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Getting Into: Power Metal: Part I


Written by: ScreamingSteelUS
Published: 19.09.2021


The “Getting Into” series has been undergoing a robust revitalization in recent years, of which we can be proud, but every installment for the last decade has focused on individual artists (and friends, in some cases). Only once did we attempt to tackle an entire genre, and it was deathcore – one of the metal subgenres that, in my opinion, least needs getting into. To rectify this imbalance, and because I found myself on an extended power metal kick, I felt inspired to revisit this permutation of the “Getting Into” series. As power metal is a rather expansive genre, it quickly became apparent that a single article would not be sufficient; thus, this particular piece serves as merely the first part of several in a journey through power metal. At what point you are expected to have actually gotten into power metal, I don’t know, but I’m sure you’ll get there.

“Getting Into: Power Metal” might be too ostentatious a title, not to mention self-aggrandizing; as someone who was born well after the release of Walls Of Jericho and has done no actual research into the presumably zero extant scholarly material documenting the genesis and progress of power metal, I do believe that my ability to provide an even and accurate overview of the genre is nothing to wave a scepter at. If only Marcel were here (and listened to power metal) to tell me how things really were back when all of this was happening and why Kai Hansen personally thinks that I’m an idiot… But in spite of my reservations and lack of qualifications, I do listen to a lot of power metal, so I know that being ostentatious and self-aggrandizing is what it’s all about. Besides, the “Getting Into” series is just supposed to be a fun and helpful introduction for beginners and intermediates; it doesn’t have to be the sacred, inviolable truth (note how I armor myself for maximum unaccountability). You are therefore under no obligation to accept these articles as anything more factual than simple lists of recommendations.

Power metal, as the name suggests, revolves around the attainment and demonstration of power: triumphant force, impressive feats, boasts of excellence, obscure enchantments, record-setting scale, bigness, boldness, heroism, style, panache, and grandiloquence. It was in the 1980s that the earliest classics codified the specific aural style of power metal, an extrapolation of traditional heavy metal’s more grandiose elements; this was a highly formative decade for heavy metal in general, and the pursuit of greater extremity led to a variety of distinct offshoots that all in their own way prized volume, speed, scale, bravado, and showmanship, so it is necessary to distinguish further what defines power metal. As years passed and a set of characteristics coalesced around landmark releases, certain traits became the standard and separated power metal from burgeoning genres like death, thrash, and black metal, to which several broad descriptors might equally apply.

Clean, powerful, operatic vocals became the norm, with choruses frequently multi-tracked, layered by choirs, or in some other way primed for audience participation; the use of falsetto, as well as punctuation by way of high-pitched wailing, is more prevalent here than in any other subgenre of metal. Lyrical and conceptual themes embraced larger-than-life subject matter drawn from fantasy, mythology, history, and literature, with the enrichment of posture and reputation considered increasingly necessary to the art; songs written about heavy metal itself, and the trueness or virtues thereof, are commonplace amidst the dragons and dwarves. The straightforward, rock-influenced, and riff-focused songwriting of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal grew ever more complex and higher-flung, with compositional intricacy and affectation becoming staples; soaring, stirring melodies took metal to new heights of self-avowed splendor. More than most subgenres, power metal grew to embrace both classical and pop music; shred guitar and various keyboard instruments alike became prominent fixtures, and a taste for ornamentation was matched by catchy, hook-predicated writing. Speed and volume, again, became important considerations as in any other subgenre, but they tended to be balanced out by concerns for visual and musical majesty.

As the genre evolved (which it continues to do), new generations of artists put their own spins on the sound; no blanket description applies to power metal any more than one would apply to another subgenre, but in this article series I hope to provide some understanding of what power metal is made of, what it can be, where it came from, and where it’s going. The "where it came from" part will be most applicable to this particular installment, which showcases releases from the 1980s.

But First: The Before Times


It is common knowledge that power metal was created by J.R.R. Tolkien in the year 1000 A.D. when he wrote Beowulf and the Kalevala simultaneously and immediately set them to music, which some say would ultimately become Blind Guardian’s Nightfall In Middle-Earth. Skeptical historians and music critics have cast aspersions on the credibility of this account, however, so we’ll start from a different beginning. Power metal, like very few good things and many regrettable things, has its true origins in the 1970s, when the groundwork was laid by some of the same bands responsible for the very genesis of heavy metal itself as they sought to expand the horizons of what could be achieved by mortals wielding musical instruments. Before we reach the 1980s, I offer a brief and in-no-way-comprehensive selection of some notable forerunners to the power metal identity.



Deep PurpleIn Rock (1970)


Ritchie Blackmore’s guitar in one channel, Jon Lord’s Hammond B-3 organ in the other; with two titanic machines launching riffs at each other and crushing the listener in between, In Rock was one of the loudest, heaviest, and most blistering records of its day, and that dual-lead attack would prove very influential to heavy metal as an example of how to execute a show of force. In addition to the eardrum-atomizing capabilities of the lead pair, it would be impossible to understate the impact of Ian Gillan’s voice, in terms of both its influence and its effectiveness as a projectile weapon. Gillan’s screeching and screaming on this album spurred the imaginations of countless singers for generations to come, including Bruce Dickinson, Rob Halford, Hansi Kürsch, Eric Adams, David DeFeis, and every other clean vocalist who isn’t lying. “Speed King” basically says it all, overpowering itself so recklessly that it threatens to tear apart at the seams, but in case that doesn’t do the job, “Child In Time” will. “Child In Time” is, quite simply, one of rock music’s greatest masterpieces. No textual commentary could do it justice.



