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. This page primarily deals with the European brand of power metal, with USPM placed under its own child sub-genre.

European Power Metal

Though it developed a little later than USPM, in the late 1980's, specifically Germany, the European, melodic power metal sound is no doubt what most first think of when the term power metal is mentioned. Indeed it is more distinct in sound than USPM, but features the same basic influences, with the key difference to USPM being that European power metal draws more heavily on the speed metal influences rather than traditional heavy metal ones. Indeed in the late 1980's power metal was instead referred to as melodic speed metal.

European power metal is widely credited to have been started by Germany's Helloween in 1987 with the release of their Keeper of the Seven Keys Part I album. Prior to that, Helloween had been a speed metal band. Blind Guardian, another popular German power metal act, had similar roots while other bands such as Grave Digger started more in the traditional heavy metal vein. Others like Running Wild blended both before becoming power metal bands later in their careers. Compared to USPM European power metal acts often feature keyboards, catchy lyrics and are generally less hard hitting, though the German scene is quite notable for its additional heaviness. Popular power metal acts from other countries include Italy's Rhapsody of Fire, Finland's Stratovarius and Sweden's Sabaton.

Sub-genres of Power Metal

Aside from the standard USPM and European power metal styles, there are a number of different sub-genres, or hybrid genres in some cases, of power metal that have since developed.

Symphonic Power Metal: A style of power metal typically only applicable to the European sound, symphonic power metal increases the use of keyboards to create a symphonic backing, drawing on classical music. The use of symphonic elements in such bands can vary greatly with some artists using them as a main element of their sound, such as Rhapsody of Fire, while some merely use symphonic elements to flavour their music, such as Avantasia. Symphonic power metal releases are always placed under power metal on MMA.

Heavy Power Metal: Not to be confused with USPM, which is closer to traditional heavy metal to begin with, this refers to a hybrid of European power metal with traditional heavy metal. Bands are typically less speed orientated than pure melodic power metal acts. HammerFall is a heavy power metal act from Sweden while Nightmare are from France. Some artists which fall into this category featured a harder hitting, more aggressive sound, such as Grave Digger of Germany, but are still considered to belong to the European power metal genre rather than USPM. They are included under power metal on MMA, although some such artists have also made albums more directly rooted in traditional heavy metal and have those tagged accordingly. Some of the older heavy power metal acts, including Grave Digger and Nightmare, started as heavy metal acts before adding power metal into their sounds later in their careers.

Folk Power Metal: The folk metal as a genre can take its metal elements from almost any other metal genre going, including power metal. Elvenking and Falconer are folk power metal bands. They are typically included under folk metal on MMA, but with cases such as Falconer where folk influences are normally minimal per album, they are included under power metal instead. Additionally some power metal artists, especially Blind Guardian but also Grave Digger, have utilised folk influences in their music.

Power-Thrash: A hybrid of power metal and thrash metal, which can be considered sister genres due to both evolving from speed metal. The so called blue collar USPM can also be considered to be power-thrash but the term typically refers to European power metal mixed with thrash metal, although the early work of Iced Earth is considered to be power-thrash. The mix of elements can vary even within the same artist with some being primarily power metal and others primarily thrash metal. As well as Iced Earth, Dark Empire and Paradox have also released power-thrash albums, while some power metal bands have included thrash metal elements in their sound in smaller amounts, such as Seven Kingdoms and Persuader. Power-thrash artists are treated on a case by case basis on MMA, for example Tales of the Weird (2012) by Paradox is placed under thrash metal, but The Fateful dark (2014) by Savage Messiah is placed under power metal.

Progressive Power Metal: Drawing influences from progressive rock and metal music as well as power metal of either the European or US variety, these acts are typically included under power metal on MMA, such as Pyramaze and Kamelot. The exception is when an artist’s progressive influences become the most recognisable thing about their sound. Illusion Suite is an example of such a progressive power metal act. Vandroya and Wuthering Heights are progressive power metal bands, the latter of which also being classifiable under folk power metal.

Neo-classical Power Metal: Melodic power metal that uses neo-classical guitar playing for its lead guitar parts. Magic Kingdom and Concerto Moon are neo-classical power metal acts, while other power metal acts such as Amberian Dawn and At Vance have incorporated aspects of neo-classical metal into their sounds. As there is no neo-classical metal sub on MMA all such acts are placed under power metal by default, while non-power metal based neo-classical acts are typically placed under traditional heavy metal, or sometimes progressive metal, with which there can also be crossover, as with Symphony X.

