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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
) 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 GenresMelodic 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:
Showing only albums and EPs | Based on members ratings & MMA custom algorithm | 5 min. caching
Album · 2015 ·
Its 2015, the German Power Metal legends Helloween have released their 15th full-length studio album proper, not counting EPs or compilations or the symphonic Unarmed album. It is their fifth consecutive release with the same stable line-up (a big deal for a band who’ve had such a turnover of musicians in their time), and their tenth overall with Andi Deris fronting the band (making that now twice as many Helloween albums with him as without him). It was produced by Power Metal producer extraordinaire Charlie Bauerfeind (Freedom Call, Gamma Ray, Blind Guardian, Primal Fear, Hammerfall) and released through Nuclear Blast. The version I got came in a 3D lenticular box with bonus tracks although there are many versions available.
My God-Given Right very much picks up where the last couple of Helloween albums left off. Sometimes Helloween make a change-up to their sound for about half-an album, like on The Dark Ride or 7 Sinners being heavier, or Rabbit Don’t Come Easy being more experimental, but this isn’t one of those times. This is the core Helloween sound through and through. It wouldn’t be too mean spirited to say “you’ve heard most of these songs before” because it just lets you know that you are getting what you want: fun, melodic, cheesy, commercial Power Metal with a bit of a sense of humour.
There are moments where they throw in piano, synths or mess around with progressive structures – but mostly its driving, fun Power Metal in a mix of tempos. You get the more Hard Rock flavoured single, the slower more ballady track, the balls-out fast paced track, and the rest of it is what I’d call the medium Deris Helloween sound (which is exactly what I wanted, expected and appreciate having). If you are a fan of any album since Master Of The Rings, and the albums since Keeper’ The Legacy in particular, you’re going to love it!
The highlights for me are ‘Russian Roulé,’ ‘Living On The Edge’ (which I always feel like its called ‘Carry On’ since that’s the main chant in the chorus) and the very fun, and very very cheesy ‘If God Loves Rock And Roll’ which has the best chorus on the album, and a deliciously silly breakdown in the centre which I should hate but absolutely love for some reason. The bonus tracks too are very good, being a bit more experimental and in a slightly different mood to the rest of the record, making a nice little contrast at the end.
The band have been on a roll for the last few albums, each one in turn could be called a career highlight or have the “…the best album since” tag applied to it, and this is no different. This is a perfect Helloween album. No filler, no messing about, nothing worth skipping, just an album chocked full of giving the people what they want and somehow not feeling tired or like they’re repeating themselves, something this band have a real knack for. I’m biased, I know, but I highly recommend checking out this album, and have nothing negative to say about it whatsoever – get yourself a copy and enjoy the pumpkin-y goodness.
EP · 2002 ·
You know when you’re not expecting much from something, but then when you get it, your expectations are completely blown away, and you wonder how you could have been so far from the mark? Listening to Shakhan’s ‘In The Zone’ was one of those occasions.
The CD came with a vague warning “it sounds a bit nu-metal-ish in places…”, which conjured up images of grown men whining like spotty teens, idiots dressed up in masks rejected from “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 17”, and guitars deliberately out of tune to disguise a lack of playing ability. Happily, the warning was wrong.
It’s always good to hear something which feels familiar, even on a first listen. A number of bands come to mind listening to this little EP- Re-Animator, Iron Maiden, Sacred Reich, Death Angel, Anthrax. Old school metal is alive and well, and resides in New Zealand.
In an age of one finger chords played over and over passing as “metal”, this was a refreshing listen. The rhythm guitar is strong but versatile. The riffing is far from straight forward, chopping all over the place, and intermeshed with leads, twin leads, harmonics, and plenty of other little effects.
The first riff on opener “Moth sounds a little like Skid Row’s “Slave To The Grind”, the only decent riff Skid Row ever wrote. Shakhan wrote lots of them.
While only five songs long, this EP shows an excellent understanding of dynamics and songwriting ability. “Sandstorm” has an epic feel to it, while the title track would be a mosh pit favourite.
An unusual aspect of the band is the vocals. They are shouted, yet tuneful, in the vein of Roger Miret from Agnostic Front or Lou Koller from Sick Of It All. There are also shades of Poison Idea and latter day MOD. The hardcore influence adds a more modern edge to Shakhan’s sound, even though a lot of it is reminiscent of the late 80s and early 90s.
After repeated listens, the nu-metal sound never emerges, for which we should all be grateful.
-rewritten from a review which first appeared in the Ashburton Guardian, 19 June, 2003.