Led Zeppelin’s flirtation with the intangible world embraced references to Greek myth (“Achilles Last Stand”), Vikings/Norse myth (“Immigrant Song,” “No Quarter”), and the works of Tolkien (“The Battle Of Evermore,” “Ramble On,” “Misty Mountain Hop”); the rich assortment of musical and lyrical influences, the mystique surrounding the band, and the enduring charisma of epics like “Stairway To Heaven” and “Kashmir” would ultimately prefigure not only heavy metal in its purest form but the particular attraction to myth, magic, and magnificence common to all power metal. Led Zeppelin adopted so many styles over its career that choosing a single album as a direct predecessor to something as narrow as power metal is a somewhat futile exercise, but keep in mind that Led Zeppelin IV does not technically have a title – its cover art contains no identifying information whatsoever, with only four symbols contained on the inner sleeve. That seems like a sufficiently mystical reason to draw a connection. And if further justification were necessary, this is the album with “Stairway To Heaven,” one of the most numinous odysseys in the popular music canon.



Uriah Heep’s first three albums were highly influential as examples of that chunky, plodding, and distorted heavy blues sound that helped form heavy metal, but Demons And Wizards opened up a world of fantastical bard-tales that would be the envy of DMs everywhere. Roger Dean’s stylish cover art, the vividly mythic lyrics, and the dramatic progressive rock sound channel a feeling of medieval fantasy that places Demons And Wizards outside the realm of bluesy psychedelia and into a stellar plane of exploratory theater. The combined forces of Mick Box on guitar and Ken Hensley on organ conjure a thick, brutish sound to rival Deep Purple in pure riffing density, though David Byron’s lofty vocals take on a poetic pretension rather distinct from Ian Gillan’s roof-shaking rock’n’roll shrieks; the quick-and-dirty single “Easy Livin’” might be the best-known track off the album, but songs like “Poet’s Justice” and “Traveller In Time” exhibit more of the compositional complexity that would become common to power metal later on.



Queen – Queen II (1974)


Queen exercised a more direct musical influence than some of their peers, especially on vocal and guitar techniques. Freddie Mercury’s operatic flair, Roger Taylor’s Bee Gees falsetto, and the multitudes of layered backing vocals conjured pomp and circumstance the likes of which had rarely been approached by rock music before, setting the precedent for the infinite choirs now standard for so much power metal. Brian May’s brilliantly bright guitar commanded songs in equally numerous layers of melodic leads, defining the future sounds of guitarists like Andre Olbrich and Kai Hansen, among many others. A fascination with flamboyance manifested not only in exceptionally dynamic songwriting and posh cabaret fancies but occasional explorations of myth, legend, religion, and fantasy. Thanks to a long list of ambitious compositions, several of which are featured on this album, the effects of Queen’s taste for the dramatic are still widely felt in power metal to this day. Queen II captures some of the band’s best qualities, at a captivatingly theatrical and adventurous stage unusual for popular music, but still with a lot of bite and heaviness more characteristic of their early years; combine this album with Demons And Wizards and you’re on your way to any Blind Guardian album of the ‘90s.



RainbowRising (1976)


What originated as the replacement project of Deep Purple’s Ritchie Blackmore eventually became stamped in eternal memory as the band that brought Ronnie James Dio to a worldwide stage, and it is largely for Dio’s contributions that Rainbow remains a necessary component of the conversation surrounding power metal. Blackmore’s perfectly constructed riffs and solos, bearing increasing ingenuity and Renaissance influence, maintained a profound effect on the developing guitar sound of heavy metal, and Cozy Powell’s frenetic and nuanced drumming continued to solidify him as an instrumental legend, so their influence on heavy music, made as real through Rainbow as through any other project, is not to be understated (and “Stargazer” having some of the best instrumental tracks ever laid down sure helps); the efforts of the full band are what made Rainbow a fixture of the early heavy metal catalogue. Nonetheless, it is the immensely powerful vocals of the diminutive Dio and his fantastical, narrative lyrics that make Rainbow most relevant to this series. Long Live Rock ‘N’ Roll would have sufficed as an example thanks to tunes like “Kill The King” and “Gates Of Babylon,” but Rising is usually cited as the all-around classic of Rainbow’s discography, and “Stargazer” is to this day one of the boldest, most iconic, and most stirring epic journeys in all of heavy metal, a precursor to power metal if the decade ever produced one.



How influential this album was, I’m not sure I could say, since my understanding is that it has long languished in obscurity, but its prescience is made clear within minutes. Kevin Nugent’s understated vocal delivery and the casual grooves belie the technical proficiency and splendorous composition that characterize Fröm The Fjörds, easily one of the most monumental-sounding heavy metal records of the 1970s. The individual performances are overwhelmingly virtuosic, and when this stunning musicianship is combined with the hypnotic repetition and magnetic gallantry of the songwriting, the result is an utterly anachronistic sound that predicted the whole next decade of increasingly dramatic heavy metal without succumbing to the self-parodic excess that would eventually befall many practitioners of the style. While very much informed by standard hard rock practices and the mentality of 1970s prog, Legend still came through as forward-thinking in a way that their less direct and less heavy peers could not have aspired to.