Extreme Power Metal: This particular sub-genre combines power metal with melodic death metal and covers artists such as Children of Bodom, the first album of Wintersun and to a lesser extent the first album from Seven Kingdoms. Extreme power metal typically features power metal music but with primarily growling vocals rather than power metal’s traditional clean singing. Such artists are treated with a case by case basis as to their placement on MMA. The genre is sometimes also called Power-Death.

Power Metal Inclusive Genres

Melodic Metal is sometimes included under Power Metal but usually under Traditional Heavy Metal. Melodic metal features a presence of melody akin to European power metal but lacks the focus on speed. Many melodic metal releases tend to use some actual power metal elements as well as hard rock and sometimes other genres. An example of a melodic metal release that is placed under power metal instead of traditional heavy metal is Arven's Black is the Colour (2013).

- Written by adg211288 (April 2013)

Sub-genre collaborators (shared with US Power Metal & Neoclassical Metal):
  • DippoMagoo (leader)
  • adg211288
  • Sisslith

power metal top albums

Showing only albums and EPs | Based on members ratings & MMA custom algorithm | 24 hours caching

HELLOWEEN Keeper of the Seven Keys Part II Album Cover Keeper of the Seven Keys Part II
HELLOWEEN
4.50 | 116 ratings
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JUDAS PRIEST Painkiller Album Cover Painkiller
JUDAS PRIEST
4.48 | 121 ratings
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SABATON Heroes Album Cover Heroes
SABATON
4.80 | 7 ratings
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HELLOWEEN Keeper of the Seven Keys Part I Album Cover Keeper of the Seven Keys Part I
HELLOWEEN
4.44 | 95 ratings
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ORION'S REIGN Scores of War Album Cover Scores of War
ORION'S REIGN
4.85 | 5 ratings
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SEVEN KINGDOMS Brothers of the Night Album Cover Brothers of the Night
SEVEN KINGDOMS
4.72 | 7 ratings
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NIGHTMARE The Dominion Gate Album Cover The Dominion Gate
NIGHTMARE
4.80 | 5 ratings
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ARMORY Empyrean Realms Album Cover Empyrean Realms
ARMORY
4.68 | 6 ratings
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TRIOSPHERE The Heart of the Matter Album Cover The Heart of the Matter
TRIOSPHERE
4.67 | 6 ratings
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DARK MOOR The Gates of Oblivion Album Cover The Gates of Oblivion
DARK MOOR
4.50 | 12 ratings
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ETERNITY'S END The Fire Within Album Cover The Fire Within
ETERNITY'S END
4.66 | 6 ratings
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3 INCHES OF BLOOD Fire Up the Blades Album Cover Fire Up the Blades
3 INCHES OF BLOOD
4.53 | 9 ratings
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power metal Music Reviews

TWILIGHT FORCE Dawn of the Dragonstar

Album · 2019 · Power Metal
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Kev Rowland
I must be honest, I wasn’t exactly looking forward to playing the latest album from Twilight Force, having not been a fan of their previous two efforts, and when it commenced with a spoken intro which reminded me for some reason of ‘He-Man and the Masters of the Universe’ I inwardly groaned. But what was this? Soaring orchestration over the top of a metal band in full flow with drumming powering it along? Who found the controls in the production suite and turned up the bottom end? Hang on, that’s a new singer as well, and although he can hit the high notes he also sings lower with plenty of passion and emotion. A quick look at the press release and I see that the new singer is Allyon, but given everyone in this band likes to use pseudonyms I did some more checking and realised this is none other than Allessandro Conti who has been working with Fabio Lione in their own band, and was also in Luca Turilli’s Rhapsody for 7 years prior to joining Twilight Force. He is a bona fide rock star in the world of power metal, and all of a sudden this band has come to life.

All the strengths have been kept from the previous two albums, but the weaknesses and concerns have been dissipated and here is a band which is playing as if their lives depended on it. This is such a step up from the previous two albums that it is almost like a brand new band, but the only new person in the band is Conti – everyone else was on the last album, while just rhythm guitarist Aerendir didn’t feature on the debut as he joined afterwards. But the dynamics have changed, the production and arrangements have greatly improved and here is a band on a roll. I may not have enjoyed the first two, but this one has been on my player a great deal, as even the twee moments which annoyed me on the first two here make me smile as the context is so much better. Definitely worth investigating.

