Power Metal

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Introduction

Power Metal is one of the sub-genres of heavy metal music that first appeared during the 1980's, drawing influence from traditional heavy metal, especially the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, and speed metal. The term power metal actually refers to two different but closely related metal styles, nowadays known as US/American Power Metal (USPM) and European Power Metal (or Melodic Power Metal), named after the geographic regions in which the styles originated. Artists from either place are not tied down to playing that particular kind of power metal of course, such as the US band Kamelot who play the European style, while there are also artists from other countries who play power metal such as Brazil's Angra and Japan's Galneryus. These days power metal bands come from many places and have many different styles, documented further on. This page primarily deals with the European brand of power metal, with USPM placed under its own child sub-genre.

European Power Metal

Though it developed a little later than USPM, in the late 1980's, specifically Germany, the European, melodic power metal sound is no doubt what most first think of when the term power metal is mentioned. Indeed it is more distinct in sound than USPM, but features the same basic influences, with the key difference to USPM being that European power metal draws more heavily on the speed metal influences rather than traditional heavy metal ones. Indeed in the late 1980's power metal was instead referred to as melodic speed metal.

European power metal is widely credited to have been started by Germany's Helloween in 1987 with the release of their Keeper of the Seven Keys Part I album. Prior to that, Helloween had been a speed metal band. Blind Guardian, another popular German power metal act, had similar roots while other bands such as Grave Digger started more in the traditional heavy metal vein. Others like Running Wild blended both before becoming power metal bands later in their careers. Compared to USPM European power metal acts often feature keyboards, catchy lyrics and are generally less hard hitting, though the German scene is quite notable for its additional heaviness. Popular power metal acts from other countries include Italy's Rhapsody of Fire, Finland's Stratovarius and Sweden's Sabaton.

Sub-genres of Power Metal

Aside from the standard USPM and European power metal styles, there are a number of different sub-genres, or hybrid genres in some cases, of power metal that have since developed.

Symphonic Power Metal: A style of power metal typically only applicable to the European sound, symphonic power metal increases the use of keyboards to create a symphonic backing, drawing on classical music. The use of symphonic elements in such bands can vary greatly with some artists using them as a main element of their sound, such as Rhapsody of Fire, while some merely use symphonic elements to flavour their music, such as Avantasia. Symphonic power metal releases are always placed under power metal on MMA.

Heavy Power Metal: Not to be confused with USPM, which is closer to traditional heavy metal to begin with, this refers to a hybrid of European power metal with traditional heavy metal. Bands are typically less speed orientated than pure melodic power metal acts. HammerFall is a heavy power metal act from Sweden while Nightmare are from France. Some artists which fall into this category featured a harder hitting, more aggressive sound, such as Grave Digger of Germany, but are still considered to belong to the European power metal genre rather than USPM. They are included under power metal on MMA, although some such artists have also made albums more directly rooted in traditional heavy metal and have those tagged accordingly. Some of the older heavy power metal acts, including Grave Digger and Nightmare, started as heavy metal acts before adding power metal into their sounds later in their careers.

Folk Power Metal: The folk metal as a genre can take its metal elements from almost any other metal genre going, including power metal. Elvenking and Falconer are folk power metal bands. They are typically included under folk metal on MMA, but with cases such as Falconer where folk influences are normally minimal per album, they are included under power metal instead. Additionally some power metal artists, especially Blind Guardian but also Grave Digger, have utilised folk influences in their music.

Power-Thrash: A hybrid of power metal and thrash metal, which can be considered sister genres due to both evolving from speed metal. The so called blue collar USPM can also be considered to be power-thrash but the term typically refers to European power metal mixed with thrash metal, although the early work of Iced Earth is considered to be power-thrash. The mix of elements can vary even within the same artist with some being primarily power metal and others primarily thrash metal. As well as Iced Earth, Dark Empire and Paradox have also released power-thrash albums, while some power metal bands have included thrash metal elements in their sound in smaller amounts, such as Seven Kingdoms and Persuader. Power-thrash artists are treated on a case by case basis on MMA, for example Tales of the Weird (2012) by Paradox is placed under thrash metal, but The Fateful dark (2014) by Savage Messiah is placed under power metal.

