US Power Metal

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United States Power Metal, USPM for short and sometimes alternately called American Power Metal is one of the two main types of heavy metal music to use the term power metal, the other being European Power Metal. Like European Power Metal, the United States in the name refers to the genre's origins, rather than any specific requirement for artists to be from the US in order to play the style, though most USPM acts are, indeed, American.

USPM first appeared in 1983. It's development could be described as the American reaction to the New Wave of British Heavy Metal. US bands wanted to go one better than their UK counterparts and so the sound that would become known as USPM began to take shape. They played faster and more aggressively, albeit not to the levels of thrash metal, though some artists would cross over with thrash as well as speed metal. Generally USPM bands were closer in style to their traditional heavy metal roots, especially when compared to the later European power metal sound, which is commonly called just Power Metal without the European prefix, with USPM used just to differentiate. It is because of these vast differences that some metal fans have trouble with recognizing the two forms of power metal as the same genre. They're not wrong either, but also not entirely correct. The best way to describe power metal as a whole is that it's a cross between traditional heavy metal and speed metal. US power metal acts kept the genre closer to traditional heavy metal while European power metal acts kept it closer to speed metal. The idea was to add power to the music that other heavy metal bands at the time didn't have. USPM acts just did it a different way to what is now more widely accepted as the (European) power metal sound.

Typically, the USPM term is used to label artists that sit somewhere between traditional heavy metal and thrash metal, with some artists leaning more towards one or the other and often completely crossing over with the other style. USPM vocalists tend to use high register singing, something which is also heard in European power metal, though it is not considered an essential ingredient in the USPM sound, with some vocalists taking the music in a rougher direction.

There is quite a level of variance within US power metal. Some artists are more hard hitting and thrashy, while others take the music in a slower, more melodic and progressive direction. The two types of USPM are commonly known as Blue-collar USPM and White-collar USPM respectively.

Blue-collar USPM artists feature the harder, thrashy sound. The artists Helstar (who eventually adopted a more thrash metal based sound), Jag Panzer and Riot are some of the more well known blue-collar USPM acts. Some artists in this style of USPM have been known to take the genre quite close to the European power metal sound, such as Iced Earth, further demonstrating the relation between the two types of power metal music.

White-collar USPM artists are less hard hitting, adding more melody and progressive elements to the USPM sound. The band Crimson Glory is considered a prime example of this type of USPM, while others would be Pharaoh and Heir Apparent. Certain acts more commonly known as progressive metal acts such as Fates Warning are also considered to be a part of USPM.

- Biography written by adg211288.

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

us power metal top albums

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us power metal Music Reviews

SAVATAGE The Dungeons Are Calling

EP · 1984 · US Power Metal
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Warthur
This was recorded at the same sessions that yielded Savatage's debut album, Sirens, which in practice means it's much of a piece with it (especially given the fairly tight schedule they were on). It's pretty engaging, but as with Sirens we don't really get that much of what would make Savatage truly stand out coming through here; they're still rooted in NWOBHM-ish trad metal, and the power metal and progressive elements that would eventually be hallmarks of their sound are mere whispers on the wind at this stage. Not bad, but anyone with a decent range of early 1980s metal in their collection has already heard plenty of stuff like this.

SAVATAGE Sirens

Album · 1983 · US Power Metal
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Warthur
It's probably fair to say that Savatage hadn't quite developed the sound they are known for - power metal with progressive sensibilities - at the time they recorded their debut album. This and the Dungeons Are Calling EP were recorded in the same sessions, the band having been given an opportunity to get a few precious days of studio time in and deciding to get as much material on tape as they could without half-assing things to an unacceptable extent.

What you get here is fairly straightforward trad metal, with some notes of the fantastical and perhaps a pinch of NWOBHM influence to add spice. It's... fine. Really, it's not bad. The problem is that it rarely if ever rises above that standard; if you've heard much traditional heavy metal, you've heard a lot of stuff that sounds like this, and can probably name a dozen albums which give you more pleasure than this one at that - some of those may even be by Savatage.

In short, this is comprehensively OK-to-good, but there's little sign of what Savatage would become given time.

TITAN FORCE Winner/Looser

Album · 1991 · US Power Metal
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UMUR
"Winner/Looser" is the second full-length studio album by US, Colorado based power/heavy metal act Titan Force. The album was released through the small German label U.S. Metal Records in 1991. It´s the successor to the eponymously titled debut album from 1989. Titan Force were formed in 1983 by the three Flores brothers Mario (guitars), John (bass), and Stefan (drums) under the Titan monicker but changed their name to the current one in 1987. At that point the Flores brothers had added guitarist/keyboard player Bill Richardson and former Jag Panzer lead vocalist Harry Conklin to the ranks. The band released no less than five demo tapes from 1985-1989 before being signed to the U.S. Metal Records label for the release of the debut album.

The lineup is unchanged since the debut album, but the harmony wouldn´t last for long, as U.S. Metal Records lost patience with Titan Force as a consequence of poor album sales, and cancelled the recording contract. Titan Force did subsequently manage a short tour in Germany with Anvil, and recorded a demo in 1994, which they shipped to labels in hopes that someone would be interested, but unfortunately no label showed interest and when lead vocalist Harry Conklin decided to jump ship and return to his former band Jag Panzer, Titan Force faced too many problems to continue full steam. When tragedy struck in 1998 with the suicide of guitarist/keyboard player Bill Richardson, the three Flores brothers disbanded Titan Force.

