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

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HELSTAR A Distant Thunder Album Cover A Distant Thunder
HELSTAR
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MANOWAR Sign of the Hammer Album Cover Sign of the Hammer
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HELSTAR Nosferatu Album Cover Nosferatu
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RIOT ThunderSteel Album Cover ThunderSteel
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METAL CHURCH Metal Church Album Cover Metal Church
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4.26 | 49 ratings
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CRIMSON GLORY Transcendence Album Cover Transcendence
CRIMSON GLORY
4.25 | 46 ratings
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ASHES OF ARES Ashes of Ares Album Cover Ashes of Ares
ASHES OF ARES
4.50 | 10 ratings
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SANCTUARY Refuge Denied Album Cover Refuge Denied
SANCTUARY
4.24 | 18 ratings
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ICED EARTH The Glorious Burden Album Cover The Glorious Burden
ICED EARTH
4.18 | 32 ratings
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ICED EARTH Incorruptible Album Cover Incorruptible
ICED EARTH
4.22 | 18 ratings
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SANCTUARY Into The Mirror Black Album Cover Into The Mirror Black
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4.20 | 20 ratings
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CAGE Supremacy of Steel

Album · 2011 · US Power Metal
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UMUR
"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.

HEXX Wrath of the Reaper

Album · 2017 · US Power Metal
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UMUR
"Wrath Of The Reaper" is the 4th full-length studio album by US, San Francisco, California based metal act Hexx. The album was released through High Roller Records in September 2017. Hexx originally formed in 1983 and released three full-length studio albums before disbanding in 1995. They developed their sound greatly over the years, starting out playing US power/heavy metal and ending in technical death/thrash metal territory on "Morbid Reality" from 1991. So what does Hexx sound like 26 years down the line...

...well they sure didn´t continue the technical death/thrash metal sound of the predecessor, and "Wrath Of The Reaper" definitely have more in common with the first two US power/heavy metal releases by the band ("No Escape" from 1984 and "Under the Spell " from 1985), although "Wrath Of The Reaper" is generally a bit harder edged (even touching thrash metal territory once or twice). Stylistically this is more or less the epitome of the US power/heavy metal style and if I have to make a comparison that as many people as possible can relate to, it would be an act like Metal Church. At times this actually sounds so much like Metal Church that I´m doubt if it´s that band in disguise playing on "Wrath Of The Reaper" (it´s almost eeire at times how much lead vocalist Eddy Vega sounds like a slightly more pissed Mike Howe). So in that respect "Wrath Of The Reaper" isn´t the most original sounding album out there, but it has other qualities which still make it a high quality US power/heavy metal release.

Despite not being the most unique sounding material, the tracks are very well written. Powerful and memorable heavy metal tunes with heavy raw riffs, well played guitar solos, an energetic and solid playing rhythm section, and the above mentioned raw snarling vocals on top. Hexx are a skilled and well playing unit and they have crafted a potent release with "Wrath Of The Reaper". Fans of the style (and Metal Church in particular) are recommended to give this one a listen. A 3.5 star (70%) rating is deserved.

ARMORED SAINT March of the Saint

Album · 1984 · US Power Metal
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Kev Rowland
Even though Armored Saint have now been in existence for more than 40 years, and I have of course been aware of the name (primarily due to John Bush, who took time off to sing in Anthrax), I do not think I have previously come across any of their material. With their 40th anniversary in 2022, and Metal Blade reissuing their first three albums on coloured vinyl to celebrate, now is the time to correct that. Formed in 1982 by John Bush (vocals), Dave Prichard (lead guitar), Phil Sandoval (rhythm guitar), Joey Vera (bass) and Gonzo Sandoval (drums), they self-released a demo that year and were soon signed to Metal Blade who put out their first EP in 1983, following that with a deal with Chrysalis for this album in 1984.