TWILIGHT FORCE Heroes of Mighty Magic

Album · 2016 · Power Metal
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Kev Rowland
2016 saw Twilight Force return with their second album. Since the debut they had changed drummers and also added an additional guitarist so were now running with a traditional twin attack. The drumming has definitely improved but the production hasn’t, neither has the one-dimensional feel of the band, and although they have been using more orchestration it still feels like they are treading water and need a good shaking to move to the next level. All the influences from the debut album are still here, while Eriksson still hits the notes with ease but there is little breadth and depth to the vocals. As for the guitars, they often appear to be hiding in the same room as the bass, and couldn’t bother to turn up for the sessions. Signed to Nuclear Blast, who generally have a great roster with strong producers I was somewhat surprised to hear another album so similar to the debut as while it contains with same strengths as before, it also has plenty of the same weaknesses.

It is strange to think there are two years between albums and with two new members of personnel as all this material could have easily sat on the debut as well. I am sure that anyone who loves the debut will think this is just as indispensable. As for me, next!

TWILIGHT FORCE Tales of Ancient Prophecies

Album · 2014 · Power Metal
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Kev Rowland
This 2014 album was the debut from Swedish power metal outfit Twilight Force, and there is no doubt at all from looking around the web that this is one which many people rate very highly indeed. I can understand that in many ways, in that they are taking some of the best bits of classic Stratovarius, have plenty of shredding, and in Christian Eriksson (here going by the name Chrileon) they have someone who can hit very high notes indeed. The problem for me is that it is incredibly one-dimensional and is combined with very flat production which has no depth and the bottom end just hasn’t been catered for whatsoever. I know they are described as power metal outfit, but this is way more hard rock than metal, although there is no doubt whatsoever that Philip Lindh (here going by the name Lynd) is a heck of a guitarist.

The first time I played this I was decorating the garage, which meant I had plenty of boring painting to undertake and wanted an album which I could really enjoy and get a lot from, but I soon found the white walls were more interesting which is not what I expected at all. There are some spoken bits and pieces, and choirs are utilised at times, but to me it felt as if Helloween had been crossed with Angria and Malmsteen but with all the depth and soul ripped out of it. They are great musicians, with some interesting material at times, but while it isn’t an album I would dismiss totally out of hand I can’t see it being one to which I will return even though apparently it is the best thing since sliced bread.

SABATON The Great War

Album · 2019 · Power Metal
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Kev Rowland
The Swedes are back, doing what they do very well indeed, providing bombastic power metal with lyrics pertaining to their favourite subject, war. This time around we have two versions to choose from, namely a standard release and the “History Edition”. The difference between the two is the former has just the music, while the latter has some spoken explanation between each piece so that the listener has some of the background. I was somewhat surprised to see they had done this, as I would have thought the History Edition was the way to go, but I guess there are some who just want the music, and others who will have to buy both so in terms of sheer commerciality it makes good sense.

The narrator is Bethan Dixon Bate, and she provides just the right amount of gravitas to the role, not adding any excitement as there is no need – as soon as she finishes peaking the war machine which is Sabaton are there to take over. This is another band who always produce a huge sound, with singer Joakim Brodén both at the head of the band and also at the helm as he is tasked with ensuring the sound is just right. I note with interest that one of the supporting singers is Floor Jansen, I bet she had a blast. Multi-tracked backing vocals makes one think that at times they have a huge choir supporting them, and they would need to be big indeed to cope with the over the top (boys we go!) approach. But even though it is a huge sound there is always a tremendous sense of melody, and music which really grooves along. This is metal with purpose, not a direct assault to the sense but rather one that ensures the listeners keep turning up the volume so the neighbours can also join in the fun.

The guitars are quite intricate, while the rhythm section keeps it nailed to the floor, and all one can do is smile even though the subject is no laughing matter whatsoever. Sabaton have long set out their stall, as they play a certain type of metal with a certain type of lyric, but there is no-one in this particular field who can live with them. Sabaton continue to deliver the goods some 20 years on, and long may it continue.

