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

FROZEN CROWN Crowned in Frost

Album · 2019 · Power Metal
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Some bands like to waste very little time in between albums, looking to pump out some great new music at a quick rate, to please existing fans and possibly to gain some more. One such band is Italian power metal band Frozen Crown, who introduced themselves to the world in February of 2018, with their excellent debut, The Fallen King. It was a very fun and exciting album, with a mix of speedy, melodic power metal and some strong melodic death metal elements on a few tracks. Barely over a year later, the band is back with their second full-length release, Crowned in Frost, which sees the band focusing their sound a bit while continuing to deliver more of the same great music as on their debut.

The Fallen King was an impressive debut, both for how great it sounded for a new band, as well as for how strong the songwriting was, with a nice variety of tracks that hinted at a few possible directions the band could take. Crowned in Frost has a similar sound, with the same style of fast-paced, melodic power metal, led by the strong voice of frontwoman Giada “Jade” Etro, as well as the excellent guitar and keyboard playing of Federico Mondelli, who also serves as a second vocalist and the main songwriter. Fans of the debut should know what to expect from the performances, as the keys are as dominant as ever, while occasionally leaning towards more of a symphonic feel, the guitars are very melodic, with some slight Iron Maiden influence, while occasionally getting a bit heavier, and Jade’s lead vocals are as deep and powerful as ever, while occasionally getting a bit lighter and higher pitched. The production quality is about the same as the debut, with the mixing being a bit on the loud and thin side, though everything sounds pretty good, overall.

The biggest difference between the two albums comes from the songwriting. Where the debut had quite a bit of variety, Crowned in Frost feels like a more focused album, where the majority of songs all follow a specific direction, with the only real exceptions being the intro and interlude tracks. The tracklisting is a tad misleading, in that it makes it seem like the album should have one more song than the debut, but in truth, it actually has one less. This is because, out of the 11 tracks, one is an intro and two are instrumental interludes. The intro track is very nice, with a bit of that Maiden-like guitar work setting things up nicely for the true opener, “Neverending”, but the two interludes are a bit less exciting, with “The Wolf and the Maiden” in particular lasting for over three minutes, yet it’s an entirely soft, ambient track, mostly consisting of light keys (as well as a wolf howl, right at the start.) The track is okay, but it feels drawn out, and because it and the other (similar, but much shorter) interlude, “Enthroned”, are the only real changes of pace on the album, as opposed to the wide variety of tracks found on the debut, it ends up feeling a bit disappointing.

With that one negative out of the way, though, all full-length songs here are excellent, starting with opener and lead single “Neverending”, which has a fast-paced, extended instrumental opening, before Jade takes over during the verses, and the song flies along at a rapid pace, leading to a very melodic and catchy choruses, with some excellent vocal hooks. It’s a very speedy, very fun track, with an excellent guitar solo in the second half, and it’s a great indication of the direction the band has taken on this album. Next are two similar tracks, “In the Dark” and “Battles in the Night”, with the former alternating nicely between very fast verses and a slow, but beautiful chorus, with the highlight being a very rare clean vocal section from Federico, whose clean vocals are otherwise largely relegated to serving as vocal harmonies, while the latter stays at a fast pace throughout, and has a nice solo in the second half.

The first of two longer tracks on the album is “Winterfall”. It’s a very epic track, where the keys have a slight symphonic feel to them, while the guitar work is a bit heavier and harder hitting at times, while at other points it switches to some of those epic Maiden style galloping riffs, with the vocal melodies also have a strong Maiden influence. It’s a very epic, fast-paced and melodic track, overall, and it’s one of the two tracks here to feature some of Federico’s intense, powerful harsh vocals. They come in quick bursts throughout the track, with Jade leading the way through most of it, but the harsh vocals are very effective and help make the track even more epic than it otherwise would have been.

Moving into the second half, “Unspoken” is another speedy, but pretty light track, with small traces of that classic heavy metal sound to the guitars, though for the most part, it’s a more modernized, melodic track, which reminds me a bit of some Temperance tracks, particularly with the trance-like keys, and the chorus. It’s a very fun track, overall. Next is the lightest full song on the album, “Lost in Time”, which is a bit slower and more keyboard driven than all the other songs here, though it still moves at a pretty fast pace, and it still has some nice guitar work. It also has some amazing vocals, as Jade sings a bit lighter and at a slightly higher pitch than normal, but she completely nails it, especially during the amazing, super melodic and catchy chorus, which only gets better during the amazing final run. It’s the most accessible track here, as well as one of my favorites.

