Power Metal

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Power Metal is a sub-genre of heavy metal music created during the 1980’s. The term refers to two related but distinctly different styles of metal, commonly known as US power metal (USPM) and European power metal (Melodic Power Metal), after the geographic regions in which they originated. The stylistic origins of the genre can be traced back to the 1970’s, where artists such as Ronnie James Dio and Judas Priest laid down the groundwork for what would become staples of the power metal sound, including the lyrical themes, vocal style and use of twin lead guitars. The New Wave of British Heavy Metal (NWoBHM) is considered to be an important influence on the European power metal sound in particular. The musical forerunners of power metal are considered to be traditional heavy metal and speed metal. As both USPM and European power metal refer to the regional origin of the styles it is perfectly possible for artists to come from one region and play the style of the other, such as Kamelot, a US band who plays European power metal, while artists from other regions such as Angra (Brazil) and Galneryus (Japan) also play power metal.

US power metal developed first, during the early 1980’s. It is much closer in sound to traditional heavy metal than the later European power metal, but typically played faster. High register vocals are common and artists put emphasis on melodic guitar leads, making it distinct from thrash metal, of which there can be some crossover with, such as Iced Earth. The music features a relative lack of keyboards compared to European power metal. USPM bands can be categorised into two groups, known as blue collar USPM and white collar USPM. Blue collar features a harder hitting thrashy sound while white collar is more melodic and progressive. Popular USPM bands include Jag Panzer, Vicious Rumors, Helstar and Virgin Steele.

European power metal (also known as melodic power metal) developed a bit later and was pioneered by the German band Helloween, who started as a speed metal band. The turning point for Helloween from speed metal to power metal is considered to be between their first two full-lengths, Walls of Jericho (1985) and Keeper of the Seven Keys Part I (1987) and so 1987 is considered to be the starting point of the European power metal genre. The style is much more distinct from its roots than USPM, drawing much more on speed metal, and is perhaps the sound most people think of when presented with the term power metal. European power metal is characterised by fast percussive like guitar riffs, and strong focus on melody, with artist line-ups often including a full time keyboardist. The sound is regarded as more uplifting compared to the many other sub-genres of metal music. Popular European power metal bands also include Gamma Ray, Blind Guardian (both German), Stratovarius (from Finland). Rhapsody of Fire (from Italy) and Sabaton (from Sweden).

Power metal has developed several different variations in addition to the USPM and European standards, mostly in the form of hybrid genres:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Power Metal Inclusive Genres

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

Neoclassical Metal is sometimes included under power metal dependent on the direction of the riffs in the music (see Neoclassical Power Metal description above). Neoclassical metal artists can also be commonly found under the Traditional Heavy Metal and Progressive Metal sections of the MMA.

- Written by adg211288 (April 2013)

Sub-genre collaborators:
  • adg211288
  • DippoMagoo
  • Unitron

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power metal Music Reviews

KAMELOT Eternity

Album · 1995 · Power Metal
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Unitron
Kamelot-Eternity

'Eterntiy' is the debut studio album by symphonic/power metal band Kamelot. With a new Kamelot album on the way, I thought it would be a good time to start reviewing through their discography. Before Kamelot gained critical acclaim with some of their following albums with Roy Khan on vocals, Mark Vanderbilt was vocalist.

Musically, this album set the groundwork for Kamelot's signature sound. The opening title track starts the album off with orchestral instrumentation before some great drum work by Richard Warner signals in the powerful driving riffing. The song has pretty much everything I want in my power metal, a powerful vocalist, fast melodic hooks, symphonic elements, and as a bonus Warner gives a stellar drum performance. I can hear a lot of early Queensryche influence, especially the next song 'Black Tower' which sounds like Queensryche with some symphonic elements. The third song however, 'Call of the Sea', is much stronger and has that 'power' that's needed. The crunching riffs fit perfectly with Vanderbilt's vocals melodies. The chorus is great, with a very memorable wail of 'The sea is calling me!'. 'Red Sands' stands out too, being a very fast-paced track. Another memorable chorus is found here, not detracting from the speed of the track. The bridge transitions the song into a much more atmospheric place, before re-gaining speed.

