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is a sub-genre of heavy metal music created during the 1980’s. The term refers to two related but distinctly different styles of metal, commonly known as US power metal (USPM) and European power metal (Melodic Power Metal), after the geographic regions in which they originated. The stylistic origins of the genre can be traced back to the 1970’s, where artists such as Ronnie James Dio and Judas Priest laid down the groundwork for what would become staples of the power metal sound, including the lyrical themes, vocal style and use of twin lead guitars. The New Wave of British Heavy Metal (NWoBHM) is considered to be an important influence on the European power metal sound in particular. The musical forerunners of power metal are considered to be traditional heavy metal and speed metal. As both USPM and European power metal refer to the regional origin of the styles it is perfectly possible for artists to come from one region and play the style of the other, such as Kamelot, a US band who plays European power metal, while artists from other regions such as Angra (Brazil) and Galneryus (Japan) also play power metal.
US power metal developed first, during the early 1980’s. It is much closer in sound to traditional heavy metal than the later European power metal, but typically played faster. High register vocals are common and artists put emphasis on melodic guitar leads, making it distinct from thrash metal, of which there can be some crossover with, such as Iced Earth. The music features a relative lack of keyboards compared to European power metal. USPM bands can be categorised into two groups, known as blue collar USPM and white collar USPM. Blue collar features a harder hitting thrashy sound while white collar is more melodic and progressive. Popular USPM bands include Jag Panzer, Vicious Rumors, Helstar and Virgin Steele.
European power metal (also known as melodic power metal) developed a bit later and was pioneered by the German band Helloween, who started as a speed metal band. The turning point for Helloween from speed metal to power metal is considered to be between their first two full-lengths, Walls of Jericho (1985) and Keeper of the Seven Keys Part I (1987) and so 1987 is considered to be the starting point of the European power metal genre. The style is much more distinct from its roots than USPM, drawing much more on speed metal, and is perhaps the sound most people think of when presented with the term power metal. European power metal is characterised by fast percussive like guitar riffs, and strong focus on melody, with artist line-ups often including a full time keyboardist. The sound is regarded as more uplifting compared to the many other sub-genres of metal music. Popular European power metal bands also include Gamma Ray, Blind Guardian (both German), Stratovarius (from Finland). Rhapsody of Fire (from Italy) and Sabaton (from Sweden).
Power metal has developed several different variations in addition to the USPM and European standards, mostly in the form of hybrid genres:Symphonic Power Metal
: A style of power metal typically only applicable to the European sound, symphonic power metal increases the use of keyboards to create a symphonic backing, drawing on classical music. The use of symphonic elements in such bands can vary greatly with some artists using them as a main element of their sound, such as Rhapsody of Fire, while some merely use symphonic elements to flavour their music, such as Avantasia. Symphonic power metal releases are always placed under power metal on MMA.Heavy Power Metal
: Not to be confused with USPM, which is closer to traditional heavy metal to begin with, this refers to a hybrid of European power metal with traditional heavy metal. Bands are typically less speed orientated than pure melodic power metal acts. HammerFall is a heavy power metal act from Sweden while Nightmare are from France. Some artists which fall into this category featured a harder hitting, more aggressive sound, such as Grave Digger of Germany, but are still considered to belong to the European power metal genre rather than USPM. They are included under power metal on MMA, although some such artists have also made albums more directly rooted in traditional heavy metal and have those tagged accordingly. Some of the older heavy power metal acts, including Grave Digger and Nightmare, started as heavy metal acts before adding power metal into their sounds later in their careers. Folk Power Metal
: The folk metal as a genre can take its metal elements from almost any other metal genre going, including power metal. Elvenking and Falconer are folk power metal bands. They are typically included under folk metal on MMA, but with cases such as Falconer where folk influences are normally minimal per album, they are included under power metal instead. Additionally some power metal artists, especially Blind Guardian but also Grave Digger, have utilised folk influences in their music.Power-Thrash
