contents of page : history - album reviews - additions?
|Power metal is one of those subgenres that those not in the know
think should be just melted and grouped in with 'all the other metal'. But for those that
have been listening to it and following it even before its more recent explosion into the
more 'mainstream', they know that a separate category is necessary for this music.
But what exactly is power metal and where did it come from? Power metal is just that - metal that sounds more 'powerful' than the rest. Its usually definable by the obvious speed-metal influences and vocalists that sound well equipped to tackle any opera performance that could be thrown in their direction. But its even more complicated than that now. Some of the bands choose to write lyrics and songs around medieval type themes, with wizards, magic and dragons being a staple in their songs. The music is sometimes quite heroic sounding, sometimes raw and powerful, other times intricate and beautiful. It depends on the band and their style and way of presenting it. Yet they all share common bonds that hold them together and give them the right to claim the 'power metal' title. In the music itself, the similiarities are often quite obvious, yet words tend to fail giving strict guiding explanations.
The first true sighting of power metal can be traced back to Rainbow in 1976 with their "Rising" album. The song "Stargazer" is the basis by which power metal was built over the years and the largest influence on the subgenre. Later came other bands that would later be classified as 'power metal' such as Judas Priest and Iron Maiden. The band that is the shining example of everything the style should be, however, is Manowar, who have performed nothing but this over the years. Even though some of their songs were classifed as 'cheese', no other band has written metal 'hymns' quite like they do. There were also a few bands in the early 80s that released 'one-off' albums that flirted in this sound, such as Pretty Maids "Red Hot and Heavy", which featured a surprisingly 90s power sounding song called "Back to Back", which has heavily been covered by up and coming bands in the 90s. Then there was Omen, with "Battle Cry", a band that borrowed quite a bit from Manowar, and pushed the boundaries a bit further. Savatage also started as another band in this style before changing into their 'broadway metal' band they are today. There were also many other bands that were partially ignored or classifed as speed metal or something else entirely at this time that are now 'power metal' bands, such as Rage, Running Wild, and who could forget Helloween? Their former lead singer is one of the most copied vocalists in this style today. Dio, is one band that many do not even think about being power metal, but "Holy Diver" and almost every release after that laid alot of the groundwork for what the subgenre was later to sound like. Then there were those few bands that no one ever heard of until more recently like the fantastic Fifth Angel, who released an album of polished melodic power in the mid 80s.
Alot of bands that are 'big' now have also been toiling around since the early 80s, like Jag Panzer and a band that usually has other descriptive words thrown in front of it and is tossed in many different categories, Stratovarius. Virgin Steele also released a string of influential albums in the 80s, like "Noble Savage", many years before their more recent releases were heavily praised. And who could forget Blind Guardian? This speed metal band first emerged in the mid 80s and later on, were to take the underground by storm with their medieval influenced music and lyrical themes. Gamma Ray had beginnings in the late 80s and guitarist and now vocalist, Kai Hansen can be traced back to Helloween. Even the offshoot and sideproject, Iron Saviour is very much power metal.
But it was not until recently that these guidelines were made more mainstream and that these bands were given the title of power metal. With people growing bored of the whiney and boring alternative music, those that were sick of it, embraced this 'new' form of metal, and bands started popping up with a vengance. In a short period of time we suddenly had albums by the speed-power Brazilian band, Angra, vocalist Fabio Lione's trio of bands he worked with, the prog tinged Labyrinth, the more straight forward Athena, and then finally he settled into the huge classical and mediveal sounding Rhapsody. But it didn't stop there, the bands heavily copied styles from older bands in the 80s, and some featured a fresh approach, and before you could blink we suddenly had the Iron Maiden-ish Headstone, the Manowar clone, Pegazus, the German youngin's in Edguy, New Jersey's own Symphony X, Crimson Glory sound-alike Kamelot, (Morgana) Lefay, the progressive fueled Vanden Plas, Abraxas, the pumping power of Nocturnal Rites and a multitude more. In an attempt to better define the sounds of some of the bands, more adjectives were used in an attempt to put them in more clear cut categories. So now we have "Symphonic Power Metal" (Rhapsody), and "Melodic Speed Power Metal" (Stratovarius). With so many bands experimenting with so many different sounds, it was hard not to keep adding descriptive terms to find the correct place for them, and the problem is becoming an even bigger one with more and more "up and coming bands" and those that recieved little notice now coming out of the woodwork. But no matter how you describe it, or what you would disagree or agree with being in the elite power category, there is no denying that the music speaks for itself, and power metal continues to produce some of the finest metal anthems, ballads, and intricately amazing songs to be called metal today. After a few listens, you will soon be a believer in the magick and the might and in "the glory to the brave".
Want to learn even more about POWER METAL? Listed below are a list of links to various album reviews from some of the top power metal bands....
Angel Dust - Bleed
|This is far from complete, if there are any additions, changes,
or glaring mistakes that just simply need to be removed email me at email@example.com and I will
make any necessary and needed corrections. I want this page to be as accurate and
complete as possible, for the definite guide and review/resource page for Power Metal.
And as always, much more to come.
Updated : November 18th, 1999