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

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HELLOWEEN Keeper of the Seven Keys Part II Album Cover Keeper of the Seven Keys Part II
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power metal Music Reviews

CATEGORY VI War Is Hell

Album · 2017 · Power Metal
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voila_la_scorie
"War Is Hell" is the second full-length release (and to date the latest full-length) by St. John's, Newfoundlanders Category VI. Though the band is generally categorized as power metal, this album is more specifically classic metal with some additions of speed metal and power metal. The album sound and song styles are very true to eighties metal. It's perhaps Amanda Gosse's vocals that give this album a power metal feel. In an interview, the band members themselves affirmed my conclusion that this album strives to be more classic metal than power metal.

The positive sides to this album are that the band relentlessly thunders on, rarely slowing down (and no ballads), the clarity of all instruments in the mix, and the very successful capture of that eighties metal feel without being stuck in the eighties. Amanda's vocals have power and she belts out the notes. She does stick with clean, power metal vocals so don't expect any growls or shrieks from her. But she can hit hit notes and hold her notes as she expertly exhibits in the track "Mirror", lighting up the skies with three different lengthy notes between 3:07 and 3:42, the last one soaring way up there.

Guitarist Geoff Waye dishes out riff after riff of heavily distorted guitar chords. Growing up in central Newfoundland, there was not a lot of metal action, so he would drift over to St. John's and catch any bands that blew into town. He's committed to supporting the metal scene and keeps the spirit alive with his guitar playing.

Keith Jackman's bass is of the heavy chunky and clunky nature. It's not lost in the mix beneath the flood of guitar distortion and it stands out in the track "Arise" where it sounds a lot like John Wetton's bass in Kind Crimson's "Providence" on the "Red" album. It's also given prominence in the track "Crossing the Avalon" though that's more for melodic colouring.

The album is tight and the songs all quite strong. Special mention goes to "Strike of the Axe", "Full Metal Jacket", and the longer title track, though it's a solid metal affair throughout the album.

There's one thing about the album that stays my mouse from clicking on 5 stars. I'm not sure if its because the guitar sound is so rich in distortion it sounds potentially overdone. or if there's another reason. Something tempers my opinion. But basically this album captures a band with a clear focus and a lot of energy and a desire to make a heavy metal album that honours the classic sound.

UNLEASH THE ARCHERS Abyss

Album · 2020 · Power Metal
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voila_la_scorie
It’s only been a couple of days since I received my copy of “Abyss” and I am sure without a doubt that I haven’t properly heard the album yet. Nevertheless, I’ve been reading reviews and interviews and watching videos with Britney's commentary in order to get an idea of exactly how monumental this album is supposed to be and to prepare myself.

Unleash the Archers released their fourth full-length album, “Apex”, in 2017. It was a concept story about a character named Immortal and a nemesis named the Grand Matriarch and I think something about a battle for the souls of people. I first heard about the band on a video on Banger TV’s YouTube channel. I checked out a couple of songs, thinking UtA was pretty good. Then I heard “Awakening” and I was blown through the stratosphere. I hadn’t really shown much interest in power metal until I heard that song. Even now, after picking up a few of power metal’s classic albums and bands, that song remains my favourite.

So, “Abyss” is the sequel to “Apex”. Immortal’s saga continues and the Grand Matriarch is still out there. I’m afraid I haven’t really followed the story, but I heard there’s a graphic novel series in the works. The first track I heard was “Faster Than Light”, which I heard while enjoying the humorous but a little dark video of the four runners and their race against death. The song exhibits the high speed, high precision playing of guitarists Andrew Kingsley and Grant Truesdell as well as the incredible drumming of Scott Buchanan while Britney alternates between tension-filled vocal deliveries for the verses and a melody that will have you soaring amidst towers of cumulous clouds for the chorus.

That’s enough preamble. Let’s get on with the album.

“Apex” has been praised by many, calling it that album that delivered a solid but non-exemplary heavy metal band of mixed subgenres into the eyes of the global power metal community. Indeed, that album seems to have so much praise on the Internet that it could be an album UtA could never top. Whether they did with “Abyss” or not is up to the listener, but the band has certainly pushed themselves and their sound even further. While the charged, high-tech, power metal style they executed so brilliantly on “Apex” is here is spadefuls (I’m already considering “Faster Than Light” to be on equal grounds of excellence with “Awakening”), the band has approached this album as a big production. They even brought in Flesh God Apocalypse’s Francesco Ferrini to add orchestral contributions for the closing track, “Afterlife”.

You’ll certainly notice the addition of keyboards, sometimes quite subtle as a supporting instrument, other times very much to the forefront as in “Through the Stars”, which sounds like a late eighties track by some Swedish band like TNT or Europe or perhaps a bit like Queensryche with keyboards. There’s a hefty use of keyboards in the title track too, though that one still keeps a power metal pace and feel to the music. Tracks like “Legacy” and “Return to Me” have such a big production quality that I’m really reminded of Devin Townsend Project albums like “Epicloud” and “Sky Blue”.

Probably the biggest surprise here is the second last track, “Carry the Flame”, yet another late eighties-sounding track like one of Whitesnake’s or Lita Ford’s melodic mid-tempo power rockers except that this track is a duet between Britney Slayes and growler/screamer Andrew Kingsley (guitars) who is singing with clean vocals. Seriously, if you love late eighties/early nineties melodic hard rock like Joe Lynn Turner, Harem Scarem and the likes, you’ll be in heaven. Me, I’m not totally keen on it usually but I can’t deny that they have pulled it off extremely well.