In between the two previously mentioned interludes is “Forever”, another fast-paced and very melodic track, with some epic backing vocal harmonies from Federico, as well as another excellent chorus, and a great guitar solo in the second half. Closing out the album is the title track, which is another speedy, hard-hitting track, which moves at a blistering pace early on, alternating nicely between clean and harsh vocals, before slowing down for an epic, very beautiful chorus. It’s a track that alternates very nicely between fast and slow passages throughout, as well as making equally great use of Jade’s smooth and powerful clean vocals, and Federico’s intense harsh vocals. It brings back a bit of the melodeath elements from the debut and is definitely one of my favorites here.

Overall, Crowned in Frost is an excellent sophomore release from Frozen Crown, even if I feel it could have been slightly better. It’s clear the band has figured their sound out at this point, and the more focused power metal sound works very well for the band, while allowing Jade to fully take over the leading role, as she deserves, but it also still gives space for Federico to occasionally come in with his own excellent vocals. However, the lack of variety is a bit disappointing, and I’m not too pleased by the fact that 3/11 tracks are purely instrumental, with the intro being the only one that fully works, and doesn’t feel distracting. Overall, though, it’s an excellent release, which should please fans of the debut, and I’d definitely recommend it to any power metal fan looking for a great release, with some excellent, melodic guitar work, some great, epic keys, and some excellent female vocals. I think the band still has room for improvement, but they continue to show promise, and while I slightly prefer The Fallen King, both of their albums so far have been excellent.

originally written for myglobalmind.com: https://myglobalmind.com/2019/03/23/frozen-crown-crowned-in-frost-review/

BLOODBOUND Rise of the Dragon Empire

Album · 2019 · Power Metal
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It’s very common for bands within similar genres to influence one another. In fact, many bands are often influenced by those from within completely different genres. Bands borrowing ideas from another is quite common and can work quite well, as long as the band in question is willing to put their own unique touches on the music, to make it stand out. However, there’s always a tight line one must walk in such a case, so as not to fall into outright impersonation, or worse, plagiarism.

One band who has been clearly wearing their influences on their sleeves in recent years is Swedish power metal band Bloodbound. They initially started out with their own sound, being one of the heavier power metal bands around, but they’ve evolved a lot over the years, with their sixth album, Stormborn, in particular marking the beginning of their current brand of symphonic infused power metal, clearly influenced by Sabaton. Where that album and its successor, War of Dragons, showed clear influences of the aforementioned band on many tracks, however, their upcoming eighth full length release, Rise of the Dragon Empire, comes dangerously close to total impersonation at times, with some tracks feeling unmistakably familiar. However, the band has managed to work their magic, and put in enough of their own unique qualities, as well as continued with their usual excellent songwriting, in order to craft yet another excellent album, even if it does feel like a slight step down from their last couple.

Stylistically, Rise of the Dragon Empire is very similar to War of Dragons, with the band softening their sound even further, giving way to a largely keyboard dominant sound, with a continued emphasis on huge vocal melodies and epic choruses. The biggest change to the sound is the inclusion of some minor folk elements, which appear here and there on some tracks, though they’re most noticeable on “The Warlock’s Trail” and the closing ballad “Reign of Fire”. Aside from the slight issues of musical plagiarism, which I’ll get into in a bit, the songwriting is consistently excellent once again, with a continued focus on fun, catchy and very melodic power metal, with some symphonic influences, just as one would expect from a follow up to the band’s most successful album to date. Performances are strong across the board, with dual guitarists Henrik and Tomas Olsson, keyboardist Fredrik Bergh and vocalist Patrik J. Selleby all being in top form, as always, with the latter occasionally sounding a bit softer than usual, to fit the tone of the music, though he can still carry an epic chorus just as well as ever.

