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

power metal top albums

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FALCONER Among Beggars and Thieves Album Cover Among Beggars and Thieves
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HELSTAR A Distant Thunder Album Cover A Distant Thunder
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4.78 | 10 ratings
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HELLOWEEN Keeper of the Seven Keys Part 2 Album Cover Keeper of the Seven Keys Part 2
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power metal Music Reviews

SONATA ARCTICA Ecliptica - Revisited: 15th Anniversary Edition

Album · 2014 · Power Metal
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RuneWalsh2112
2014 was the year that I've rediscovered Sonata Arctica. I've been enjoying Sonata Arctica ever since I've heard their music back in 2003 with their debut album "Ecliptica" and fourth album "Reckoning Night" being my favorites. Unfortunately their work between 2007 and 2012 wasn't as enjoyable for me as their first four albums. 2014 saw the band releasing two albums, one with new material and the second one being the re-recording of their debut album "Ecliptica".

As I mentioned in my review of the original recording, ""Ecliptica" is, production-wise, a very raw record with both the drums and Kakko's vocals sounding very dated in comparison to the rest of the sound. This is especially interesting considering that the drummer Tommy Portimo and vocalist/front man/composer Tony Kakko have been the only two consistent members of the band!" So you might understand that I wasn't too surprised when the two consistent members decided that they needed to give the recording a second chance and thus re-record it with the band's current lineup.

I must say that the first few spins of this new version of "Ecliptica" were some of the most enjoyable Power Metal moments that I can honestly recall. Even though I haven't listened to some of these tracks in years, every song was a happy reunion filled with memories from my past. The great production quality that enhanced both the vocals and the drums really managed to bring out new qualities in the material that I've never noticed before. Songs like the opening track "Blank File", "My Land" and "Kingdom For A Heart" sounded even better than I've remembered them. The only real disappointment was "Fullmoon" which doesn't hold a candle to the original version nor the version from the live album "For The Sake Of Revenge". I also thought that "Letter To Dana" hasn't aged that well. Having said that, I've never really enjoyed this ballad to being with but the new version hasn't really made it any better.

My biggest rediscovery was that of the album's closing track "Destruction Preventer". I've never actually considered it to be anything special until I've heard this re-recorded version that made it into a Power Metal masterpiece. Both the energy and the melodic strength of this composition have been updated with grace.

I've been reading some critical reviews of this recording where people criticize Kakko's lower key arrangements but I actually found the new arrangement much more in line with my own voice, thus making these songs easier for me to sing along to. Whether or not this is a selfish reason, I'll leave for you to decide!

Overall, "Ecliptica 2014" is an album that made me rediscover Sonata Arctica in an even brighter new light. The classic tracks from 1999 still manage to stand out and the new arrangement actually make them even more enjoyable to my ears. Highly recommended release for fans of Power Metal!

***** star songs: Blank File (4:09) Destruction Preventer (7:45)

**** star songs: Blank File (4:09) My Land (4:48) 8th Commandment (3:46) Replica (5:04) Kingdom For A Heart (3:47) Fullmoon (5:12) UnOpened (3:13) Picturing The Past (3:35)

*** star songs: Letter To Dana (6:23)

SONATA ARCTICA Pariah's Child

Album · 2014 · Power Metal
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RuneWalsh2112
I've been enjoying Sonata Arctica ever since I've heard their music back in 2003. The band added their own spin to the Power Metal genre that felt much more in line with traditional Finnish folk music than anything that I've previously experienced. The raw energy of the performances and the strong melodic hooks really made them stand out compared with the completion.

Sonata Arctica managed to maintain their momentum for the course of four albums, peaking with 2004 release "Reckoning Night", but it was clear from interviews given by the front man Tony Kakko that he was not content with maintaining the same style all throughout his career. The long wait and ultimate disappointment of "Unia", in 2007, showed the band moving away from their Power Metal formula. This was quite a disappointment for me but I continued to hope for Sonata Arctica to return to their roots.