BROTHERS OF METAL Emblas Saga

Album · 2020 · Power Metal
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DippoMagoo
Whenever a band makes a truly impressive debut, it’s very exciting, and yet it can also raise the stakes for any future releases the band makes, as fans hope for them to build on their successes and potentially come up with something even better. The single best debut I’ve heard in recent years was Prophecy of Ragnarok from Swedish power metal band Brothers of Metal, who self-released the album in April 2017, before being signed to AFM, who gave the album a much deserved worldwide release in November 2018. The release was as perfect as a debut can be, with the band presenting a fully fleshed out collection of songs, stylistically falling somewhere in between the epic power metal of Sabaton, and the “true metal” attitude of Manowar, tying it all together with Viking themed lyrics and imagery. I was simultaneously blown away, yet also curious to know if it would even be possible for the band to match such a strong debut, let alone top it. With their much-anticipated sophomore release, Emblas Saga, set for release this coming January, and after giving it several listens, I now have the answer I was looking for: I’ll go into full detail below, but the short of it is, YES, the band has done it!

Like its predecessor, Emblas Saga has a very distinct feel to it, with a base sound that falls somewhat in line with epic power metal bands like Sabaton and Powerwolf, but with a greater emphasis on symphonic arrangements, some folk elements, and a much more ambitious vocal setup. Musically, there’s a wide variety of tracks, just as on the debut, with a good mix of slow, powerful heavy metal, some more mid-paced melodic metal, some very speedy power metal, some more folk-infused tracks, and a couple of ballads. The one thing this album has that wasn’t found on the debut is a slightly longer, near-epic length title track, which is far more complex and ambitious than anything the band had previously attempted, and I’ll describe it further below, but needless to say, it delivers! While everything sounds perfect musically, with the guitars being suitably intense and melodic when needed, the folk melodies being beautiful, the symphonic arrangements being epic, and the production sounding powerful and crystal clear, the strongest aspects of the release are still the vocals and overall songwriting.

As before, the band has three vocalists, with Mats Nilsson largely being relegated to some incredibly epic backing vocals, as well as some of the best narration I’ve ever heard on a metal album, while Ylva Eriksson and Joakim Lindback Ericksson share lead vocal duties. Both leads are as impressive as ever before, with Joakim sounding wilder and more intense than ever, sometimes coming pretty close to death growls, while still sounding smooth, and Ylva’s deep, powerful yet also very smooth and accessible vocals are every bit as strong as on the debut. If anything, the latter is given more room to work with on this album, as Joakim is used more for harmonies a lot of the time (which are every bit as awesome as before), while Ylva tends to take the lead throughout most of the tracks, where she gets to shine, as she’s allowed to experiment a bit with different vocal styles, at times, including some far more aggressive vocals than anything we heard from her on the debut. Just like before, both vocalists are amazing on their own, but sound at their absolute best when paired together, and as talented as they are, credit must also be given to the material they’re working with, as some of the vocal melodies on this album are absolutely out of this world good, and quite a few tracks already left me stunned after just the first listen.

I’ve already hinted at it enough, so I’ll just get to the point and say: The songs on Emblas Saga are all perfect, as the album manages to have both some of the most diverse songwriting I’ve heard on a recent power metal album, as well as some of the most consistently catchy, melodic, epic and most memorable overall.

There’s a little something for everyone here, but more than that, there’s almost certainly something you may not think you’ll want until you hear it and then wish other bands could do something like it. The album opens with an epic intro track, titled “Brood of the Trickster”, which has some great cinematic orchestral arrangements, to go along with some awesome narration, which introduces the overarching concept of the album. I generally dislike narration on albums, but it’s handled perfectly here, only appearing on the intro and then briefly during a few later tracks, and it’s very dramatic and epic, while also being very well performed.

Following that epic intro, the first full song is “Powersnake”, a slow, hard-hitting track, which starts with some epic symphonic arrangements, heavy riffs, and epic chanting vocals, before settling into a nice rhythm for the opening verses, with pounding drums and awesome vocals by both leads. The track has some wonderful melodies, with the chorus being equal parts catchy and very melodic, and then in the second half, there’s a beautiful softer, folk-infused section, followed by awesome choral vocals and an amazing guitar solo. The track didn’t blow me away at first, but over time it’s become a favorite, and it gets the album off to an amazing start. Next is “Hel”, a fairly heavy, guitar-driven track with some insanely epic chanting early on, before speeding up for the opening verse. The track alternates between heavy, fast-paced verses, and a slow, beautiful chorus, with wonderful vocal harmonies, and while it’s another track that took a few listens to grab me, once it did, it sure never let go.

