Power Metal: June 2014 Edition (In August)
From now on, expect a monthly synopsis of the best the power metal world has to offer us. I am starting with June, because June was a strong month with many bands releasing solid albums. From those, here are the albums that represent the very best of the genre.
If there is one album that will make you change your mind about power metal, this may be it. Disforia bring influences from all across the board here, and use them all in a supremely satisfying way. This is also a concept album, so sci-fi nerds, rejoice.
All the members consistently display their talent throughout the album, whether it be through riffs, solos, drum fills, etc. John Yelland, the vocalist, stands out as a magnificent vocalist, layering his vocals Hansi style and delivering a very memorable performance as not only the singer, but also as a voice actor. The story of the album, and the lyrics, are passionately woven between two main characters, and demonstrate that the band has an incredible talent at writing engaging stories.
If the talent of the band isn’t enough for you, they also have two exquisite performances from guest vocalists. Brittney Slayes of Unleash the Archers fame lends her aggressive style to “Lunar Sunrise” and kicks the intensity and beauty of the chorus to 11. The one, the only, the legend himself, Hansi Kürsch of Blind Guardian, appears on “The Dying Firmament”, and gives us a dark performance that represents the lyrical subject extremely well.
If you’ve ever wondered what would happen if Between the Buried and Me had a child with Blind Guardian, this is what you would get. I cannot recommend this album highly enough.
For anyone who has ever complained that power metal lacks riffs, Falconer is here to give you a swift kick in the sack.
This band has been putting out quality riff factories since their 2001 self-titled debut, and in my opinion, this may very well be the best thing they’ve ever done. Every song is a winner, but the major standouts would have to be Black Moon Rising, Wasteland, In Ruins, and Age of Runes.
Throughout the album, Falconer present an expertly done mixture of power metal, folk, and, at times, almost black metal riffage. Most of the album keeps a speedy tempo, and the album never lets up on riffage. Jimmy Hedlund provides fabulous guitar solos throughout the album that will usually leave your jaw on the floor.
We haven’t even gotten to my favorite part of Falconer: Mathias Blad. For those of you who can’t stand the castrati high vocals of most power metal bands, Mathias Blad and his powerful bass/baritone voice are here to set you free.
The album art fits the album art perfectly: what better to represent this album than a flaming falcon charging you beneath a black moon?
Upon first listen, you may not believe that this is their debut. This release takes the normal stereotypes of bands like Rhapsody and goes even more over the top with them, resulting in an exhilarating and fun experience. Prepare yourself, for this album is dripping with cheesy synths, hilariously bad (to the benefit of the album’s atmosphere) voice acting, blistering solos, and soaring vocals.
I’m not even talking about your normal soaring vocals. Christian Hedgren floats up to the range where most power metal singers call it a day, steps on your face, then goes up another half-octave, and OWNS it. At times, he has a bit more grit than your average flowery power metal band.
The only flaw I find with this album is that it’s just too short. 7 tracks, plus 4 interludes/short instrumentals, and a 36 min run time leaves more to be desired from this speedy little album. Fortunately, every full track is an excellent mixture of hooks, catchy choruses, and even contains the staple of a cheesy power metal album: the ballad.
Would recommend to all fans of metal as an example of flowery power metal done right.
This band was a surprise for me. I was very disappointed when the album artwork wasn’t a Mass Effect reference like their name suggests, but the music quickly assuaged any fears I had.
Noveria gives to us a progressive, much heavier power metal experience. One of the first things I noticed is the production. The guitar is nice, heavy, and crunchy, and present plenty of riffs and slick lead work. It is the loudest instrument, as it should be on a metal album, but expertly mixed so that the keyboards are audible, the drums still drive the album, and the grittier vocals carry the listener forward. In true progressive and power fashion, all the instruments shred and impress consistently through the album, whether it’s a rapid, complex, and precise drum fill or a razor sharp guitar solo slipped in between transitions, the band is plain nasty.
If you enjoy the later work of Nevermore, you’re going to feel right at home here.
This band has quite a mouthful for a name, but don’t let that discourage you. Crylord is here to give you an epic symphonic power metal adventure. Overall, a very fun album with plenty of catchy hooks, choruses, and impressive solos.