: A hybrid of power metal and thrash metal, which can be considered sister genres due to both evolving from speed metal. The so called blue collar USPM can also be considered to be power-thrash but the term typically refers to European power metal mixed with thrash metal, although the early work of Iced Earth is considered to be power-thrash. The mix of elements can vary even within the same artist with some being primarily power metal and others primarily thrash metal. As well as Iced Earth, Dark Empire and Paradox have also released power-thrash albums, while some power metal bands have included thrash metal elements in their sound in smaller amounts, such as Seven Kingdoms and Persuader. Power-thrash artists are treated on a case by case basis on MMA, for example Tales of the Weird (2012) by Paradox is placed under thrash metal, but The Fateful dark (2014) by Savage Messiah is placed under power metal. Progressive Power Metal
: Drawing influences from progressive rock and metal music as well as power metal of either the European or US variety, these acts are typically included under power metal on MMA, such as Pyramaze and Kamelot. The exception is when an artist’s progressive influences become the most recognisable thing about their sound. Illusion Suite is an example of such a progressive power metal act. Vandroya and Wuthering Heights are progressive power metal bands, the latter of which also being classifiable under folk power metal. Neo-classical Power Metal
: Melodic power metal that uses neo-classical guitar playing for its lead guitar parts. Magic Kingdom and Concerto Moon are neo-classical power metal acts, while other power metal acts such as Amberian Dawn and At Vance have incorporated aspects of neo-classical metal into their sounds. As there is no neo-classical metal sub on MMA all such acts are placed under power metal by default, while non-power metal based neo-classical acts are typically placed under traditional heavy metal, or sometimes progressive metal, with which there can also be crossover, as with Symphony X. Extreme Power Metal
: This particular sub-genre combines power metal with melodic death metal and covers artists such as Children of Bodom, the first album of Wintersun and to a lesser extent the first album from Seven Kingdoms. Extreme power metal typically features power metal music but with primarily growling vocals rather than power metal’s traditional clean singing. Such artists are treated with a case by case basis as to their placement on MMA. The genre is sometimes also called Power-Death
.Power Metal Inclusive 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:
Album · 2010 ·
Coat Of Arms is the charismatic Swedish Power Metal band Sabaton’s fifth full-length studio album. It was released on Nuclear Blast records in 2010.
I don’t use the phrase “rip-roaring” a lot, (in fact I don’t think I’ve ever used it before in my life), but it is certainly the first phrase that comes to mind about this confident, bombastic, powerful and extremely fun album. If you haven’t heard Sabaton before, they have carved their own niche in the Power Metal world, its not just copying big bands like Helloween, Gamma Ray or Blind Guardian’s sound. Its not copying NWOBHM bands and speeding it up either. It is something a little more unique. There’s a loud, stadium feeling. Often mid-paced. You can almost hear the point at which the pyro is designed to go off in each riff. Its more about songcraft than virtuoso musicianship, more about experience than speed. The vocals aren’t even Halford or Dickenson inspired but are in a lower register. Sabaton’s lyrics even eschew the traditional wizards and goblins fare for interesting, highly-researched historical subjects.
Subjects up for discussion on this record include the Polish uprising against the Nazis, the Norwegian heavy water sabotage at Vemork and the Greco-Italian conflict in WWII. There’s one Metal themed song at the end, with tributes to the likes of Judas Priest and Metallica in the lyrics too, but its such good fun it doesn’t feel silly or cheesy even when sat beside serious songs about the Holocaust or real life Navel battles.
Musically; this album is a brilliant example of the band’s potential. Songs like the ferociously catchy “Midway,” the fun and melodic “Aces In Exile” and the absolutely magnificent “The White Death” are amongst the finest the band has to offer. The whole album is consistent, punchy, and doesn’t overstay its welcome. There’s enough variety to keep it from feeling samey, but a central style that holds it together and makes it feel focused. The production is flawless and it all sounds amazing.
Overall; Sabaton are a talented band with a distinct sound, their music is both interesting and fun, and Coat Of Arms is a strong Sabaton album that is well-made, well-produced and chocked full of memorable, catchy and incredibly enjoyable tunes. I recommend anyone who likes this type of music to give it a go.
