Star in the night
And a bearer of hope
He rides into his glorious battle alone.
Farewell to the valiant warlord.
You say you want some metal
I’ll give you all I’ve got
My deadly grasp is lethal
This force will never stop
Power metal is a subgenre of metal which grew out of classic heavy metal and speed metal with the help of progressive rock in the late Eighties
, and is characterized by a more melodic sound than most other subgenres. An emphasis on speed, especially fast guitar solos is also frequently present. Many power metal bands also have fantasy based lyrics and themes
with singing styles usually being higher pitched clean vocals, operatic vocals or Soprano and Gravel
, however, lower vocals are not unheard of.
Because the genre formed practically simultanously in Europe and North America, there are distinct differences in styles from the two scenes. While both scenes share the same New Wave Of British Heavy Metal
influence, American styled power metal tends to be also influenced by classic thrash metal and is codified with bands such as Iced Earth
, Brocas Helm and Jag Panzer, while European power metal is also influenced by Progressive Rock
and Progressive Metal
which causes European bands to be more melodic and more focus on keyboards and is codified with bands such as Blind Guardian
, Rhapsody of Fire
. To add to this, in relatively recent years, the Japanese power metal scene has begun to produce its own brand of power metal with most bands producing styles and sounds reminiscent of neo-classical metal bands like Stratovarius
and Yngwie Malmsteen's Rising Force
. Japanese codifiers include Galneryus
, Concerto Moon and Versailles
Power metal is also known for the ease it can be fused with other styles to the point that Symphonic Metal
, Neo-Classical Metal, Thrash Metal
and, correctly or otherwise, Progressive Metal
are often considered directly linked to power metal. 3 Inches of Blood is a blatant fusion of Thrash Metal
and power metal and Symphony X is the Trope Codifier
of progressive power metal.
Or in laymans' terms: Power metal is what would happen if you take five teenagers, lock them in a room with every Iron Maiden
CD ever, a few classical records, and every Dungeons & Dragons
sourcebook ever, let them out ten years later, and made them really good at playing instruments.
Examples of bands frequently associated with power metal:
Due to the stylistic differences between American, European, and Japanese Power Metal
, this list is sorted by region.
American Power Metal
European Power Metal
Japanese Power Metal
Tropes commonly associated with power metal:
- '80s Hair and Anime Hair: Very, very common among musicians in the scene, even in more modern acts, with the latter being the hairstyle choice for many J-power and some Europower artists.
- Arc Words: Dragons, fire, warriors, heroes and even mundane things such as men being manly and swords made of steel.
- Crowning Music of Awesome: With its own page.
- Epic Rocking: Typically, bands will have one very long and complicated song per album. Particularly oversized examples include Blind Guardian's "And Then There Was Silence" (14:15), Helloween's "Keeper of the Seven Keys" (13:38), Symphony X's "The Odyssey" (24:14), Manowar's "Achilles: Agony and Ecstasy in Eight Parts" (27 minutes!), and X Japan's "Art of Life" (29 minutes, and the only song in the album of the same name).
- Fan Nickname: From detractors: "Flower metal", "Pussy Metal", "Gay Metal", "Happy Metal", "Pop Metal". Thanks to the Hate Dumb's research failure, the last one is shared with Hair Metal (as that's what hair metal is.) and Hard Rock.
- Note that some, if not all, of these epithets are used by fans of certain types of power metal at others, like USPM fans vs. Euro-power bands, or fans of heavier European bands like Gamma Ray and Iron Savior at less aggressive bands like Sonata Arctica and later Stratovarius.
- Heavy Mithril: Many power metal bands sing about mythology and fantasy. Equally common are power metal bands that make Rock Operas that take place in original fantasy settings. Some bands opt for low fantasy or science fiction-based themes.
- Hot-Blooded: The genre itself.
- Hey, It's That Voice!: Guest musicians are second only to Hip Hop in their frequency. This is the entire point for some bands.
- Large Ham: Very common in vocalists thanks to the genre's strong focus on theatrical performances.
- Rated M for Manly: The genre overflows with manliness due to the ubiquity of Heavy Mithril and Hot-Blooded Large Hams in the scene.
- Lighter and Softer: Than its sister genre, Thrash Metal, and its parent genre, Speed Metal. But not always...
- In turn, Europower is this to USPM.
- Metal Scream: More prevalent in the American scene, where vocalists tend to favor Halford-esque shrieks over operatic vocals. It has become increasingly common for modern power metal vocalists to employ gruff, throaty vocals similar to thrash or, as with some bands, Harsh Vocals.
- Mohs Scale of Rock and Metal Hardness: 6-8, on average. Power metal ballads can dip down to as low as a 2.
- USPM is about as hard as Thrash Metal (around 8-9, USPM ballads can range from two to five), Europower is softer; at around 6-8, and J-power can range from two to nine.
- Progressive Metal: It is relatively common for power metal bands to cross over into progressive metal since both genres focus heavily on musicianship.
- The Scrappy: Has become this in the eyes of some diehard metal purists, due to the increasingly derivative nature of modern power metal bands, its "watered-down" approach to the Thrash Metal sound, as well as the sheer amount of Testosterone Poisoning in the genre. The over-the-top musicianship of many power metal artists has led to the genre being associated with nothing but super-fast guitars.
- Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: The majority of power metal is very, very idealistic.
- Soprano and Gravel
- Thrash Metal: The parent genre for USPM (and the sister genre of power metal in general), as it shares the same aggressive delivery, extremely masculine attitude and approach to musicianship. As with Progressive Metal, many non-USPM bands cross over into thrash as a Shout-Out of sorts to the genre that greatly influenced the USPM sound.
- Which creates some confusion for those new to the genre, as both Power Metal and Thrash Metal feature super-fast musicianship and excessively manly aesthetics.
- Trope Maker: Manowar
- Trope Codifier: Helloween for the European scene, X Japan for the Japanese scene. The lineage of the American scene is a bit more muddled. Manowar, Jag Panzer, and Manilla Road are all safe bets, however.
- Ur Example: Manowar or Jag Panzer for the American form, arguably Helloween for the European form and arguably X Japan for the Japanese form. Some people have even suggested that the song "Stargazer" by Rainbow from 1976 is the ultimate Ur Example of power metal.
- World of Ham: Arguably the most hammy genre of music in existence.