ABBA – Literally any album


A lot of metal fans like to take themselves very seriously – even within this genre, which is the one that probably has the least grounds to justify doing so. Every now and then, we have to step back and admit that there are other forms of music and other ways to create an outstanding piece of art. The other albums I’ve mentioned so far are important, without a doubt, but they tend to address the heavy part of metal: the reckless percussion, the ominous riffs, the overall thickness of sound. The heaviness is only half of the formula, and even Queen doesn’t fully explain all of the fanciful digressions of power metal. You can’t have this genre without a healthy pinch of the purest pop that there is, and that’s why we need to take a moment to appreciate what ABBA has given us before we talk about Manowar. Saccharine, smooth, punctiliously produced, dancey, prancey, and packed with ever so much delight, [insert any ABBA album] is a monumental piece of pop history without which we’d never have half the bands that have ever slain a dragon, especially in Scandinavia. This is where melody truly begins for an entire subdivision of heavy metal.




At Last, The 1980s


After some delay, we begin the lecture proper with ten albums from the 1980s. At this point, I should state that this article series, while divided into blocks of ten albums from each decade, is not meant to be the arbiter of quality. The albums that will soon be revealed to you are not the ten most important power metal albums of the 1980s; they are not the ten best power metal albums of the 1980s; they are not my ten favorite power metal albums of the 1980s. In fact, they aren’t even ten power metal albums of the 1980s, because not all of them are exactly mainline power metal and there are eleven of them. These are simply ten eleven albums from the 1980s that have something to do with power metal and that I thought I had something to say about.




DioHoly Diver (1983)


Few people would genuinely call Holy Diver a power metal album, and I am not one of those people. Nonetheless, this album – one of the pillars of heavy metal as a parent genre – is power metal’s spiritual progenitor. Ronnie James Dio himself, who had begun spinning tales of serpents, rings, dragons, and kings back in the ‘70s with Rainbow as we saw above, gained a wider platform with Black Sabbath, and his solo debut with Holy Diver centered him even more as a trend-setter in heavy metal. While the use of keyboards on “Rainbow In The Dark,” the crowd-igniting bombast of “Stand Up And Shout,” the mysterious, dreamlike intro to “Don’t Talk To Strangers,” and the supernaturally honed vocal delivery can be cited as influential to the sound of power metal, Dio’s primary contribution is to the aesthetic of the genre. His cryptic, mystical poetry, vivid imagery, and dramatic presence summoned a sorcerous glamour that would become the envy of many a metal band in his wake. In addition to the black-and-red leather that were (and are) staples of the metal wardrobe, Dio could frequently be seen wearing wide-sleeved silk shirts and posing with swords, shields, and chains; the video for “Holy Diver” depicts him single-handedly storming a castle, now a popular pastime for self-proclaimed metal warriors. Onstage, his captivating glare, embellished delivery, and sweeping gestures – punctuated by his trademark sign of the horns – made Dio an epic storyteller. That magical presence is reflected in Holy Diver, thus making it an indispensable piece of power metal’s history.

Also recommended: Judas PriestScreaming For Vengeance, Black SabbathHeaven And Hell, Grim ReaperSee You In Hell, Jack Starr's Burning StarrNo Turning Back!, Twisted SisterStay Hungry



Mark “The Shark” Shelton was far from your typical power metal vocalist, much more Skeletor than He-Man; his nasally, half-spoken delivery resembled a goose reciting poetry, and only occasionally would he muster up enough muscle to distort into a roar. Of course, Manilla Road was always far from your typical power metal band; originating in the mid-‘70s, they endured a steady build-up to the style that would make them legends. They were never polished enough to pull abreast of the increasing production values of metal’s jet set, with a solid, earthy punch and garage-fidelity coarseness that drew a veil of mystery around them, and yet the scope of their songs outstripped their technological limitations. In spite of the tinny buzz and trebly edge that constantly pulled at the corners of their sound, Manilla Road were uncommonly literate and sophisticated as songwriters and lyricists, earning allegiance to their self-professed classification of “epic metal” to a degree that few proponents of bespoke genre taxonomy ever reached. Crystal Logic is the album that both debuted and perfected the renowned Manilla Road sound: evil-radiating doom riffs, searing, thrashy breakaways, and dissertations on dreams, death, and the divine. It is a masterpiece of metal’s renaissance that deserves to be more widely celebrated, and it exemplifies magnificently the values that power metal would soon champion as its own.

