Power metal is my not-so-secret first love. It’s probably one of the silliest forms of music known to humankind – overblown, impossibly cheery, hell-bent on producing the epicest epic, the baddest riff, the most impressive solo. Like fantasy pulp fiction brought to life, half the time the lyrics don’t even make sense – it’s merely a competition to see how many hammers and dragons and wizards you can squeeze into a 4minute song. How can you NOT love it?
Eagles are the heroes of power metal. Eagles fly free, eagles soar overhead, eagles will be revealed, eagles poo on dragons and smite goblins. Here are some power metal albums I’m digging right now that may or may not contain songs about eagles.
Stormforge – Sea of Stone
The debut EP from local NZ act Stormforge is a killer. Us kiwis are not internationally known as a bastion of power metal greats – our strength is in the filthy, from the bloodthirsty carnage of bands like Diocletion, Exordium Mors and Witchrist, to the sonic raping of Ulcerate, there hasn’t really been any room for songs about eagles. Well, Stormforge will change that. From the opening riffs of “Immolation to Infinity”, you know you’re in for a treat, and then vocalist Courtney O’Leary opens his mouth, and you’re sold. An album of delicious riffs, soaring vocals, pounding drums and fiery metal spirit. Stormforge are destined for big things.
Check out Stormforge on Facebook.
Fallen Order – The Age of Kings
Another local release that’s definitely shining in my mind is Fallen Order’s The Age of Kings. Their sound is very classic metal with a bit of the modern power metal sound thrown in. Vocals have a definite Geoff Tate vibe, and the 5 tracks have the distinctly galloping riffs and powerful drumming of a band drinking the Iron Maiden kool-aid. My favourite track is the Priest-esque “Sign Your Life Away”. A solid release from a band that really delivers live – I am looking forward to hearing more of these guys in the coming years.
Check out Fallen Order in Facebook.
Stratovarius – Nemesis
Yes, I know it’s 2014, but I spent most of last year laying blocks and painting kitchen cabinets, so I’m playing catch-up with 2013’s power metal releases. And Stratovarius’ new release, Nemesis, was first on the list. Now, with the lineup changes and a different direction, there are lovers and there are haters of Nemesis. I am a lover. Vocalist Matias Kupiainen’s style reminds me of one of my favourite power metal bands, Iron Fire, . This is punchy, catchy, but with a lot of interesting experimentation, especially with keyboard effects. Many reviewers are hailing Nemesis as the band’s new Halcyon Days – a fair comment for a power metal album that sounds as fresh and inspired as some of the best of the genre.
Gloryhammer – Tales from the Kingdom of Fife
Like every project from the head of Alestorm frontman Christopher Bowes, Tales from the Kingdom of Fife is a perfectly-executed project of ridiculousness. The history of Scotland is retold with soaring, majestical songs, galloping riffs, insane drums and every power metal cliche mushed in there for good measure. It’s power-metal-by-numbers, intended is a tongue-in-cheek pisstake of all the well-meaning songs about eagles out there, but manages to be one of the best power metal albums of last year. That’s an achievement. Check out “Amulet of Justice”, “Magic Dragon”, and “Quest for the Hammer of Glory”.
Circle of Silence – The Rise of Resistance
After hearing Sonata Arctica’s latest pop-rock effort (sigh. Seriously, guys? Boy racers aren’t badass), it’s such a relief to hear a power metal album that actually has some balls. The Rise of Resistance is song after song of powerful, thrashy riffs and choruses you want to shout out aloud. Definitely an underrated act, and hopefully this album will win them more dedicated fans. The best songs are probably “In the Absence of Your God”, “An Oncoming Storm”, and the mighty “Architect Of Immortality”.
What power metal / traditional metal albums are you enjoying right now?