Power Metal

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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

SKYLARK The Horizon & The Storm

Album · 1995 · Power Metal
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In the 1990s, Italy saw an explosion of symphonic power metal bands, combining German power/speed metal with symphonic and neoclassic influences. Rhapsody are probably the country’s best known export from those years, but Labyrinth, Drakkar, DGM, and Domine are other notable acts that became known throughout Europe and beyond. Hailing from Milan and driven by the skills of keyboard player Eddy Antonini, Skylark were actually one of the first bands to venture into this new genre, but their success has been much more limited than other acts’. The Horizon & the Storm, Skylark’s self-produced full-length debut album, makes it easy to see why.

Antonini’s ambitions are praiseworthy. His idea of mixing the fast tempos and razor-sharp guitar riffs of power metal with delicate piano flourishes and rich symphonic keyboards has potential. However, on this LP the band’s potential comes through as fully realized only in a small number of episodes, like the intro to the epic “Little Girl”, or the majestic organ that breaks through the galloping riffs of “Skylark / Crystal Lake”, or the intro to “Escape from the Dark”. Antonini’s playing is also pretty good and the piano pieces that bookend the LP are nice However, nearly everything else on this album is a disaster.

In ascending order of dismay, the production is simply terrible. It’s a self-produced album, so one should give these guys some slack. But, boy, this stuff is hardly listenable. In short, whenever there are more than two instruments in the mix, everything becomes an undistinguishable drone of noise. The fast drums often bury guitars and bass, and one can barely hear the keyboards crawling out of the mix here and there. Speaking of drums, I feel there is something wrong in what Francesco Meles plays on a few passages of the album. His double bass seems often slightly out of tempo (“Skylark / Crystal Lake”), giving the songs rather shaky foundations.

High on top of this mess lie Fabio Dozzo’s vocals, which can be heard loud and clear. Unfortunately. Because they are pitchy and strained as hell, as Dozzo tries hard to hit those high Kiske-esque notes that he simply cannot reach. Things are much better when he stays in his low range, but of course this isn’t what power metal singers were expected to do back in the day so he often doubles up his vocal lines with a high-pitched squeak that borders on the ridiculous. I may sound harsh, but bad vocals on a power metal album are definitely a killjoy. After all, in this genre the vocals are often the main “instrument” carrying the melody, and if they sound poor, everything else is ruined too.

There is little to save on this LP. The compositions have interesting twists and turns, again showing that Antonini (the main songwriter here) had vision and potential. Some pieces venture even in progressive (“Little Girl”) and metal opera directions (the theatrical “A Star in the Universe” and “Escape from the Dark”). But it is really hard to extract sonic pleasure from the 34 minutes of this LP. Skylark will continue their career for another twenty years with mixed fortunes and leaving an impression of unrealized potential that already transpires quite clearly on this album.

RHAPSODY OF FIRE Glory for Salvation

Album · 2021 · Power Metal
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Over the past decade Italian symphonic power metal band Rhapsody of Fire have had quite their share of big ups and downs, including two big shifts, each involving the loss of an important long time member, the first being guitarist/keyboardist Luca Turilli and the second being vocalist Fabio Lione, as well as the fact that some of their more recent releases weren’t exactly highly regarded. Setting all of that aside, though, the band managed to bounce back in a big way in 2019 with The Eighth Mountain, their first new full-length release featuring current vocalist Giacomo Voli. I would have been relieved if it had merely been a solid album, but instead, it represented both a recapturing of past glories, as well as the beginning of a new era, and was easily their best album in quite some time. After being blown away by that album, I was excited to see what the band would do next, and so I was quite hyped to hear their upcoming release, Glory for Salvation, and whether or not it would continue their creative resurgence. In short: Yes, it does, though I would say it’s a tad less consistent than the previous album, and it doesn’t seem to flow quite as smoothly. Still, it’s another excellent album, and one I’d rank within the top half of the band’s rather large discography.

Very little has changed in between albums, with the only lineup change being drummer Manuel Lutter being replaced by Paolo Marchesich, who does a great job and fits in nicely with the band. Otherwise, the overall sound, production quality, and performances are exactly what fans of the previous album would expect, which is to say: It feels like a mix of classic Rhapsody, while having enough of its ideas to stand out. Where I found the previous album felt like classic Rhapsody in all its glory, this album feels a bit more diverse, capturing different elements from throughout the band’s career, including hints of some of their darker, heavier material, some folk elements, and some more epic, mid-paced symphonic metal. It’s quite the varied album, with points where I feel the overall flow can be a tad awkward, as it tends to jump around from mood to mood quite quickly, which is rather surprising for a concept album. With that being said, the songwriting is excellent, with only one track I feel lags behind the rest, while everything else is fantastic, with a few particularly big highlights.

