with an almost three-hour concert of a Helloween fan’s wildest fantasy line-up.

As a concept you really have to hand it to them; its quite a clever move to reuinite with past members without losing current members as some fans never got over Kiske leaving the band or only ever even tried the Keepers albums. Some fans really love the Kai era and you never get to see Helloween play much material from it anymore (you only really get the chance if he chucks one in to a Gamma Ray show some time). Its a great idea to reel them back in and show them how great the Deris era can be too. Come for ‘Halloween’ and ‘Future World’ but stay for ‘Sole Survivor’ and ‘Power’ then learn to love the Deris era if you don’t already.

Thankfully though, its not just the concept that’s good. The whole package is good. The sound, footage, editing and bonus material. Most importantly though, the performance. It doesn’t come across as a novelty cash grab, it really feels like a jubilant celebration. As they say in the opening track ‘Halloween’ ”There’s magic in the air.” This may be cheesy to say (but hey, if you like Helloween, you better be used to cheesy) but it really is a heavy metal dream come true. Buy it!

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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