Introduction to Power Metal, Part II: The First Wave of European Power Metal

[The epic continues!  Read part I of Johan’s journey here and listen for yourself via this playlist]

While working with what was intended to be the second part of a tripartite article series covering the history and general properties of the power metal subgenre, it soon became clear that a sufficiently thorough treatment of the subject would require more space and time than what was originally intended. This insight subsequently led to the conclusion that individual parts needed to be subdivided and portioned out in order to not grow out of proportion. The initial plan to present the material into three consecutive parts has thus been revised.

Another related issue that arose during “research” concerns the historical development of European power metal. As have been noted in previous articles on this site relating to the history of metal music, artistic “movements” or periods of development tend last about five years speaking in generalized terms. This phenomenon can be observed in European power metal as well. After having studied Euro-power metal as a composite phenomenon, a rough sketch outlining the developmental trajectory of said music began to take form:

1984-1989: The first wave of European power metal.

1990-1995: Intermediate period.

1996-2001: The second wave of European power metal.

While not a perfect model, this rough periodic division will be used as a framework for discussion in the articles to follow. The relatively lengthy timespan that has passed since the putatively defined second wave of European power metal will be left out for the moment, primarily (and regrettably) because there hasn’t really occurred much of a development in power metal since the early 2000s. If anyone sits on information that invalidates the above statement, feel free to chip in – this writer would be very pleased to be proven wrong on this front.

Accordingly, the second part of this article series will be mainly devoted to the development and characteristics of the first wave of European power metal and the intermediate period that followed in its wake. Instead of approaching the subject in thoroughly generalized manner, a ???-track compilation will be used as source material to make observations about the historical development and specific traits of first wave Euro-styled power metal. Please not that this collection of tracks is by no means intended as a “best of”-compilation but should rather be viewed of as a springboard for further discussion.

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Polarized Metal Genres Must Unite Against The Funderground

Metal is facing a decisive moment in time. As a genre and an entire sub culture, it’s threatened with a massive flux of outsider interest into what was once an isolated community forged in passion. Metal was a cause for tight bonds among like minded disillusioned youth that wanted nothing to do with the status quo, a lawless free for all where no ideology or point of view was too extreme. Thus grew a voice to rally against the farce of mainstream politics, social acceptability, resolute contentment with mundane lifestyles and herd mentality. Though acts like Black Sabbath and Iron Maiden were to find great success within the public large, they laid the groundwork for that rebel yell that gave the disgruntled youth the foundations for connecting with others so disconnected. And with such a ground roots movement that metal was, true artists and musicians who may have never have been given an opportunity to rise otherwise were now rising and exponentially so. Quickly NWOBHM became speed metal became death metal became black metal. Then, as with all great explosive cultural movements, metal began losing its traction and sight of its original goals of fighting against the mainstream culture of quantity over quality. But it is now that we see its greatest threat in its acceptance by the masses. Now it is being taken for a boutique exotic exploration into what most really don’t want to explore: cold unforgiving reality.

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Soymetal Dies As True Metal Rises

As predicted here, the takeover of underground metal by late hardcore tinged substitutes has failed. This music, which we might call “soymetal” because it appeals more to the emo hardcore audience than the feral and realistic traditional metal one, took over because after the underground fizzled in the hands of NWN/FMP impersonators, labels found a new audience in whiny millennial SJWs. (more…)

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Introduction to Power Metal, Part I: Origins and Influences

(Join DMU Legend Johan Pettersson for what may be the most expansive analysis of power metal ever presented in the first of a 3 part series.  Listen to the accompanying suggested listening here)

Of all the subgenres and styles that fall within the metal spectrum (hence excluding unmitigated relapses into rock such as death’n’roll, stoner, nu- and indie metal), power metal most definitely counts as the one that has received the highest amount of scorn and ridicule from critics, fans and outsiders alike. (more…)

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Woolftooth – Woolftooth (2018)

Stoner metal. What bullshit. Why not just get stoned and listen to good metal? Burzum, Incantation, or even Bach is still incredible music when stoned out of my gourd. Other than giving me the amazing ability to eat an entire large Hawaiian pizza, marijuana intake never fundamentally changed my taste or personality. This fact makes stoner metal, and stoner ‘culture’ prima facie stupid. By that line of reasoning, my having listened to Wolftooth’s newly released album “Wolftooth” stupid. Yes, dear reader, I do stupid things so you do not have to. Stoner culture is not for people who smoke the reefer, it is for stupid people who smoke the reefer.

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OZZY IS RIGHT: “NON-CONFORMITY” IS CONFORMIST, METAL MUST REBEL

Death Metal Underground’s wise founder Brett Stevens posted a thoughtful article last weekend about the duality of exterior and interior being.  It describes how in these modern times we’re seeing an illusion of non-conformity that masks the conformity of thought and nature within.  This is an effective tactic of those in power be they media, silicon valley, deep state, or (in the case of metal) record executives and journalists:  get people to look different, but think the same.  This also masterfully articulates why metal is at its lowest creative point in the entire history of its existence: fans and musicians alike have accepted conformity of thought and sound through satisfaction with mere non-conformist aesthetics and culture.  And the only way to escape this rut is to violently rebel against everything we have been conditioned to believe is “metal” and “metal culture.”

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Heavy Metal In Academia

The last two decades has witnessed an exponential growth of studies devoted to popular music, coupled with a re-evaluation of past theories and models for interpretation and analysis. This paradigm shift has sparked interest in music “at the fringes” which in turn has led to the unlikely emergence of “metal studies”: a multi-disciplinary field of research centered around all things related to metal music.

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Sepultura’s Sons

Hessians were always searching for anything heavy back in the eighties. Digging deep into the import section or buying blindly from catalogs or zines were the only ways to hear anything that could be heavier outside of rarely engaged in underground tape trading. Slayer was the heaviest mainstream metal ever got. Sepultura was one heavier.

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