Performances are of course excellent across the board, with keyboardist Alex Staropoli once again taking lead in setting the tone and atmosphere for a lot of the tracks, while Giocomo Voli shines just as much as he did on The Eighth mountain, demonstrating equal amounts of power, emotion and smoothness in his vocals as needed. A couple of tracks, in particular, have some of his most aggressive vocals I’ve heard to date, falling right along the border between clean and harsh vocals, and he delivers these just as well as anything else. I admit to being worried at first when the band parted ways with Fabio Lione, but these past two albums have proven Voli to be a wonderful fit for the band, and he only seems to be getting better over time. I find the guitar work to generally not be all that noticeable, though it is very solid throughout, with some nice melodic work and solos, as well as one particular track with a very heavy main riff that sounds great. Keyboards, vocals, and symphonic arrangements generally carry the album, though, which shouldn’t be too big a surprise for Rhapsody fans.

The album gets off to a strong start with “Son of Vengeance”, a very epic mid-paced symphonic metal track, with some huge orchestral arrangements, nice melodic guitar work, and a nice mix of choral and lead vocals from Voli, who once again leaves a strong impression right from the start. The track has an excellent, very catchy chorus, and a nice melodic guitar solo in the second half. It never goes full speed, but moves at a nice pace, and is a very epic, fun opening track. Next is “The Kingdom of Ice”, a very classic Rhapsody-sounding track, with nice melodic guitar leads, more epic symphonic arrangements, and a significant increase in the tempo, moving along at a fast pace throughout, which should please many power metal fans. It has another strong, catchy chorus, excellent vocals, and instrumental work, and is a very high-energy track, making it one of the better offerings here.

Leading into the album, one track I was surprisingly disappointed with was the title track. Right from the beginning I find the tone of the keyboards just a bit off compared to normal, as they give off a bit of a hostile tone I wasn’t expecting, especially with the name “Glory for Salvation”, plus they just don’t sound as good as usual, and while the choral vocals are great, I find the song overall somehow doesn’t work for me. It does move at a fast pace, the verses are solid and the chorus has a strong buildup, but I find it doesn’t go anywhere interesting, and it leaves me underwhelmed, especially knowing it’s the title track. Within the context of the album, it still doesn’t impress me much and feels a bit disappointing coming off the strength of the previous tracks, as well as what comes immediately after.

That, of course, would be a brief instrumental interlude “Eternal Snow”, which has some nice folk melodies and gives a bit of background narration to help introduce the next proper song, and another single, “Terial the Hawk”. This one has a very warm tone to it, and while it’s fairly mid-paced, it’s still very fun, very upbeat, and has an amazing chorus. It’s one of the band’s most folk-infused tracks to date, with folk instruments leading the way, and the main melody is absolutely beautiful, while Voli shines as always, especially during the chorus, and the instrumental section goes even further on the folk side, to help cement it as easily my favorite track on the album, as well as a personal favorite Rhapsody song in general. The momentum continues with “Maid of the Secret Sand”, another classic Rhapsody-sounding track, moving at a fast and furious pace, with some epic neo-classical shredding, intense verses, and a very fun, melodic chorus, which is one of the best on the album. It’s another personal favorite and gets me hyped up going into the longest track of the album.

Here we have a bit of an oddity, as when I first saw the name “Abyss of Pain II” I didn’t quite recognize the name from any previous albums. After searching for a while, I found out why: It was a very brief intro track for The Eighth Mountain, which I likely blocked out of my mind because intro tracks generally aren’t the most memorable, no offense intended. While making a 10+ minute sequel to a 48-second intro may be a bizarre choice, the song itself is excellent, though it once again feels like a big style shift, moving away from two more upbeat tracks to a much darker, more epic track filled with some of the heaviest riffs and darkest atmosphere found on the entire album, while Voli provides some of those intense, almost harsh sounding vocals I described earlier, before giving way to his typical soaring vocals during the chorus. The track stays at a moderate tempo throughout but does have a few big moments, including a very memorable instrumental section in the middle, and several great vocal sections. I wouldn’t rank it among the band’s absolute best epics, but it’s an excellent track the whole way through, and never loses any momentum along the way, which is always important with a longer track.