The release of "The Days Of Grays" showed the band going into progressive metal territory and even though it was a solid attempt at a change, I was still not too impressed by the album. "Stones Grow Her Name", from 2012, did spark some hope due to the inclusion of "Wildfire II" and "Wildfire III" on the track-list but I lost interest after hearing the two singles "I Have A Right" and "Shitload Of Money". Eventually I've listened to the album and was dissatisfied with what I've heard.

The release of "Pariah's Child", in 2014, went by completely unnoticed by me. It was only when the band released a re-recorded version of their debut album, "Ecliptica" that I finally decided to include it to my Spotify playlist. My initial reaction to the material was a mixed one since I didn't really enjoy the album's first single and opening track "The Wolves Die Young" but found some of the mid-section tracks like "Take One Breath" and "Blood" to be much more impressive.

After a few more spins, it finally dawned on me that I was really beginning to enjoy the new material. Despite the fact that the album loses momentum with horrible narration on "X Marks The Spot", the disposable ballad "Love" and the disappointing opus "Larger Than Life", the good parts are almost on par with anything from the band's first four releases.

The song streak, that begins with "Running Lights" and ends with "Half A Marathon Man" (six tracks in total), is one of the most enjoyable Power Metal streaks that I've heard since "Empire Of The Undead" by Gamma Ray. The standout tracks are the album's second single "Cloud Factory", which brings back the classic Sonata Arctica melodies, and the emotional "What Did You Do In The War, Dad?".

"Pariah's Child" is good record that I'll probably continue listening to while skipping some of the filler tracks. If this is an indication of the future that Sonata Arctica intends to pursue then I'm definitely all ears.

***** star songs: Cloud Factory (4:17)

**** star songs: Running Lights (4:26) Take One Breath (4:19) Blood (5:54) What Did You Do In The War, Dad? (5:13) Half A Marathon Man (5:43)

*** star songs: The Wolves Die Young (4:11) X Marks The Spot (5:20) Larger Than Life (9:57)

** star songs: Love (3:50)

BATTLE BEAST Unholy Savior

Album · 2015 · Power Metal
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DippoMagoo
After being instantly won over by the super cheesy retro heavy metal sound of Battle Beast's debut Steel in 2011, it appeared I had a new favorite band in the genre. Everything from the killer riffs and instantly memorable choruses to the ultra cheesy but awesome wails of vocalist Nitte Valo left me amazed and wanting to hear more from the band. Sadly, Nitte left in 2012, and my excitement for the band mostly went away, because I didn't think it was possible to find another female vocalist capable of the kind of dynamic, explosive performances she gave on songs like "Enter the Metal World", "Justice in Metal" and "Savage and Saint". Then in 2013 their self-titled sophomore release came, and while I wasn't as impressed by the actual songwriting, new singer Noora Louhimo renewed my hope for the band, sounding almost as good as Nitte. Now with their third album Unholy Savior, it seems everything has come together for the band, resulting in an absolute thriller of an album.

They've evolved a lot since their debut, and at this point they have become a much different kind of beast. There's still some classic heavy metal to be found here, but their self-titled album showed them emphasizing the keyboards more and including more power metal songs, and this album shows them going even further in that direction, especially on speedier tracks like "Lionheart" and "Madness". In fact, there's a very strong Euro power metal feel to this release, which is certainly to my liking. Even slower songs like the title track showcase a much more melodic sound than expected, with the keyboards being very much at the front of the sound.

On her second album with Battle Beast, Noora has fully established herself as the voice of the band, and she has upped her game considerably, at times almost making me forget they even had a different singer before. She seems much more confident in using her high pitched wails on this album, and at times she comes very close to matching Nitte when it comes to epic, cheesy screamed vocals. Her softer vocals were a strength before, and on this album she gets to showcase them even more, effectively mixing in her soft and pleasant lower register with those epic screams on the two ballads "Sea of Dreams" and "Angels Cry", which are both very effective just because of how good she is. On the self-titled album, I found the AC/DC soundalike male vocals a bit irritating and unnecessary, but on this album they're used mostly in quick bursts and in support of Noora, so they work a lot better this time around.