There are some reasons why fans of the older style of Unleash the Archers might not like this album and for those same reasons, some power metal fans and even metal fans might not like this album - big production and keyboards being stand out features. My opinion is that all the work and effort they put into making this has really paid off. I like a band that pushes themselves in new directions and doesn’t shy away from trying new things. I wouldn’t want a whole album of “Through the Stars” or “Carry the Flame”, but songs like that nestled in between other tracks like “Legacy”, “Faster Than Light”, “The Wind That Shapes the Land” and “Afterlife” make for a diverse album with lots of texture and atmosphere.

I’d love to give this album five stars but something is holding me back. Will the synth wave influence in a couple of tracks eventually taint my opinion of this album? Or will I tire of the big production sound? Maybe or maybe not. When the dust has settled a little more, I might just come back to this review and tweak my rating a half star this way or that.

SCANNER Hypertrace

Album · 1988 · Power Metal
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SilentScream213
There are a couple metal albums that got the sci-fi label in the 80’s simply for having one song about space (or god forbid, featuring a cyborg on the cover), but Scanner’s Hypertrace is the first true sci-fi metal album. Every song here follows the theme, and the music is melodic and speedy, very fitting for laser space battles. The sci-fi theme does give them a bit of a niche, but even that aside, the music here is fantastic, each song delivering great riffs and infectious choruses. Despite the fun fantasy nature of it, there are themes of revenge, hatred, and extermination throughout that can actually be taken rather seriously.

Consistency is key here, as not only is everything laden with sci-fi themes, but each song is great, despite varying enough in sound, speed and structure to keep everything from sounding too samey. A very well-done debut.

HELLOWEEN Keeper of the Seven Keys Part II

Album · 1988 · Power Metal
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SilentScream213
Although the name is misleading, this album and part 1 are not two-part concept albums, and actually seem to be completely unrelated in terms of themes. This album, in my opinion, is superior and much better represents the genre of Power Metal.

While Part 1 abandoned the band’s Speed Metal energy and aggression in favor of complete melody, this album brings back the intense speed of the debut while retaining extremely melodic and uplifting songwriting, resulting in a concrete example of fully formed Power Metal. This album, like Part 1, is incredibly diverse, both in terms of themes and songwriting, with incredibly poppy numbers sitting between hyper speedy power assaults. Thankfully this album is much more consistent quality-wise, apart from the silly Dr. Stein every song is very strong.

Another note – they really went off the wall stylistically here. The lyrics are insane as are some of the sounds they throw in. It’s kind of off putting at times, but on the other hand it’s one of the most fun-sounding records I’ve ever heard. Definitely one of the first and best examples of metal not being dark in any sense.

SONATA ARCTICA Ecliptica

Album · 1999 · Power Metal
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siLLy puPPy
SONATA ARCTICA emerged at the turn of the millennium with its debut release ECLIPTICA to great fanfare with its highly refined neoclassically infused power metal sound and has been cranking out albums ever since this first offering was released in 1999. After beginning under the rather unexciting name Tricky Beans which morphed into Tricky Means, this dramatic band led by vocalist / keyboardist Tony Kakko got its start in the far northern city of Kemo, Finland which sits near the Arctic Circle making SONATA ARCTICA probably the most famous metal band to emerge from the frigid lands of perpetual aura borealis light shows.

ECLIPTICA is a typical power metal album inspired by the countless bands that came before such as Stratrovarius, Helloween, Blind Guardian and Gamma Ray with super catchy pop infused melodic hooks, high octane guitar and keyboard workouts based on classical musical traditions and over the top operatic vocals. Considering Tony Kakko has described this debut as an extension of the demo where the band didn’t really know what it was doing at this point, it’s quite surprising that the album is as tightly woven and professionally executed as it is however Kakko has personally always been unhappy with this album and even took the sacrilegious act of re-recording the entire album for a 15th anniversary edition.

Since ECLILPTICA has been re-recorded almost all reviews center around the updated version but personally i find the original recording more in sync with the band’s sound and although the recording quality wasn’t as sophisticated as when the band was more popular, the delivery of the tracks seems to be forced since 15 years later the musicians had moved on and it was sort of like trying to relive past events and seems awkward. Add to that the original ECLIPTICA was the only album to feature bassist Janne Kivilahti so in a way this is one of those smooth moves which erases a previous band member’s contributions from the canon however it’s most like that the original Spinefarm label was problematic and the band wanted to reissue the album on Nuclear Blast so only a re-recording was possible. Whatever the case i suggest you stick to the 1999 version if possible.

While SONATA ARCTICA’s debut release may not be outstandingly original in the world of neoclassical power metal, it was nonetheless excellently performed with the expected mix of high octane speed metal and the tamped down ballads. Personally i prefer the following albums “Silence” and “Winterheart’s Guild” which show greater artistic developments but for a traditional sounding power metal album, ECLIPTICA is definitely a worthy one. Power melodic songs fortified with perfectly performed instrumental sections topped off with Kakko’s powerful emotive vocal. While some power metal can sound cheesy, SONATA ARCTICA avoided the pitfalls that can result in crafting overweening pomp and awe based on saccharine pop hooks. Kakko’s effortless transitions from falsetto to tenor vocals is one of the album’s strongest aspects but the instantly accessible Stratovarius inspired classical power metal hooks are quite pleasant as well.

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
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
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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