Being honest, the first song that blew me away on my initial listen was “Chain Breaker”, another speedy, hard-hitting track, which has a very classic metal feel to it. Joakim takes the lead with some wild, intense vocals during the verses, and then the chorus is frantic, heavy and by far the wildest moment the band has produced so far, with even Ylva coming close to screaming, and it very much has a classic heavy metal feel to it, awesomely. At the same time, the band manages to fit in some very nice melodic passages, both instrumentally and vocally, to help contrast the more intense moments, and so it ends up being an insanely addictive track. While that track is awesome enough, the real magic begins with “Kaunaz Dagaz”, one of the most wonderfully melodic and beautiful power metal tracks I’ve ever heard, while still being intense and fast-paced. It opens with a wonderful soft section, complete with some very beautiful vocals from Ylva, before speeding up and then giving way to some wonderful melodic guitar work, which falls close to the folk territory, except played entirely on guitar, and both the tone and melodies performed here are incredible. The track continues to pick up momentum with some epic harmonies during the verses, and then the chorus is absolutely beautiful, catchy, epic and just plain amazing in every possible way, all while being upbeat and fairly fast-paced, and the guitar solo in the second half is technically solid and quite nice sounding, while the sped-up final run through the chorus is pure gold. Overall, it’s an incredible track, and it certainly sounds unlike pretty much anything I’ve heard from a power metal band before. It’s hard to put into words what sounds different about it, but there’s just a little something to it that feels somewhat familiar, yet unfamiliar at the same time, and I love it.

Back to the more common, but still awesome territory, “Theft of the Hammer” is a rather comical tale, with hilarious lyrics, while the track moves along at a nice pace, not overly fast but still quite upbeat. Joakim takes lead again during the verses and delivers some intense, yet rather comedic vocals, which fit the track perfectly, while the chorus has more excellent harmonies, and is very catchy and extremely fun, while the second half has an excellent harmonized vocal section, and more epic narration. Overall, it’s a very fun track. Next is the first ballad, “Weaver of Fate”, which is largely driven by some wonderful acoustic guitar work and some nice, epic symphonic arrangements. It’s the quieter of the two ballads and has Ylva singing at her softest and most beautiful, which of course works perfectly, as she delivers a powerful, emotional performance, especially during the amazing chorus, while the guitar work gets pretty epic in the second half. While it’s only my second favorite of the two ballads on this album, it’s still an amazing track, for sure, and it’s just a testament to how good the second ballad is than any knock against this one. The first single from the album is “Njord”, a slow, but heavy and intense track, with some nice folk melodies, epic symphonic arrangements, stomping riffs, and a wonderful chorus, with excellent vocal melodies. The two leads both do a wonderful job throughout, and it’s a fun, epic and very catchy track.

The biggest surprise on the album is the title track, which begins with some wonderful chanting vocals from Ylva, which give way to some epic narration. The song is fairly slow-paced but does a great job of alternating between heavy parts, with some great riffs, and some melodic sections with wonderful melodies. The verses have alternating lead vocals, with both vocalists doing a terrific job, and they perform in a way that feels more like a musical, leaning heavily into the storytelling, while the chorus is epic, melodic, and extremely catchy, as usual. The track has some complex arrangements and takes some surprising turns in the second half, with plenty of memorable moments, including an extremely epic final run through the chorus, and while the band attempts a lot here, they manage to pull everything off perfectly, so it’s up being both their most ambitious track to date, as well as one of their absolute best. Moving towards the end, “Brothers Unite” is a rather laid back, though still upbeat track, with some very epic drum work, as well as more amazing symphonic arrangements, and some very triumphant sounding melodies.

It’s a very fun, catchy and wonderfully melodic track, with some of the best-harmonized vocals on the entire album, as Joakim gets quite intense at points, while the choral vocals towards the end are stunning, and t’s a wonderful track, overall. The second ballad on the album, as well as the second single, is “One”, and this is a much more epic, cinematic ballad compared to the earlier ballad, starting with some epic vocals from Joakim during the verses, which give way to possibly the single best chorus I’ve heard this year, and the band goes all out with some incredible vocal melodies and uplifting lyrics, for one of the most emotional, powerful, epic, and just overall beautiful choruses I’ve ever heard on a ballad. It’s an unbelievably epic track from start to finish, with everything from the symphonic arrangements to the vocals, to the lyrics, to the dramatic narration and the guitar solo in the second half all being incredible. In another review, I mentioned “Where the Wild Wolves Have Gone” by Powerwolf being possibly my favorite metal ballad in recent years, and this track is right up there with that, as it’s an absolute masterpiece.

