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
  • IMPF2112

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power metal Music Reviews

KOBRA AND THE LOTUS Kobra and the Lotus

Album · 2012 · Power Metal
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Unitron
Kobra and the Lotus-Kobra and the Lotus

Kobra and the Lotus is a fairly new band, with this being their first album with their more Power metal-oriented sound as opposed to their first album which followed a more traditional sound.

The music is full of heavy speed metal riffs and amazing double bass work. This isn't just power metal though, there are also elements of traditional heavy metal and symphonic metal. The symphonic influence is most heard in the closing song 'Aria of Karmika'. The song 'Forever One' is another stand-out track, having plenty of crunching guitar riffs and really putting the 'power' in power metal. There are softer moments at times though, with the beautiful piano intro of 'Sanctuary' before the heavy guitar comes in. My personal favorite would probably be 'Nayana (Eyes)', I love the chorus in that song. 'Welcome to My Funeral' is another standout song and favorite, with the amazing cymbal work at the beginning.

Kobra Paige's vocals are among the most amazing I've heard in metal. Her vocals really have a traditional metal feel, reminding me of what a female Rob Halford or James Rivera would sound like. Paige's vocals are at one of the strongest moments on 'No Rest for the Wicked' with her lower vocals perfectly complimenting the shredding guitar at the start. The lyrics are strong as well, being about dark fantasy themes.

Overall, this album is definitely one of my favorite power metal albums of all time. I highly recommend this album for any fans of power metal, and I think it's a true metal masterpiece.

Hope you found this review helpful.

Feel free to leave a comment!

SEVEN THORNS II

Album · 2014 · Power Metal
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DippoMagoo
Despite the misleading name, II is actually the third full length album by Danish power metal band Seven Thorns. Actually, the name does make sense because drummer Lars Borup is the only original member left in the band, while vocalist Gustav Blide is the only current member who wasn't also in the lineup for their 2010 album Return To The Past, so it really is the second album for most of this lineup. There was a self-released promotional edition in 2013, but the album was officially released in March 2014 by German label Sonic Revolution.

I had seen their previous work described as being similar to German band Freedom Call, though I honestly don't hear many similarities between the two, at least not on this album. True, this album definitely comes from the more epic side of the genre, and keyboards are certainly prominent throughout, but the guitars pack more of a punch than on anything the aforementioned band has done, and on a technical level the instrumental sections here are far more complicated and more impressive. There's a very strong neoclassical influence to the music, both from the guitars and especially the keyboards, and there are many extended solo sections which are all fantastic. In fact, the keyboard solos in particular often remind me of Stratovarius keyboardist Jens Johansson, which is certainly not a compliment to be taken lightly.

Aside from being very technically proficient for a power metal band, Seven Thorns are also very good at writing catchy songs. As much as I can praise the solo sections, fans of simple, straight-forward power metal are likely to love this album, as with one exception the songs are all very fast paced, with a focus on epic, catchy melodies above complex arrangements. In fact, there are times when I feel the band is capable of doing a little more and going a bit further with their instrumental sections, maybe even adding some progressive elements, but the choruses are all so memorable, and the performances so energetic that I can't fault them for sticking to a simple power metal sound. At the same time, even I have to admit the instrumental sections are often the highlights of the songs.

One thing that stands out about II is Gustav Blide's vocals. He has a very distinct low pitched voice, with just a slight growl to it at points. There are some occasions where he seems to be having a hard time hitting the notes, but for the most part he gives a very powerful and very energetic performance, plus his voice is so awesome that even if he isn't technically the greatest singer, he's still a lot of fun to listen to. Songs like Eye Of The Storm and Queen Of Swords do the best job of showing off his voice, without exposing any of his weaknesses.

Those two songs are probably my favorites, though Redemption has a fantastic chorus, and Night Of Temptation has some insane keyboard work at the beginning, in a section which especially reminds me of something Jens Johansson would do. Even the 82 second intro track has some impressive instrumental work. The only weak track here is the ballad You're Not Brave (If You Are Not Scared). I tend to like ballads more than most metal fans, but even I think this song is just way too cheesy, and some of the lyrics are downright cringe inducing, though Gustav does his best to make it work, and the guitar solo is of course excellent, so even though it's the weak link of the album, it still isn't too bad.

Aside from one misstep and a production job that feels a bit rough around the edges, II is an excellent power metal album, and Seven Thorns are certainly a band to watch out for, both for fans of catchy, melodic power metal and fans of great neoclassical instrumental sections. A high tier 4.0 rating is well deserved.

83/100

(Originally written for Heavy Metal Haven: http://metaltube.freeforums.org/seven-thorns-ii-t3406.html)

DYNAZTY Renatus

Album · 2014 · Power Metal
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DippoMagoo
Renatus (2014) is the fourth full length album from Swedish hard rock and melodic metal band Dynazty. It marks the beginning of a new era for the band in a few different ways: It's their first album released by Spinefarm Records, the first album they've self-produced, and it's also their first album with new bassist Jonathan Olsson.

The biggest change, however, is with the music itself. Those paying close to attention to the first paragraph and the heading should notice some seemingly contradictory information, specifically in regards to their genre. See, Dynazty are generally described as being a hard rock/heavy metal band, with even some occasional glam metal elements, and based on hearing samples of Sultans Of Sin (2012), I think that description is fairly accurate. At least until now. Those samples contained some very melodic vocal sections and occasional speedy tempos, and it seems the band enjoyed those aspects of their music enough to make a full album based around them, and so what we have with Renatus is a modern power metal album, and what an impressive one it is! The melodies are fantastic, the choruses are extremely infectious, and almost every song charges full speed ahead with great double bass drumming.

I could stop there and this would already be an amazing album worthy of a strong recommendation, but there's actually plenty more to discuss. Listeners are instantly greeted by some rather rough and heavy riffs, as well as some very modern sounding keyboards, which are both important factors on the intense prog infused opener Cross The Line. Yes, indeed, as well as changing to a power metal sound Dynazty have also added in some occasional prog elements, with a heavy and very powerful guitar sound that often reminds me of Symphony X, especially on the follow up track Starlight, which features some awesome guitar work during the verses before completely taking flight and speeding up for the first of many epic, unforgettable choruses on the album. The previously mentioned keyboards also add a bit of flavor to the music at points, but this is still mostly a guitar driven album, so one shouldn't expect the keyboards to dominate any of the songs.

Another important part of the band's sound is vocalist Nils Molin, who has an absolutely perfect voice for this style of music (granted, he sounded great in the little I heard of their old style as well). He has a rough and very powerful voice that greatly enhances the more aggressive sections, but on the speedier and more melodic sections he has a very clear tone and his voice sounds absolutely stunning during these sections, especially on the choruses. Along with Brainstorm's Andy B. Franck, I'd say so far Nils has given one of my two favorite vocal performances of 2014.

This is an album that relies strongly on its melodies, which deliver time and time again, but it does have some impressive instrumental sections as well, and in general the guitars, keyboards and drums all sound amazing throughout. Songs like The Northern End and Unholy Deterrent change up the tempo a bit and do an excellent job of displaying the more progressive side of the music, while instant scorchers like Starlight, Dawn Of Your Creation and Incarnation go full speed ahead and are the type of epic, feel good experiences that show why power metal is my favorite genre. In case all those songs weren't good enough, right near the end the bands pulls up one last ace in the 7 minute epic Salvation. From the calm and beautiful intro through to the glorious final reprise of the chorus, it's the exact type of song that will always make me smile and get excited no matter what kind of mood I was in before listening to it, and Nils takes it to such a high level that I'd even call it my favorite song of 2014 up to this point.

I'm known to give very positive album ratings more often than most, and while part of that is because everything I love about music is actually at its strongest this generation compared to in any previous generation (modern production values are almost a must for me to fully enjoy an album), once in a while an album like Renatus will come along and impress me more than just about anything else I listen to, in such a way that I simply can't stop listening to it. I can't find any fault here whatsoever, and so I don't even have to think twice about giving it a perfect score.

100/100

(Originally written for Heavy Metal Haven: http://metaltube.freeforums.org/dynazty-renatus-t3429.html)

HELLOWEEN Keeper of the Seven Keys Part 2

Album · 1988 · Power Metal
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floflo79
After the wonderful first part of the adventures of the keeper of the seven keys, every metal fan wants to listen to the second part. And it's just excellent. From the epic "Eagle Fly Free" to the beautiful "March Of Time", every song are good. There's also the awesome thirteen minutes epic "Keeper Of The Seven Keys" who is just pure metal, and also fun compositions like "Rise And Fall" or the very cool Dr Stein. This is just a masterpiece of metal and one of the greatest power metal albums of all time. This is the album who put Hellowen from good band to legend of metal.

HELLOWEEN Keeper of the Seven Keys Part 1

Album · 1987 · Power Metal
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floflo79
Before all the bands like DragonForce, Sonata Artica or Hammerfall, the power begins with Helloween and his marvelous Keeper Of The Seven Keys. After their first albums who were more speed and thrash, they come with a more melodic and power album : Keeper Of The Seven Keys Part I. With fast songs like I'm Alive or Twilight Of The Gods, epic songs like the great Future World or some lenghty but perfect songs (the spectacular Halloween). Some songs are less good like A Little Time or A Tale That Wasn't Right. There's also the introduction Initation and the outro "Follow The Sign" with his whispered words. This album is almost perfect and it's just a wonderful trip. There's just one thing that we can say after that : I want to see the part Two !

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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