Progressive Power Metal: Drawing influences from progressive rock and metal music as well as power metal of either the European or US variety, these acts are typically included under power metal on MMA, such as Pyramaze and Kamelot. The exception is when an artist’s progressive influences become the most recognisable thing about their sound. Illusion Suite is an example of such a progressive power metal act. Vandroya and Wuthering Heights are progressive power metal bands, the latter of which also being classifiable under folk power metal.

Neo-classical Power Metal: Melodic power metal that uses neo-classical guitar playing for its lead guitar parts. Magic Kingdom and Concerto Moon are neo-classical power metal acts, while other power metal acts such as Amberian Dawn and At Vance have incorporated aspects of neo-classical metal into their sounds. As there is no neo-classical metal sub on MMA all such acts are placed under power metal by default, while non-power metal based neo-classical acts are typically placed under traditional heavy metal, or sometimes progressive metal, with which there can also be crossover, as with Symphony X.

Extreme Power Metal: This particular sub-genre combines power metal with melodic death metal and covers artists such as Children of Bodom, the first album of Wintersun and to a lesser extent the first album from Seven Kingdoms. Extreme power metal typically features power metal music but with primarily growling vocals rather than power metal’s traditional clean singing. Such artists are treated with a case by case basis as to their placement on MMA. The genre is sometimes also called Power-Death.

Power Metal Inclusive Genres

Melodic Metal is sometimes included under Power Metal but usually under Traditional Heavy Metal. Melodic metal features a presence of melody akin to European power metal but lacks the focus on speed. Many melodic metal releases tend to use some actual power metal elements as well as hard rock and sometimes other genres. An example of a melodic metal release that is placed under power metal instead of traditional heavy metal is Arven's Black is the Colour (2013).

- Written by adg211288 (April 2013)

Sub-genre collaborators (shared with US Power Metal & Neoclassical Metal):
  • DippoMagoo (leader)
  • adg211288
  • Sisslith

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power metal Music Reviews

RUNNING WILD Black Hand Inn

Album · 1994 · Power Metal
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SilentScream213
Naysayers might have been claiming Metal was dead by 1994, but Running Wild were running strong and delivering cut after cut of rough, nautical Power Metal. Black Hand Inn was just another notch in their belts in consistently quality releases. This one is much faster than the previous Pile of Skulls, reclaiming more of their original Speed Metal influence and keeping with their developed brand of Heavy/Power Metal.

The songs are what you’d expect, a nice middle ground between aggressive German Heavy Metal and melodic Euro Power Metal. Most songs are speedy and soaring, but they’ve got room for slower fist pumpers as well. I prefer when they go full speed ahead, but that’s not to say the slower songs aren’t quality Heavy Metal.

The album is probably their longest yet, ending on a 15-minute epic. The length seems daunting, but every time I put it on, it flies by pretty quickly; a testament to the consistent quality throughout.

SONATA ARCTICA Silence

Album · 2001 · Power Metal
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lukretion
Sonata Arctica’s debut album Ecliptica left a very positive impression on me so I was looking forward to listening to the Finnish band’s follow-up record released two years later in 2001. By and large, Silence confirms the strong qualities of the Finnish combo: strong talent, a great ear for melodies and a touch of originality in a genre (that of power metal) that already at the time was in great need of fresh oxygen. However, Silence is slightly less accomplished than its predecessor. It is more formulaic, slightly less exuberant, and replete with one too many unexceptional songs that in the end bog down the overall listening experience.

