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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us power metal Music Reviews

MANOWAR Gods of War

Album · 2007 · US Power Metal
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Kingcrimsonprog
Manowar have really become one of my favourite band’s over the past 6 years. I may have been a bit sceptical when I first heard them, but they have grown and grown in my estimation over the years. I keep a vinyl copy of Kings Of Metal framed on my wall, they’re my 8th most-listened to band of the past 12 years according to LastFM, and I’ll defend them to the death whenever anyone makes fun of them or calls them silly.

Some fans say they haven’t made any good albums since the 80s and I’ll disagree with that all day long. That being said, there is one album I don’t really like – their tenth studio album, 2007’s Gods Of War.

My favourite things about Manowar are usually the fast and hard double-kick filled metal songs or stompy mid-paced grooving songs, and my least favourite bits are the intros/outros, spoken word narrations and indulgent solos. I can also be fifty-fifty on the ballads. I guess it stands to reasons that Gods Of War is my least favourite album, as it is a narration filled concept album that has a lot of intros. Its 16 tracks long, and I would classify a full 6 of those as skippable intros. Even tracks which aren’t intros have partial intros or outros. I mean, strangest of all, the first two tracks are in effect intros. Two in a row, before the album really kicks off. There’s also quite a high ratio of ballads to fast tracks. I have Mars Volta albums that get to the point faster than this!

Its all personal preference of course, but this is definitely my least favourite Manowar record stylistically. Of course, that’s not to say it is devoid of quality. ‘King Of Kings,’ ‘Sleipnir,’ ‘Sons Of Odin’ and ‘Loki God Of Fire’ are all exactly the style of Manowar I love the best, and some of the material outside that style, such as choral sounding ‘Army Of The Dead, Part II’ is quite entertaining. Even then however, I feel they did better versions of this type of material on the albums directly before and after this one.

Tellingly; the song I like the most, ‘Die For Metal’ is a semi-bonus track that sits outside the concept. Musically, it’s a stompy mid-tempo track. Lyrically; Its just typical Manowar fun (‘’From a hall I heard thunder and screams/I walked inside so I could hear/And the guy beside me gave me a beer’’). It doesn’t really fit on the album at all, lyrically, or musically, but it makes it into any Manowar playlist I make.

I would caution against anyone who tells you not to try their post ‘80s output, but maybe don’t make this particular outing your first.

METAL CHURCH Metal Church

Album · 1984 · US Power Metal
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Kingcrimsonprog
The year is 1984, the place is Seattle, the producer is Terry Date and the label is Ground Zero (later reissued on Elektra at Metallica frontman James Hetfield’s insistence). Five young intrepid musicians make a unique spins on the various Heavy Metal styles of the time. Not quite the Thrashiest album, not quite the proto-prog developing with the likes of fellow Seattle band Queensryche at the time, not quite US-Power Metal either, this is one heavy metal album that defies categorisation. Compared to some of the band’s following albums, the sound is a bit primitive and direct, not their most musically accomplished or adventurous work, but all the key ingredients are in place; the speed, the power, the melody, the mood, the atmosphere. The record doesn’t outstay its welcome, but it leaves a very good impression. Sure, the production is a bit reverby and the lyrics aren’t as clever as later releases, but its full of charm and that counts for a lot. The iconic artwork completes the package perfectly. The late David Wayne isn’t my personal favourite Metal Church singer to date, but he’s got the attitude and suits the material. There are some great balls out speed metal moments, like “Hitman” and the Cold War-themed “Battalions.” There are some stompy, attitude-filled gems like “Beyond The Black” and the title-track. There’s also a brief instrumental in “Merciless Onslaught” and even a decent Deep Purple cover (“Highway Star”). Metal Church is a fine debut from a fine band. Highly recommended to anyone who likes 1980’s Heavy Metal of any variety.

NASTY SAVAGE Wage of Mayhem

Demo · 1984 · US Power Metal
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UMUR
"Wage of Mayhem" is a demo release by US, Florida based thrash/heavy metal act Nasty Savage. It´s the band´s second demo, "Raw Mayhem" being their first. Both demos were released in 1984 and precede the band´s eponymously tited debut full-length studio album from 1985. The original cassette tape version of the demo featured 4 tracks, while the 2003 CD reissue features 6 tracks.

