Power Metal

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Introduction

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

US Power Metal

The first kind of metal to be called power metal was USPM. This type of power metal is covered in its own child sub-genre here on MMA and can be read about at: http://www.metalmusicarchives.com/subgenre/us-power-metal

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).

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
  • 666Sharon666

power metal top albums

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FALCONER Among Beggars and Thieves Album Cover Among Beggars and Thieves
FALCONER
4.95 | 7 ratings
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HELLOWEEN Keeper of the Seven Keys Part 2 Album Cover Keeper of the Seven Keys Part 2
HELLOWEEN
4.57 | 90 ratings
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PHARAOH The Longest Night Album Cover The Longest Night
PHARAOH
4.87 | 8 ratings
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DRAGONFORCE Maximum Overload Album Cover Maximum Overload
DRAGONFORCE
4.78 | 9 ratings
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ANCIENT BARDS Soulless Child Album Cover Soulless Child
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4.84 | 7 ratings
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BLIND GUARDIAN Beyond the Red Mirror Album Cover Beyond the Red Mirror
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4.69 | 11 ratings
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NIGHTMARE Genetic Disorder Album Cover Genetic Disorder
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4.94 | 5 ratings
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SABATON Carolus Rex Album Cover Carolus Rex
SABATON
4.73 | 9 ratings
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WUTHERING HEIGHTS Far From The Madding Crowd Album Cover Far From The Madding Crowd
WUTHERING HEIGHTS
4.60 | 17 ratings
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KELDIAN Journey of Souls Album Cover Journey of Souls
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4.90 | 5 ratings
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power metal Music Reviews

ANGRA Holy Land

Album · 1996 · Power Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
Kingcrimsonprog
The Brazilian Heavy Metal band Angra’s debut album Angels Cry had sounded somewhere in the area of like a mixture between early Helloween and Queensryche. Three years later the band diversified their sound, with a sort of Dream Theater flair in places, a lot less Power Metal, and the introduction of what would come to define the band in the eyes of many… lots of Brazilian indigenous folk music influences, additional percussion and classical influences in there too for good measure. Where the first album had a lot more speed, this album mixes it up. It’s a lot more rhythmic, based on interesting patterns. They upped the amount of keyboards, orchestral arrangements and percussion for sure, and there’s some sound effects here and there (boat and water sounds to fit with the theme), but the biggest difference is in how the songs flow and are structured.

Its also a concept album about their Brazilian homeland and its early history. Not your typical character-driven concept (usually about a fictional rockstar). It makes for interesting listening and adds an extra layer of intrigue to the proceedings.

The style has changed a little since the debut, but what hasn’t changed is the band’s talent. The vocals and lead guitar alone are phenomenal and then you have the really powerful rhythm section who shower this album full of impressive bass runs and tricky fills and manage all the tempo and time sig changes effortlessly making the complexity feel smooth and natural.

The superb production job by Power Metal producer-extraordinaire Charlie Bauerfeind (Hammerfall, Helloween, Gamma Ray, Primal Fear, Blind Guardian, Freedom Call etc.) is the icing on the cake that pulls together the spectacular songwriting and performances and makes you appreciate everything all the more.

Highlights include ‘Nothing To Say’ which is beyond catchy, ‘Carolina IV’ and perhaps my favourite of all, ‘Z.I.T.O’ which starts off in an Angel’s Cry mould and then goes off on one.

Overall, this is a really good album from a talented band. If you like your Prog Metal or your Power Metal then you need to check out Angra, and if you like Angra then Holy Land is pretty essential listening.

RUNNING WILD Port Royal

Album · 1988 · Power Metal
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adg211288
Port Royal (1988) is the fourth full-length studio album by German power/heavy metal act Running Wild. The album introduced bassist Jens Becker (later of Grave Digger) and drummer Stefan Schwarzmann to the line-up. The album continues to promote the pirate themes that began on the previous album Under Jolly Roger (1987) and have arguably become what the band is best known for, though it never applied to all of their work, which I feel may be a common misconception when it comes to Running Wild.

Port Royal is one of the Running Wild albums that my experience with has had its ups and downs. Initially impressive while still discovering the band, I reached a stage where the album started to come across as being a lesser Running Wild release and therefore I didn't give it as much attention as others out of their discography (such as Black Hand Inn (1994) and Death or Glory (1989)). Later, now familiar with most of the band's discography, I gave Port Royal another go and over the course of several subsequent listens to the album, it's actually become one of my favourite Running Wild records.

Musically Port Royal is like a logically progression from the sound heard on Under Jolly Roger. With the European power metal scene still in its formative years when both these albums were released the vibe of the music is still very much traditional heavy metal and that separates it from the more pure power metal bands of today (and even genre originators Helloween back then) and even from later heavy/power metal crosses such as Grave Digger (who turned to power metal in the nineties). There's a distinct 80's vibe to be heard. But the differences even between Under Jolly Roger and Port Royal are quite large. Port Royal sees the band fully embracing a new power metal direction, whereas Under Jolly Roger sounds like some kind of proto-power metal by comparison. The production of the music is the weak link for me, though I guess it was typical for the time if you weren't a major band like Iron Maiden or Judas Priest and had to operate on a smaller budget. But really that lack of polish is what makes Port Royal distinctly Running Wild.

