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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 GenresMelodic 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:
Album · 2001 ·
The German Melodic Power Metal band Freedom Call’s second full-length studio album, 2001’s Crystal Empire, feels very much like a continuation of their seminal debut album Stairway To Fairyland. Its got the same thunderous double-kicks, the same joyous uplifting choruses and the same tasteful lead guitar lines. Once again it was produced by Charlie Bauerfeind, who has worked with almost every Power Metal great you’d care to name.
Mainman Chris Bay has a tremendous vocal skill with a huge range, a lot of power and a real ear for melody… and that’s on top of the already excellent musical skills. The effortless sounding guitar lines stick in your head, the occasional chunky riffs that break things up, these things really elevate the album from just another face in the crowd to something noteworthy.
If you are into bands like Stratovarius, Blind Guardian, Edguy, Hammerfall or especially Gamma Ray and Helloween (and this album does feature guitar from Helloween’s Sacha Gerstner and drums from Gamma Ray’s Dan Zimmermann) then Freedom Call are a band that are seriously worth checking out. They are talented, passionate and consistent. They deliver exactly what you want… happy sounding Power Metal full of melody, bombast and mythical lyrics. The band have been described before as the world’s happiest sounding Power Metal band so you can imagine a sort of ballpark sound from that description alone.
Compared to their debut, this is a pretty similar affair. Its slightly more polished, slightly less complex and more commercial, but more or less in the exact same style, which is good news as their debut was absolutely fantastic. Clear production, excellent musicianship, stellar vocals and a general consistency and lack of weak tracks make this an essential purchase for anyone interested in the band. Add to that some genuinely enjoyable songs and you’ve got a bit of a rager on your hands.
Overall; if you like the band, get this album. If you haven’t heard the band but might like to, try this album. Highlights include: The concert baiting ‘Farewell,’ as well as the hugely enjoyable trio of ‘Call Of Fame,’ ‘Ocean’ and ‘Palace Of Fantasy.’ Check these out if you want to hear what the album is like.
Album · 1998 ·
The Finnish Power Metal legends Stratovarius released their seventh full-length album, Destiny, on Noise Records in 1998. It was produced by the band’s own mastermind guitarist Timo Tolkki. The album feels a little overlooked within the band’s discography, wedged as it is comfortably between the much more famous Visions and Infinite albums from ’97 and 2000.
This album, stylistically is more or less exactly what you’d expect for an album wedged between those albums. You have things on here that bring to mind your ‘Black Diamond’s and things that bring to mind your ‘Hunting High And Low’s. If you can imagine a halfway point between those two albums this one is a pretty close resemblance to that halfway point. There is also quite a notable Queensryche influence on this one (on a few tracks), which isn’t there so much on other Stratovarius records, making Destiny stand out a bit.
If I was to describe the album, the immediate words that come to mind are ‘Toe-Tapping’ which might not exactly sound like what you want from a Heavy Metal album but I mean it in the most complimentary way possible (maybe the toe tapping is just air-drumming the kick pedals?) as the songs are so pleasant, catchy and enjoyable. They are the definition of smooth, easily digestible Melodic European Power Metal, delightfully topped with Jens Johansson’s distinctive keyboard skills. There are some progressive moments and inventive structures on there sure, but a large majority of the record is just that simple, clean, melodic and driving style of the best Stratovarius singles. It’s a remarkably consistent and high quality affair where no song is too obnoxious, there are no moments that feel too cheesy and nothing that feels like a ‘skip-button-magnet.’ (On other Stratovarius records, some rare things give me very itchy fingers, like the intro to ‘Pappillion’ for example).
Highlights here include the ten-minute Title Track, the catchy single ‘S.O.S’ and the very catchy bonus track ‘Dream With Me’ if its on your edition. If you want to have an idea of the album’s overall sound try those on for size before buying. Another very noteworthy track is the more sombre ‘4,000 Rainy Nights’ in which Timo Kotipelto does his best Empire-era Geoff Tate impression.
Overall; Stratovarius have more famous albums, they have albums with bigger highlights and from which more of the concert setlists are generated, but Destiny is one of their most solid, consistent and tasteful albums. It’s a great example of the band’s style and its full to the brim with catchy choruses, entertaining and flashy musicianship. If you like the band, don’t miss out on this excellent record.
Album · 2015 ·
Over the past few years Belgian guitarist/songwriter Dushan Petrossi has had great success with his heavy/power metal band Iron Mask, and for a while it seemed he was focusing all his attention on that one group, much to the disappointment of fans of his other highly regarded project Magic Kingdom. After releasing the massively entertaining but also greatly flawed third album Symphony of War, an album somewhat plagued by over ambition, it seemed the project had been put on hold for a while, potentially forever, but recently Dushan decided to continue with it, and so fans can now finally look forward a fourth album, titled Savage Requiem. After several listens, I can say it’s certainly worth the wait.
While both bands initially had a similar sound, recent years have seen Dushan branch out into more of a hard rock/traditional heavy metal infused sound with his Iron Mask albums, leaving much of the neoclassical elements behind, and even cutting somewhat on the epic power metal. Seeing as these two elements were always the main focus of Magic Kingdom, to continue in such a direction with this band would have likely been considered a big disappointment. Thankfully, that is not the case, as Savage Requiem feels like a nice mix between the the epic neoclassical power metal sound of Dushan’s earlier albums and the darker, heavier sound he brought on his fourth Iron Mask album Black as Death.