Following that, we’re now into the final stretch of the album, which holds up very well. First is “Infinitae Gloriae”, another very fast-paced track, with yet another wonderful chorus and a strong vocal performance from Voli. Next are two singles, the first of which is “Magic Signs”, a very solid ballad with excellent vocal melodies, a strong chorus, and a great guitar solo in the middle, though overall I wouldn’t quite say it’s one of the band’s best ballads (I preferred both “Warrior Heart” and “The Wind, the Rain and the Moon” from the last album, personally). It does serve as a nice showcase for Voli’s voice, though, and is a very solid track. The other single is “I’ll be Your Hero”, which now has a very epic 65-second intro leading into it, which helps set the mood for what is one of the band’s most fun, upbeat, and triumphant sounding tracks to date. It has a bit of a lighter feel to it than usual, while still moving at a very fast tempo, and having probably the best chorus on the entire album. It’s most likely my second favorite track, behind Terial. I already loved it on the EP the band released earlier this year, and that instrumental intro section only enhances it further on the full album.

The album ends rather curiously. The actual closing track, “Chains of Destiny”, is a rather short, yet fun fast-paced symphonic power track, which delivers everything fans of the band would expect, along with more of those semi-harsh vocals from “Abyss of Pain II”. It’s an excellent track overall, though it almost feels a bit too short and too “normal” I’d say, to be a closing track for this kind of album. It is wonderful on its own, though, and does have an amazing chorus, but at least to me, it feels more like a track that should be in the middle of the album, instead of being a closer. Even more curious, is the band’s choice of bonus tracks: Italian and Spanish sung versions of “Magic Signs”. Voli sounds amazing on both versions, of course, but the album ends up feeling like it lacks a bit of a climax, at least compared to most Rhapsody albums.

Despite my issues with the title track and a few odd decisions here and there, I still greatly enjoy Glory for Salvation, and consider it as yet another excellent Rhapsody of Fire release, as well as one of their better albums to date. It’s a very diverse album, with many different sounds and many different moods, and it does an excellent job of showcasing Giocomo Voli’s vocals, as well as Alex Staropoli’s keys and symphonic arrangements. Songwriting is generally excellent, performances are excellent across the board, and there’s a good amount of variety to it, that fans of the band with different tastes should all find something to like here. A definite must-hear for longtime RoF fans, and an easy recommendation for any fans of symphonic metal or power metal who somehow haven’t heard the band’s music yet. While I slightly prefer The Eighth Mountain, this is yet another great album and continues with the forward momentum the band has had with their current lineup.

originally written for myglobalmind.com: https://myglobalmind.com/2021/11/13/rhapsody-of-fire-glory-for-salvation-review/

BURNING POINT Arsonist of the Soul

Album · 2021 · Power Metal
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I’ve known Finnish power metal band Burning point ever since their 2012 release, The Ignitor, an album I found to be highly enjoyable, though not quite top tier in the genre. Ever since I’ve enjoyed some of the band’s older work as well as their two new releases (the self-titled 2015 release and 2016’s The Blaze), and consistently found the band to generally be solid, but not quite elite. I heard a couple of singles for their eighth and latest full-length release, Arsonist of the Soul leading up to its release and found myself quite hyped to see what the band would deliver. Now that the album is here, I can say it’s my favorite by the band and brings them a step closer to being a top contender for power metal fans.

The band has gone through several changes since their last release, with original member Pete Ahonen and his fellow guitarist Pekka Kolivuori being the only remaining members, with the remaining positions all being filled in between releases. Despite the big lineup changes, the band’s sound remains fully intact, and fans can expect an album full of classic-sounding Euro power metal, along the lines of bands like Helloween and Stratovarius, with small nods to more modern bands such as Sabaton and Bloodbound on a couple of tracks.

For the most part, the band leans towards the more guitar-driven side of the genre, with duo guitarists Ahonen and Kolivuori leading the way through most tracks with some killer riffs and solos, as well as some nice melodic guitar work. Keyboards are a constant part of the music but are largely pushed to the background, serving more to enhance the music than to be a driving force, and while they sound nice throughout the album and never become a distraction, they also rarely stand out much, instead of letting the guitars dominate. The rhythm section is very solid, and the tracks offer a varying mix of tempos, sometimes alternating even within a track. Sound production is top-notch, and performances are strong across the board.