The basic coordinates of Sonata Arctica’s sound remain neoclassical metal (Rainbow, Dio, Yngwie Malmsteen) and Scandinavian/German power metal (Stratovarius, Helloween). The Finns, however, also bring in some slightly unusual influences, like a penchant for 80s pomp/arena rock and for gothic metal (HIM / Sentenced). While the former adds both grit and melodicism to the songs, the latter conveys a sense of melancholy that is not very common in power metal records. This mixture of influences and styles contributes to make Sonata Arctica’s music interesting and relatively fresh compared to other bands in the genre. The Finns also stand out thanks to their superior sense of melody, which allows them to pen some incredibly catchy and memorable songs. The five musicians are clearly talented, with singer Tony Kakko and guitarist Jani Liimatainen showing particularly impressive chops throughout the album.

Although there are multiple songs on this album that I find pleasant and interesting, there are also a lot of tracks that feel fairly uninspired to the point of coming across as “filler” material. There are also many tracks that are played very fast and straight, losing a lot of the nuance that had characterized the best moments of the debut album. Songs like “Weballergy”, “False News Travel Fast”, “San Sebastian”, “Wolf & Raven” do not leave any lasting impression on me and come across as throwaway songs, written without giving too much thought to arrangement or song development. Losing some of these weaker tracks would have definitely benefitted the album, which is too long and tends to drag a little as one gets midway through the tracklist.

Another problem is the relative lack of variety in the material. There are two types of songs on this album: soft ballads (“Last Drop Falls”, “Tallulah”) and bulletspeed power metal belters (almost everything else, really). I miss the richer texture of the debut album, where there were more moody mid-tempos and oddball songs in which Sonata Arctica dared experimenting with tempo changes and unusual song structures. With the exception of “The End of This Chapter” and “Sing in Silence”, everything on this album feels played much safer and “by the book”, which overall fails to recapture the freshness, enthusiasm and foolhardiness of the debut.

Overall, Silence is a slightly disappointing sophomore effort for Sonata Arctica. Not much because the objective quality of the music is inferior to the debut, but rather because the music on this record feels less inspired and more formulaic compared to the previous album. Nevertheless, if you liked Ecliptica (and are a fan of the genre, overall) you will most likely find a lot to like on this LP too.

SONATA ARCTICA Ecliptica

Album · 1999 · Power Metal
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lukretion
Back in the mid/late 1990s, power metal bands were sprouting like mushrooms all over Europe. Sonata Arctica were part of that trend, but differently from many other bands that came and went in the blink of an eye, the Finnish combo was destined to stay. Listening to Ecliptica, their first LP released in 1999, I can understand why. Still today this record sounds superior to a lot of power metal released back then as well as today.

The secret of Sonata Arctica’s success boils down to two key factors: originality and talent. Originality is a big word in the power metal world, where countless band are mere clones of countless other clones. I am not going to lie: Sonata Arctica find plenty of inspiration in the neoclassical metal of bands like Rainbow and Yngwie Malmsteen’s Rising Force, filtered through the aesthetics of their countrymen Stratovarius as well as German acts like Helloween and Gamma Ray. Yet, there are also a couple of unusual influences that emerge here and there in the sound of the Finns that, ultimately, help them differentiate from all the other bands that also grew in the footsteps of dad Malmsteen and grandad Blackmore. The first unusual influence is a quaint taste for the melodic approach of pomp / arena rock bands like Europe or Royal Hunt that is particularly apparent on tracks like “My Land”, “Kingdom for a Heart” and “FullMoon”. These tracks strike a great balance between grit and melody, ballsy speed and symphonic sophistication, like in the best pomp rock/metal tradition. The other unusual influence lies in the melancholic aura that pervades a lot of the material of the album and that brings to mind the gothic aesthetics of Sonata Arctica’s countrymen HIM and Sentenced.