Beginning with a intro filled with tavern noise a man asks where he is. He's promptly informed that he is in Port Royal, which allows the band to lead off with the title track. Port Royal (located in Jamaica) was quite the haven for piracy during the Golden Age of Piracy, so it's no surprise to find Running Wild using it in their music given their then still rather newfound love of pirate themes. For me the title track is actually one of the album's less impressive moments, though it is still quite good. Further tracks provide much higher levels of enjoyment. One that instantly stood out even from the very first listen was the final track, Calico Jack. John "Calico Jack" Rackham was a real-life pirate who lived between 1682 - 1720, who is credited to designing the infamous Jolly Roger flag. The song remains one of Running Wild's very best, not just for its music but the actually rather humours dialogue exchange where the band do their own re-enactment of Rackham being sentenced to death, in which as his last words he promptly tells the judge to 'stick his pompous words where the sun don't shine'. I believe that this is poetic licence on Running Wild's part; I have googled and can't find any more credible records of Rackham's last words. But who cares right? It's a killer song, no pun intended.

Other highlights of the album are Conquistadores, which is quite the addictive track and perhaps surprisingly, the instrumental Final Gates, just because it's so different from the musical standards set by the rest of the album. This is probably because it was written by Jens Becker and is his only credit on the album. It's the sort of track that can throw you off when first discovering an album, but I love that they included it. Uaschitschun deserves a mention too. While not my favourite songs from Port Royal, it is one of the band's most popular tracks. Uaschitschun is one of the Running Wild songs that is a departure from the pirate theme. Instead it deals with pollution from a Native American perspective.

Fans of eighties metal would do well to explore the music of Running Wild. By modern standards I suppose it's fair to say that their sound was never exactly groundbreaking but they were one of the first bands of European style power metal and as far as German power metal goes I've come to consider the band second only to the mighty Blind Guardian. While I don't find Running Wild's later records anywhere near as interesting as the first ten (eleven if one counts the re-recordings release The First Years of Piracy (1991)) in terms of overall consistency I personally feel that they have a run of a strong releases that lasted the better part of two decades. Port Royal belongs to the upper end of that run of albums though; an essential release of eighties heavy/power metal that fully deserves a 5 star rating.

Now for the downside; Port Royal has, despite some reissues over the years including one in 2007, become one of those albums that can be quite difficult to find without reaching deep into your wallet. I got lucky and managed to get this and many other Running Wild albums in a more reasonable price range, but prices tend to start at double what I'd consider normal price for a CD album, at the minimum. Fortunately the album can be purchased digitally or streamed with Spotify (unlike some other eighties metal records, even ones that are widely held as genre classics). No matter how you get to hear it, just hear it. But if my experience is anything to go by, give it a bit of time before making your final judgement. Port Royal is a grower and a very rewarding one.

STRATOVARIUS II

Album · 1992 · Power Metal
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Kingcrimsonprog
Back in 1992, Timo Tolkki was in the process of transforming the underground Heavy Metal band Stratovarius into the world renowned Melodic Power Metal band known and loved today. This was before virtuoso singer Timo Kotipelto, drummer Jörg Michael and former Yngwie Malmsteen keyboard hero Jens Johansson joined the band.

Their second album called Twilight Time (or II) is one of those albums that there’s nothing wrong with, but you don’t feel excited about either. I can’t think of a single negative thing to say about any track individually, but as an album its never going to be my favourite. Maybe it’s all a bit too midpaced, maybe the production is too reverby, or maybe I just miss Kotipelto, I don’t know, but this record just doesn’t get my excitement up all that much.

There are some interesting standout moments, such as the strong opener ‘Break The Ice’ which has a sort of ‘Mountain King era Savatage feel, and the rhythmic instrumental ‘Metal Frenzy’ (interestingly less frenzied than some of their later instrumentals, more controlled and mechanical if I’m being pedantic).

If you’re a Stratovarius fan then of course check it out, give it a chance, and give it enough listens to sink in, but in my opinion this is the definition of for-completests-only. I wouldn’t recommend anybody pick this up as an introduction to the band (who would go on to such greater things) and I don’t even think there is a hipster like-the-old-stuff contingent out there who’d like it just because it had a different line-up and didn’t receive much promotion.

Overall, its ok. As I’ve said, there’s nothing wrong with any track, there’s no poor tracks and nothing I’d call filler, its just… ok.