Also recommended: Adramelch - Irae Melanox, Pagan AltarVolume 1, Cirith UngolKing Of The Dead, Eternal ChampionRavening Iron, OmenBattle Cry, SatanCourt In The Act



Manowar really deserves its own article entirely, for whether as a leader or a laughingstock (or both simultaneously) Manowar has always been extremely visible (and that’s not only praise of their ability to captivate a polarized audience but an illustration of how little clothing they wore). Their unflinching bravado – boldly proclaimed without a trace of irony – took heavy metal’s violent braggadocio to one logical, hypermasculine extreme, a realm populated by fur loincloths, rock-hard abs, and the practice of holding large objects very high up to the sky in a triumphant manner. There is little about Manowar that isn’t ridiculously excessive, be it the revving motorcycle engine that constitutes Joey DeMaio’s bass and his maniacal shredding solos, the atom-smashing force of Scott Columbus turning his blacksmithing skills to the drum kit, the life-ending but still catchy leads of rifftastic axemaster Ross the Boss, or the octave-spanning and infinitely sustained screams of Eric Adams. Certainly image is what usually defines Manowar in conversation, for it wasn’t just literal loudness that Manowar imparted to metal, but a sense of scale and unscrupulous self-indulgence that continue to define the credo of “trueness” in the genre – and yet standing behind the Guinness-certified volume is an incredible body of work to back it up, and standing behind that incredible body (probably belonging to Conan the Barbarian) is a discography that lives up to the promises of the cover art. Hail To England, easily one of Manowar’s best, is an album of anthems. Its choruses are mighty, its instrumental attacks are devastating, and its perception of heavy metal as a way of life is the fun kind of insane; you could do much worse as an introduction to the biggest, baddest, and most bombastic form of metal there is. Whether you find them embarrassingly goofy or the pinnacle of heavy metal’s potential, there is no escaping the legacy of Manowar as the genre’s most stalwart proponent; it’s not hard to see how power metal would have been so much less interesting were it not for them.

Also recommended:Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure, Pumping Iron, Greasy’s Barbecue-Scented Chest Wax, this scene from Predator



A practiced air of theatricality is as important to power metal as having a dragon on your album cover and possessing an intimate knowledge of Tolkien’s legendarium, and few guitarists of this era possessed the genuine pedigree of pomposity that Yngwie Malmsteen parlayed to prominence. Malmsteen’s name has become a favorite antonomasia for someone who is ludicrously proficient at their instrument, and while there is often a concomitant sense that such skill is to the detriment of their other artistic sensibilities, Malmsteen’s early albums definitively established the canon of neoclassical metal. Rising Force waits behind a simple cover – a guitar held aloft amid flames – but it delivers the message well enough: this was to be the album that defined shredding for a new generation of metal musicians, and with that dedication to dexterity came an assertion that heavy metal could be musically literate, intellectual, and thrilling in a way that the Wagnerians of Deep Purple had only hinted at previously. Heavy metal’s (and power metal’s) reverence for classical music certainly does not begin with Yngwie Malmsteen, but it does owe him a great debt. And it was not only lightning-fast fingers that made Malmsteen a larger-than-life figure; his taste for the extravagant, encompassing rings, ruffles, sashes, sports cars, and a lifetime supply of shirts open to the navel, seemed to echo the hedonistic lifestyle of the glam scene, but this material splendor was paired with the street cred afforded by Bach and Beethoven, and nothing says “power” quite like a good spectacle. Also noteworthy is that this album features on keyboards a young Jens Johansson, later to join Dio and eventually to become an integral part of Stratovarius.

Also recommended: Joey TafollaOut Of The Sun, Racer XStreet Lethal, CacophonySpeed Metal Symphony, ImpellitteriScreaming Symphony, Vinnie MooreMind’s Eye



The most commonly cited distinction between US power metal and its European counterparts (including South America and Japan) is that the star-spangled variety is heavier, darker, and thrashier. Jag Panzer’s speed-frenzied debut is one of the best examples of how thin the line could be between power and thrash; fast-paced razor chugs and reckless solo runs dominate much of Ample Destruction. The heavily punctuated riffs, wild aggression, emphatic shrieks, and lean production could have given any nascent thrash titan a run for its money in 1984, but this was not the direction that Jag Panzer was destined to pursue: as the majestic choruses, legato passages, and goofy lyrics attest to, Jag Panzer had a taste for the fanciful. The slower tracks, such as “The Watching” and “The Crucifix,” take on an oratorial manner and trappings of doom, and even the fastest cuts possess a decorative expressiveness, aided by lead guitarist Joey Tafolla’s classical aspirations, that veers away from pure vitriol. Harry Conklin had not yet settled on the most effective way to use his voice, so his technique and focus waver throughout the album, but it’s clear that he already possessed a mighty mid-range in addition to a high ceiling, and his voice would become ever more forceful, articulate, and operatic over time. Ample Destruction was unfortunately something of a fluke, as the band would dissolve shortly after its release and would not make a complete return until well over a decade later, but Jag Panzer still made this album a strong demonstration of how powerful metal could be.

Also recommended: Satan's HostMetal From Hell, Liege LordMaster Control, HelstarNosferatu, RealmEndless War, Vicious RumorsDigital Dictator



...and those cannons are the drums of Mark “Thunder Child” Zonder, who clubs his kit like a siege machine. Warlord’s first full-length retains some of the ghostly lo-fi edge of Deliver Us, a remarkably prescient debut EP that contributes four songs to this album (rerecorded), but the boost in production values on this release does wonders for the already formidable rhythm section. The ponderous stomp and haunting melodies are reminiscent of the doomier NWOBHM offspring, made all the more ominous by occasional input from wispy synthesizers that echo behind the riffs like ancient winds. The tinny vocals and still-medieval sound give the impression that there is some great mystery lurking below the surface, and that esotericism may be Warlord’s defining aesthetic quality, but if you want to talk about power in metal, here it is: holding his own against Zonder’s monstrous drumming, Bill Tsamis’s riffs rage and reverberate throughout every song, bursting with energy and creativity. Warlord’s fundamentals are hard to match, and the songs are redolent of an era-specific sagacity that make this album sound vital.