The music on the demo is heavy metal with early thrash metal leanings. It´s raw, heavy, and occult themed. Lead vocalist Nasty Ronnie sings in a rough voice, but also delivers the occasional high pitched scream, and a couple of times during the playing time I´m reminded of Mercyful Fate, but Nasty Savage are generally a bit harder edged and not quite as original. I have the 2003 reissue version of the demo, and I´m guessing it´s been remastered, and that the original version of the demo featured a more raw and unpolished sound production, because the 2003 version features a very well sounding production considering that this is demo material from 1984.

The two additional tracks are new recordings from 2003 as the band reformed in late 2002. So this is a taste of how they sound a decade after they first split-up. Nothing has really changed much though, and the two new tracks are in a very similar style to the material from 1984, although the sound production is slightly more contemporary sounding. The quality of the material and the performances are relatively high and "Wage of Mayhem" is a worthwhile release for fans of the band´s 80s material and fans of raw thrashy heavy metal in general. A 3 - 3.5 star (65%) rating is deserved.

VICIOUS RUMORS Celebration Decay

Album · 2020 · US Power Metal
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Nightfly
I’ve been a fan of Vicious Rumors since their eponymous third album released back in 1990, an album they still haven’t bettered to this day by the way. This was not only down to a great collection of songs but the vocal prowess of the sadly deceased Carl Albert who died in a car crash in 1995. The band have continued to release well played US power metal albums adopting the if it ain’t broke don’t fix it approach apart from a diversion into a more groove metal direction in the late nineties.

Celebration Decay is the bands thirteenth studio album and not surprisingly follows the same template as the last few albums with the usual mixture of up and mid-tempo metal and the occasional plodder. Here though the balance lies more towards the mid-tempo which to be honest is not always to the albums benefit as Vicious Rumors are usually at their best when flying at full pelt. Any Last Words is one of the better mid-paced songs however with a strong hook and a riff that is very reminiscent of another of the bands songs that I annoyingly can’t currently put my finger on. There are some great songs such as Arrival Of Desolation with its galloping riff and rhythm section, something the band seem to do on most albums, there’s the opening title track which is one of the faster songs here. The album seems to run out of steam a bit at times though with the forgettable Darkness Divine being a prime example, not bad by any means, but lacking a memorable hook and guitarist Geoff Thorpe takes over on lead vocals who despite being a fine guitarist is no more than a passable vocalist. It’s followed by the equally plodding Long Way Home. Talking of vocals, since the death of Carl Albert the band seem to have struggled to find a lasting replacement changing vocalists almost every album. The latest recruit is Nick Courtney who whilst having a decent set of pipes struggles to inject much in the way of melody into his performance, something Albert always did, even against the hardest of riffs.

Collision Course Disaster is very welcome as by the time it arrives it’s the first fast song we’ve had for some time. It also boasts one of the albums strongest set of riffs. The album also goes out on a faster note with Masquerade Of Good Intentions.

Celebration Decay is a decent enough album but it’s the bands weakest of the last five, the best being 2011’s Razorback Killers if you’re interested. That’s a shame as the band is usually fairly consistent with releasing strong albums. Nevertheless it’s good to have them back and I’m confident that Vicious Rumors still have great albums in them and next time we’ll have something as good as their last, Concussion Protocol.

FATES WARNING Awaken The Guardian

Album · 1986 · US Power Metal
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SilentScream213
For their third album, Fates Warning followed mostly the same sound of their acclaimed sophomore album, The Spectre Within. The band’s highly melodic and often progressive yet deceptively simple music offers accessible entertainment. Most of the power metal influence from their last album is gone unfortunately, resulting in a slower and more sustained delivery.

John’s vocals, while never outstanding, are certainly stronger here than ever before, and his passionate delivery accompanied by the somewhat neoclassical musicianship add a flavor of theatrical atmosphere to the music. The long songs are never boring, containing multiple movements and layered with harmonies. While I miss the speed of their previous release, they certainly check every other box of 80’s Heavy Metal very well.

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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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