MetalMusicArchives.com — the ultimate metal music online community, from the creators of progarchives.com
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 · 1994 ·
Black Hand Inn (1994) is the eighth full-length studio album by German power/heavy metal act Running Wild. The album brought more changes to the ever unstable line-up of the band with Thilo Hermann (guitars) and Jörg Michael (drums) joining Rock 'n' Rolf's (vocals, guitars) pirate crew, replacing Axel Morgan and Stefan Schwarzmann respectively, while Thomas "Bodo" Smuszynski (bass) has stuck around from the Pile of Skulls (1992) line-up. This line-up would go on to also record Masquerade (1995) and The Rivalry (1998) so Black Hand Inn can actually be considered the beginning of one of Running Wild's more stable periods. Some versions of the album include the bonus tracks Poisoned Blood and Dancing on a Minefield, which are the b-sides to the album's single, The Privateer.
The album itself is a loose concept piece surrounding the character of John Xenir, who is burned at the stake for his use of forbidden powers. All that is left of John after his execution is a charred black hand, which results in the hill upon which he died being renamed Black Hand Hill. Later an inn is opened, the titular Black Hand Inn, owned by the resurrected John Xenir. Set against a backdrop of piracy, as you'd expect of a Running Wild release from this period, John continues to use his powers to predict the future, including a oncoming Armageddon. This part of the album is based on the book The 12th Planet by Zecharia Sitchin.
While the music on the album is quite typical for the band during their power metal years, featuring their quite distinctive guitar driven sound with a strong traditional metal edge, it's less typical of the genre as a whole. The band leave out the use of keyboards and the music is not over-polished on the production front, while they keep the speedy riffs and the melodies of power metal intact. This gives the band quite the old school sound, which is fair to expect for one of the earliest bands to turn to power metal after starting out in more of a speed metal direction. Rock 'n' Rolf's vocals aren't the soaring and powerful kind of most power metal bands either but rawer and more direct. This doesn't stop the band from producing a number of catchy tracks on the album. It's probably the Running Wild album with the most hooks. The choruses here are really infectious; songs that make you want to play them over and over and they'll always be as good each time and stuck in your head for a while afterwards. This is especially true of tracks like Soulless and The Privateer.
The most different track on the album is Genesis (The Making and the Fall of Man) mostly because unlike everything else which sticks between the three and seven minute marks it's an epic length track at over fifteen minutes. It's probably the album's only true weak link as I think that's just a bit long for a single track in Running Wild's style, though it certainly still has its moments that are on the level with the rest of the album. It's just that a bit of trimming wouldn't have hurt. It's long even if you discount the use of narration at the beginning and end of the track and not the best way to end what is already quite a substantial album even before it starts, the previous tracks bringing things up to around the 50 minute mark. It's only a small issue though and it doesn't affect my overall regard for the album.
Running Wild had a pretty consistent career for their first ten albums, never really dropping below a 'good' level but it's Black Hand Inn that has really stuck me as the group's best work, despite some close competition. They seem to have since lost their way some with more recent efforts, but for those looking for some rawer, old school sounding power metal of the kind that most other acts just don't offer, there's probably none finer than Running Wild during their heyday, with Black Hand Inn being the ideal starting point. 5 Stars. A power metal classic, for my money.
Album · 1993 ·
What happens if you stick Keeper Of The Seven Keys and Operation Mindcrime in a blender? You waste two perfectly good cds of course! However, the metaphor was the first thing that came to my mind after listening to the first half on the Brazilian Power Metal/Progressive Metal band Angra’s classic 1992 debut album Angels Cry.
The album was produced by Charlie Bauerfeind and Sascha Paeth (what important Power Metal bands haven’t those legendary two worked with, between them?), and recorded in Kai Hansen of Gamma Ray’s studio in Germany. It also features guest musicianship from three Gamma Ray members across two tracks. That’s some serious Power Metal pedigree it has going for it. In addition to bouncy European-sounding Melodic Power Metal however, the band also write incredibly Progressive minded music with odd rhythms, complex transitions and a lot of thought about texture and atmosphere (there’s at least two or three songs on here that seriously feel like missing tacks off of Rage For Order at times, before the choruses kick in), and on top of all that, dip into Neo-Classical territories as well.
All that superb musicianship and songwriting skill is superbly topped off with some seriously phenomenal lead vocals from the beyond-talented Andre Matos. The range, power, melodic sensibilities and enthusiastic performances are something to behold.
The album feels really well balanced, it flows well, and despite having a Kate Bush cover and music by Vivaldi and Paganini, never feels cheesy or gimmicky. You could never tell it was recorded with line-up trouble before, during and after its creation either. Its just one of those extremely solid albums that just sounds and feels important.
Highlights include ‘Carry On’ which is a whole lot of fun, ‘Time’ which has a bit of a Queensryche feel and ‘Never Understand’ which has guest guitar from Kai Hansen, Dirk Schlächter and Sascha Paeth (and despite all that doesn’t feel patchwork). The word highlights is hard to apply though, as its all so good and there’s not a lot that’s worth skipping or ignoring by any means. This is solid from beginning to end.
It may not be as progressive as their later albums, and doesn't really highlight the Brazilian/World music angle as much as later albums, but it is still an absolute gem and I’d seriously advice people to get themselves a copy if they are into either Power Metal or Progressive Metal.
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