Also recommended: Griffin (USA)Flight Of The Griffin, Lordian GuardLordian Guard, Thunder RiderTales Of Darkness And Light, Medieval SteelMedieval Steel, Witchfinder GeneralDeath Penalty



ThorOnly The Strong (1985)


After something of a false start with 1977’s Keep The Dogs Away, Thor achieved an enduring milestone with a second debut: 1985’s Only The Strong. The Thor project would cycle through numerous monikers, as would its frontman, but it always revolved around Jon Mikl Thor himself. Thor, a.k.a. “The Legendary Rock Warrior,” is a Canadian bodybuilder who purportedly swept up numerous titles around the world before abandoning his profession for the pursuit of music, putting Manowar to shame with his intimidating physique. He played the part of the demigod hero, wielding hammers, wearing fantasy-inspired armor, and posing like a real-life Conan the Barbarian; his blond mane and conspicuous musculature made him the perfect orator for tales of thunder, vengeance, and divine destruction. While the impact of Thor lies primarily in his dedication to power in a colloquial sense, the celebration of physical force and its application to stern, dramatic choruses, Only The Strong is a fine example of early power metal. The album consists of a selection of pounding anthems that generally keep to a moderate pace but swagger with overblown magnitude. Brittle, multi-tracked guitars add frequent ornamentation to otherwise simplistic riffs while Thor’s self-harmonized vocals balance limited range with confident delivery. The whole album is good fun, if less ambitious musically than visually, but “Let The Blood Run Red” in particular still stands as one of the decade’s great self-indulgent metal classics.

Also recommended: Heavy LoadDeath Or Glory, Armored SaintMarch Of The Saint, SaxonWheels Of Steel, TankFilth Hounds Of Hades, SinnerDanger Zone



Within a few years after formation, Fates Warning would undergo a shift in lineup and a purification of style, embarking on a decades-long career as one of the faces of progressive metal, but in 1986, while they were still casting about for their true calling, an odd stroke of genius produced Awaken The Guardian. Straightforward and dramatic enough to be called one of the definitive recordings of US power metal, Awaken The Guardian nonetheless predicts the full-throttle prog of later albums; frequent shifts in structure, odd time signatures, and complex melodies surface at every turn, though the songs always arrive at some incendiary hook that transforms them into narrative journeys not limited to shows of instrumental capability. The richly colored and otherworldly landscape on the cover suggests a vein of forgotten lore to be tapped within, a promise delivered on by the entrancing quality of John Arch’s unusual and overlapping vocal lines; what Arch’s pinched, ethereal voice lacks in resonance it makes up for in fluidity, range, and a weird, vatic quality perfectly suited for the album’s esoteric sound. Its twists are often plaintive and absorbing, spinning myths of fatidic fantasy and tragedy with Arch’s limitless soaring and awe-inspiring guitar work from Jim Matheos and Frank Aresti. The album may ultimately fall on the side of rudimentary progressive metal more than pure power, but its ambitions and aesthetics make it a clear forerunner to later power metal.

Also recommended: QueensrÿcheThe Warning, Crimson GloryTranscendence, SavatageHall Of The Mountain King, Heir ApparentGraceful Inheritance, ChastainMystery Of Illusion



I should have started this article by demanding that you drop everything and listen to “Eagle Fly Free,” because if you aren’t singing along by the second chorus, this probably isn’t the genre for you; try getting into a different genre, like death or doom or sitting quietly by yourself. Provocative mandates aside, it’s true that this duology comprises the most foundational recordings in the history of power metal, the purest expression of intent that had yet been issued at the time of its release, and the standard by which subsequent works from across the genre still find themselves measured. Contained within these two albums is just about everything you need to know about power metal, and it’s a full-band experience. Kai Hansen and Michael Weikath are a peerless pair of guitarists who fill every square inch of these albums with transcendent solos and screaming harmonics, often harmonizing with each other whether playing lead or rhythm; Ingo Schwichtenberg’s drumming expands to fill every corner not already occupied by the other instruments, a constant and volcanic presence; Markus Grosskopf’s punchy bass holds its own against the guitars as a purveyor of solos and melodies; Michael Kiske, newly added to the lineup, takes over from Kai Hansen’s raspy singing style with an impeccably clean, soft delivery and a smooth falsetto still the envy of metal vocalists the world over. Though the songs reach furious tempos and incorporate palm-muted chugging, Helloween sounds distinct from thrash, thanks in part to the back-beat emphasis and legato chords that keep the melodic side centered. These albums range from silly and good-natured pop rock to gargantuan progressive odysseys, presaging much of power metal’s commercial appeal as well as its excess; the first part, dominated by Hansen’s writing, contains some heavier compositions more in the vein of conventional power metal, while the second part, largely written by Weikath, includes the most accessible and moderately paced tracks of the bunch, but both parts are filled with hooks that can be as surgically effective as punk or as long-winded and overblown as prog. Were they the first? Were they the best? Did they sell the most? Doesn’t matter – no conversation about power metal can exclude Helloween.