While these subtle twists to the trite power metal formula are decisive to retain my interest throughout the duration of the album, the other reason why I grew addicted to Ecliptica is the incredible talent of the band, particularly their frontman Tony Kakko and their guitarist Jani Liimatainen. The latter is a funambulist of the six strings, speedy but at the same time exquisitely melodic, as the best neoclassic metal guitar players. The true star of Sonata Arctica, though, is his vocalist Tony Kakko, who here also plays keyboards. Actually, his keyboard playing is very remarkable, and the instrument plays a major role in the arrangements and songwriting of the material on Ecliptica. His voice is equally remarkable, richly melodic and with an impressive range. Guitars, keyboards and vocals carry some truly inspired and memorable melodies throughout the album, peaking in songs like “Blank File”, “My Land”, “FullMoon”, the beautiful ballad “Letter to Dana” and “Picturing the Past”. The rhythmic section is less impressive, with the bass barely audible (no surprise here, this is a trademark of so many power metal albums of the time) and doublebass drums going at breakneck speed with little room for expressive playing (no surprise here either).

The album contains a good variety of material, from ultra-fast songs like “Blank File”, “8th Commandment” and “UnOpened”, to moody mid-tempos (“My Land”, “FullMoon”), to languid ballads (“Replica”, “Letter to Dana”), to semi-progressive epics like “Destruction Preventer”. In a few cases the band show an ambition to stretch beyond the mere verse/chorus structure, exploring tempo changes and slightly more articulated structures, like on “My Land”, “FullMoon” and “Destruction Preventer”.

The playing is exuberant and the band’s enthusiasm is contagious, which contributes to make Ecliptica a highly enjoyable album. Add to this some unusually interesting lyrics (at least for the genre), sparing us of yet another knights & dragons story to focus instead on deeper psychological and existential questions, and we have a pretty solid album through and through. The only weakness lies perhaps in the overall sound, which is fairly thin and dry especially when it comes to drums and guitar tone, and that one has to chalk down to low budget and inexperience. Overall, though, this is a great power metal album that rightly received a lot of attention at the time it was released, quickly but deservingly projecting Sonata Arctica at the forefront of the power metal scene.

RHAPSODY OF FIRE Power Of The Dragonflame

Album · 2002 · Power Metal
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lukretion
Since 2000’s Dawn of Victory, Italian power metal heavyweights Rhapsody had started to shred the symphonic influences off their music, veering towards a more traditional neoclassic power metal sound. Released in 2002, Power of the Dragonflame takes a further step in this direction, to the point that this is probably the heaviest and darkest of the five albums released by the band since their inception.

Things start off fast and powerful after the obligatory choral intro. “Knightrider of Doom” showcases all the best qualities of Rhapshody, from the thunderous rhythmic section, to the fast yet melodic riffs of mastermind Luca Turilli, to the spectacular vocals that climax in an epic chorus sustained by heroic backing vocals. The classical and acoustic instrumentation that one can find on Rhapsody’s earlier albums play a lesser role here as on the rest of the album. The Baroque overtones are also less prominent and as a result the album feels more direct and aggressive than the previous ones. At times, the influences of classic metal bands like Manowar surface quite prominently, like in the powerful “The March of the Swordmaster” or “When Demons Awake”. These tracks could have been lifted off Manowar’s epic album The Triumph of Steel and are among the best offerings of this record, albeit slightly derivative in sound.

Elsewhere, Rhapsody’s penchant for operatic drama shines in all their glory, like on the superb ballad “Lamento Eroico”. Sung entirely in Italian, this is probably the best ballad ever written by the band, with a style that conjugates the power of metal with the drama of opera, exploding in a majestic chorus that you’ll want to singalong to at full volume. There’s a slight dip in the album’s quality from this point on, which is only partly redeemed by the 19-minute long closing track “Gargoyles, Angels of Darkness”. As many other Rhapsody’s suites, this song presents highs and lows. It has a great acoustic intro that nicely develops into a more metallic section. However, things lose steam quickly afterwards and the over-acted narration that is woven around the sung parts eventually kills the song’s mood for me.