The material on "Winner/Looser" continues in the melodic US power metal style that Titan Force initiated on their debut album. It´s a slightly more diverse release than the debut album, but also similar in many ways. The music features a hard pounding and clever playing rhythm section, skilled guitar work (both riffs, themes, and solos are quite brilliant), and in front a world class lead vocalist in Harry Conklin. Conklin can sing helium high pitched vocals, but he is just as comfortable singing in lower registers (although he mainly sings really high pitched on this release). His performance in "Winner/Looser" is commanding, passionate, and quite frankly jaw-dropping superior.

Stylistically the material on the album inhabits a similar melodic US power metal space as late 80s/early 90s releases by artists like Crimson Glory, Lethal, and Mystic Force did, and for fans of that type of US power metal (the melodic sort with a touch of progressive metal), "Winner/Looser", and the debut album by Titan Force, are more or less mandatory listening material. It´s beyond me how they managed to fly so low under the radar, that they didn´t at least achive some sort of breakthrough, but maybe the time and place just weren´t right. There are of course thousands of similar stories throughout music history, but that doesn´t make this one any less sad. At least Titan Force are retrospectively recognised as one of the sub-top melodic US power metal artists from the era. A 4 star (80%) rating is deserved.

JAG PANZER Ample Destruction

Album · 1984 · US Power Metal
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UMUR
"Ample Destruction" is the debut full-length studio album by US, Colorado based US power/heavy metal act Jag Panzer. The album was released through Azra Records in August 1984. It´s the successor to the "Tyrants" EP from 1983 and it would be Jag Panzer´s only full-length studio album in their original run before disbanding in 1988. Lead vocalist Harry Conklin went on to front Titan Force on their two albums before returning for Jag Panzer´s 1997 "The Fourth Judgement" album (he also sang on the 1986 "Metal from Hell" album by Satan's Host). There has been one lineup change since the release of the 1983 EP, as guitarist Joey Tafolla has been added to the ranks, making Jag Panzer a quintet on "Ample Destruction".

Stylistically the material is US power/heavy metal in the raw and early 80s style of that genre. Early 80s releases by similar sounding artists like Queensrÿche, Fates Warning, Helstar, Vicious Rumors, and Savatage are all valid references and Jag Panzer are musically also in the same high quality end as the other mentioned artists.

The original version of "Ample Destruction" featured 9 tracks and total playing time of 39:05 minutes, while later reissues typically have featured quite a few bonus tracks. The 9 tracks feautured on the original version of the album are all strong tracks, featuring thunderous drumming, hard rocking bass, sharp and heavy guitar riffs, blistering solos, and Conklin delivering a varied and commanding vocal performance. He is able to perform piercing high pitched screaming vocal parts as well as harder edged rough lower register vocals with the same amount of passion and conviction. A world class vocalist that one.

The songwriting is generally on a high level and all tracks are memorable, catchy, and powerful. Most tracks are relatively easy to follow vers/chorus structured US power/heavy metal tracks, but album closer "The Crucifix" is a 7:28 minutes long mini-epic and actually quite progressive in nature. There is overall good variation in the songwriting and the album never stops being entertaining. "Ample Destruction" also features a well sounding production for the time (mayby a bit thin sounding for some ears today) and upon conclusion it´s a strong debut album by Jag Panzer. A 3.5 - 4 star (75%) rating is deserved.

HERETIC A Game You Cannot Win

Album · 2017 · US Power Metal
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UMUR
"A Game You Cannot Win" is the 3rd full-length studio album by US thrash/power metal act Heretic. The album was released through Dissonance Productions in October 2017. It´s the successor to "A Time of Crisis" from 2012 and features one lineup change since the predecessor as guitarist Glenn Rogers has been replaced by Stuart Fujinami. Heretic formed in 1985 but after releasing their debut full-length studio album "Breaking Point" in 1988 they disbanded. "A Time of Crisis (2012)" was therefore Heretic´s first album in 24 years, and "A Game You Cannot Win" is the proof that the 2012 comeback album wasn´t a lonely swan.

Stylistically the material on "A Game You Cannot Win" continues the thrash metal with US power metal style the band also played on "A Time of Crisis (2012)". The material is predominantly on the more raw and thrashy side, but there are moments where the US power metal style takes over and especially Metal Church is a valid reference. As said this is mostly a thrash metal release though. Meaty heavy riffs, faster-paced thrashy riffs, and the occasional more traditional heavy metal riff. Pounding heavy drumming and a lead vocalist delivering raw (yet semi-melodic) commanding singing.

The musicianship is on a high level on all posts and "A Game You Cannot Win" also features a powerful, raw, and detailed sound production, which suits the material well. So upon conclusion it´s a high quality release by Heretic. It´s not a revolution of the thrash/US power metal hybrid style and Heretic lack that last element of uniqueness to be counted among the greatest artists in the genre, but for fans of the genre this is definitely a worthy purchase. A 3.5 star (70%) rating is deserved.

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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.

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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