I usually do my song by song breakdowns in order, but for this album I’ll start with the slightly problematic tracks and slowly work my way up to the highlights, to end the review on a more positive note. First up, while the track is excellent in its own right, being a very melodic, somewhat upbeat track with some slight folk influence in the guitars, it doesn’t have the energy or speed one would expect from an opening track by this band. It does have an amazing chorus, though, except that Patrik sounds slightly quieter than normal, and doesn’t seem fully engaged. Two tracks later is “Skyriders and Stormbringers”, where right from the start of my first listen, my plagiarism detector went off, with the opening bars of the chorus being oddly familiar, and then once the opening verse starts, the main drum beat kicks in and it feels so similar to “Carolus Rex” by Sabaton, it’s just really hard to shake it off and fully enjoy the track. However, the chorus itself is absolutely spectacular once it kicks in, and over time, once I was able to get over the obvious impersonation, the song has managed to grow on me a lot, with the highlight being an incredible sped up passage in the middle, and that’s by far the freshest sounding section on the track.

The Sabaton soundalike marathon continues on “Blackwater Bay”, a slow, largely keyboard driven track, which has some very epic choral vocal during the verses, as well as a very fun and catchy chorus, It’s a slower paced track, very much in line with what the aforementioned band has been doing a lot lately, though it does have enough memorable moments to help make it stand out, so it doesn’t suffer as much from the comparison as “Skyriders and Stormbringers”. The last song that feels extremely familiar is “Giants of Heaven”, a speedier track where the opening riff really feels like it could have been taken from the likes of “Solider of 3 Armies”, “Poltava” or “Counterstrike”, among others, though there are some strong, epic symphonic elements to help distinguish it a bit, and the verses are explosive, while the chorus is every bit as epic and catchy as always, so it still ends up being an amazing track. Honestly, all four of these tracks are excellent in their own right, but I felt I had to mention how familiar they feel, as fans of the band in question may be taken a bit off guard, and think they accidentally put on the wrong album, or something.

Moving into more positive territory, “Breaking the Beast” is a fun, hard hitting heavy metal infused track, with some surprisingly heavy riffs during the opening, as well as during the excellent chorus, while the verses are melodic, but keep the momentum going nicely. It’s not quite amazing, like many of the other tracks here, but it’s still a very satisfying track, overall. Closing ballad “Reign of Fire”, is one of two more folk infused tracks here, with folk melodies dominating the music throughout, and it’s a very beautiful track, with calm, slow building verses giving way to an epic chorus, where Patrik goes all out and sounds amazing, especially near the end of the track.

And now, it’s time to mention the true killers, starting with lead single “Slayer of Kings”, a fast paced track, which starts off with a calm, melodic intro section, before the band quickly speeds things up and keeps the momentum going with some blistering riffs, thundering drums and epic vocals during the verses, before giving a way to a slow, but super melodic and unbelievably fun and catchy chorus. This is the kind of track the band excels at, and they really knocked it out of the park on this one. Two tracks later, “Magical Eye” is a more symphonic influenced, but still fast paced track, which is a bit lighter, but still has some great riffs, as well as an incredibly addictive chorus, fun verses, and an excellent guitar solo in the second half.

The most folk infused track here is “The Warlock’s Trail”, a mid paced stomper of a track, which uses its folk melodies very nicely during the chorus, while having some epic, fun verses. The chorus in particular is one of the best here, though, with a very cheery tone, epic vocals and a strong folk influence, to help make it absolutely wonderful, with the last run through being especially amazing. Near the end of the album is “Balerion”, another very speedy, highly symphonic track, with a slight neoclassical feel in the guitar work. It’s one of the fastest tracks here, while still having some great keys, and the chorus is again outstanding, while the verses are fast, furious and a ton of fun, and the guitar solo near the end is very epic and well played. The highlight of the track is an amazing stop/start section right near the end, and the ensuing final run through the chorus is awe inspiring.

My favourite track on the album, though, is “A Blessing in Sorcery”, another very speedy track, which definitely has some of that Sabaton influence in the keys, but unlike the other tracks I mentioned earlier, it doesn’t remind me of any particular tracks, instead using those influences in a more subtle way to craft something even more epic and unbelievably addictive and catchy, with the chorus in particular being one of the best sing along choruses I’ve come across in quite some time, while the rest of the song moves at a great pace, and is very melodic and epic, as well, with the choral section in the middle being particularly unforgettable. It’s simply the band at their absolute best, and is definitely an early 2019 highlight, as well as one of my favourite Bloodbound songs to date.