Yet, this is probably one of the most fun and straight up records from Rhapsody. It’s energetic and packs a hell of a punch, but it also has good melodies and great epic vibes. It’s a worthy conclusion to the Emerald Sword saga that the band had started on their debut album (although, believe me, you may want to ignore the lyrics because there is some Manowar-level cheesiness in there). The only problem with this album is that the steady progression towards a heavier and faster sound has progressively reduced the difference between Rhapsody and the rest of the classic/power metal scene. In fact, every time I spin this album my first reaction is to go and grab Manowar’s The Triumph of Steel. That’s not a bad thing necessarily, but it goes to show how Rhapsody’s sound has gradually grown derivative over the years.

RHAPSODY OF FIRE Rain Of A Thousand Flames

Album · 2001 · Power Metal
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lukretion
Rain of a Thousand Flames is now considered Rhapsody’s fourth full-length record, but when it came out in 2001 was advertised as a “specially priced album”. This was essentially an EP with the duration of a full album, and it was meant to work as an appetizer while fans were waiting for the “main course” Power of the Dragonflame that would be released only a few months later.

The new album continues in the direction that Rhapsody had taken on their third record Dawn of Victory. The music is faster and more aggressive, sacrificing the symphonic influences and classical/acoustic instrumentation in favour of a ballsier and more direct power metal sound that reminds me more of Manowar than Blind Guardian (the band that Rhapsody were frequently compared to at the beginning of their career). This is particularly evident on the title-track, a raging affair that does not give the listener a second to catch breath amidst relentless double-bass drumming, razor-sharp riffs, and shouted vocals.

The rest of the album continues in a similar vein, albeit “Queen of the Dark Horizons” is more melodic and features a bombastic chorus that brings me back to the band’s origins. In my opinion this is the best piece of the album, while the following suite “Rhymes of a Tragic Poem” that closes the album, is probably the lowest point of the record. I have always thought that Rhapsody are a bit hit-and-miss when it comes to lengthier, more complex compositions and “Rhymes of a Tragic Poem” proves the point. There is very little cohesion across the four tracks that form the suite and very little sense of song development. Moreover, large sections of these four tracks are ruined by the use of a narrator (Sir Jay Lansford). This was Rhapsody’s attempt at making their music more cinematic and filmscore-like, but the end result is fairly dismal. The acting is cringeworthy and the damn voiceover goes on for what seems like forever at the beginning of the suite, completely killing the mood.

Rain of a Thousand Flames is in my opinion the weakest chapter of the Emerald Sword saga that spans the band’s first 5 albums. It’s still worthy of your money if you are a completionist. Plus “Queen of the Dark Horizons” is a very good piece that would not have disfigured on Dawn of Victory, combining bombastic melodies and power in Rhapsody’s best tradition.

power metal movie reviews

HELLOWEEN United Alive

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BETO VÁZQUEZ INFINITY 15 Years Alive LTD Edition

Movie · 2016 · Power Metal
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m3g52
A year ago Beto Vazquez Infinity met its 15 years ... And gave us a feast with joy, good music and diversity. And now we have the fruit in a DVD accompanied with 2 CDs with all the live sound of this recital. The show presented in this DVD contains a section of his classics, then a middle section where all played more Prog Metal and left many open mouths and an end to all motor either energizing. The DVD and limited edition cd show impeccable quality. Everything is divided as follows: The first part of the show was the memories, issues conodcidos discography BVI, renewed and with new energy, with the voices of Caro Guedes, Vero Libre, Casti and Pereyra on a solid band. The band shows with ease, stressed this fact with good camera movements. The sound and picture quality gives a good sense of what was experienced in that reecital of celebration of 15 years. Then began the most difficult part in stage movement, instrumentation and personnel. Metal Prog most part, higher flight, which leaves more than one amazed. Flutes game, rhythm guitars, harp, saxophone and a chorus that vibrated in states of metal, prog and Ethnic ... The third part returns to the strength of metal with Devil Vision by Caro flawless interpretation of Guedes and choirs Nadia Mancini, a soprano who gives the exact support. A material that is worth having, especially if you want to discover Beto Vazquez Infinity, risky in a scene (the Argentina) where it is very difficult for independent bands to achieve, first that recital that is documented, much less achieve DVD + CD unsupported's the big distributors.