My favorite on the album has to be 'Fire Within', which has great use of the Phrygian scale. While the song begins using it slow and menacingly, it gets fit into the heavier crunch of the powerful guitar. Vanderbilt's vocals also fit perfectly with the melody of the song. The album does end on a strong note with a grand finale of 'The Gleeman'. It's melodic hooks get stuck in your head, and Vanderbilt's vocals again really fit in with the melody with his melodic wails. The bridge has excellent guitar work, and a solo that really sings. Overall, a great finisher.

Remember when I compared the song 'Black Tower' to Queensryche? Well, that's really the only real big flaw about this album. Sometimes it sounds TOO Queensryche, Vanderbilt's voice is powerful and great, but again a little TOO Geoff Tate. Thankfully, there is enough power and symphonic elements to make some songs stand out on there own. While a great vocalist, knowing Roy Khan would come join later on, Vanderbilt pales in comparison. While Khan has a similar vocal style, it has a lot more polish and power to stand on it's own then Vanderbilt's.

Overall, it's certainly great for a debut. While not immediately up to standards, it has some great underrated songs, and it's interesting to hear how Kamelot began before they became the powerhouse they are now. Recommended to fans of early Queensryche.

Hope you found this review helpful.

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FALCONER Falconer

Album · 2001 · Power Metal
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siLLy puPPy
Upon first listen i was surprised that lead vocalist Mathias Blad’s vocals weren’t in a higher range as most power metal bands tend to have. It actually took me a while to adjust to this since i’m used to hitch pitched wails of power metal instead of the smooth and steady mid-ranged deliveries we encounter here. Swedish act FALCONER came about as a result of guitarist Stefan Weinerhall leaving his previous Viking black metal band Mithotyn which incorporated Scandinavian folk-influenced melodies and carried them over into a folk / power metal band context. FALCONER released their debut eponymous album in 2001 in a decade when power metal acts were becoming a dime a dozen and finding it harder to separate themselves from the pack. FALCONER, while not exactly reinventing the wheel or anything succeeded in crafting a nice album filled with heavy metal riffs that unlike many folk metal bands eschew the use of non-metal instruments and stick to the basic guitars, bass, keyboards and drums, however although no other instruments are listed it sounds like some kind of traditional folk sounds are used sparingly as in the short intro of “A Quest For The Crown.”

The music is what you would expect from a power metal band, namely thundering and galloping metal riffs with accompanying drum and bass attacks with epic Medieval themes. FALCONER incorporates the folk aspects in the melodies in the fabric of the songwriting and the result is a nicely performed brand of power metal that differs from many others by the hard and hitting folk melodies and by Blad’s baritone vocal range. Although i find myself wanting a few wanderings into the higher range from time to time, i can’t really fault what is presented here. Like many power metal albums, the only real complaint is that the album is a wee too long for the type of sound presented. It’s not that any particular song is bad or anything, it’s just that there could be more diversity in the mix. On my CD there is also a bonus track that is a traditional folk song but presented in metal style and is more pure folk than the rest. Great album but i’m not as blown away by this one as many seem to be.

ORDEN OGAN Ravenhead

Album · 2015 · Power Metal
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DippoMagoo
Coming into the new year, one of my most anticipated album was Ravenhead, the fifth full length album from German power metal band Orden Ogan. In their early years, they were more of a folk metal band, but starting with Vale their power metal elements started to show through, before largely taking over on Easton Hope, which was their first album I ever heard. That particular album was probably their most complex to date, blending in some very strong elements of symphonic and prog metal, to go along with their by then trademark riffs and epic, soaring melodies. It was undeniably an impressive album, but at times it felt like the band was trying to do a bit too much, with the songwriting not always being as consistently strong as it could have been. With the following album, To the End, they simplified their sound quite a bit, pushing their epic power metal elements even further in front, while leaving everything else not completely behind, but certainly less in the spotlight than before. The result was by far their catchiest, and most consistently engaging album from start to finish, and it ended up being one of my top 10 favorites of 2012. Unsurprisingly, Ravenhead continues along the same path, and is an even more focused and stripped down album, which manages to be nearly as good as its immediate predecessor.