Also recommended: ViperTheatre Of Fate, Cloven HoofA Sultan’s Ransom, RiotThundersteel, SortilègeMétamorphose



Two decades before Alestorm made piracy the vogue (and one before Napster), Rock ‘N’ Rolf and his band of sea rats were pumping bilge with Davy Jones, and they were doing it at the devil’s own pace. Death Or Glory was Running Wild’s third high-seas adventure – their fifth album overall – and it was also the best-produced and most heavily ornamented album they had yet released, following a steady increase in songwriting finesse and attentive tweaking. The riffs are harmonized, layered, and more complex, as are Rolf’s vocal lines; Port Royal definitely had a good “whoa-oh-oh” chorus or two, but Death Or Glory goes for the guts with every refrain, and Rolf’s gravelly snarl had evolved to acquire a broader range and a more voluminous quality that help with the ever-expanding vocal melodies. Iain Finlay’s cannonball fills and ride cymbal mayhem underscore that there’s a lot more to making speed metal work than simply keeping a quick tempo. At this point in time, playing fast-paced metal that was too strait-laced to be thrash was about enough to land some power metal association, but Death Or Glory more than any Running Wild album possessed the bombast, polish, and titular glory to make it stand out as a piece of historic heroism. Moreover, while Running Wild is not exclusively a pirate band, and it took a few albums for them to settle on a distinguishing preoccupation, many power metal bands out there love a good unifying concept; be it Tolkien, dragons, crusades, Tolkien, warfare, medieval history, Tolkien, video games, space warfare, Tolkien, what have you, knowing what you’re all about and making sure that everyone else knows it, too, is the cornerstone of power metal presentation.

Also recommended: Grave DiggerTunes Of War, WarlockTriumph And Agony, AcceptRestless And Wild, ScannerHypertrace

Conclusion


As you can see, even in the earliest days, there was a wide variety of sounds influencing and evolving into power metal; it is interesting to see just how many noteworthy albums emerged out of this proliferation of styles. While it’s true that Helloween’s Keeper duology is sometimes regarded as the ultimate statement of power metal, it is by no means all the genre has to offer (and not nearly my favorite), so I hope that you will look forward to part two of this series, in which I cover the even more productive 1990s.

Warlord guitarist Bill Tsamis passed away during the drafting of this piece. It seems appropriate that I should dedicate it to his memory, and so I shall, in addition to Ronnie James Dio, Mark Shelton, Scott Columbus, Ingo Schwichtenberg, Jimmy Bain, and others who helped give life to a genre that is so very worth getting into.






Written on 19.09.2021 by I'm the reviewer, and that means my opinion is correct.


Comments page 2 / 2

Comments: 57   Visited by: 211 users
20.09.2021 - 14:17
Nejde
Green Devil
“Child In Time” is, quite simply, one of rock music’s greatest masterpieces. - SSUS

I can only agree.
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"When you are dead, you do not know you are dead. It's only painful for others. The same applies when you are stupid." - Ricky Gervais
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20.09.2021 - 14:25
Nejde
Green Devil
Written by JoHn DoE on 20.09.2021 at 12:26

^ when metal bands cover ABBA songs, a lot of those covers sound really good, like Flowing Tears - One of Us, Tad Morose - Knowing Me Knowing You and Sargant Fury - Eagle, and many others...




The top comment on YouTube says it perfectly: Again the proof that ABBA was powermetal without guitars.
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"When you are dead, you do not know you are dead. It's only painful for others. The same applies when you are stupid." - Ricky Gervais
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20.09.2021 - 14:26
JoHn DoE

Written by Nejde on 20.09.2021 at 14:25

Written by JoHn DoE on 20.09.2021 at 12:26

^ when metal bands cover ABBA songs, a lot of those covers sound really good, like Flowing Tears - One of Us, Tad Morose - Knowing Me Knowing You and Sargant Fury - Eagle, and many others...




The top comment on YouTube says it perfectly: Again the proof that ABBA was powermetal without guitars.


the only Amberian Dawn song i like.
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I thought the two primary purposes for the internet were cat memes and overreactions.
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20.09.2021 - 14:29
Nejde
Green Devil
Written by JoHn DoE on 20.09.2021 at 14:26


the only Amberian Dawn song i like.


And there is this one too.

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"When you are dead, you do not know you are dead. It's only painful for others. The same applies when you are stupid." - Ricky Gervais
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20.09.2021 - 14:34
JoHn DoE

Written by Nejde on 20.09.2021 at 14:29

Written by JoHn DoE on 20.09.2021 at 14:26


the only Amberian Dawn song i like.


And there is this one too.