Songwriting is also excellent, and while leaning towards more of a pure power metal sound, compared to some of the band’s past albums which had equal amounts of heavy metal, this album still has a nice variety to the tracks, with some being on the thrashier side (“Out of Control” especially”), some being more melodic and keyboard-driven (“Persona Non Grata”, “Fire With Fire”,) and some are pure classic duo-guitar power metal, like opener “Blast in the Past” and “Hit the Night”. All songs are excellent, and there’s a nice mix of speedy tracks, and slower to mid-paced tracks, with the tracklist flowing nicely and moving at a good pace. Despite containing 12 tracks, I’d be hard-pressed to point towards any particular track as being filler, and enjoy each one every time I listen to the album, which is always a good sign.

The biggest change for the band is the new vocalist Luca Sturniolo. The band has previously had two different vocalists, the first of which was Ahonen himself, who had a very deep voice that fit the music quite well, before giving way to Nitte Valo in 2014, and she had a very unique voice that also fit the music nicely. Sturniolo is somewhere in between those two stylistically, having a wide range that can get pretty intense at times, while also being able to sing smoothly in his low to mid register. I find when he goes all out with his falsetto he can get a bit carried away, which leads to a few choruses falling a bit flat, but in general, he sounds great during verses, and when he sticks with his low to mid register he sounds very smooth, while still having a good amount of power to his voice. He especially sounds right at home on the power/thrash track “Out of Control”, where the aggressive riffs and energy of the music fit very well with his low to mid-range vocals. There’s a couple of moments where his voice can get a bit over the top for my liking (most notably on the choruses of “Rules the Universe” and closing track “Eternal Life”) and he sounds a bit awkward at times (the chorus of “Off the Radar” slightly brings down an otherwise awesome track), but overall he does a great job, and I think he has potential to be a perfect fit for the band if they stick with him for future albums.

I mentioned earlier that the songwriting is excellent across the board, so I won’t do a full song by song section like usual, but instead, highlight some particular favorites. Opener “Blast in the Past” is a fast and furious, high-energy opener that showcases the band’s overall sound, while allowing Sturniolo to stick to his strengths as a vocalist, making it a strong start to the album. Out of the faster tracks on the album, I’d say my favorites are “Persona Non Grata”, a very melodic track with a fantastic chorus and more prominent keys than usual, the previously mentioned power/thrash assault “Out of Control”, and the very classic sounding “Running in the Darkness”, which has perhaps my favorite chorus on the album, as well as a very epic guitar solo. It’s also a track where Sturniolo’s voice is at its absolute best, nailing the higher notes on the final run of the chorus perfectly, to help cement that tracks as a favorite.

On the slower side of things, the title track is a big highlight, alternating between some nice mid-paced melodic metal during the verses, and then going for a more classic Maiden-inspired sound during the chorus. It’s an epic track throughout, with strong performances, but the highlight is a sped-up section towards the end, which takes it to a different gear. Another instant favorite is “Calling”, a more restrained, but very catchy track, with another very memorable chorus, as well as an epic bridge with some very powerful vocals. Lastly is “Fire With Fire”, which moves along at a nice pace and is another track where the keys have more presence than usual, with the music overall having some Sabaton influence. It’s a very fun, catchy track with a great chorus, and the band pulls that sound off quite nicely.

Overall, Arsonist of the Soul is a very fun, high energy power metal album with consistently impressive songwriting and performances throughout, to help make it my favorite Burning Point album to date. New singer Luca Sturniolo shows great promise overall, and while I think he has some room to improve, he fits the band’s sound very nice, and I think in the future he could prove to be the perfect fit for the band. As is, this album is a very easy recommendation for any power metal fan looking for some mostly classic sounding Euro power metal, with a few modern touches here and there.

originally written for Myglobalmind.com: https://myglobalmind.com/2021/11/13/burning-point-arsonist-of-the-soul-review/

KAMELOT The Black Halo

Album · 2005 · Power Metal
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As someone who grew up with classical piano training, I can’t overestimate how much that very genre influenced me in my upbringing. Even when I entered more aggressive styles of music such as metal, I often gravitated more towards progressive metal because of the long complex arrangements and overblown suites. Call it being pretentious if you’d like (it kinda was), but bands like Symphony X, Dream Theater, and Vanden Plas were a major influence on my development as a musician for those very reasons. But the problem with many of those bands is that they often lacked the more emotional side in favor of that complexity and technical skill (especially post-2000s Dream Theater, if we’re referring to the bands above). I was always looking for a group that balanced both the technical and emotional sides more equally, one that could be heard both holistically and in-depth.

Then Kamelot came along.