Compared to other German power metal bands, I've always found Orden Ogan to be rather unique. I've seen them compared to the likes of Blind Guardian and Running Wild, but to me there’s a lot more to their music than that. For one, they've always had a decidedly dark tone to their music, which is even more the case on Ravenhead. I also find their music is generally more dynamic, more epic and certainly much more modern sounding compared to most of their countrymen. To sum it up: While they do share some similarities with other bands, their music easily stands out among the crowd, and they have a sound that is unmistakably theirs.

Ravenhead definitely feels like a logical progression from To The End. The songwriting continues to be much more streamlined and straight-forward than on previous works, perhaps even more so. There’s no more massive progressive power metal elements, and the symphonic elements are once again toned down. Instead, this is an album dominated by crushing riffs and soaring melodies. The verses and instrumental sections are generally quite heavy, with Orden Ogan’s signature brand of aggressive, modern sounding guitar work dominating, but once the choruses show up, the melodies are in full force. The band has always been great at writing memorable choruses, and this album is certainly no exception. One thing that is a little lacking this time around is the speed. Don’t get me wrong: This is certainly a power metal album all around, so you can expect many up tempo parts, but with the exception of a couple tracks, these sections tend to come in bursts, with the tempo generally being more subdued than normal. Take the opening title track as an example: It has everything you’d expect from an Orden Ogan song, including those killers riffs, huge vocal melodies, an incredible chorus, an awesome instrumental part, etc, but compared to the title track of To The End, the speed has been greatly decreased, and this applies to most other tracks here. I personally prefer To The End, but judging the two albums purely on songwriting quality, Ravenhead is certainly up to par, and while the title track doesn't get me as excited as I’d like, it’s an excellent song in its own way.

Frontman Sebastian “Seeb” Levermann has always been a standout feature of the band, and this is as true now as on any of their albums. He has a very deep and powerful voice, which certainly separates him from the typical high pitched power metal vocalist, and his delivery is very forceful and commanding during the verses, but when those epic choruses come in, he has a smooth quality to his voice that greatly enhances the music. The choir vocals are outstanding as always, and obviously the two guest singers both sound excellent.

For most fans, their first taste of this album will likely be the lead single “F.E.V.E.R”. Opening with a keyboard part that feels like it could have been taken from a pop song, the track quickly speeds up, and is easily one of the best and most addictive songs on the album, if not in their entire discography. The ridiculously infectious chorus certainly has traces of “Land of the Dead”, one of my favorite from To The End. Another big standout is “The Lake”. It begins with the type of ultra modern sounding, slowed down riffs that dominates many of the tracks here (a sound which was previously showcased on “This World of Ice”) but towards the end of the opening verse it speeds up, and the chorus is pure magic. The speediest song here is “Deaf Among the Blind”, and it’s certainly one of the best. I mentioned two guest vocalists earlier. Well, the first is Chris Boltendahl, who appears on the mostly mid tempo track “Here at the End of the World”, which doesn't sound too different from a Grave Digger song, except obviously it’s enhanced by Seeb’s vocals, while Boltendahl raspy voice is still as strong as ever. The other guest is Joacim Cans, who shows up briefly during “Sorrow is Your Tale”, and helps enhance what was already a pretty awesome track.

The second half is lacking a bit in the energy department, and while there aren't any weak tracks, putting the calm instrumental track “In Grief and Chains” right next to the closing ballad “Too Soon” seems a bit odd, and effectively makes “Sorrow is Your Tale” the last proper metal song on the album, at track 9 out of 11, which I find a bit disappointing. “Too Soon” is a nice closer, but it has nothing on “A Reason to Give”, the prototypical epic ballad that Orden Ogan always manages to deliver. Seriously, their ballads are often among their best songs, and this one certainly lives up to all expectations. Right from the start, there’s some nice folk melodies, and the song calmly builds up, before turning into one of those larger than life ballads few other bands seem capable of, along the lines of “The Ice Kings”, except possibly even better.

I would have preferred to have at least one or two additional speedy tracks, but overall Ravenhead is another epic, dark and very heavy power metal album, sure to please existing Orden Ogan fans, as well as anyone looking for some ridiculously catchy power metal, with awesome choruses. To The End is a personal favorite of mine, and despite a couple very minor flaws, I’m enjoying this one almost as much, so that’s the sign of a band that keeps delivering.

(originally written for myglobalmind: http://myglobalmind.com/2015/01/11/orden-ogan-ravenhead-review/)

BLIND GUARDIAN Beyond the Red Mirror

Album · 2015 · Power Metal
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DippoMagoo
With many bands it can be easy for their latest album to be ignored and lost in the shuffle, especially if it happens to be released during a particularly busy time of year. Such has never been the case for Blind Guardian, whose album releases are always treated as some kind of special event among power metal fans. Keeping with their tradition of taking as much time as is required to create a rich and deeply layered album, their tenth full length release Beyond the Red Mirror comes almost exactly four and a half years after its immediate predecessor At the Edge of Time. As soon as the album was revealed, it was instantly considered a top contender for 2015 by many, and happily the band has once again delivered.

Over the years their sound has greatly evolved, moving from an aggressive speed metal sound on their first few albums, to the more complex, deeply layered brand of prog infused power metal they've been playing since Nightfall in Middle Earth. Traces of that album and its successor A Night at the Opera can be found on Beyond the Red Mirror, but those awaiting a return to their original sound are in for some serious disappointment. More than anything else, fans should expect a continuation of what the band produced on At the Edge of Time. That album featured some very strong symphonic elements at times, and on this album the band has gone all the way in that direction, bringing in a big choir and three huge orchestras, to create some very epic symphonic metal tracks, while still not abandoning their power metal roots, or the prog elements they've developed on recent albums. At times it feels like the band is experimenting more than ever on this album, and moving further and further away from their classic sound, but they still always manage to bring back just enough speed and aggression to keep their essence intact.

I only have one minor issue with Beyond the Red Mirror, and that is with the production. At least on the promo copy I was given, the guitars and drums sound a bit weak and are, for the most part, buried deep beneath the sounds of keyboards, orchestras and vocals. This is especially noticeable on the opening 9 minute epic “The Ninth Wave”, which opens with some awesome choir vocals, introduces the epic orchestral work, and features an incredibly addictive chorus. It’s certainly one of the most ambitious opening tracks I've ever heard, and I can understand and appreciate what the band was going for, but unfortunately the production and the rather limited guitar work combine together to make parts of the song, particularly the verses, feel a bit disjointed. Though I will say, after the first two verses the song picks up and the instrumental section is very good, while obviously Hansi sounds fantastic as always during the chorus.

While the opener doesn't quite strike the right balance between symphonic and power metal, other songs achieve better results. Of particular note are “Prophecies” and “The Throne”, both of which start out slowly, before picking up the pace and expertly mixing together some of their traditional power metal with their more recently established symphonic and prog elements, resulting in two highly complex songs with several tempo changes, that manage to be incredibly rewarding, especially for fans of their later albums, though I feel the former in particular should have enough speedier sections to satisfy fans of their earlier work as well. “Sacred Minds” is similar, but much darker and heavier, and it certainly feels like it would fit in well on Nightfall in Middle Earth. It even has some of the most aggressive vocals I’ve heard from Hansi in quite a while, with some occasional screams thrown in for good measure.

Continuing with the more experimental side of the album, “At the Edge of Time” has a much more cinematic feel to it than anything they’ve done previously, almost feeling like some of kind of musical at times. The orchestra and choirs dominate this track, along with Hansi, but while the guitars are mostly buried, I find the more grandiose feel helps make it a much more satisfying song than “The Ninth Wave”, and everything seems to come together surprisingly well. I’d even go as far as to say it’s one of my favorites on the album, though I expect some people to hate it. Much hype has been given to the 9 minute closer “Grand Parade” and rightfully so, because it’s definitely one of their most epic songs to date. It starts off slow and once again places a strong emphasis on the symphonic elements, with the chorus once again being something special, but the arrangements are extremely inventive and there’s some very effective up tempo passages later in the song. It’s another one of their many highly ambitious works where everything just came together in a wonderful way.

Fans of their earlier work do have a few songs to look forward to. Of particular note is the single “Twilight of the Gods”, which feels very similar to the previous lead single “A Voice in the Dark”, in that it has some slight speed metal elements mixed with the more modern style of the band’s recent albums, resulting in an explosive, highly energetic progressive power metal track. The most old-school track on the album is “The Holy Grail”, an ultra speedy track dominated by excellent riffs, strong vocals and of course a catchy chorus. It’s definitely the heaviest song the band has done in recent years, and manages to be another instant favorite. Another speedier track is “Ashes of Eternity”, which sounds strikingly similar to “Fly”/”Dead Sound of Misery” from A Twist in the Myth. Lastly, we have “Miracle Machine”, the lone ballad. As always, Hansi excels at ballads, and the song is simple but in a very charming way. It joins the likes of “Nightfall”, “Skalds & Shadows” and “Curse My name”, as being yet another Blind Guardian ballad that manages to be one of the highlights of its album.

While other big name German power metal bands have left me a bit less than impressed in recent years, Blind Guardian continues to be one of the most consistently inventive and enjoyable bands in the genre. Beyond the Red Mirror shows the band moving even further into a more symphonic progressive metal direction, but the bursts of power metal and epic vocal melodies ensure it can’t be mistaken as being by any other band, while their songwriting continues to be remarkably strong. Fans of their earlier albums have at least a bit to look forward to, but I think this album will be best enjoyed by those who started getting into the band with Nightfall in Middle Earth, and especially those who loved At the Edge of Time. As someone who doesn’t consider any of their albums to be less than excellent, I can confidently say Beyond the Red Mirror extends the streak to ten.

(originally written for myglobalmind: http://myglobalmind.com/2015/01/26/blind-guardian-beyond-red-mirror-review/)

PLATITUDE Secrets of Life

Album · 2003 · Power Metal
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Valarius
'Secrets of Life' is the debut album by the relatively unknown Platitude, and can best be described as a "generic power metal album". I don't mean this in a bad way, but there's really not much that can be said about it. It's a solid record, with some great compositions and polished production, and perfectly blends elements from power, progressive and speed metal. There's also some strong neo-classical vibes to some of the songs, which always adds some nice flavour. But overall, there's just nothing groundbreaking or amazing that sets them apart from similar bands.

With two guitarists and a keyboard player in the band, there is plenty of intense melodies and solos, with all three players working together perfectly and with great chemistry to come up with some exciting and complex songs, and Erik "EZ" Blomkvist's vocals fit perfectly with this genre of music.

It may be a "generic" album, but songs such as 'Deception', 'Just One Try', 'Evil Sky' and the title track, make this a worthy addition to a metal fans collection.

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ICED EARTH Live in Ancient Kourion

Movie · 2013 · Power Metal
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Kingcrimsonprog
Live In Ancient Kourion is a live concert Blu-Ray from the American Power Metal band Iced Earth. It was filmed at the ancient Kourion Theater in Limasol, Cyprus (a site with a 6,000-year history according to the liner notes) in 2012, in support of the Dystopia album. The line up features Jon Schaffer, Brent Smedley, Troy Steele, Luke Appleton and then-new singer Stu Block.