I was initially a bit disappointed with Rise of the Dragon Empire, due to some of the tracks feeling dangerously familiar, but once I got over that and started digger a bit deeper into those tracks, as well as focusing more on the album’s highlights, it ended up growing on me, and has proven itself to be yet another excellent album from Bloodbound. It doesn’t quite match Stormborn or War of Dragons, but it’s still a highly addictive, very melodic album, with some amazing choruses, as well as being the band’s most varied album in quite a while, continuing with the symphonic elements of its predecessor, while adding in some subtle folk elements. Fans of the band should love it, and fans of the more melodic, keyboard driven side of the genre are highly recommended to check this album out, as Bloodbound continue to be one of the best in the business, even if their influences are starting to become a bit too obvious, at times.

originally written for myglobalmind.com: https://myglobalmind.com/2019/03/16/bloodbound-rise-of-the-dragon-empire-review/

THEM Manor Of The Se7en Gables

Album · 2018 · Power Metal
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Kev Rowland
The album starts with an introduction which would not sound of place on a Clive Nolan project, as right from the off we realise this is going to be a concept album, with loads of atmosphere and menace. True, there are times throughout when the additional voices are applied with the panache of a tiler’s trowel as opposed to artist’s brushstroke, but that shouldn’t take away from what is a highly enjoyable album which has obviously been influenced by classic Savatage and Virgin Steele. This is their second release, following up on 2016’s debut ‘Sweet Hollow’, but many of the band have already been around for quite a while. Frontman KK Fossor (ex-Coldsteel) has a classic heavy metal voice, hitting high notes with ease and loads of power, and he is front and centre on all they do.

Main songwriter Markus Ulrich (Lanfear, Septagon, A Cosmic Trail) is joined by guitarist Markus Johansson (Sylencer, 4ARM), drummer Angel Cotte (ex-Demolition Hammer), bassist Alexander Palma and keyboardist Richie Seibel (Lanfear, Ivanhoe). “We had already decided on the album’s plot when Markus and I started writing the songs,” Ullrich explains. “That’s why we worked in chronological order, composing first the intro and then each track in the scheduled sequence, which allowed us to keep in mind the story line and link the songs where stylistically possible. In line with the story’s dramaturgy, the album kicks off with tough sounds, takes a number of surprising turns and ends as tough as a real metal album should.”

The vocals stand up against strong technical metal, and it was no surprise to discover that Paul Sabu (Alice Cooper, David Bowie) was in the studio with the band to assist with some of the BV’s. As with every aspect of the album, they are sheer class, and the result is something any fan of technical power metal will enjoy a great deal.

RHAPSODY OF FIRE Symphony Of Enchanted Lands

Album · 1998 · Power Metal
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siLLy puPPy
Italy’s Luca Turilli and Alex Starapoli pioneered the new subgenre of symphonic power metal in creation on the 1997 RHAPSODY debut “Legendary Tales” which set their mystical medieval folklore laden lyrics to a unique mix of symphonic classical and baroque music, power metal and Celtic folk that was drawn out to epic scopes and to which the band RHAPSODY has always referred to as film score metal for its high fantasy polished and hard driving operatic sound circus. The band returned the following year to deliver the stellar sophomore release SYMPHONY OF ENCHANTED LANDS which fine-tuned the melding alchemic musical principles into a greater cohesive whole.

One of the main complaints about the debut was that the metal was only intermittent as sprawling classical tinged folk laden symphonic marches swallowed up vast amounts of real estate with only partial metal satisfaction for head banging pleasures. SYMPHONY OF ENCHANTED LANDS more than corrects that and offers a much greater presence of the power metal elements in the vein of classic Helloween augmented with the tighter control of the classical symphonic prowess that makes this second offering a much more energetic listening experience as it traipses through the mystical musical worlds of dragons, orcs, mages and Middle Earth sensibilities.

