The Link-Up Spell: 2017’s True Magic Power Metal
Today, we are revisiting the best of the best in power metal during 2017!
While it was not that prolific as 2016, last year dispensed a nice batch of power metal releases. The “happy subgenre” of metal had a healthy lineup in the form of old and new bands doing what they do best: compacting melodies at the speed of light.
Today, my acolytes, I am going to direct your journey inside the power metal constellations, in order to reach the best clusters of metallic albums released of this peculiar cosmic corner.
Unlimited guitar pyrotechnics and volatile rhythm changes, some of these progressive influenced albums will probably drag you down to a supernova!
I think the best exponent of this style last year was Arjen Lucassen beloved child, Ayreon. Under this banner, the Dutch science maniac mixed his favorite chemicals and created The Source. As usual, Lucassen hired the mercenary voices of some of the greatest voices in the genre to play with them in a new high quality opera rock product.
Stay tuned for the first track, “The Day that the World Breaks Down”, for a kicking ass Floor Jansen, another nice Morse code chant, Guthrie Govan solos and the Legend himself: Hansi Kürsch. The whole record is long, but it has plenty of hooks, choral intricacies a la Queen and wonderful riffing to keep you entertained. If you are not following my lead, check out what my pal Moshito thinks of it, he is a reliable source of everything prog!
“The Source is a delectable power/prog extravaganza that seems to go by swiftly despite its double-disc running time”
Heavy, trad and USPM
One of the most active styles during all this year was the harsher side of power metal, produced in great numbers around immense mythical realms. The grittier sound and the mythical accent to the music clash with the proud sense of this style, which established a loyal underground fan base during these days.
Direct from Germany, Lunar Shadow enchanted many wizards with their honest homage to the Altar of Metal. In Far From Light, the band achieved to mix dangerous spells from many different schools of magic: NWOBHM, USPM, old school progressive and even some light melodic black metal influences converge in this retro produced album.
Expect riffs for days, ripping solos and mountains of harmonized guitars. Check out “Cimmeria” as an appetizer for Far From Light, selected by my friend Simon Phoenix as his favorite record of 2017!
Lunar Shadow decided to weave fantastical narratives and create a particular mood with their songs instead of the usual odes to metal. Away from Light is a different flavor than their Triumphator EP and very different than almost every other trad metal band out there; sounding nearly as bleak and cold as a second wave BM album.
Man, I do not know how to resume you this, but check out some of these records to catch my drift. 2017 was a great year for Powerful Heavy Metal (and this list goes on!):
- Jag Panzer.
- Manilla Road.
- Blaze Bayley.
- Crystal Viper.
- Grave Digger.
- Burning Shadows.
- Night Demon.
The European style always entertains thanks to highly melodic phrasing, grandiloquent moments and pop sensibilities. Popularized by big names like Helloween, Stratovarius and Sonata Arctica, Europower is, perhaps, the most known branch of power metal, but it still carries the lighting power of the genre!
There were some heavy names this year releasing well written and compact albums. For instance, the speed maniacs of DragonForce published Reaching into Infinity and the epic warriors of Unleash the Archers released Apex, two records that became personal favorites, subsequently handpicked to my Top 10.
Since I have praised the British too much this year, my main pick today will be an Europower album made by a not-Europower band. I am talking about Seven Kingdoms last offering, Decennium.
This USPM threw the house through the window with this album, working hard during four years to release it. A slick retell of G.R.R. Martin mythos and other fantasy worlds seasoned with fast melodies, great choruses and hooks professionally vocalized by the charismatic Lady Sabrina Valentine.
In the same line, guitarists Camden Cruz and Kevin Byrd trades harmonies, solos and riffing in each song of the record. These guys sounds amazing together and even reminded me of the sacred duo of André Olbrich and Marcus Siepen, of Blind Guardian fame.
Listen to “The Tale of Deathface Ginny”, a track wrote with lyrics by their ex-vocalist, Bryan Edwards!
This marks the end of this week’s The Link-Up Spell. Which other power metal albums did I miss? Shoot out your 2017 favorite albums of this genre around the comments and join us in the discussion!
The Link-Up Spell is a weekly Toilet ov Hell column about music, movies, books, retro video games and guaranteed Elfic nonsense. If you want to contact the author to send your material, mail us at toiletovhell [at] gmail.com with the subject “The Link-Up Spell” or message him on social media.