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. Despite being located at the bottom of the pecking order, the power metal “movement” has stubbornly toiled on for over three decades packed to the brim with musical epiphanies and fads alike. Practically declared dead by the early 1990s following the rise of death and black metal, power metal experienced something of a renaissance around the millennium and has remained popular ever since.

While discrepancy between popularity and critical acclaim is hardly a rare phenomenon, the factors behind such divides can differ significantly. When it comes to power metal, there seems to be something inherently embarrassing about it. Not only is power metal often deemed artistically inferior when compared to adjacent subgenres, it is also perceived of as something that should not be taken seriously. For example, there are many stories where even the most seasoned of metalheads express a certain unease about someone overhearing them listening to a power metal record, even though they evidently show interest in the music in secrecy. Moreover, power metal has worked as an entry point for thousands of younger metal fans, who after delving deeper into the genre tend to denounce or conceal their earlier, supposedly misguided enthusiasm. Boasting a background in traditional heavy metal is perfectly legitimate, but for many power metal is definitely a no-no.

A further and perhaps more critical indication of power metal’s poor status within metal culture concerns the ultimate lack of literature dedicated to the subgenre in question. With a few notable exceptions – including an excellent article by a former DMU associate – very little has been written about the history, taxonomy, spirit or musical properties of power metal in a more systematic fashion. This three-part article has been written with the aim providing a rudimentary yet comprehensive introduction to the subject which could in turn open up for discussions about the potential and relevancy of power metal. If we are to believe the predictions presented in a recent publication courtesy of Spotify where power metal occupies the number one positions of “emerging genres” for 2017, such an endeavor should be in pressing demand.



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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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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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Roots of Evil: The Origins of Metal

With the fiftieth anniversary of metal music around the corner, forthcoming years will witness an increase of publications dealing with the history, legacy and defining characteristics of the genre. This could finally resolve the lack of consensus that still exists regarding the definition and origins of heavy metal.



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Pagan Altar Readies Room of Shadows

New Wave of British Heavy Metal Band are finally releasing their long in the words album, Room of Shadows. Room of Shadows consists of unreleased vocal tracks from deceased frontman Terry Jones that were supposed to be released as Never Quite Dead in 2014. Never Quite Dead was delayed, the instrumental tracks were rerecorded, and the album became Room of Shadows, which is to finally see release on Temple of Mystery Records on August 24, 2017.


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