While RHAPSODY’s style may sound cliche by today’s standards, this Italian band was the one that kicked off this epic over-the-top symphonic power metal thing. So true that power metal does have its share of cheese and RHAPSODY is no exception with the strident operatic vocals of Fabio Lione wailing over the soaring neoclassical guitar shredding, power metal hooks and Celtic jigs meets J.S. Bach musical interludes but the stellar performances of the musicians pretty much blew everyone else away in the scene during the 90s and with a whopping sixteen guest musicians playing everything from mandolins, balalaikas, oboes and violins to marching drums and harpsichord, it’s almost as if this entire performance was done by a group of classical trained musicians moonlighting to their favorite metal style.

The saga begins with the epic soundtrack intro of “Epicus Furor” which not only introduces a Carl Orff sort of classical bombast but displays one of the most epic elements of the entire album, namely the outstanding choir sections that build up the momentum and lead to the metal fury of “Emerald Sword.” Different tracks focus on different musical genres as the lead musical flavor. While the “Emerald Sword” rips through the metal orotundity, the following “Wisdom Of The Kings” breaks out the folk melodies that incorporate stellar baroque keyboard stabs into the mix and flawlessly weaves the magic of pastoral lands, metal power angst and classical nights at the opera. Both Starapoli and Turilli trade off with virtuosic neoclassical soloing and Lione delivers a soaring vocal charm that despite being the strongest element of the band’s sound somehow fits into the larger scheme of things.

Despite some of the best tracks of RHAPSODY’s career such as the thirteen minute progressive closing title track which summarizes the entire album in a mystical amalgamation of the disparate genres presented, the album has its moments that don’t quite work so well. While the baroque meets folk interlude “Heroes Of The Lost Valley” starts off as a sweet soiree of a folk meets baroque encounter of the days of yore, the narrative part brings out all the cheese with some contrived poetic prose that sounds like an intro to a video game tutorial. However despite a few moments where the cheese factor is turned up to ridiculousness, for the most part it’s tamped down in favor of some intricate melodic interplay of the main instrumental prowess of guitar, keyboards, bass and drums with the army of supplemental sounds mainly serving the introductory parts.

Despite more emphasis on the power metal, by no means was this at the cost of the symphonic classical elements nor does it mean the folk and other instruments have been diminished one bit. It’s just that things had been integrated into a much larger picture that fits into the grandeur of the epic tale at hand. RHAPSODY were the masters of alternating between heavy bombastic metal and lush classical passages and back again with elements of folk, vocal choirs and even symphonic prog that keeps the music interesting enough for repeated listens as it chugs along and then at the drop of a hat smoothly drifts around like a feather on a zephyr breeze. RHAPSODY developed their unique style early on but on SYMPHONY OF ENCHANTED LANDS, the band created a more mature version of it and would remain amazingly consistent in their run of albums that followed. Better in many ways than the debut but a few speed bumps keep it from being perfect as well.

IRON FIRE Beyond the Void

Album · 2019 · Power Metal
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There are some great power metal bands who seem to be going largely unnoticed, despite consistently making great albums, with one of my favorites being Danish band Iron Fire. I’ve been a fan of the band since their 2010 release Metalmorphosized, which marked the beginnings of a more modernized sound for the band after their past releases were all fairly traditional European power metal albums. They especially blew me away with the more progressive, symphonic and just plain epic Voyage of the Damned, though sadly that one wasn’t too well received, and the band took a bit of a break afterward. However, over four years later the band returned in 2016, with Among the dead, a hard-hitting collection of heavy/power metal tracks, that while being more straight-forward compared to its predecessor, was still intense and left me extremely satisfied.

Now, the band is set to release their ninth full-length album, Beyond the Void, and it is yet another killer! Fans of Among the Dead should know exactly what to expect, as the lineup remains unchanged, and musically this is a direct continuation of that album, with the same kind of raw, hard-hitting power metal, mixed with some classic heavy metal and some occasional thrashy riffs. While Among the Dead was a concept album revolving around a zombie apocalypse, Beyond the Void deals with many different lyrical themes, but otherwise, it’s pretty much more of the same, to the point where a couple of tracks feel eerily similar to tracks from the previous release, though the songwriting is consistently strong enough for that to not be a big problem.

