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

DRAGON NATION Dragon Nation

Album · 2014 · Power Metal
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tshiko
this is the best album , for long time, the drum is exiting the vocal is awsome and powerfull, the guitar incredable fast and acurate, the guitar tone in awsome, and the song are awsome to,,,,i like the picture of the dragon,,,the 10 song are excellent, those guy are from Canada, this a pure neoclassical scale songs, phragian maniac open your ear, the solo are fast, the guitar riff exiting,, the singner is from major league , beleve me, hight a low pitch,, some time opera voices are use,the drumer are very versatile, double bass drum and technical beat are use here,,,,,, this is an album you need to buy...

SANCTUARY The Year the Sun Died

Album · 2014 · Power Metal
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UMUR
"The Year the Sun Died" is the 3rd full-length studio album by US, Seattle based power/thrash metal act Sanctuary. The album was released through Century Media Records in October 2014. It´s the band´s first album in 25 years, as Sanctuary disbanded after the tour supporting their 2nd full-length studio album "Into the Mirror Black (1989)". Lead vocalist Warrel Dane, bassist Jim Sheppard, and guitarist Jeff Loomis (who was only a member of Sanctuary for 2 months before the split-up), went on to form the successful Nevermore, and it was initially the plan that the two bands would co-exist when Sanctuary reunited in 2010. When Nevermore folded in 2011, Sanctuary became the priority of Warrel Dane and Jim Sheppard again. They are joined here by original members Lenny Rutledge (guitars/main composer) and Dave Budbill (drums). The only original member not included in the lineup is guitarist Sean Blosl, who is replaced here by Brad Hull (Forced Entry).

The music on the album is unmistakably the sound of Sanctuary, even though it´s been quite a few years since their last release. In those years production standards have also changed significantly and "The Year the Sun Died" features an up to date, powerful, clear, and massive sound production, which suits the heavy music well. The musicianship are on a high level on all posts, and Warrel Dane´s distinct sounding and powerful voice is still the defining element of Sanctuary´s sound. He both sings and screams like he used to, but his singing approach is quite a bit more varied these days. The rest of the band are very well playing too. Solid rhythm work, heavy riffs, and melodic solos. The tempo is mostly kept mid-paced, and at times a bit more heavy and slow, but there are a few faster paced tracks on the album too. The band play both aggressive and heavy, but also master the epic and melodic.

It´s probably not completely fair, but it´s impossible not to make comparisons to Nevermore, and while there are quite a few similarities (especially in the vocal department), there are many differences too. The music style of both Nevermore and Sanctuary is US power/thrash metal, but there is a big difference between the two acts when it comes to the sophistication of the songwriting and to some degree the musicianship. Lenny Rutledge is both a skilled guitarist and composer, but he does not reach the incredible heights of Jeff Loomis. So while the material on "The Year the Sun Died" is generally of a high quality, catchy and memorable, it lacks the mindblowing riffs and solos, that grace most Nevermore releases. Lenny Rutledge´s riffs and solos on "The Year the Sun Died" are simply more "standard" for the genre. And that´s not to be misunderstood as if they are not enjoyable and powerful, but there is a difference between the absolute premier league of guitarists/composers (where Jeff Loomis belongs), and those belonging in the league under those, which in my book is where Lenny Rutledge belongs.

And it does have an impact on the overall listening experience, because there is generally a lack of really killer riffs that stand out on the album, so while the tracks as such are a great listen with strong vocal melodies, and clever arrangements, I miss those furious, raw, and "impossible to play" riffs from the best Nevermore releases. When that is said, the material is still of a high enough quality for "The Year the Sun Died" to be called a strong release. In fact it´s in many ways a high quality release and a 3.5 - 4 star (75%) rating isn´t all wrong.

JUDAS PRIEST Painkiller

Album · 1990 · Power Metal
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666sharon666
The twelfth Judas Priest album Painkiller, released in 1990, marked the end of an era (at least for a time) for the band. It was the last album they'd put out for seven years and afterwards singer Rob Halford left the band. In hindsight this could well have been the last Judas Priest album. In my opinion even though they've managed to put out a further five albums in the years since (two with replacement singer Tim Ripper Owens), this is also the last truly great Judas Priest record. Painkiller is a fan favourite, something not many artists can say about their twelfth album. Yet the oddest thing about Painkiller is that it's actually one of the oddities of Judas Priest's seventeen album discography. Judas Priest are a heavy metal band, but Painkiller is Judas Priest's only power metal album. Some (or perhaps most) might like to refute that statement (it's Judas Priest so it's got to be heavy metal right? - wrong) and I have to admit, this is very old school sounding power metal (but consider this, (Euro) power metal technically wasn't that old in 1990), and maybe it wasn't called power metal at the time (I couldn't tell you either way, as I was 4 in 1990) but I like to think that I've heard enough power metal bands of all shapes and sizes in my 28 years to recognise a power metal album when I hear one. And I certainly hear one when I listen to Painkiller.