Album · 2015 ·
You really have to admire the Danish power metal act Pyramaze. They've had some setbacks of the kind that could easily have ended their career prematurely. They seemed like they'd just got their big break back in 2007 when, having parted ways with vocalist Lance King, they managed to recruit none other than former Iced Earth vocalist Matt Barlow as a replacement, who had previously left the metal scene to focus on a career in law enforcement. They released their third album with Barlow up front, called Immortal (2008). The new line-up wasn't destined to live up to the album's name though and when Iced Earth came calling after the exit of Barlow's replacement there, Tim Owens, despite early intentions to be in both bands, Matt jumped the Pyramaze ship (and ultimately left Iced Earth again after just one more album and can now be found fronting Ashes of Ares).
That alone is pretty unfortunate, but losing a singer, even one like Matt Barlow, who is widely considered iconic within the power metal scene for his first stint with Iced Earth, is not totally disastrous (In fact they replaced him rather quickly with Urban breed (ex-Tad Morose, ex-Dark Empire, et al) but that was also a relationship that didn't last). Losing your main songwriter on the other hand, well that's a different story entirely. And that's exactly what happened next for Pyramaze with the departure of guitarist Michael Kammeyer in 2011. Jacob Hansen (ex-Anubis Gate, Invocator et al) was brought in pretty quickly to replace him that same year but since then Pyramaze has all but dropped off the map, with only occasional updates letting fans know that they are still around and working on recruiting a new vocalist and putting a new album together.
Well it's been a long time in coming but finally that new record is here. Disciples of the Sun (2015) is the band's fourth album overall, ending their seven years of silence. With the announcement of the album also comes the confirmation that Terje Harøy of Norwegian progressive metal act Crossnail (formerly called Teodor Tuff) is now the new voice of Pyramaze. I had wondered many times if Jacob Hansen was actually the new singer, as he sang on two Anubis Gate records during his time with them and I think his voice would have worked with Pyramaze's style. I can't say I'm disappointed that Terje Harøy is singing here instead though; Teodor Tuff's Soliloquy (2011) just happens to be one of my favourite records of its year. He's a great fit for Pyramaze.
Despite losing their main writer it's clear that Pyramaze's vision of progressively inclined power metal is still very much intact. I get some vibes off of Disciples of the Sun that remind me more of the previous work of the new members but this is still very much a power metal record first and foremost which sets it apart from Teodor Tuff's Soliloquy and Anubis Gate's Hansen fronted releases (or any of their work). But it's definitely what a much more power metal inclined record from either of those bands would probably sound like, due to sharing a voice with the former and although full writing credit and guest performer details were not revealed with my promo copy of the album, I know that Anubis Gate's Henrik Fevre and Kim Olesen have been involved with Disciples of the Sun to a certain degree, while the two bands share a drummer in Morten Gade Sørensen.
I've personally been a fan of Pyramaze since their second album Legend of the Bone Carver (2006) although I've always thought that with that album Lance King's vocals may come across as something of an acquired taste, though it's a pretty excellent power metal record in my book. I thought that Immortal was a stronger record though, as I did prefer Matt Barlow as a vocalist. Despite all the hiccups they've faced though Disciples of the Sun certainly isn't the sound of Pyramaze re-finding their feet, but returning stronger than ever. This is a very easy album to listen to for a power metal fan; plenty of fast energetic riffing, progressive elements, as well as some symphonic backing to a lesser degree. The vocals are excellent. Terje definitely played a big part in how much I enjoyed Teodor Tuff's Soliloquy and I get the same level of enjoyment out of his performance here as well.
There's also a level of variety to be found within the music, such as one of my personal favourites from the album, Hope Springs Eternal, which features some of the most aggressive riffing I've yet heard from Pyramaze. Parts of the song are going up to nearly Blind Guardian standards. Then there's the closing Photograph at the other end of the spectrum, a short piece that ends the album on a calmer note. Regardless of direction the album is full of catchy choruses and excellent melodies. Other highlights for me would have to be Fearless and Back for More. The flow of the album is great though, absolutely no dud moments to be found here.
It may have taken them seven years but at least now they're finally back Pyramaze have made a real statement with Disciples of the Sun. This is a perfect way to re-launch their career. I'm confident in saying that Disciples of the Sun is the best album to bear the Pyramaze moniker yet.
Movie · 2013 ·
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