Helloween did a cover of this song, too.
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I thought the two primary purposes for the internet were cat memes and overreactions.
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20.09.2021 - 17:29
WorpeX
war-pex
I got a good chuckle out of this article, thanks for writing it! I had never heard of that Thor band before reading this, checked their MS profile and saw that out of nearly 24 albums this was the only one with a favorable rating! As a power metal fan, I definitely need to check this and a few other albums on this list out.
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20.09.2021 - 20:34
Redel

What a fine piece of art this article itself is. I am so much looking forward to what you will be making out of the subsequent decade, which was when I for myself began to dive into this subgenre, and to how you will eventually handle the split of paths into the US and the European style.
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21.09.2021 - 00:19
M C Vice
ex-polydactyl
Written by Bad English on 20.09.2021 at 12:36

Written by JoHn DoE on 20.09.2021 at 12:26

^ when metal bands cover ABBA songs, a lot of those covers sound really good, like Flowing Tears - One of Us, Tad Morose - Knowing Me Knowing You and Sargant Fury - Eagle, and many others...


Beseech Gimme Gimme Gimme are one of best ABBA covers ever, even give me man after midnight, when male sings it sounds weird, they could change small lyric text ;d

Sinergy did that one, too. It was pretty good.
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"Another day, another Doug."
"I'll fight you on one condition. That you lower your nipples."
" 'Tis a lie! Thy backside is whole and ungobbled, thou ungrateful whelp!"
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21.09.2021 - 03:58
BitterCOld
The Ancient One
Was enjoying the article until I got to Manowar. Then I left the hall.
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get the fuck off my lawn.

Beer Bug Virus Spotify Playlist crafted by Nikarg and I. Feel free to tune in and add some pertinent metal tunes!
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21.09.2021 - 10:14
JoHn DoE

Written by BitterCOld on 21.09.2021 at 03:58

Was enjoying the article until I got to Manowar. Then I left the hall.



nah, you just ignore Manowar and go on reading.
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I thought the two primary purposes for the internet were cat memes and overreactions.
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21.09.2021 - 11:34
Starvynth
i c deaf people
As always and as expected, a very entertaining and interesting article of our editor-in-chief, but this time a completely new facet has been added. Because I find a lot of disturbing details here, and some of it is even downright scary.

Let's start with the fur panties. That Manowar were my first favorite metal band ever is no big secret. Though sometimes I wish it was still one, because then I wouldn't tell anyone, but of course they belong in an article about power metal, no question about it.

Queen were my first favorite rock band in the mid-eighties. There simply was no way around Freddie, Brian, John and Roger back then. Everybody loved their music (except Markus from the neighboring class, but there was something wrong with him anyway) and I still think they are one of the greatest bands of all time. Maybe not necessarily the greatest power metal band of all time, but then again, I do understand the connection. The theatrical bombast had to come from somewhere.

Now it's getting really shocking though. Because my very first favorite band ever was... ...ABBA!
I found a cassette entitled The Visitors beneath our Christmas tree in 1982, listened to it at least 1,000 times and I still own it.




Dear SSUS, do you really want to tell me now that deep inside, I have always been a die-hard power metal fan? What am I supposed to do with my screwed up life now? Is everything I ever believed in just a big fat lie?
And do you expect me to sit here quietly and wait, just to read in "Getting Into: Power Metal: Part II" that the Peaceville Three are the true forefathers of it?
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signatures = SPAM
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21.09.2021 - 12:30
Redel

Written by Starvynth on 21.09.2021 at 11:34

Dear SSUS, do you really want to tell me now that deep inside, I have always been a die-hard power metal fan?

I see it like:
Rather because you have started your power metal career with Manowar you have ended it quite soon.
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21.09.2021 - 14:15
Nejde
Green Devil
Written by Starvynth on 21.09.2021 at 11:34

Now it's getting really shocking though. Because my very first favorite band ever was... ...ABBA!
I found a cassette entitled The Visitors beneath our Christmas tree in 1982, listened to it at least 1,000 times and I still own it.


Can we expect a 'Getting Into ABBA: The Tr00 Origin Of Power Metal' from you now? I'd love that article
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"When you are dead, you do not know you are dead. It's only painful for others. The same applies when you are stupid." - Ricky Gervais
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21.09.2021 - 14:36
Bad English
Tage Westerlund
Written by Nejde on 21.09.2021 at 14:15

Written by Starvynth on 21.09.2021 at 11:34

Now it's getting really shocking though. Because my very first favorite band ever was... ...ABBA!
I found a cassette entitled The Visitors beneath our Christmas tree in 1982, listened to it at least 1,000 times and I still own it.


Can we expect a 'Getting Into ABBA: The Tr00 Origin Of Power Metal' from you now? I'd love that article


We have non metal, why not whit new album review
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Life is to short for LOVE, there is many great things to do online !!!

Stormtroopers of Death - ''Speak English or Die''

I better die, because I never will learn speek english, so I choose dieing
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21.09.2021 - 14:40
JoHn DoE

Written by Bad English on 21.09.2021 at 14:36

Written by Nejde on 21.09.2021 at 14:15

Written by Starvynth on 21.09.2021 at 11:34

Now it's getting really shocking though. Because my very first favorite band ever was... ...ABBA!
I found a cassette entitled The Visitors beneath our Christmas tree in 1982, listened to it at least 1,000 times and I still own it.


