Monday, October 4, 2010

Underrated Power Metal Albums Pt. 1 of 2

Okay, it's the last week for this series. This week, I take on power metal. Power metal has never been a favorite genre of mine, although along with doom metal it is a little closer to the traditional metal style, rising out of Judas Priest and Iron Maiden influences. However, there's two types of power metal: European and American. American-style power metal is a little more aggressive and not as orchestral. As such, you will see more American power metal than European in this list.

Starting things off is the incredibly underrated Twisted Tower Dire. This is American power metal at its best. It's extremely catchy and yet retaining an aggressive edge. This is very close to traditional metal, but it still keeps a general power metal sound. Their vocalist sounds amazing, with a sharp distinctive vocal style. The guitar riffs are heavy and interesting and the solos are incendiary. This is an incredible band that has not received much of any exposure at all.

Yes there will be some European power metal bands on this list. Tad Morose is a progressive/power metal band from Sweden. As far as European power metal goes however, the Swedish bands are typically a little more on the aggressive side, while remaining extremely melodic. This album is an excellent example. The band sounds a little like the American band Kamelot. Tad Morose is an extremely gifted band at writing infectious choruses, a gift they use to full effect on this album. Yes it is melodic, and progressive, and it's extremely powerful.

Nightmare is a French power metal band that plays a style closer to the American power metal style than the flowery European style. Nightmare is a band that has been around for a very long time. I have almost never seen them mentioned in any metal publications at all though. It's a shame because this is some very catchy and melodic power metal. It's also surprisingly aggressive for the style. Nightmare has been around since before the European "flower" metal style and resembles Grave Digger much moreso than Blind Guardian.

Melding elements of power metal and progressive metal, we have the mighty Outworld. The singer's air-raid siren-like vocals soar over the rather complex riffing and keyboard flourishes. The vocals are really the most important factor in this band's musical style. The music is similar to Symphony X, but harder and heavier and the vocals are significantly better as well, not to say Symphony X is bad at all. This album will definitely wake you up in a hurry.

Omen is one of the original bands in the American power metal movement. They themselves ride the border between power metal and traditional metal, but they're here because of their influence on the fledgling genre in the early 1980's. Because of groups like Omen and Jag Panzer and Manowar, we have the American power metal style. Groups on this list like Twisted Tower Dire owe a debt to Omen and others. All that praise is meaningless of course if the album itself were not as good as it is. This is a truly underrated gem for its time.


  1. Outworld is a band I heard on a podcast a while back and wrote myself a note to (eventually) get an album. The other ones here, I'm not familiar with. Communic is another good one in the progressive/power vein (they sound a lot like Nevermore).

    I really like this series you're doing. I note you didn't touch
    - sludge (and there is a lot that could be done with that)
    - folk (a bit tougher, but there is Svartsot at the very least)
    - gothic (The Vision Bleak and Lake of Tears come to mind)
    - or progressive (a little tough to find underrated, since they tend to be highly rated)

    Maybe at some point in the future? Or maybe I'll duplicate your efforts.

  2. I didn't feel as comfortable devoting whole posts to those genres as they are not genres I listen to frequently. I also do not feel as much like I have an idea on what groups are underrated from those genres. I could come up with one or two albums from each, but not ten.

  3. I would have had a hard time coming up with 10 in any of the genres. I would have had an easier time with death metal than any other genre, followed by sludge and maybe doom, but 10 is a tall order.

  4. I had to actually cut down my lists for death and thrash metal, but the other three were pretty difficult.

  5. If you throw out Iced Earth, I don't even know if I have ten power metal albums. Brainstorm (the German band) would be the only underrated one. Downburst is a very spiffy album.

    By the way, not too long ago you proposed blackened power metal as a possible genre combo. I plugged that into a search at Encyclopedia Metallum and came up with 4 bands. Only one of them looks promising from their page on the site, China's Terminal Lost. Dark Energy (of California) may also be worthwhile. But you should really look at the band photo for Shadowheart . . . .

  6. The tricky part of doing a folk list would be the fine line between folk metal and viking metal, which some people get very snippy about. If you grant a certain amount of leeway with the terminology, though, in addition to Svartsot some good albums to add to such a list would be "Märe aus Wäldernen Hallen" by Gernotshagen, "Zwischen Horizonten" by Nastrandir, and "Hammerfrost" by Nomans Land. "Fimbulvinter" by Kroda is also an excellent and fairly unknown album, if you can get past the Nazi-esque ideologies of the band. I'd say Månegarm too, since they're one of the best, but I think they're reasonably well known in folk/viking metal circles so "underrated" may not really apply.

  7. Yeah, that and my relative inexperience with folk metal is keeping me from doing that. I like the folk metal that I have heard, but I would not say that the stuff I have heard is underrated.

  8. Well it's a little bit of a weird genre to deal with right now anyway. Since it's exploded so much recently, the dust has barely settled enough to even see all the popular bands, let alone the unknown ones.

    As an aside, to add to my list up there, another new and unknown band in folk/pagan/viking metal I'm leaning toward right now is Dyrathor.