Moving back to the speedy territory, “Ride of the Valkyries” (which has nothing to do with Richard Wagner) is a heavy, intense track with some of the best guitar work on the album, both from the riffs and excellent melodic solo work in the second half. It charges along at a frantic pace and has more intense vocals and epic melodies, as well as one of the most fun, catchy choruses on the album. It’s one of the most energetic tracks, for sure, and is another instant favorite. Closing out the album is “To the Skies and Beyond”, another mid-paced, but very upbeat track, with triumphant lyrics and melodies, as well as more epic symphonic arrangements and beautiful folk melodies. Early on, there are some beautiful softer passages, and the verses are very light and melodic, while the chorus has some vocal melodies that are just so damn emotional, epic and beautiful, they feel too good to be of this world. The track gets more upbeat and epic as it goes on, with the end sequence, in particular, being stunning, with Ylva giving an incredible vocal performance, while Joakim continues to provide some outstanding harmonies.

I know this review has been repetitive in praising the vocal harmonies, melodies and overall epic feel and awesomeness of this album, but that is because words fail to do the music justice, at this point, and I’m pretty much at a loss on what to say, except that this album and band are just absolutely incredible! Brothers of Metal immediately left their mark on the genre back in 2017 with their debut, and Emblas Saga builds on that release, presenting another diverse collection of songs, which further explores everything that made the band’s debut so special while going even further and at times showing new sides to the band. Fans of the debut, as well as fans of Sabaton or Powerwolf, are highly recommended to give this a listen, and anyone looking for the next big thing in power metal should pay attention, as I don’t see how any other new or upcoming bands can match this! Brothers of Metal have already proven themselves more than worthy of entering Valhalla, but hopefully, Odin allows them to stay on Earth for a while longer yet, so they can give us mere mortals more wonderful music to enjoy!

originally written for myglobalmind.com: https://myglobalmind.com/2019/12/14/brothers-of-metal-emblas-saga-review/

power metal movie reviews

HELLOWEEN United Alive

Movie · 2019 · Power Metal
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Kingcrimsonprog
Imagine a Judas Priest show with both Tim Ripper Owens and Rob Halford singing together. No wait… Imagine a Sepultura show with both Max Cavelera and Derick Green singing. No wait, that’s not even it. I’ve got it… Imagine an Iron Maiden show with Paul Dianno, Bruce Dickinson and Blaze Bailey all singing. Well, maybe, if Dickinson had left after four albums and Blaze had been there ever since. Ok, Now swap out the zombie mascot for some comedy pumpkins and you’re approaching the situation here. Helloween, one of Germany’s biggest and most important bands, one of the most iconic Power Metal bands in history, with one of the most impressive family trees (Gamma Ray, Masterplan, Freedom Call, Unisonic, Iron Savior etc) make one of the most anticipated decisions in the history of the genre.

Who is your favourite Helloween singer? Is it Kai Hansen, the heaviest singer and the original? Is it Michael Kiske, the most technically accomplished and the one from their most iconic record? Or is it Andi Deris, their best frontman and the singer on the most albums? – Turns out, now you don’t have to choose. United Alive, the live video from the Pumpkins United tour sees all three join the stage together, cracking out a career spanning mixture of material from the earliest thrashiest material to the modern gems, with all the iconic genre defining masterpieces from the peerless Keepers’ era sprinkled in too.

There are over 20 tracks here (some are intros and solos, and some are medleys/combinations, but still…) that’s a lot of Helloween. All three singers take it turns to sing. Sometimes not even a song each, but rather dividing it up section by section inside each song, or all at once. It is very welcome to hear them back on some of their own tracks like ‘Heavy Metal Is The Law’ after not hearing it on the other live videos, or ‘Dr. Stein’ after having heard only Deri’s take on it previously. Conversely it is very interesting to see Kai or Kiske sing on some of the big commercial ‘90s/’00s hits like ‘Perfect Gentleman’ or ‘If I Could Fly.’

There are often 7 members on stage at the one time (or 8 if you count the keyboardist, Eddy Wrapiprou). There’s Weikath and Grosskopft on guitar and bass as always. Sascha Gerstner and Daniel Löble on guitar and drums like the last several albums. And the three aforementioned singers (with Kai also playing guitar).