While Epica was an amazing leap forward for the band in its own right, The Black Halo is a different story altogether. Mixing elements of progressive metal, power metal, symphonic metal, and opera, the album is a bombastic declaration that Kamelot was willing to take the metal world by storm. But the thing that instantly makes it stand out is that the record’s story - a continuation of the Heinrich Faust story started in Epica - is told in a way that never seems over-the-top or cheesy. Vocalist Roy Khan (four albums in his tenure by this point) studied opera singing for three years, and it shows in his time with the band. His voice is consistently gripping and simply drips with emotion, whether he’s letting out intense wails or performing at a low whisper. The instrumental passages that compliment his vocal work, are also beautifully laid out for the listener, blending technical riffing with a dark and even gothic atmosphere.

It’s refreshing to see that The Black Halo knows when to end its songs too, opting out of the oft-used progressive metal approach of throwing in bloated epics just for the sake of it. The only track here that’s relatively long, “Memento Mori,” actually deserves the runtime because of the phenomenal piano intro and intense symphonic buildup into the meat of the song. The shorter songs - particularly “Soul Society,” “When the Lights Are Down,” and “This Pain” - are great examples of displaying the band’s incredibly tight songwriting and exploring their more aggressive dynamics. Thomas Youngblood’s guitar presence runs deep through the record, primarily in his intricate and nimble riffing over the solid rhythm section. But he’s often tempered by both Miro’s piano work and Roy Khan’s vocals, which brings a neat sense of balance to the record. This is best heard in “Moonlight,” where we hear a one-note riff that practically resembles a breakdown, until it makes way for the gorgeous piano verses and some subtle hi-hats in the background. It’s a fantastic contrast, to say the least.

But that’s what makes this album so great: contrast. Just as the album’s story is brimming with so many different emotions and moods, the band’s methods of conveying them are just as varied. Granted, a good chunk of this album is pretty melancholic and gothic in tone, but the diversity of the songwriting and instrumental work are great nonetheless. Just listen to the opener “March of Mephisto”; as the name implies, this is a downright stately and thunderous metal anthem that even features the legendary black metal singer Shagrath (Dimmu Borgir) on guest vocals to give the chorus a bit more grit. But it immediately transitions into the power metal majesty of the fast-paced “When the Lights Go Down” and that’s when you know the record won’t be one-note, something that’s solidified by the depressing power ballad that follows, “The Haunting.” But when it comes to the band’s softer side, I highly recommend “Abandoned,” quite possibly one of the most tragic and beautiful piano ballads in rock music. Khan’s vocals are so passionate and heartbreaking that the song simply becomes entrancing, only helped by Mary Youngblood’s guest vocals and the classical piano arrangement that anchors it all.

If Karma and Epica were high artistic achievements for Kamelot, The Black Halo is the album that represented them at their absolute peak. In fact, I’d argue that this is the best power metal album ever made, as well as one of the top five progressive metal albums ever made. The way it pours its emotions out to the listener while maintaining its composure and vicious instrumental prowess is fucking stunning. It’s gothic, it’s dark, it’s atmospheric, and the band members certainly knew how to convey those traits at the best of their abilities while retaining the qualities that can make progressive metal so enjoyable. I can’t say it enough: this is metal at its best.


Album · 2001 · Power Metal
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Silence was my first Sonata Arctica album. I discovered it during an exploration into Finnish power metal, since I wanted to see what Finland had to offer other than Nightwish and Stratovarius. The big problem with a lot of power metal bands is that even their best albums will be monotonous. Sonata Arctica didn't have that problem, because Silence is always offering something new or throwing back to one of the many ideas the album features.

Ecliptica was a technical majesty that boasted classical guitar riffs and a keen sense of progression, but most of the songs were essentially doing the same thing. Such is not true with Silence, where the album mixes not only cheerful songs, sad songs, anthems and ballads, but also carefully places progressive metal and neoclassical metal in unexpected places. The band displays a keener sense of melody than even Blind Guardian is capable of! What's more, they bring so much lyrical crypticism, poetry and meaning to even the most obscure of topics to write about. Internet culture is a theme in the second track, "Weballergy."

Silence features heavy hitters, beautiful ballads, incredible melodies and a wide variety of different power metal tracks. This is my favorite Finnish power metal album, and I think it's a perfect album to introduce a newbie to power metal. Silence gives you all the sounds you want from power metal.

power metal movie reviews

HELLOWEEN United Alive

Movie · 2019 · Power Metal
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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!


Movie · 2016 · Power Metal
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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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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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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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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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