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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

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The hallowed
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JAG PANZER The hallowed

Album · 2023 · US Power Metal
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Kev Rowland
It seems like Jag Panzer have been around forever, but given that John Tetley (bass), Mark Briody (guitars, keyboards) and Harry Conklin (vocals) formed the band more than 40 years ago, I guess they have. Drummer Rikard Stjernquist joined in 1987, and it is only new lead guitarist Ken Rodarte who has not been there for any length of time. This is their first album in six years and follows the conceptual storyline of the band's comic book of the same title which came out in late 2022. This means it is probably best to have a physical copy of the album to be able to understand the storyline a little more, as I am sure it will be in the booklet or inner sleeve. Briody has even created a lyric video to go with the track “The Dark Descent” and he says it, “can be interpreted as literal or metaphoric. In this part of the storyline, the group are descending down a cliff amongst the old city ruins. The group are also descending towards the final outcome of the story. Although at first glance it seems like a basic heavy metal song, those who breakdown the music will see that it is one of the most musically complex songs on the album.”

Jag Panzer have always concentrated on American style power metal, and this is no different, although there are times when they come across as quite similar to Sabaton, yet with more theatricality and not quite so much drive. Conklin still has a superb voice which has more baritone elements than many, while he also subscribes to the Dickenson style of providing loads of power. This album is being viewed by many critics as nothing short of absolutely essential, and there is no doubt there are some good performances here from a band who are totally tight and locked in. However, the songs are not always as dramatic and interesting as they might be, and the result is something which is undoubtedly something of a standout within the American power metal scene, but there are often times when it feels like the soul is missing. When they get it right, with the band blasting beneath Conklin as he reaches for the heights then it is very special indeed, and Rodarte is a superb shredder, yet there are too many instances when I found my attention wandering as they repeated a bridge, or the verses just were not dynamic enough.

It has been six years since ‘The Deviant Chord’, which in itself was six years from ‘The Scourge of Light’, neither of which are judged to be classics, and for me the jury is very much out on this one. There is little here to make me wish to return, but fans of the band may well disagree. Best to try it out for yourself.

MANOWAR Warriors of the World

Album · 2002 · US Power Metal
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Hate them or love them, Manowar are one of the most well-known (and talked about) metal bands on the planet. Warriors of the World is the Americans’ 9th full-length album, released in 2002 after a gap of 6 years from their previous LP, Lounder Than Hell. And if that record had already started to show a worrying involution in the band’s sound, Warriors of the World continues the inexorable decline, marking a new low in Manowar’s discography.

The band’s sound has not changed much over the years – forging that epic, loud brand of traditional heavy metal that has served as template for countless bands since the 1980s. While not very different from the rest of their discography, the tracks on Warriors of the World resemble more a faded photograph of Manowar’s sonic prototype than a 2.0 version propelled in the new millennium. The tracks have all the right ingredients – loud, steady drum beats, powerful bass and guitar riffs, epic vocal melodies -, but it is hard to shake the impression that we haven’t heard all this before already, but better. A ballad like “Swords in the Wind” pales in comparison to masterpieces such as “Master of the Wind” or “Heart of Steel”, lacking in pathos and delivery. The more uptempo and aggressive songs (“Hand of Doom”, “House of Death “, “Fight Until We Die”) fare somewhat better, but they too show the signs of time: Eric Adams’ roar, while still respectable, is just a tiny bit less commanding than on previous records; the guitar and bass riffs feel slightly recycled; and the arrangements are somewhat less vivid. In sum, it’s hard to see why one would prefer to listen to this over any of the band’s previous 8 records, if free to choose.

Of course, the fact Manowar might have written better songs and albums before, is no reason to consider Warriors of the World a bad record per se. However, it is hard to ignore some glaring issues it presents. First and foremost, the album contains a lot of fluff. And when I say “a lot”, I mean more than 50% of the material included here. This is mostly concentrated in the album’s first half, where we have two fairly insipid balladish songs (“The Fight for Freedom” and “Swords in the Wind”), two frankly improbable covers (a snippet of Puccini’s aria “Nessun Dorma” and Elvis Presley’s “An American Trilogy”) and two pointless, keyboard-driven instrumentals (“Valhalla” and “The March”). That’s a total of six slow, fairly pompous, slightly lethargic songs in a row! It would be enough to sink even the strongest of albums and, alas, the remaining five tracks of Warriors of the World fare just above average. The concluding lot of songs, from the title-track to “Fight Until We Die”, is by far the best the LP has to offer, although it’s hard to ignore the fact that “Hand of Doom”, “House of Death” and “Fight Until We Die” are essentially cut from the same cloth and have their own issues too (for instance, the ending chorus of “Hand of Doom” drags on way too long and “Fight Until We Die” really feels like a mere appendix to “House of Death”).

Overall, I cannot say I enjoy listening to Warriors of the World much. The first half is highly inconsistent and boring. The second half is better, but seems to have been written on autopilot, recycling familiar riffs and melodies (and lyrics, of course). Maybe Manowar should have tried to condense this material into an EP (with the covers + instrumental a b-sides, possibly). Either way, I cannot see myself playing this one very often, unless someone steals all previous Manowar’s albums from my collection.


Album · 1994 · US Power Metal
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"Word Of Mouth" is the 5th full-length studio album by US, California based power/heavy metal act Vicious Rumors. The album was released through Rising Sun Productions in January 1994. It´s the successor to "Welcome To The Ball" from 1991. There´s been one lineup change since the predecessor as bassist Dave Starr has been replaced by Tommy Sisco. It would be the last Vicious Rumors studio album to feature lead vocals by Carl Albert, as he died from injuries sustained in a car accident in April 1995.

Stylistically the material on "Word Of Mouth" continue the US power/heavy metal style of the predecessors, but some contemporary influences have crept in. Especially the darker and heavier approach of the contemporary Seattle scene rears its ugly head a couple of times during the playing time, although it´s not a dominant influence. It´s just a touch and it´s only natural that the band also picked up on what was happening on the scene at the time. I´ve read other reviews saying that Vicious Rumors haven´t changed a bit and held the US power metal flag high on "Word Of Mouth", despite their chosen music style being completely out of fashion in 1994, but that sentiment simply isn´t 100% true. While the dominant style is still US power/heavy metal, Vicious Rumors do experiment with other sounds and styles on this release.

Tracks like album opener "Against The Grain", "No Fate" and "Sense Of Security" are unmistakably the sound of Vicious Rumors, featuring both heavy and fast riffs and rhythms, blistering solos, and Albert´s strong voice and commanding vocals in front. "Word Of Mouth" also features the obligatory power ballads, but there are also a couple of more experimental tracks and ideas on display, and while an adventurous approach to songwriting should always receive praise, "Word Of Mouth" unfortunately ends up lacking a clear direction and a consistent quality. The sound production is decent but not really great. Just take a listen to how the production values change between "No Fate" and "Sense Of Security". Odd and a bit amaturish. When that is said we´re still talking about Vicious Rumors, so of course this is still a quality release. It´s just uneven and overall could have been better. A 3 - 3.5 star (65%) rating is warranted.

CAGE Ancient Evil

Album · 2015 · US Power Metal
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"Ancient Evil" is the 7th full-length studio album by US, California based power/heavy metal act Cage. The album was released through Swedish Music Group in October 2015. It´s the successor to "Supremacy of Steel" from 2011 and features quite a few lineup changes since the predecessor as only lead vocalist Sean Peck and guitarist Dave Garcia remain from the lineup who recorded "Supremacy of Steel (2011)".

Garcia was always the prime riff meister of the band and Peck the distinct sounding lungs, so massive lineup change or not the material on "Ancient Evil" sounds unmistakably like Cage. Highly energetic and pretty aggressive US power/heavy metal influenced by the most adrenaline pumped Judas Priest and other legendary artists of that ilk. As "Ancient Evil" is a concept horror story album, it´s impossible not to think of King Diamond too, and there are indeed also some musical elements on the album, which point in the direction of that band.

Cage have long since proven their worth and have a relatively distinct sound and style, so although they wear their influences on the sleeves, they are not a clone act by any means. They are an incredibly well playing unit and Peck is a powerful and commanding singer, who can sing both raw, melodic, and high pitched. One of the things I personally enjoy a lot when listening to "Ancient Evil" is that the band never seem to lift the foot off the gas pedal. No sleazy ballads or anything like that here. The narration pieces and intros/outros are necessary for the concept story but other than that this is pedal to the metal US power/heavy metal. I´m blown away by the ultra high energy level and the intensity of the music.

"Ancient Evil" features a raw and powerful sound production, which suits the material well. Take one listen to that intense guitar tone and sit back and let your ears bleed. Upon conclusion "Ancient Evil" is yet another high quality release by Cage and I wonder how successful they could have been, if they had appeared in the 80s instead of starting in the US power/heavy metal hostile 90s. The quality is close to being up there with the best in the genre. A 4 star (80%) rating is deserved.

CAGE Supremacy of Steel

Album · 2011 · US Power Metal
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"Supremacy of Steel" is the 6th full-length studio album by US, California based power/heavy metal act Cage. The album was released through Music Buy Mail in November 2011. It´s the successor to "Science of Annihilation" from 2009 and features two lineup changes since the predecessor as guitarist Anthony Wayne McGinnis has been replaced by Steve Brogden and bassist Mike Giordano has been replaced by Pete Stone.

Stylistically the material on "Supremacy of Steel" continue the trademark aggressive and powerful US power/heavy metal style of the preceding releases. This is raw, heavy, and highly energetic metal music with fast-paced heavy metal riffing, blistering solo work, a powerful playing rhythm section, and a world class lead vocalist in Sean Peck. Peck has a strong voice and a commanding delivery. He masters both raw aggressive vocals, high pitched screaming vocals, and occasionally the softer vocal part. He even does a near perfect King Diamond impersonation on "Annaliese Michel", which is a very King Diamond influenced/sounding track. Other than that it´s "Painkiller (1990)"-era Judas Priest that I´m mostly reminded of when listening to "Supremacy of Steel".

"Supremacy of Steel" features a relatively well sounding production job, although the guitars sound a little thin and the drums and the bass have a clicky sound to them. I´ve heard better sounding productions on some of the band´s earlier releases. Upon conclusion "Supremacy of Steel" is however yet another high quality release by Cage and a 3.5 - 4 star (75%) rating isn´t all wrong.

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ICED EARTH Live in Ancient Kourion

Movie · 2013 · US Power Metal
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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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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: )

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