There’s a mix of footage, ranging from headline shows in Madrid, Spain to festival appearances at Wacken and in Brazil. Sort of like they did already on their previous ‘Legacy World Tour 2005/2006 DVD.

Normally I really prefer a concert DVD to come from one single show, rather than complied from a series of different dates in different places with different lighting, sound and camera work, but given that the band itself is now a compilation of past and present members and some of the songs included are medleys, I don’t know why but it just works here.

The band put on a great show. There’s a lot going on. There’s video screens, a big pumpkin stage set piece around the drum kit (which has 4 kickdrums for some reason, just to add to the over-the-top feel of it all), a light show, and a few cheesy moments like members coming out dressed in a top hat and cane, or raining pumpkin balloons.

Deris, ever the consummate front man is great at revving up the crowd, and then the different members get spotlights for certain tunes and join up on others, there’s prolonged solo segments, a tribute to late drummer Ingo Schichtenberg, its all very diverse and entertaining. They even do a stripped-down bare bones version of the ballad ‘Forever And One’ straight after a super heavy Walls Of Jericho/EP medley, which pretty much shows both polar opposites of the band’s varied discography.

There’s multiple different ways you can buy it. DVD, Blu Ray, combinations thereof. Versions with CDs. The version I got it two Blu Rays. One with the concert and one with a load of extra footage. There’s a few extra songs (Including the underrated ‘Kids Of The Century’ from the oft maligned Pink Bubbles Go Ape album). There’s a bunch of behind the scenes footage looking at various aspects of the tour and production. It comes in a nice shiny digi-book with some brief liner notes and a glossy photo booklet. You know, just as if it wasn’t value for money enough already with an almost three-hour concert of a Helloween fan’s wildest fantasy line-up.

As a concept you really have to hand it to them; its quite a clever move to reuinite with past members without losing current members as some fans never got over Kiske leaving the band or only ever even tried the Keepers albums. Some fans really love the Kai era and you never get to see Helloween play much material from it anymore (you only really get the chance if he chucks one in to a Gamma Ray show some time). Its a great idea to reel them back in and show them how great the Deris era can be too. Come for ‘Halloween’ and ‘Future World’ but stay for ‘Sole Survivor’ and ‘Power’ then learn to love the Deris era if you don’t already.

Thankfully though, its not just the concept that’s good. The whole package is good. The sound, footage, editing and bonus material. Most importantly though, the performance. It doesn’t come across as a novelty cash grab, it really feels like a jubilant celebration. As they say in the opening track ‘Halloween’ ”There’s magic in the air.” This may be cheesy to say (but hey, if you like Helloween, you better be used to cheesy) but it really is a heavy metal dream come true. Buy it!

BETO VÁZQUEZ INFINITY 15 Years Alive LTD Edition

Movie · 2016 · Power Metal
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m3g52
A year ago Beto Vazquez Infinity met its 15 years ... And gave us a feast with joy, good music and diversity. And now we have the fruit in a DVD accompanied with 2 CDs with all the live sound of this recital. The show presented in this DVD contains a section of his classics, then a middle section where all played more Prog Metal and left many open mouths and an end to all motor either energizing. The DVD and limited edition cd show impeccable quality. Everything is divided as follows: The first part of the show was the memories, issues conodcidos discography BVI, renewed and with new energy, with the voices of Caro Guedes, Vero Libre, Casti and Pereyra on a solid band. The band shows with ease, stressed this fact with good camera movements. The sound and picture quality gives a good sense of what was experienced in that reecital of celebration of 15 years. Then began the most difficult part in stage movement, instrumentation and personnel. Metal Prog most part, higher flight, which leaves more than one amazed. Flutes game, rhythm guitars, harp, saxophone and a chorus that vibrated in states of metal, prog and Ethnic ... The third part returns to the strength of metal with Devil Vision by Caro flawless interpretation of Guedes and choirs Nadia Mancini, a soprano who gives the exact support. A material that is worth having, especially if you want to discover Beto Vazquez Infinity, risky in a scene (the Argentina) where it is very difficult for independent bands to achieve, first that recital that is documented, much less achieve DVD + CD unsupported's the big distributors.

ANGRA Angels Cry: 20th Anniversary Tour

Movie · 2013 · Power Metal
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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.

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

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