On the whole, the first half of the album is much stronger than the second half. The opener "Lionheart" is an instant power metal classic, with a memorable opening, fun verses and an extremely catchy chorus, while the title track and "Madness" are also a ton of fun. Even better is the song "I Want the World and Everything In It", which begins with a silly voiceover, but quickly turns into the most classic heavy metal sounding track on the album, with the male vocals mixing in very well with Noora during the chorus, and giving the song an extra boost of energy. Even the ballad "Sea of Dreams" is great, for reasons I mentioned above. But my favorite track comes just past the halfway point, and that is "Speed and Danger". This ultra fast, ultra catchy song would fit in wonderfully on a classic Euro power metal album, and it's the kind of song that causes me to get uncontrollably excited every time I hear it. The mix of wails and epic power metal vocals during the chorus especially cause me to lose control sometimes.

After that, the album gets a bit weird. Some may hate the 80's synth pop influenced single "Touch in the Night", but I quite like it. The bouncy melodies and tasteful keyboards give it a nice feel and of course Noora does an excellent job singing lightly for the most part, only getting in one epic wail near the end. After that, there's a couple nice but all too brief tracks that kinda feel like throwaways, and then the album ends with a ballad, (though as noted above, it's an awesome one, and it's probably even my favorite of the two), so there's really only two heavier tracks during the entire second half. Luckily, the latter of those, "Far Away", is another addictive up tempo track, and it's almost as much fun as "Speed and Danger".

Even with a slightly uneven second half, Unholy Savior manages to be an exciting album, and after several listens it has become my favorite from Battle Beast to date. The increased power metal elements as well as Noora's improved vocals, have helped to make it an album I'm sure I'll be listening to several times over the next few days, and it's an early contender for my favorite heavy/power metal album of 2015.

WIND ROSE Wardens of the West Wind

Album · 2015 · Power Metal
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DippoMagoo
2015 has barely even begun, and I already have a strong album of the year contender, from a very unexpected source. Italian band Wind Rose released their debut Shadows Over Lothadruin in 2012, and it was an interesting release. A conceptual album with fantasy themed lyrics along the lines of bands like Rhapsody of Fire or Ancient Bards, and yet musically the band played a brand of melodic prog, in the same vein as Symphony X, but with increased symphonic and folk influences. On the whole it was quite the unique album and represented a promising start, with potential for much greater things. It was obvious the band had the talent to go places, but the release was brought down slightly by inconsistent songwriting and an overabundance of interlude tracks. For their sophomore effort, Wardens of the West Wind, the band has ditched the conceptual approach, which has resulted in an album that’s all killer with absolutely zero filler.

In many ways this seems like a much different band than the one that released Shadows Over Lothadruin, even though their only new member is ex-Labyrinth bassist Cristiano Bertocchi. The prog leanings are still there in bursts, but on the whole this is largely a symphonic power metal album, with faster, heavier and more immediately gripping songs than their debut. At times the Symphony X influence still shines through, but for the most part this album is much more similar to bands like Rhapsody of Fire and Dragonland. While the musicianship was already strong on their debut, on this release it has improved quite dramatically, with everything sounding fantastic, from the explosive guitars and drums, to the epic keyboards and orchestrations, and even the folk instruments which appear on and off throughout many of the tracks.

The area where Wind Rose has improved the most, though, is in the songwriting department, and it starts with the lack of filler. This time around, there’s a very nice intro, as well as the ecellent folk interlude “The Slave and the Empire”, which serves as a very effective lead in for one massive barn burner of a song in “Spartacus”. Aside from those two brief instrumental tracks, the rest of the album features eight full length songs, and each one delivers instant satisfaction. The opener “Age of Conquest” is one I suspect will possibly be my most played song of 2015, when the year is over. From the opening choral section to the explosive first verse, the song comes storming out of the gate, and then the chorus hits for the first time, in all its glory, followed by a surprisingly heavy riff, and then the song turns into a progressive symphonic power metal epic that rivals the very best of them. One thing this track demonstrates is that even though this album has some unbelievably catchy choruses, the songwriting is quite advanced, as even a seemingly straight-forward song like this one goes through several transformations throughout, and it’s made all the more awesome for it. While this track has proven to be my favorite, the rest of the album certainly isn’t far behind.