ANGRA Angels Cry: 20th Anniversary Tour

Movie · 2013 · Power Metal
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Kingcrimsonprog
Angels Cry 20th Anniversary Live is a 2013 concert Blu-ray by the Brazilian Progressive/Power Metal band Angra. It features the line-up with Italian singer Fabio Lione (ex-Labyrinth, Rhapsody of Fire) on vocals performing material from all eras of the discography passionately – with some interesting guest appearances including Tarja Turunen (ex- Nightwish), Uli Jon Roth (ex-Scorpions), Amilcar Christófaro (Torture Squad) and the Familia Lima string section.

This set has quite high production values. Visually; the thing is an absolute gem. Top notch image quality, great camera work with tasteful editing, and the actual stage show contains interesting video screens with eye catching imagery. Its all just great for the eyeballs, which is why you’re getting a video recording and not an audio recording anyway, right? Well this is totally worth every penny in the visual department.

Sonically, the recording is crystal clear. You can hear every single note, every different drum and cymbal. Its like a Rush concert or something – brilliant clarity and definition. The only thing that’s not absolutely perfect is that in the stereo mix, the rhythm guitar is not as heavy as some of the studio versions, but it is still a brilliant mix nonetheless. Best of all; The performance is beyond stellar; Fabio nails it recreating the band’s different singers’ work well and injects some of his own flair into the proceedings. The guitar solos are out of this world and the tireless drumming of Ricardo Confessori sounds great. Listening to and watching the interesting music is an absolute joy.

Highlights include the fantastic renditions of ‘Evil Warning,’ ‘Nothing To Say’ and the fantastic set closer ‘Nova Era.’ The enthusiastic São Paulo audience seem really into it.

Overall; Its an absolutely great concert DVD on a technical level, and better still it’s a great concert in and of itself. The line-up is strong, the setlist is great and the guest musicians add an extra layer of interest. I highly recommend this to fans of the band, fans of this end of the musical spectrum, and fans of good quality concert recordings. It would be an unquestionable treat for existing fans but would also work really well as a first purchase for newcomers

STRATOVARIUS Under Flaming Winter Skies - Live in Tampere

Movie · 2012 · Power Metal
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Kingcrimsonprog
Under Flaming Winter Skies, Live In Tampere is the first official concert Blu-Ray by the legendary Finnish Power Metal band Stratovarius. It was filmed in Tampere, Finland on the Jörg Michael farewell tour and as such the crowd interaction is in Finnish (with English subtitles) and Jörg gives the crowd a farewell speech. In part, the setlist is built around him, such as the inclusion of `Speed Of Light’ because it was the first song he ever played with the band… although to be fair they’d have probably played that anyway. The main feature lasts around 1hr 52mins and contains 22 tracks, which works out as 17 songs when you discount the intro, guitar solo, bass solo, keyboard solo and speech. There’s a Deep Purple (`Burn’) and The Who (`Behind Blue Eyes’) cover in there, as well as all the fan favourites you’d expect like `Eagleheart’ `Kiss Of Judas’ `Hunting High And Low’ `Paradise’ `Father Time’ `Black Diamond’ etc

The picture is absolutely fantastic, clear and sharp. Its helped a lot by a great but subtle stage show with intelligent use of lighting, and not too much dry ice as well as a tasteful and sensible editing job that is fast and contains enough movement to keep your interest but is slow and still enough so that you can appreciate the actual musicianship (of each member, as none are overlooked.)

