Subgenre of the Week: Power Metal

It’s Tuesday, which you’d think makes it time for a Just the Tip post. And guess what? You’d be thinking correctly! But it’s also time for a new Subgenre of the Week, due to some unforeseen complications that arose during its normal slot yesterday. Blah, blah, blah, you don’t like excuses and neither do we, so we’ll leave it at that. Point is, we’re back with a new one, and this week, we’ll be focusing on POWER METAL.

There's cheesy power metal...and then there's Manowar...
There’s cheesy power metal…and then there’s Manowar…

So what is power metal? Here’s what Wikipedia has to say on the matter:

“a subgenre of heavy metal combining characteristics of traditional metal with speed metal, often within symphonic context. Generally, power metal is characterized by a more uplifting sound, in contrast to the heaviness and dissonance prevalent in styles such as doom metal and death metal. Power metal bands usually have anthem-like songs with fantasy-based subject matter and strong choruses, thus creating a theatrical, dramatic and emotionally ‘powerful’ sound.”

Drawing from classic heavy metal acts like Dio and Iron Maiden, power metal first began to emerge on both sides of the Atlantic in the early 1980s. Bands like Manowar, Vicious Rumors and Jag Panzer carried the torch in the U.S., while Helloween and Running Wild led the European charge. As it expanded through the later ’80s and into the ’90s, bands like Blind Guardian and Gamma Ray began to emerge, and power metal saw a handful of distinct flavors emerge. While some bands began to incorporate keyboards and progressive elements, (think Stratovarius, Kamelot, etc.) others kept to more of a straightforward refresh on classic heavy metal. (Hammerfall, later Edguy)

So what are we looking for stylistically? In many cases, you get a clean, high-pitched (sometimes maybe a bit too high-pitched for one’s own good) singing style that emphasizes power metal’s melodic tendencies. Think lots of double-bass pedals and rapid-fire guitar licks, too. Oh, and CONCEPT ALBUMS. With such fantasy-oriented storylines as the Emerald Sword saga, (Rhapsody of Fire) and the Something Wicked saga (Iced Earth) floating around throughout power metal, the cheese potential could not be much higher. Shit, Blind Guardian even did an album based entirely on J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Silmarillion! (And it’s pretty kickass, too!)

There’s a lot to cover in the power metal realm, and a single playlist wouldn’t even begin to cover everything you need to hear from within the subgenre. (Not to mention anything you don’t need to hear, like DragonForce.) But dammit, a Subgenre of the Week post needs its 10-song playlist. Comprehensive? No. Ridiculous, cheesy fun? Yes. Here are our chosen power metal jams:

Dan’s Tracks:

  • Blind Guardian – “Mirror Mirror”
  • Manowar – “Battle Hymn”
  • Helloween – “I Want Out”
  • Gamma Ray – “New World Order”
  • Edguy – “Under the Moon”

Corey’s Tracks:

  • Stratovarius – “A Million Light Years Away”
  • Hammerfall – “Any Means Necessary”
  • Sabaton – “Screaming Eagles”
  • Sonata Arctica – “Paid in Full”
  • Nightmare – “Legions of the Rising Sun”

Check it out below and take your first bite out of power metal!

Live. Love. Plow. Horns Up.

Episode 2: April 17, 2014

It’s time for Horns Up, your weekly catch-up on all things metal!

This week, Dan and Corey discuss the new Triptykon record “Melana Chasmata,” revisit classic albums from Daath and Fucked Up, and give two horns down to a number of not-so-metal metal music festivals. Corey also gives us his first of what’s sure to be many anti-Emmure rants–so intense it actually DEEPENS HIS VOICE!

All this and much, much more in our second episode of Horns Up, so check it out!

Live. Love. Plow. Horns Up.