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You say you want some metal
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 and Nightwish. 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 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, Rush and Metallica CD ever, a few classical records, and every Dungeons and 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
- Agent Steel (also Speed Metal)
- 3 Inches of Blood
- Brocas Helm
- Cauldron Born
- Crimson Glory
- Demons and Wizards
- Fates Warning (also Progressive Metal)
- Iced Earth (also Thrash Metal for their early releases)
- Jag Panzer
- Liege Lord
- Manilla Road
- Manowar (arguable Trope Maker for both scenes of power metal)
- Metal Church
- Seven Kingdoms
- Symphony X (also Progressive Metal)
European Power Metal
- Angel Dust (also Thrash Metal)
- Axel Rudi Pell
- Blind Guardian (also Speed Metal)
- Children of Bodom
- Dark Moor
- Dragon Force
- Luca Turilli's Dreamquest
- Freedom Call
- Gamma Ray
- Helloween (also Speed Metal)
- Iron Savior
- Machinae Supremacy
- Metal Force
- Narnia (a Christian Rock example)
- Power Quest
- Primal Fear
- Rage (also Speed Metal)
- Rhapsody of Fire
- Running Wild
- Yngwie Malmsteen's Rising Force
- Sonata Arctica
- Luca Turilli
- Van Canto
- Vision Divine
Japanese Power Metal
Tropes commonly associated with power metal:
- Crowning Music of Awesome: With an 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), and Manowar's "Achilles: Agony and Ecstasy in Eight Parts" (27 minutes!).
- 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.
- 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.
- Sidenote: Before formation of this page, Power Metal redirected to Heavy Mithril.
- 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.
- Lighter and Softer: Than its sister genre, Thrash Metal, and its parent genre, Speed Metal. Or at least usually.
- Metal Scream: More prevalent in the American scene, where vocalists tend to favor Halford-esque shrieks over operatic vocals.
- Progressive Metal: It is relatively common for power metal bands to cross over into progressive metal since both genres focus heavily on musicianship.
- Soprano and Gravel
- Trope Maker: Manowar
- Trope Codifier: Helloween for the European scene, the lineage of the American scene is a bit more muddled.
- Ur Example: Manowar or Manilla Road 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.