Of course Ram it Down did offer a sneak peek of what was about to be unleashed on Painkiller, notably with the song Hard as Iron, but I don't think anyone could have expected the band to produce such a career defining album that even eclipsed early favourites like Sad Wings of Destiny and Stained Class in 1990. K. K. Downing and Glenn Tipton deliver fast riffs against new drummer Scott Travis's impressive drumming while Rob Halford delivers what is, in my opinion, the vocal performance of his career. Lyrically Painkiller is actually a bit, well, silly if you know what I mean, but man Rob is in his element screaming his head off on the title track. It's a Judas Priest album with no bad track (there are usually one or two on even their best albums are aren't quite as good in my opinion) and it's also their most in your face metal release. While the title track will always be the absolute must hear from the album, Leather Rebel, All Guns Blazing, Metal Meltdown, Night Crawler and One Shot at Glory are all equally good, with the rest of the album only a marginal step behind.

Should twelfth albums really be this good? Should band's best records really be so different to their established style? Probably not on both counts, but these leather rebels did it, giving fans a metal meltdown with all guitars blazing. You can't stop the Painkiller. An oddity in their discography for sure, but also the best Judas Priest album, easily.

Attribution: http://metaltube.freeforums.org/judas-priest-painkiller-t3832.html

LUCA TURILLI Prophet of the Last Eclipse

Album · 2002 · Power Metal
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siLLy puPPy
On the second album by LUCA TURILLI, which is a band effort despite the band being named after the songwriter, keyboardist and neo-classical guitar shredder of the same name, we get part two of the trilogy where darkness and the magic colors of the universe don't identify with the expression of evil but are simply wonderful and romantic manifestations of the beloved Earth. On PROPHET OF THE LAST ECLIPSE we still land in the lands of operatic fantastical cheesy power metal replete with musical acrobatics but instead of Nordic lands we get a story about the world of Zaephyr and its destruction. TURILLI pulls his best Ayreon inspired lyrics on this one and we hear his fascination with sci-fi films. This in particular is influenced by Event Horizon, the 1997 British / American film.

Although the storyline and lyrics are an acquired taste I have to declare that in the musical department this album is a bit better than the debut. The complaint I had of that album were that the songs seemed to sound very much like slight variations of another and that is eliminated on this second affair. There has been a lot more attention paid to the attention span of the listener. The tracks are more varied and more influences are abound including the usual TURILLI suspects such as classical, folk and the like which are not too overly far from those of his Rhapsody (Of Fire) projects. The power metal feel on here is still dominant but the pacing is much more intelligently laid out and I am quite taken by how the album flows from one track to another. There are plenty of operatic choirs, Gregorian chants, folk intros and of course TURILLI's virtuosic wankitude that ratchets its way up to 11. The songwriting has improved a lot and little creative touches make this a much more enjoyable album for me personally. This is a operatic symphonic power metal that adds some interesting twists and turns and guaranteed to please all the progressive power metalheads out there.

LUCA TURILLI King of the Nordic Twilight

Album · 1999 · Power Metal
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siLLy puPPy
LUCA TURILLI is the mastermind songwriter, keyboardist and guitarist shredding machine responsible for the symphonic folk and power prog metal band Rhapsody (Of Fire) who has been churning out epic fantastical tales for a couple decades now. This so-called solo effort is in fact deemed a band effort despite the band being named after TURILLI himself. KING OF THE NORDIC TWILIGHT is also the first album of a trilogy that utilizes the typical power metal sword bearing call to battle to defeat the darkened forces that have fallen upon the land. In that regard this album is very similar to pretty much the majority of power metal albums out there but on the compositional side its a bit more sophisticated. On the vocal front Olaf Hayer delivers an excellent vocal performance more than capable of the operatic power and prowess TURILLI demands with his high energy compositions. The trilogy revolves around three worlds and on this debut it focuses on an odyssey in the ancient Nordic lands where, and this is a direct quote from the liner notes “darkness and the magic colors of the NORDIC TWILIGHT don't identify with the expression of evil but are simply wonderful and romantic manifestations of my beloved Earth.” Expect well crafted power metal cheese but tasty cheese at least :)

Despite sounding just a couple notches different than the Rhapsody projects, TURILLI focuses less on folk and narrations and more on a recognizable power metal structure. As we all know, power metal is the modern day metal version of opera and on this release we get plenty of dragon-slaying operatic vocals and classical inspired instrumental runs with the lightning fast arpeggios and shredding that TURILLI is quite amazingly good at. The music is quite the symphonic and orchestral behemoth with a whole bunch of musicians cranking out beautiful and energetic riffs and motifs that pretty much sound consistent for the album's entirety. As well as everything is played on this album it seems to lack enough diversity in sound to keep me super-interested in it. While i'm admiring the instrumental and vocal acrobatics i'm underwhelmed by the monotonous tempos and musical feel. An excellently performed album but it just seems it lacks the inspiration and proper placement of direction to truly stand out as one of the best albums that TURILLI has mustered up. Hardcore power metal fans who love symphonic and orchestral additions will surely love this one for it delivers in that department for sure. I actually prefer the second album to this but this is by no means bad at all. A good but not outstanding release we have upon us.

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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