Can we expect a 'Getting Into ABBA: The Tr00 Origin Of Power Metal' from you now? I'd love that article


We have non metal, why not whit new album review


it was a joke...
I blame your bad English...
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I thought the two primary purposes for the internet were cat memes and overreactions.
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21.09.2021 - 14:43
ScreamingSteelUS
Editor-in-Chief
Written by Starvynth on 21.09.2021 at 11:34

Dear SSUS, do you really want to tell me now that deep inside, I have always been a die-hard power metal fan? What am I supposed to do with my screwed up life now? Is everything I ever believed in just a big fat lie?
And do you expect me to sit here quietly and wait, just to read in "Getting Into: Power Metal: Part II" that the Peaceville Three are the true forefathers of it?

I'm delighted that this article could make you relive the exciting days of your youth... and that I've learned such scandalous secrets about you that no one will ever be able to forget now. It's only a matter of time before you get back into body-building and help me launch my Rhapsody Of Fire trading card game. Look forward to the next article, wherein I explain that Katatonia is directly responsible for Sabaton.

And there was something very wrong indeed with Markus from the neighboring class.
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"Earth is small and I hate it" - Lum Invader

I'm the Agent of Steel.
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21.09.2021 - 14:52
Starvynth
i c deaf people
Written by Nejde on 21.09.2021 at 14:15

Can we expect a 'Getting Into ABBA: The Tr00 Origin Of Power Metal' from you now? I'd love that article

Sure, but it would be called "Breaking Away From Power Metal: The Ultimate Dropout Program - ABBA And Other Early Indications That Your Kids Are At Risk" and I would publish it here or there.

Just for the sake of clarity, I love this article and found the inclusion of ABBA hilarious and surprising, but also plausible and bold. Someone just had to do it.
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signatures = SPAM
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21.09.2021 - 16:27
AndyMetalFreak
Mr Nice Guy
Written by Nejde on 21.09.2021 at 14:15


Can we expect a 'Getting Into ABBA: The Tr00 Origin Of Power Metal' from you now? I'd love that article

Absolutely No!!!
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My Top 200+ Favourite Metal/Rock Songs Ever!

http://www.metalstorm.net/users/list.php?list_id=6729
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21.09.2021 - 16:33
JoHn DoE

Written by AndyMetalFreak on 21.09.2021 at 16:27

Written by Nejde on 21.09.2021 at 14:15


Can we expect a 'Getting Into ABBA: The Tr00 Origin Of Power Metal' from you now? I'd love that article

Absolutely No!!!


again, it's a joke...
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I thought the two primary purposes for the internet were cat memes and overreactions.
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21.09.2021 - 16:44
AndyMetalFreak
Mr Nice Guy
Written by JoHn DoE on 21.09.2021 at 16:33

again, it's a joke...

Silly me I was worried that this would be the start of an ABBA revolution!
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My Top 200+ Favourite Metal/Rock Songs Ever!

http://www.metalstorm.net/users/list.php?list_id=6729
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21.09.2021 - 17:04
Karlabos
Meat and Potatos
Written by AndyMetalFreak on 21.09.2021 at 16:44

Written by JoHn DoE on 21.09.2021 at 16:33

again, it's a joke...

Silly me I was worried that this would be the start of an ABBA revolution!

Maybe inspired by such article the whole band would join again after 40 years and start writing new music?
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Rose is red, violet is blue. Flag is win, Baba is you.
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21.09.2021 - 17:30
RaduP
CertifiedHipster
Written by Karlabos on 21.09.2021 at 17:04

Maybe inspired by such article the whole band would join again after 40 years and start writing new music?

They already did before the article was published, but who knows how SSUS managed to convince them
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Do you think if the heart keeps on shrinking
One day there will be no heart at all?


2021 goodies
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21.09.2021 - 17:43
musclassia

Dunno why people are surprised about ABBA being a forefather of power metal; Manowar were formed in 1980 after ABBA sang "Gimme Gimme Gimme A Manowar After Midnight" in 1979
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21.09.2021 - 18:13
Nejde
Green Devil
Written by AndyMetalFreak on 21.09.2021 at 16:44

Written by JoHn DoE on 21.09.2021 at 16:33

again, it's a joke...

Silly me I was worried that this would be the start of an ABBA revolution!


The revolution never ended. All hail the mighty ABBA
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"When you are dead, you do not know you are dead. It's only painful for others. The same applies when you are stupid." - Ricky Gervais
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21.09.2021 - 18:47
JoHn DoE

Written by musclassia on 21.09.2021 at 17:43

Dunno why people are surprised about ABBA being a forefather of power metal; Manowar were formed in 1980 after ABBA sang "Gimme Gimme Gimme A Manowar After Midnight" in 1979



there he is!
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I thought the two primary purposes for the internet were cat memes and overreactions.
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29.09.2021 - 19:24
Baz Anderson

Written by RaduP on 20.09.2021 at 11:39

Wimps and posers leave the hall



This is a fantastic song and one of their best!

I can see why ABBA have been included in this, but from reading some of the comments it seems they're perceived as "cheesy" by some??

ABBA are not cheesy since they are a pop group. Metal bands that take a lot of influence from ABBA are inherently somewhat cheesier because they're mixing a very popular kind of music with heavy metal...

It's undeniable ABBA have had a huge influence on power metal, even still on new bands emerging these days. ABBA pretty much wrote the blueprint of a modern power metal song... just without the metal.
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30.09.2021 - 11:57
blackwreath13

This is a great article, highly informative and amusing. Can’t wait to read part 2.
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