Performances are as strong as always, with the guitar work being as heavy as before, though there are some more melodic passages compared to the previous album, and these are very well done, drums are mostly fast and furious and well done, and of course Martin Steene’s deep and raspy vocals are as strong as ever, with the faint hints of extreme metal vocals he showed on the previous album continuing to creep in from time to time. Production is also top notch and powerful sounding, as expected. Songwriting is generally fast-paced, intense and plain fun, with the occasional slower track and one ballad to offer up some variety. This is the kind of album, though, where you won’t be surprised very often, but it’ll keep you consistently entertained, with excellent riffs, some great melodies, powerful vocals and just some really fun, highly addictive songs.

Following a brief intro, the title track kicks in and is very similar to the title track of Among the Dead, with everything from the lead riff to the chorus feeling oddly familiar, to the point where I wasn’t enjoying it much at first, but over time it has grown on me. Anyone who hasn’t heard the previous album should be entertained immediately, as it’s a fast paced, hard hitting power metal track, with fun verses, thrashy riffs, and a strong, catchy chorus. On the more interesting side, “Final Warning” is a slower building track, featuring a pummeling main riff, heavy verses which march along at a decent pace, and a light, melodic chorus, which picks up the pace as it goes along. It has great, emotional lyrics about destroying the Earth, and is a very good song overall. My favorite song on the first half, and probably the whole album, is “Cold Chains of the North” a fast, hard-hitting track which has more of those thrashy riffs, as well as a frantic, but very melodic chorus, with some pretty cool gang vocals, and some excellent lead vocals from Martin. It’s a very fun, catchy and highly energetic track, which just gets everything right.

Keeping the momentum going, “Wrong Turn” has some of the thrashiest riffs on the album, along with hard-hitting verses, and a basic, but the very fun chorus. Two more speedy tracks are up next, with “Bones and Gasoline”, which has soft, melodic passages during the intro and verses, which remind me a bit of some classic Metallica songs, while the chorus is speedy and fun, and “Old Habits Die Hard”, a more melodic but very speedy track, where Martin uses some of his harsh vocals throughout, and does a great job, as always. Both songs are straight-forward, and pure fun, just like pretty much every song on the album. The lone ballad of the album is “Judgement Day”, which has some beautiful, melodic guitar work, calm verses where Martin uses some of his softest vocals ever and sounds great, and another powerful, epic chorus. It has a great solo in the second half, but the highlight comes a bit before that, with a more intense, yet still melodic section, with some of the best vocals on the album, along with the line “recreate a world without hate, and bring me back to 1998”, which cracks me up every time I hear it.

Moving into the final sequence of the album, “To Hell and Back” is another frantic, hard-hitting track, with some very heavy and intense verses, as well as one of the more traditional power metal choruses on the album. It’s yet another very energetic, highly addictive track, of the sort the band excels at in this stage of their career. My favorite of the final four tracks is “One More Bullet”, a slower, heavier metal based track, with heavy verses, and an intense, but very melodic and catchy chorus, with more nonsensical, but fun lyrics and the guitar solo near the end is really cool, as well. The track has a classic heavy metal feel to it, in an awesome way and is one of the catchiest and most addictive tracks on the album. The last full speedy track on the album is “The Devil’s Path”, another thrashy power metal track, with a great mix between clean and semi-harsh vocals, as well as more excellent thrashy riffs, and a fun chorus. The track sounds pretty similar to “Tornado of Sickness” from the previous album but still manages to be great in its own way. Closing out the album is “Out of Nowhere”, another classic heavy metal sounding track, with more laid back, but enjoyable verses, and an upbeat, very fun chorus, with some excellent vocal melodies. It speeds up towards the end and gets very epic during the final run through its chorus, before closing out softly and ending the album on a high note.

Iron Fire is one of those bands that will probably never get the attention they deserve, but they manage to consistently put out great, hard-hitting power metal albums at least once every few years, and Beyond the Void is no exception. It largely builds on the more modernized, somewhat thrashy sound they started on Among the Dead and offers up the kind of heavy, energetic and highly addictive power metal the band specializes in, while also mixing in a bit of classic heavy metal on some tracks. Fans of the band’s previous album should love this, while fans who prefer their earlier albums may again be disappointed, but anyone unfamiliar band and looking for some hard hitting, fun heavy/power metal with a slightly modern twist, should definitely give this one a shot, as it’s definitely one of Iron Fire’s finest works to date!

originally written for myglobalmind.com: https://myglobalmind.com/2019/03/10/iron-fire-beyond-the-void-review/

power metal movie reviews


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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