Indeed, there is something for everyone on this album. Fans of earlier Magic Kingdom albums have plenty of fun and upbeat tracks to look forward to, with tons of epic neoclassical flourishes and long instrumental passages where Dushan goes all out. The increased symphonic elements from Symphony of War are also very much present throughout. My personal favorite track here is “Ship of Ghosts”, an extremely fun and up tempo track where partway through he breaks out into Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy”, which is pretty epic. Other tracks such as “Full Moon Sacrifice” and the title track showcase a much darker and heavier sound, very similar to Black as Death, though the melodies dominate throughout, and even the heavier tracks have epic choruses and symphonic arrangements.
One thing I was concerned about coming in was new vocalist Christian Palin. I had heard him before on Epicrenel’s 2013 debut The Crystal Throne, and to me he sounded very awkward on that album, struggling to hit the right notes and just generally seeming at odds with the grand and epic sound that band was going for. Well, on Savage Requiem I am much more impressed with Christian as he has a very strong and powerful voice that fits the heavier passages perfectly, complete with some occasional growls, such as at the end of “Full Moon Sacrifice”. He sings in a lower register most of the time, and even when he sings more cleanly, his voice sounds much smoother and more natural than it did on the Epicrenel album, allowing the as always outstanding vocal melodies to fully shine through.
After the mandatory (but fairly solid) intro track, album opener “Guardian Angels” slowly builds up momentum with a long but effective extended instrumental intro, before fully speeding up and turning into one of the better tracks on the album. This track basically shows off the full array of sounds you can expect throughout, as it’s a mostly a fast paced power metal track with a huge chorus, but it also has strong symphonic arrangements, heavy riffs and a nice neoclassical instrumental section in the middle. Other speedier tracks include “Rivals Forever”, which starts out with a very harsh and sinister sounding guitar tone before dialling it back and turning into a typically super melodic track, “Four Demon Kings of Shadowlands”, an extremely addictive track with a great buildup at the start as well as an amazing chorus,“With Fire and Sword”, which is probably the most neoclassical flavoured track on the album, and the super catchy closing track “Battlefield Magic”.
I tend to prefer the above mentioned tracks, as they’re much closer to what I expect from Magic Kingdom, though the slower songs are well put together as well. The best of these is the title track, which starts out slow and brooding, with dark and heavy verses that plod along, but then the chorus comes along and really kicks things into high gear, with Christian giving easily his best performance on the album. Actually, if not for that brief instrumental brilliance on “Ship of Ghosts”, the title track would likely be my favorite on the album. My least favorite track is probably “Dragon Princess”. It’s a nice enough song, but I find it just doesn’t do anything that the other two slower tracks don’t do better, and it drags on a bit.
After five years of waiting, Magic Kingdom fans finally have a new album to be excited about, and Savage Requiem definitely delivers, combining the epic neoclassical power metal and symphonic power metal sound of past works, with an occasionally darker and more aggressive sound, resulting in what is by far my favorite album Dushan Petrossi has released since his second Iron Mask album.
(originally written for myglobalmind: http://myglobalmind.com/2015/04/09/magic-kingdom-savage-requiem-review/)
Album · 1999 ·
If you are at all interested in Melodic European Power Metal, then you seriously have to give Germany’s Freedom Call some attention. For anyone who’s bought Keeper Of The Seven Keys, Land Of The Free, Visions and Somewhere Far Beyond and is now wondering “Where Next?” I personally feel the answer is Stairway To Fairyland.
Stairway To Fairyland, as if you couldn’t already tell purely by that name, is the kind of super uplifting, happy sounding, positive, major key Power Metal that puts a smile on the listener’s face. The kind of thing that scowling naysayers would call Flower Metal. The kind of music that influenced the likes of Dragonforce. If any of that sounds good to you then you should get up on this album immediately.
The thunderous drums by Gamma Ray’s Dan Zimmermann, the tasteful pleasant guitar leads from Helloween’s Sascha Gerstner and the crystal clear production job from Power Metal Producer extraordinaire Charlie Bauerfeind (who’s worked with Angra, Blind Guardian, Primal Fear, Rage, HammerFall, Helloween and Gamma Ray) will have Power Metal enthusiast’s ears twitching with recognition and pleasure straight away. Add to that main-man Chris Bay’s immense vocal talents and brilliant attention to detail and you’ve got a serious recipe for success. The talent levels are through the ceiling.
What also makes this album great is that it isn’t just style over substance. The structuring and changes are so well thought out and the album really feels studied and brewed to perfection. There’s a feeling of craftsmanship and a better-than-the-sum-of-its-parts situation going on in a major way. There aren’t weak tracks, there aren’t weak sections and the band seem to be going for some sort of world record for most exciting choruses on a single album. Whether they achieve it is up to you, but it definitely seems like they’re doing their hardest to try.
Highlights include “Fairyland,” “We Are One” and the smile-guarantee that is the opener “Over The Rainbow.” If you wonder whether you should pick this album up, give one of those tracks a shot.
Overall; Look at the album artwork, look at the title for goodness sakes, then look at the pedigree of the creative team. If all of that is sending positive signals to your brain then dive in with both feet! If someone asked me to point them towards the happiest Metal album I’d ever heard I’d steer them in this direction. Stairway To Fairyland is a fun, satisfying, happy little fifty-five minutes of pure entertainment. It is remarkably consistent, extremely well-constructed and masterfully delivered. It flows perfectly. I fully and enthusiastically recommend anyone who is into even one of the other bands mentioned above to give this album a priority listen.
Movie · 2013 ·
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.
Movie · 1997 ·
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