The sound is even better with an absolutely crystal clear mix in which you can hear every stoke of every drum, each key get pressed (without the keys being too loud and overpowering the Metal) and every note the bass plays. The vocals are impressive and the crowd noise doesn’t overpower them, even though they sing almost every word and best of all, it all actually seems to be live and not obviously mimed or overdubbed (or indeed out-of-sync). In general, its just one of the best concert audio mixes that I’ve heard so far and very solid visually as well.

The biggest thing in this concert’s favour however is the sheer enthusiasm of the performance; the band are so into it and absolutely deliver on all levels. They are very interactive with the crowd, they interact with each other, Jörg twists and throws his sticks around, the guitars and mic stands are enthusiastically moved around and generally the band just look like they love being there.

In terms of extras; the booklet has a lot of high-quality photos and a little written interview with Jörg. The disc has a bonus 5.1 mix of the track `Elysium’ and there is a 29 minute documentary called `Rewinding From The Past To 2012.’ In terms of Blu-Ray Statistics; the screen format is 1080i/29,97/16:9(1,78:1) and the audio format is DTS HD MA 2.0/5.1 (although the documentary is only available in stereo), the disc format is BD-50 and the region code is: A/B/C.

Overall; this is an excellent, well made and masterfully performed concert Blu-Ray and I’d highly recommend it to anyone who’s into this sort of thing.

HELLOWEEN Helloween - High Live

Movie · 1997 · Power Metal
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Kingcrimsonprog
High Live is a concert DVD by the legendary German Power Metal band Helloween, recorded in Milan, Italy (and Gerona, Spain) in 1996 on the Time Of The Oath tour.

The main feature is a scorching 84-minute concert, in which an energetic and totally on-form band blast through a lot of material from Master Of The Rings and Time Of The Oath to an enthusiastic crowd. Just going off the performance, this is an absolute 5-star live album.

Songs like “Sole Survivor,” “Before The War” and “Power” sound absolutely blistering here, and I’d highly recommend checking it out on that basis. Andi’s vocals on his own material are absolutely excellent on this release, and Uli’s powerful, understated drumming absolutely kills.

There are a few downsides to the overall product however, such as the picture being a little soft and not the sharpest. The sound is pretty great in one way, and you really get that “live feel,” but you have to turn it up fairly loud for it to become clear, as things can sound a bit muddy on low volumes. Nothing show-destroying though.

The other potential downside is that at the end of some songs, it stops, when they cut to the other concert (eg. from Italy to Spain) and the transition isn’t perfectly smooth, which may interrupt the flow a little. Luckily this never happens in the middle of songs or anything outrageous like that, and for the most part isn’t actually too disruptive.

Apart from that, this is a pretty great main feature all round, and shows the band proving why they are still one of the biggest names in Power Metal. In terms of bonus features: There is a text “History” feature, a discography feature and a photo gallery. All your standard ‘90s DVD extras that don’t add too much really, but look good written on the back of the box.

There is also a five minute “review” feature by Malcome Dome, which is a brief Metal Evolution style history lesson with a mixture of archive footage of the band and talking-head footage of Dome. The dialogue is a bit stiff and the audio is a bit muffled, but as a free extra its still worth a watch.

The track-listing for the main concert is:

1. We Burn 2. Wake Up The Mountain 3. Sole Survivor 4. The Change 5. Why 6. Eagle Fly Free 7. Time Of The Oath 8. Future World 9. Dr. Stein 10. Before The War 11. Mr Ego 12. Power 13. Where The Rain Grows 14. In The Middle Of A Heartbeat 15. Perfect Gentleman 16. Steel Tormentor

Overall; If you like the band, especially if you like the Deris era, then it’s a pretty worthwhile purchase. It shows the band at their Europe-conquering best, dripping with enthusiasm and playing like they mean it. The sound and editing are a tiny bit imperfect, but the band themselves more than make up for it. Comment

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