Another area of improvement instantly showcased on “Age of Conquest” is the vocals. I liked Francesco Cavalieri on their debut, but on this album he sounds much stronger and more powerful than he did before. He has a gruff voice, but with the ability to put in some extra touch when in needed, somewhat similar to Russell Allen. The vocal melodies in general are simply spectacular, and he performs everything effortlessly, from the more aggressive vocals at the start of “The Breed of Durin”, to the more melodic vocals on tracks like “Heavenly Minds” and “Skull and Crossbones”, to the just plain epic vocals found throughout most of the album. Even more impressive are the choir vocals, which are at times operatic, but many times they sound more like big group chants. The harmonies are all performed flawlessly, and greatly enhance the music, standing out as one of my favorite features on an already amazing album.

As much as I love the opener, “The Breed of Durin” is almost as impressive, and is another song that explodes at the beginning, with an epic speedy opening verse that hooks the listener in instantly, and then takes it to the next level with another unforgettable chorus, and some pretty awesome surprises in the second half. Tracks like “Heavenly Minds”, “Ode to the West Wind” and “Born in the Cradle of Storms” are more progressive, and rely more on the keyboards and orchestrations. For the most part, these tracks are more subdued, but the melodies are simply fantastic, and they each have frequent tempo changes to liven things up. The latter two in particularly get more and more impressive as they go along. Rounding out the songs, we have two more instant winners: “Spartacus” has perhaps the most epic choral vocals on the album as well as some of the best orchestrations, while “Rebel and Free” has the strongest use of folk melodies, complete with Francesco sounding more like a folk singer on that one song, and doing an excellent job of it.

I have to admit: I never saw this one coming. I saw great potential in Wind Rose on their debut, but with Wardens of the West Wind they have upped their game to unexpected levels, all the while delivering an epic symphonic power metal album that quite frankly crushes anything offered up by other bands in the genre last year. I can’t give anything but the highest of recommendations to any fans of symphonic power metal or progressive power metal, as this album is simply fantastic, and I feel confident in saying it will be at least in my top 5 albums at the end of 2015.

(originally written for myglobalmind.com: http://myglobalmind.com/2015/01/09/wind-rose-wardens-of-the-west-wind-review/)

ALPHA TIGER iDentity

Album · 2015 · Power Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
Time Signature
Shut up and think...

Genre: US-oriented power metal

Sifting through one cheesy European power metal band after the other, I finally found a release by a European power metal band - more specifically the German outfit Alpha Tiger - to look forward to. And, mind you, I'm European myself, so I can hate on that shit all I want.

Anyway, Alpha Tiger's 2015-album "iDentity" drops right into the basked of power metal that I like - that is, non-cheesy US power metal with elements of traditional metal. The relatively upbeat track, 'Lady Liberty' sets things straight from the get go, while 'Scripted Reality' is heavier but no less melodic. 'Long Way of Redemption' explores the transition zone between traditional metal and hard rock and is catchy as hell. The title track along with 'We Won't Take It Anymore' and 'This World Will Burn', while more metallic, are equally melodic, and there are bursts of Queensrÿche-inspired progressive metal in 'Revolution in Progress'. 'Closer than Yesterday' is a pretty decent power ballad

Come to think of it, the reason I like this power metal album is perhaps that there's not a lot of power metal to it after all, even though the band is widely accepted as a power metal act. The most power metal-oriented track is probably 'Shut Up & Think', which is actually a pretty good song with lots of dynamic and an attractive use of guitar harmonies. Actually, there is more traditional metal on this album than power metal. And the power metal elements to be heard are, as mentioned, more oriented towards US power metal. Ah, well, that explains that.

The musicianship and songwriting skills documented on this album are very solid, and in particular Stephan Dietrich's vocals which are akin to a young Geoff Tate and at times perform complex melodies not unlike John Arch or Tom Mallicoat (without maintaining the level of complexity that those two singers are known for). The production is kind of retro without being lo-fi, and that suits the music pretty well.

'iDentity' is a very strong album, which should appeal to fans of early Queensrÿche, Lethal, Iron Maiden, and Vicious Rumors.

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
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
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
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
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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