One of the advantages of being old in 2023 is that I was 16 in 1979, so was very much involved in the NWOBHM scene, listening to as many new bands as possible and being blown away not only by the variety of metal which was exploding but also the quality. Part of the reason is that some of the bands heading the charge had actually been playing for a few years before the scene caught up with them notably Iron Maiden, Saxon and Raven, while others were playing anywhere and everywhere to build up their songs and stagecraft such as Def Leppard, Samson and so many others. At the time it seemed like the UK was the centre of the world in terms of metal, with the likes of Venom and Angel Witch pushing music into new directions as well. But America? To us in the UK if felt like the States had yet to get with the programme, and to me this album is a fine example.

Released in 1984, it is solid NWOBHM in style, yet is already years out of date and cannot be compared with what was happening in the UK at the time. The scene had moved on, and even back then this must have sounded quite dated and listening to it nearly 40 years on it just does not contain the quality of material one would expect. John Bush is widely known as a great singer, which is why he was asked to join Anthrax, but the songs are quite basic and there is not enough going on in the arrangements to make them consistently interesting. I cannot believe just how disappointed I was in this as I was really looking forward to it as their debut is highly rated, especially for “Can U Deliver” which had quite some success at the time, but for me there is just not enough excitement, and there are times when it reminds me of Tygers of Pan Tang, who were exciting at the time but have not aged well.

ASHES OF ARES Well of Souls

Album · 2018 · US Power Metal
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UMUR
"Well of Souls" is the 2nd full-length studio album by US power metal act Ashes of Ares. The album was released through Rock of Angels Records in November 2018. It´s the successor to the eponymously titled debut album from 2013. Ashes Of Ares was formed in 2012 and is a three-piece consisting of Matt Barlow (ex-Iced Earth, ex-Pyramaze) on vocals, Freddie Vidales (ex-Iced Earth) on guitars and bass, and Van Williams (ex-Nevermore) on drums.

Stylistically the material on "Well of Souls" continue the US power/heavy metal style of the debut album. With Barlow on lead vocals, it´s hard not to make comparisons to Iced Earth, and it is indeed that act Ashes Of Ares have a similar sound to. It´s no surprise that the musicianship are on a high level on all posts considering the musicians involved in the project. Loads of well played riffs, melodic guitar work and solos, a hard pounding powerful rhythm section, and Barlow´s strong voice and considerable vocal skills in front.

"Well of Souls" is well produced too, although the drums could have prospered from a more organic tone and the rhythm guitars could have packed a bit more punch, but upon conclusion it´s another strong US power/heavy metal release by Ashes Of Ares. It´s not an album which holds many surprises, and not all tracks are equally succesful to my ears (the power ballad type track "Soul Searcher" is an example of that), but it´s overall a solid release within the genre. A 3.5 star (70%) rating is deserved.

CAGE Science of Annihilation

Album · 2009 · US Power Metal
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UMUR
"Science of Annihilation" is the 5th full-length studio album by US, California based power/heavy metal act Cage. The album was released through Music Buy Mail in May 2009. It´s the successor to "Hell Destroyer" from 2007 and features one lineup change since the predecessor as drummer Mikey Niel has been replaced by Norm Leggio (Psychotic Waltz, Teabag).

Stylistically the material on "Science of Annihilation" continue the hard edged US power/heavy metal style of the preceding releases and maintain the high quality level of the two direct predecessors. Imagine how a full album featuring tracks in a similar vein to "Painkiller" by Judas Priest would sound like, and you´re halfway there describing the sound on "Science of Annihilation". So this is US power/heavy metal in the more fast-paced, dark, and aggressive end of the scale (tracks like "Planet Crusher" and "Speed Kills" are absolutely crushing). That does not exclude epic moments and loads of anthemic melodies, and the occasional slower and heavy moment, but "Science of Annihilation" is predominantly a fast-paced, hard pounding US power/heavy metal release, featuring uptempo pounding rhythms, blistering guitar work (including solos and harmonies), and a commanding and occasionally screaming vocal performance by Sean Peck in front. This is pretty much heavy metal heaven for those of us who prefer our heavy metal fast, dark, and aggressive.

"Science of Annihilation" features a powerful sounding production, high level musicianship all over the line, and the tracks are well composed and effective too, so upon conclusion it´s yet another high quality release by Cage. A 4 star (80%) rating is fully 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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