Album · 2015 ·
Christopher Bowes sure is a master of gimmicks. First, he formed pirate metal band Alestorm, who have become very successful over the years, due to their unique sound and addictive sing along anthems. Then in 2012 he started a new fantasy themed power metal band called Gloryhammer, whose 2013 debut Tales From the Kingdom of Fife provided some very enjoyable epic power metal, to go along with some hilarious lyrics and narration, as the band fully embraced the cheesier sides of both genres. With their second full length album Space 1992: Rise of the Chaos Wizards, the band has gone even further into the realms of silliness, adding a sci-fi twist to their already engaging concept, while musically the album goes further towards establishing their own sound. All of this has resulted in an album that stands above its predecessor, and is possibly the best album Christopher Bowes has been involved with to date.
Musically, Rise of the Chaos Wizards takes what worked on the debut, and goes much further with it. Where the debut was mostly straight-forward power metal, enhanced by the silly lyrics and occasional symphonic elements, on this album they have gone all in and become a full fledged symphonic power metal band. I was initially surprised by the title track, which opens with the orchestra and choirs leading the way, and this carries on throughout a song that very much feels like a sillier, more fun version of Rhapsody. One difference, though, is that while the guitars are mostly secondary to Christopher's keyboards and the orchestra, they do come out in full force for the solo section, and the track is definitely heavier than anything on Luca Turilli's latest album.
The symphonic elements are quite prominent throughout the album, giving the album an even more epic, more cinematic feel, especially during the aforementioned title track and the near 10 minute closing track “Apocalypse 1992”, but on the whole this is still very much a power metal album, with the guitars still very clear in the mix most of the time. Most tracks are as fast paced as you'd expect, and obviously there’s a ton of insanely addictive choruses and excellent vocal melodies, as any power metal fan would expect. I find the keyboards to be very memorable on this album as well, as they at times have a very cheesy sound to them, such as on the ultra catchy and very 80's rock sounding “Universe on Fire” which is by far the lightest track on the album, as well as one of my favorites, due to that insane chorus and Thomas Winkler's vocals. Another important elements of the album is of course the concept. I generally don't care for the concepts on Rhapsody albums, and I often find their narrations to be excessive, but on this album Gloryhammer has done a great job of inserting in some humorous narrations that explain the plot well, without ever becoming a major distraction, and there certainly aren't any throwaway tracks where the narration takes over.
One thing required for a successful symphonic power metal album is good vocals. Thankfully, this is another area where Gloryhammer excels. I was impressed by Thomas Winkler on their debut, and this time around he sounds even more impressive. He has a very dramatic delivery which fits in great with the music, and it often sounds like he's deliberately trying to sound as cheesy as possible while still singing well, and he pulls this off wonderfully. His pop sounding vocals on “Universe on Fire” are especially brilliant, while on more epic songs like the title track and “Goblin King of the Darkstorm Galaxy”, he sounds much more powerful.
The songwriting quality on Rise of the Chaos Wizard is extremely consistent. Every song is fantastic, and there's enough variety that it never starts to blend together. Some of my favorite tracks include the title track, with its amazing use of orchestras and choirs, the extremely addictive “Goblin King of the Darkstorm Galaxy” with it's incredible chorus, “, the speedier, more straight-forward power metal tracks “The Hollywood Hootsman”, where Thomas uses some pretty epic wails towards the end, the ultra cheesy and melodic “Universe on Fire”, which would probably feel out of place on some metal albums, but fits in great with Christopher Bowes and his crazy sense of humor, and the closing track “Apocalypse 1992”, which starts out fairly upbeat, before an ominous voiceover comes in, and from there the song takes a dark turn, becomes much more intense, and never lets up. Oddly enough, for someone who specializes in silly gimmicks and sing along choruses, I find Christopher Bowes always delivers big when he attempts more bigger, more challenging compositions, and this is probably his best yet. The combination of the heavy guitars, cinematic sounding orchestras, narrations and incredibly vocals, all add up into one amazing track.
I was expecting great things from Rise of the Chaos Wizards, being a longtime fan of Alestorm, as well as a fan of Tales From the Kingdom of Fife, but if anything Gloryhammer have outdone themselves this time, and have produced one of my favorite albums of 2015, as well as already one of my most played albums of the year. Simply put, this is symphonic power metal done right, and is highly recommended for any fans of the genre, as well as obviously for existing fans of the band and Christopher Bowes.
(originally written for myglobalmind.com: http://myglobalmind.com/2015/09/24/gloryhammer-space-1992-rise-of-the-chaos-wizards-review/)
Movie · 2013 ·
US Power Metal
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.
Movie · 1997 ·
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