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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Megadriver – Metalvania (2017)

Few things in life are more masculine than Castlevania.  In fact, the New York Times bestselling book The Alphabet of Manliness includes on its short list of “definitive winners in history” the likes of Castlevania 1-4 and Symphony of the Night.  Castlevania is also the most metal non-metal piece of Western creativity outside of Lord of the Rings.  I mean shit, you’re out crusading and fucking up demons and monsters on behalf of the church, shoving crucifixes up asses and drowning degeneracy in holy water.   It’s exactly the kind of shit that true metalhead Hessians and Templars should be doing to SJW the soy metal mutants infesting the underground in incredibly large numbers (who can be open-endedly interpreted to be the grotesque villains of Castlevania lore).  DEUS VULT- butcher and savage them all!  Even those who think video games are gay (most of them are) can appreciate how based Castlevania is.

But on that note, the relationship between video games and metal is strikingly more prevalent than people realize.  The artwork for Burzum’s legendary first two albums are based off of a strategy guide for an RPG game called The Temple of Elemental Evil and much of the music also sounds like it could be lifted from a video game soundtrack.  Fucking Dimmu Borgir’s Stormblast (much respected around these parts as indicated in the DLA) actually had a track that was ripped straight from a video game, meaning that that weirdo top hat wearing son of a bitch probably jacked even more of their keyboard melodies from video game soundtracks.  What a fucking scumbag!  But truthfully, as the goofy ass 8-bit black metal YouTube trend indicated- a lot of black metal was heavily influenced by video games.  And honestly, coming from a 32 year old millennial who got into metal at the tail end of the 90s- my first dose of minor key melodies was from the boss battles and last levels of video games.

I hope you neckbeard philosofags are paying attention, because there’s an important fucking point to be made: the next generation of metal musicians will be heavily influenced by video games.  And so whether video games are a staple of life-failure nerd culture or not, they will have a hand at crafting the next wave of metal.  But as we’ll find in Megadriver’s Metalvania album, this may not at all be a bad thing…

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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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With New Song, Dimmu Borgir Officially Becomes Nightwish

In an unexpected turn of events, Mortal-Kombat-tier Norwegian opera-metallers Dimmu Borgir have gone full on symphonic power metal in their new song.  Embracing the trending female fronted power/quest metal sound that has replaced metalcore as the newest wave of a strange phenomenon known as “girlfriend metal” (the metal your girlfriend puts on while she’s cleaning the house), Dimmu have essentially robbed the sound of Nightwish, Epica, and Within Temptation while yet retaining the Hollywood-orc vocals of Shagrath.  While moments resembling early Blind Guardian are in fact an improvement over a preceding album that was almost completely devoid of guitars, this is by no means quality power metal nor is it the hybrid of older Dimmu styles that the band has been mouthing off about the past few months.

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Control Denied – The Fragile Art of Existence (1999)

Control Denied was formed in the mid-1990s by late Death-frontman Chuck Schuldiner to cater to his desire to explore more traditional metal stylings.  Schuldiner, however, was still bound to Death’s contract with Nuclear Blast and thus agreed to record one more album under the Death-moniker before concentrating fully on his new band and musical direction.  As a result, songs originally intended for Control Denied were shoe-horned into a death metal context on The Sound of Perseverance (1998) which partly explains the lackluster, two-faced nature of the last and arguably worst Death-album. With contractual entanglements finally sorted out, Control Denied’s debut The Fragile Art of Existence saw the light of day in 1999.
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Dark Horizons: Upcoming Metal for 02/09/2018

As we predicted at the close of last year, a storm of power metal is coming at last and replacing the soon to be dead genre of post-metal.  With beta-male hipsters turning toward retro rehashes of classic metal they are at last abandoning the pretentious nasalings of post metal.  Let us rejoice in the death of post-black metal!

With Fridays becoming the new Tuesdays for metal releases (for reasons unbeknownst), let’s turn our attention to the next meaty drop of 2018 extreme metal.
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Sabaton Shills For World of Tanks

Military history obsessed Swedish power metal and glam rock band Sabaton is now advertising for and having their music featured in the Belarussian massively multiplayer tank shoot-out game World of Tanks according to BlabbermouthWorld of Tanks is a Russian free-to-play, usually pay-to-win game that plays like a slightly more realistic, team based version of Battlezone. Players can choose to drive hundreds of tanks from the 20th century with the ones recently added to the game that players usually have to shell out to use being slightly more powerful before being nerfed into mediocrity. The game is most popular in Eastern Europe and East Asia among teenage boys.

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