3 INCHES OF BLOOD Advance and Vanquish

Album · 2004 · Power Metal
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Vim Fuego
An Edward J. Repka album cover is generally a good sign for an album. His work has appeared on the cover for some of the biggest names in Metal, like Megadeth, Nuclear Assault and Death. Add 3 Inches of Blood to that illustrious list. Despite being on Roadrunner, the choice of the nu-generation, 3 Inches of Blood deal in metal. ‘Advance and Vanquish’ loads up all the old school metal bases, with obvious debts to Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Manowar, Mercyful Fate/King Diamond, and touches of more recent bands like Blind Guardian and their Germanic power metal compatriots. Dual vocalist bands are generally the domain of insano-grindcore bands where it takes two vocalists to keep up with the music, or lame black metal bands, where the bass player’s lard assed gothic girlfriend warbles along, annoying and tuneless. 3 Inches of Blood use the extra vocalist differently, in that he genuinely is a second singer and not just a bit part player. The dual voices of Cam Pipes and Jamie Hooper play off one another, nicely complementing each other. While one is an almost traditional power metal voice, the other is a harsh screeched thrash style. It allows for more flexibility than a dual voiced single vocalist, helping to create a feel of violence and conflict, and tells two parts of a story. Oddly, there is not a lot of harmonising, even though it would fit some of the material. 3 Inches of Blood live in a world of magic and legend, bloody conflicts and mystical creatures without a single hint of irony or embarrassment. Songs like ‘Destroy the Orcs’ and ‘Swordmaster’ sit comfortably alongside ‘Wykydtron’ (“In the year four thousand fifty five, Wykydtron came alive”) and ‘Crazy Nights’ (“Hammersmith is calling me!”). OK, so it’s not rocket science or brain surgery, it’s mostly medieval type Dungeons and Dragons style fantasy. It’s pure sword wielding, dragon slaying escapism. Musically, 3 Inches of Blood lean toward the Dragonforce-style high speed, low subtlety type of power metal. There is no room for weepy Rhapsody-style ballads. There’s a distinct thrash influence, particularly in the guitar attack, and it rears its head in pretty much every song. The rhythm section is competent enough, but this isn’t really about them. It’s all about the power of the riff and thy mighty sword. ‘Advance and Vanquish’ isn’t exactly ground breaking, but it is refreshing enough to stand out from the crowd, even without the two vocalist gimmick. Songs like ‘Deadly Sinners’, the future fantasy ‘Wykydtron’, ‘Crazy Nights’ and ‘Destroy the Orcs’ stand out as short, sharp punches against the epics, like the ‘Upon The Boiling Sea’ trilogy and ‘Dominion of Deceit’. There is enough to interest fans of power metal, traditional metal and possibly the odd thrasher. ‘Advance and Vanquish’ is a busy little album which lends itself to numerous repeat listening.

GAMMA RAY Power Plant

Album · 1999 · Power Metal
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Kingcrimsonprog
Gamma Ray, the legendary German Melodic Power Metal band fronted by the immensely talented Kai Hansen (Founding member of Helloween, member of Iron Saviour & Unisonic, guest contributor to Angra, Blind Guardian, Primal Fear, Hammerfall, Avantasia and all around fingers-in-many-pies mainstay of the Power Metal scene) really came in to their own with their classic fourth studio album Land Of The Free. They had always been great, but something about that 1995 masterpiece really just elevated them even higher. For me, the three albums that followed maintain that high standard. Most fans will be very familiar with Somewhere Out In Space and the popular No World Order albums. It seems that piggy-in-the-middle record, Powerplant is a bit more overlooked, or in other words underrated.

The album opens with ‘Anywhere In The Galaxy’ which is unquestionable, pure classic Gamma Ray. This sort of song is the reason people love this band. Elsewhere there is the fun tribute to Manowar ‘Heavy Metal Universe’ (filled with constant lyrical references, and musically based on ‘The Gods Made Heavy Metal’) which is great fun. There’s variety with a Pet Shop Boys cover (‘It’s a Sin’), a commercial sounding tune (‘Send Me A Sign’) and a lengthy progressively inclined number (‘Armageddon.’)

The production is a little flatter than the albums which surround it, and sonically it doesn’t perhaps pop out as much, but the songwriting and performances are spot on. ‘Wings Of Destiny,’ ‘Razorblade Sigh’ and the aforementioned gem ‘Anywhere In The Galaxy’ are memorable, melodic ragers that would stand proud on any other Gamma Ray record.

Overall; this album sees Gamma Ray in the middle of a great run of high quality albums. It maybe doesn’t get talked about as much as some other albums but you’ll be damn grateful to have it in your collection once you’ve given it a chance.

power metal movie reviews

ANGRA Angels Cry: 20th Anniversary Tour

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

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

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

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

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

STRATOVARIUS Under Flaming Winter Skies - Live in Tampere

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

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

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

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

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

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

ICED EARTH Live in Ancient Kourion

Movie · 2013 · US 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
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Kingcrimsonprog
High Live is a concert DVD by the legendary German Power Metal band Helloween, recorded in Milan, Italy (and Gerona, Spain) in 1996 on the Time Of The Oath tour.

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

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

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

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

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

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

The track-listing for the main concert is:

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

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

ICED EARTH Festivals of the Wicked

Movie · 2011 · US Power Metal
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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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