The career-spanning set contains 27 songs from all eras of the band’s history, in a concert that lasts around 2 hours and 35 minutes. Its pretty great value for money in that regard.

The performance is very strong indeed, with all band members putting down solid performances with no weak links. Stu capably handles the material of previous singers Matt Barlow and Tim Ripper Owens in a suitable but distinctive way. He fits the band perfectly and is immensely talented. Elsewhere; the dual guitar lines and solos are sublime and the drumming is powerful and rock-solid. If you like Iced Earth then this is a really strong and representative example of what they are all about.

Highlights include strong performances of ‘Burning Times,’ ‘Wolf,’ ‘Declaration Day,’ ‘Days Of Rage’ and ‘Dantes Inferno.’ ‘Boiling Point’ and ‘Damien’ are also especially energetic and exciting here – if you were wondering if you’d enjoy this release, then I suggest trying those two tracks out.

The stage design and the simple, tasteful lightshow in conjunction with the well-integrated use of smoke and pyro perfectly complements the band’s meaty, honest approach to Metal music. The crowd get into it and both clap and sing along on many occasions. Sometimes not only singing the words but also the guitar melodies. The concert really shows a confident band delivering their best to an appreciative crowd.

The camerawork and editing are absolutely solid, the audio recording quality and live mix are spot-on and overall this is a very strong release on both the audio and visual fronts. Sometimes you’ll get a DVD with way too many flashy transitions and cheesy editing choices, or the bass guitar missing from the mix, but a lot of care has obviously gone into making this a tasteful and musician-friendly affair. Admittedly I have seen concert Blu-Rays with better picture quality (Sabaton, Gamma Ray, Stratovarius and Hammerfall spring to mind) and here it can be a tiny bit grainy, soft-focus or washed out at times depending on the lighting conditions in the venue at the time however just because better examples exist, it doesn’t mean the picture here is anything to complain about.

In terms of bonus features there are photo galleries (4 minutes of very high resolution photos of the band and the beautiful Cypriot landscape), a 9-minute world tour story (breaking down the logistics involved such as how many guitar picks and flights the band went through) which mixes photos and graphics with interview footage, as well as the 31-minute Documentary feature “The Making Of Live At Ancient Kourion.”

The version I got comes with a slipcase in a digibook-style box which contains booklet featuring photos, credits and liner notes from bandleader Jon Shaffer. It houses the Blu-Ray version, DVD version and CD version of the concert for maximum flexibility.

The Blu-Ray specs are as follows: Region 0, Format 16:9, Audio comes in a choice of Dolby Digital 2.0 or DTS HD Surround 5.1.

Overall; Live In Ancient Kourion, especially this edition, is a very worthwhile release and I whole-heartedly recommend it to fans of the band, or fans of Traditional Heavy Metal and Power Metal in general.

HELLOWEEN Helloween - High Live

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The track-listing for the main concert is:

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

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

ICED EARTH Festivals of the Wicked

Movie · 2011 · Power Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
666sharon666
There's a lot of value for your money in this DVD package. Three full festival appearances are included, two with singer Matt Barlow and one with singer Tim "Ripper" Owens. There's also the seemingly customary documentary and all the band's music videos with the exception of the older Desert Rain back from the Night of the Stormrider era, as well as the advert for the Ten Thousand Strong video and photo slideshows. For the price this seems to retail at (I bought it for just £9.99), this is a very worthwhile package for any Iced Earth fan. The one catch is that it in reality looks more than it is, as both the Barlow fronted shows feature a completely identical setlist. It's still a very good value package to get despite this, but 4 stars is all I feel inclined to award it because of the amount of repetition. Still for the very reasonable price, if you like this band, buy it anyway.

(I originally posted this hastily written review here: http://bit.ly/pafvQh )

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