Follow TV Tropes


Power Metal

Go To

Lord of all Noldor
A star in the night and a bearer of hope
He rides into his glorious battle alone
Farewell to the valiant warlord

Primary Stylistic Influences:
Secondary Stylistic Influences:

Power metal is a subgenre of metal which grew out of Traditional 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-pitched cleans and Harsh Vocals are not unheard of, as are lyrical themes beyond just sword-and-sorcery.

Because the genre formed practically simultaneously in Europe and North America, there are distinct differences in styles from the two scenes. While both scenes share similar influences from the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, American styled power metal tends to be more riff-focused and also influenced by the harder sound of classic thrash metal, codified by bands such as Iced Earth, Vicious Rumors, and Jag Panzer. European power metal, on the other hand, is more influenced by Progressive Rock and Progressive Metal, lending European acts a brighter and more melodic sound with a heavy emphasis on choruses and the addition of keyboards and orchestral elements. Among the codifiers are bands such as Helloween and Blind Guardian, with more recent but no less popular torchbearers including Rhapsody of Fire, Nightwishnote , Sabaton, and yes, Dragonforce.

To add to this, beginning in The '90s and ramping up in the 2000s, Japan began to produce its own brand of power metal, with many Japanese bands drawing heavily from both the existing European power metal style and neoclassical metal acts like Stratovarius and Yngwie Malmsteen's Rising Force along with the shreddy flair of Japan's own melodic metal pioneers such as X Japan and Loudness. Japanese codifiers include Galneryus, Concerto Moon and Versailles.

South American power metal (most prominent in Brazil and Argentina, as well as Colombia and Peru to a lesser extent), meanwhile, tends not to fall into any distinct style, but the scene's most popular and codifying bands like Angra and Shaman blend the soaring and progressive European sound with the copious lead guitar shredding and neoclassical influences of J-Power. Other famous South American acts include Rata Blanca, Viper, and Hibria.

Additionally, Finland is home to a variant of it that blends the typical Europower sound with its requisite Scandinavian Melodic Death Metal; Finnish melodeath/power codifiers include Children of Bodom, Norther, and Kalmah.

Lastly, there is shred; while usually not viewed as a power metal subgenre, it has historically had extremely heavy overlap with the genre due to shred-style leadwork in power metal and guitarists from established acts forming instrumental rock and metal side projects and thus gets a mention. The aforementioned Yngwie Malmsteen is one of the earliest and most influential examples.

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, and a lot of early progressive metal acts (Fates Warning, Crimson Glory, and, to a degree, Watchtower) overlapped with the genre. 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 single Iron Maiden, Rush and Metallica CD, a few classical records, and every Dungeons & Dragons sourcebook ever, let them out ten years later, and made them really good at playing instruments.

Not to be confused with literal metals for powering up your goods.

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.

North American Power Metal:

European Power Metal:





Japanese Power Metal

South American Power Metal

  • Almah
  • Andre Matos (solo band of the former Angra and Viper vocalist)
  • Angra (also prog and folk)
  • Barilari (solo band of Rata Blanca vocalist Adrian Barilari)
  • Dragonheart
  • Edu Falaschi (solo band of the former Angra and Almah singer, also prog)
  • Hangar (also prog)
  • Hibria
  • Rata Blanca
  • Shaman (also prog)
  • Tierramystica (also prog)
  • Viper


  • Michael Angelo Batio
  • Jason Becker
  • James Byrd
  • David T. Chastain (not to be confused with Chastain, which he also helms and is a full band)
  • Rusty Cooley
  • Gus Drax
  • Gus G (earlier material, his later works are vocal-oriented and mostly fall under hard rock)
  • Stephane Forte (some djent and industrial elements, but ultimately rooted in power metal)
  • Marty Friedman
  • Darren Housholder
  • Andy James
  • Toby Knapp
  • Andrew Lee (Andrew Lee's Heavy Metal Shrapnel specifically)
  • Jeff Loomis
  • Kiko Loureiro
  • Tony MacAlpine
  • Yngwie Malmsteen (Trope Codifier, mostly on his earliest material; he generally stuck to power metal after that)
  • Vinnie Moore
  • Christian Muenzner
  • Joe Stump
  • Syu
  • Joey Tafolla
  • Derek Taylor
  • Jacky Vincent (some metalcore elements, but his solo work is ultimately rooted in power metal)
  • Paul Wardingham (some djent elements, but ultimately has enough power metal influence to qualify)

Tropes commonly associated with power metal:

  • '80s Hair: Very, very common among musicians in the scene, even in more modern acts, and usually the hairstyle choice for many J-power and some Europower artists.
  • Americans Hate Tingle: The genre isn't nearly as popular in the U.S. as it is in Europe, Japan, and Brazil. Naturally, the reverse is often true for American power metal bands in these countries, with those bands often performing to far bigger crowds than they do at home.
  • Arc Words: Dragons, fire, warriors, heroes and even roundabout things such as men being manly and swords made of steel.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: A very frequent theme of power metal. Possibly the only reason why power metal stays on the idealistic end of the Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism despite lyrics about war, bloodshed, conquest and/or violence.
  • 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).
  • 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. It's so prevalent that before this page existed, Power Metal redirected to Heavy Mithril.
  • Hot-Blooded: The genre itself.
  • Instrumentals: The entire shred genre, though some artists may feature vocalists on select tracks.
  • Large Ham: Very common in vocalists thanks to the genre's strong focus on theatrical performances.
  • 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 or Dio-esque midranged belting over cleaner Dickinsonian operatic vocals; European acts are typically more about clean, operatic styles, but a ballsier, more aggressive approach is still commonly seen in German and (to a lesser degree) Swedish acts. Japanese and South American acts also typically skew towards cleaner styles, but Halfordesque (Hibria) and Dioesque (Concerto Moon) deliveries can still be found in both scenes. 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.
  • Progressive Metal: It is relatively common for power metal bands to cross over into progressive metal since both genres focus heavily on musicianship. Watchtower, Fates Warning, and Crimson Glory were all roughly equally responsible for planting those seeds.
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: All. Of. The. Time!
  • Rated M for Manly: The genre overflows with manliness due to the ubiquity of Heavy Mithril and Hot-Blooded Large Hams in the scene. Most USPM bands favor bold, aggressive, hard-knocks machismo and conventional male power fantasies, while Europower aesthetics lean more towards a posh, cultured masculinity with a love of history and heroism. Less prominent in J-power, in part due to overlap with the extremely flamboyant Visual Kei scene, and in part because of Japan's large number of female-fronted and all-female power metal bands.
  • Rock Me, Amadeus!: The genre (particularly Japanese, South American, and some European bands) is notable for its extreme emphasis on painfully fast and technical guitar shredding, which is often inspired by or outright ripped off from famous Classical Music pieces. Somewhat less present in USPM with bands preferring aggressive power-chord guitar work and pentatonic blues-based leadwork, but various bands (namely Symphony X, Heathen, Helstar, Apocrypha, and Toxik) are still famous for flashy neoclassical leadwork. Lastly, while the vast majority of shred players are neoclassical, some (namely Gus G. and Derek Taylor) are blues or jazz-based.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: The majority of power metal is very, very idealistic, though some USPM bands can be very cynical.
  • Soprano and Gravel: Some power metal vocalists freely alternate between soaring operatics and gruff snarling vocals. Other bands employ a more traditional dual-vocal setup.
  • Special Guest: Guest musicians are second only to Hip-Hop in their frequency. This is the entire point for some bands.
  • Start My Own: A common phenomenon within shred, as most guitarists in the genre either get their start playing in full bands before starting solo projects, or start out as solo guitarists before forming full bands.
  • 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. This 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 Codifier: Manowar, Jag Panzer, Riot, Helstar, and Iced Earth for USPM; Versailles and Galneryus for J-Power; Angra and Rata Blanca for South American power; Stratovarius and Rhapsody for Europower, and Yngwie Malmsteen and Tony MacAlpine for shred.
  • Trope Maker: Helloween for the European scene, X Japan and Sex Machineguns for the Japanese scene, Angra for the South American scene, Yngwie Malmsteen for shrednote . The lineage of the American scene is a bit more muddled. Manowar, Jag Panzer, Manilla Road, Riot, Omen, Vicious Rumors, and Helstar are all safe bets, however.
  • Ur-Example: Manowar, Manilla Road, Jag Panzer, or Helstar for the American form, arguably Helloween for the European form, Rata Blanca and Viper for the South American form, arguably X Japan's Vanishing Vision for the Japanese form, and Yngwie Malmsteen's Rising Force for shred. Some people have even suggested that the song "Stargazer" by Rainbow from 1976 is the ultimate ur-example of power metal, while most people will point to Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Accept, and the collective works of Ronnie James Dio as being the bands that were necessary for the creation of power metal.
  • World of Ham: Arguably the most hammy genre of music in existence.


Video Example(s):


"Glory left my hammer"

The first single from Angus McSix, fronted by former Gloryhammer vocalist Thomas Winkler after he was kicked out, is one long swipe at Gloryhammer. The song and video depict him tossing aside the hammer that "glory left" in favor of a sword forged by the gods, trading his green leather costume as Angus McFife for golden armor as Angus McSix, and rising again "one better" ("Angus McFife" + 1 = "Angus McSix").

How well does it match the trope?

4.91 (11 votes)

Example of:

Main / TakeThat

Media sources: