Power Metal

Listening to that 1980s power metal compilation that has floated around for awhile, it becomes clear to me why many of us dodged out on power metal and drifted toward the grindcore and death metal style of things back in the day: power metal is the capture of metal by the pop industry.

With these tracks, the weakness originates in too much emphasis on the vocals. We can blame Iron Maiden for this. Early Iron Maiden, such as their peak with Killers, was driven by guitars; after Number of the Beast, vocals propelled songs forward and signaled changes.

Lead guitar was not much affected, since the solos still appeared at roughly the usual times, but rhythm guitar had to be there to support the lead vocals, so riffs went from having distinctive structure throughout to being galloping rhythms as a canvas for vocals most of the time.

To their credit, Iron Maiden figured this out and started working progressive rock back into their formula with subsequent albums, but at that point they had gotten too big and most of their time was spent touring and dealing with the industry, so much of the writing occurred in the studio.

(If you want your band to succeed bigly, get a practice space and live within a couple miles of it. Meet there two to five times a week to jam on your songs, and only after you have done that for at least several months consider consigning them to a recording.)

When vocals become the focus, everything else squeezes out of the way so that the vocals can be heard clearly. Possibly death metal was a revolution against this, minimizing the vocals to a near-monotone too distorted to be heard clearly, making them more of a rhythm instrument than a melodic one.

That forced melody or its equivalent — the structuring of riffs to form a dialogue with each other resulting in something closer to through-composed, motif-based thematic music — to go into the rhythm guitars, making those more powerful.

Vocal-based music after all might be the ultimate bourgeois invention. They do not want to hear instrumental music, but pleasant singing, like a wallpaper backdrop for the cinematic drama that is their lives. Bourgeois thinking is based in individualism and emotional drama, after all.

Let us look at this tracklist:

01. Warlord – Lucifer’s Hammer
02. Manowar – Blood of My Enemies
03. Jag Panzer – Symphony of Terror
04. Omen – Battle Cry
05. Brocas Helm – Dark Rider
06. Slauter Xstroyes – Winter Kill
07. Cirith Ungol – Cirith Ungol
08. Queensryche – Queen Of The Reich
09. Fates Warning – The Apparition
10. Crimson Glory – Azrael
11. Heir Apparent – R.I.P. (live)
12. Sacred Blade – The Enlightenment – Master of the Sun
13. Metal Church – Metal Church
14. Agent Steel – Bleed For The Godz
15. Savage Grace – Into The Fire
16. Deaf Dealer – To Hell and Back
17. Riot – ThunderSteel
18. Helstar – To Sleep, Perchance to Scream
19. Taramis – Queen of Thieves

The obvious standouts here are Manowar, Queensryche, Omen, Fates Warning, Metal Church, and Helstar. The rest of it reminds me of the bad old days of glam metal, when bands stood out for their vocal hooks and guitar became simplistic and repetitive.

Most of this material sounds like NWOBHM hybridized with glam metal, itself an offshoot of NWOBHM which joined the Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin veins of heavy rock, using slightly more aggressive riffs and imaginative melodic lead rhythm playing, but remaining safely within “rock” territory.

Metal and punk came out of the heavy rock of the 1960s, including progressive rock, which used distortion as a timbre of the instrument and explored the possibilities of increased sustain and loudness, fundamentally changing rhythm guitar into a voice which could serve as a lead.

A number of bands played around with the new possibilities of distortion, but it only hit a head in the late 1960s when Iggy and the Stooges as well as Black Sabbath and King Crimson found a way to make the lead rhythm voice drive songs.

Hardcore punk exploded in the late 1970s and made a simpler, more direct version of this style which avoided the vocal excesses of progressive rock and cut out the keyboards, forcing the music into a guitar-driven style which forced the complexity into the riff.

Out of that we got Black Sabbath, the first proto-metal band, and all of the innovations to follow. In that light, power metal seems like a normie recapture of the lawless and a tendency to force it into the optics-based, humanistic philosophy of the cities.

What made the 1980s bands more distinct was their tendency to incorporate speed metal riffing like Helstar and Agent Steel. The bands that developed this further made their music seem to rise above the glam standard, although the vocal emphasis dragged them back down.

This returned it to the Iron Maiden quandary. Make weird esoteric transformative art like Killers, or throw out the progressive rock and hardcore to make a Led Zeppelin inspired work like Number of the Beast, substituting speed for structure?

Obviously Bathory was paying attention to what Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, and Manowar were doing, in addition to an arguable Motorhead, NWOBHM, and hardcore punk influence that informed their work more than even Venom.

Mercyful Fate took the power metal idea and ran straight into speed metal, relying on operatic vocals but using them sparsely at times to allow riff shape to give the songs unique character. When King Diamond relaxed this on his later works, the distinctiveness dropped off.

Contemporary power metal seems to work in gospel-style major key melodies and has picked up on how to make solid driving songs from death metal, but fundamentally stays in the speed metal mode of composition, more like the early Metallica than their wild instrumentals.

Perhaps what keeps metal stranded nowadays is this tendency to go back into the bourgeois mental ghetto that says if you serve up what people expect, they will all buy it, despite having other options. This keeps metal as a niche where it is safe.

When they get ahold of metal, normies — basically bourgeois city-dwellers or those dependent on the city despite being stranded in outer suburbs — convert it from being its own thing into the same music they like in other forms, in the process reducing its artistic influence and radicalism.

On the other hand, when metal breaks out into great popularity, it does it by bucking that trend and focusing instead on guitar instrumentals and interesting structures. Most people listen to what others profess to like, but they can be tempted by more interesting music.

Which way does the future lead? Clearly not to blackgaze, emocore, metalcore, deathcore, and the various attempts to incorporate mainstream pop-rock into metal like alternative metal. Which way, metal heads? If you are a false, do not entry.

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79 thoughts on “Power Metal”

  1. NWN War Metal Tranny Rapist says:

    The driving force behind cutting your own dick off is found in power metal. These people would be shemales if born a decade later! These homos would dress up as women and let someone violently masturbate in their anal cavity to ejaculate on their poop! Disgusting! Pillage the altars of trannydom! Rape Storms Force!

    1. This site endorses homosexuality, sodomy, transgenderism, abortion, eugenics, nationalism, and pagan morality as means of forshortening the Ecocide.

      1. Jonny Blunders says:


        1. We love sodomy, yes we do
          We love sodomy, how ’bout you?

  2. eat my ass says:

    best pantera album

  3. TAKE THAT says:

    more like power bottom metal

  4. T Malm says:

    Whether you’re a true working class Starbucks cashier with a rectal social media implant or a gay autistic intellectual superman, turns out everybody hates the bourgeoisie and loves Killers.

  5. LostInTheANUS says:

    Power metal is the most heterosexual subgenre of metal. That’s why I don’t like it.

    1. This is what drew me to it at first, but three times before dawn they denied their homosexuality and denied me, so I moved on to more LGBTHIVBBQ+ friendly genres like grindcore.

      1. LostInTheANUS says:

        All the power metal dudes I’ve known since high school had glorious long hair and were womanizers. I hoped at least one of them would be an effeminate male just desperate to get his bussy pounded. No luck unfortunately. Most effeminate bottom bitches are in the black metal scene and that’s where I’m sticking (my dick in).

        1. War metal is an unacknowledged source of power bottoms who will wrestle just to let you win after specifying that “Turkish rules” (loser gets raped) apply. If I wanted to score chicks or femboys I would totally pursue power metal simply because it is basically normie rock with slow speed metal riffs. Girls can listen to that stuff, and femboys like to dress up as Templars before getting pounded senseless.

          1. LostInTheANUS says:

            Girls are icky

            1. Not all of them will fail to appreciate your high score on Zelda or your collection of rare black metal demos.

              1. LostInTheANUS says:

                I never played a Zelda game, I only play Total War games.

                1. Only Red Alert 2 is true.

            2. Abortion Enthusiast says:

              Try the other hole

  6. Nerd desecrator says:

    That’s a sick playlist. I’m gonna play those songs next weekend and make fun of Brad Stevens.

    1. Greg says:

      What isn’t nerdy about any kind of heavy metal, you fucking nerd?

      1. <drunk>Yeah you guys are fuckin’ nerds…</drunk>

  7. Ir mama says:

    This is beyond retarded, I have been following this site for a while and it seemed fine, but now I realize you are a bunch of frustrated dorks who like to do mental hand Jobs a lot. I mean, seriously, using the word “normie” in 2023,who are you, Wednesday?

    Taking a piss on legendary bands, both famous like Maiden or cult bands like Crimson Glory doesn’t make you look cool or sophisticaded, It shows how hard you are trying.

    1. We do not support jobs of any kind, including Steve Jobs.

    2. The Man Who Was Thirsty says:

      who are you, Wednesday?

      Is this some sort of cryptic Chesterton reference?

    3. hella says:

      ignore all that shit and this site is mad reccs, like i didn tknow about this comp

  8. Aussie Autist says:

    “the optics-based, humanistic philosophy”

    Wut? Humanists use their eyes more? What do others use?

    1. The optics, man. It’s how you win elections, sell insurance, or make people think you are cool despite having a Napoleonic peenor. Forget it, Jake, it’s demotismtown.

      1. Aussie Autist says:

        Also with jingles, candy, Joe Biden massages and other horrible things for other senses. Don’t discriminate against eyes, man.

        1. I am skeptical of appearance and prefer to analyze structure. Only that has predictive value, and appearances are deceptive. Not every power bottom is a femboy, if you know what I mean.

          1. Aussie Autist says:

            We can analyze structure optically, can’t we?

            1. We perceive through the senses five, organize in the mind based on the relation between the objects and threads we observe.

              1. Aussie Autist says:

                I see, so it could just as well have been “the acoustics-based, humanistic philosophy” etc. Makes sense.

  9. moe connoisseur says:

    This article would be a lot better if the difference between power metal and power metal was made clearer. The former, along with the very early NWOBHM was moving away from cities, and into a mythic past. Examples: Hail to England, Crystal Logic, King of the Dead. The latter came after power metal and was a move away from all kinds of danger into pure power fantasy (Walls of Jericho, Painkiller, Kings of Metal) or “feelings” (Crimson Glory, Blue Blood).

    1. NWOBHM still had some respectability there, but the mythic nature was always present in the genre, even going back to early Black Sabbath and the prog rock that came before it.

  10. random wisdom says:

    Of all the “clean vocals” music I can tolerate really is the unholy trinity of old Celtic Frost/Hellhammer, Slayer, Sepultura (semi-clean later).

    Metallica and Mercyful fate could almost fit in for at least their heaviness, but some people just have a proclivity for anything that sounds like 80’s/90’s death/black only – it’s simply superior (except for war metal), don’t waste time on anything else…

    1. Doug says:

      Prong and specifically the bullet-proof Beg to Differ might round out your list.

      Its necessity as a transitory form notwithstanding, I resisted most pre-death metal metal (except for Slayer) because it was lame in my view (Mercyful Fate) compared to the heavier glam metal like early Ratt that seemed most fitting for sung vocals. I have mellowed a lot since then and for example enjoyed the Brocas Helm listen on here a few weeks ago, but generally speaking, yeah, some might say there is a positive correlation between guttural or otherwise distorted vocals and the quality of the material (or at least ’88 – ’94).

  11. Before and after humor says:

    All jokes aside, Blind Guardian and Lost Horizon are the peak of Power Metal.

  12. Larz says:

    Get off your lazy ass and give us the Metallica review already. Tranny rock album of the year as far as I’m concerned.

  13. Bunky McKunky says:

    More whining about Number of the beast. Give it up you faggots! Paul smoked the punk rock glass dick too hard and self-destructed! Plus Killers isn’t high art. It was their leftovers with better production.

    1. T Malm says:

      Does it matter why he left?

      You dumb knob.

    2. blundy jonners says:

      Your arrogance is astounding but your stupidity is entertaining.

      1. It’s not the Dunning-Kruger Effect, it’s Dunning-Kruger Excellence.

        1. Bunky McKunky says:

          Wrong again fuckbag. They put all their best songs on the first album, but Will Malone’s shit production slightly neutered it. Killers had stellar production, but you can tell some of those songs are leftovers. Not to mention some of those songs have the same verse lyrics over and over again. That’s just as formulaic as your claim of their repetitive chord structure all the cucks whine about of their latter years.

          1. First album is mostly pop-format songs, second album has some prog and pads it a bit, but the song order makes it work for a sense of transitional mood instead of looping. Most people will prefer the first album because it is very clear and catchy, but in my view, the more ambiguous, hopeful, and threatening second album has more to offer.

  14. Stephen Cefala says:

    Thanks Brett for this well written article please tear Nu Metal apart band by band in a future article.

    1. 2023 says:

      wtf is nu metal

      1. Flatus says:

        Disco on guitars with extra teenage dad-hating butthurt

  15. Gnarly says:

    In the news I read that science thinks metal is a therapeutic safe space for its audience, that it alleviates stress by having a band scream and shout with you for an hour or two.

    “Ask not what metal is about – ask what metal can do for you.”

    1. curio says:

      Metal doesn’t mix with therapeutic or safe space. Science(TM) can blow itself and listen to Korn.

      1. Or protest movements, or commerce, really.

      2. Gnarly says:

        You don’t say?

    2. Nerd desecrator says:

      Metal is about jerking off to Iommi’s riffs.

  16. Cynical says:

    Just so long as we can acknowledge that Helstar and Cauldron Born are amazing, despite being in a terrible genre.

  17. Flying Kites says:

    Thoughts on Robert Eggers’ The Witch (2016)
    Article by David Rosales.

    I watched The Witch and The Northmen last night, also 1979’s Nosferatu. Mad props to Eggers for these pro-White movies. He’s working on his own Nosferatu. I’m looking forward to that.

    1. Boner Mountain says:

      eggers is on record as saying that he almost didnt do the northman because of “clueless dorks on the internet”

      watch The Lighthouse too

      1. In this society, we are ruled by demotism: whatever is most popular in voting, buying, and socializing wins out.

        Normies are those who will rationalize the new normal as “good” no matter what happens. This is the fiction-absolute that Tom Wolfe keeps talking about, a defensive and paranoid outlook which results in a desire to destroy everything but what they trust because they rely on it to keep thinking good thoughts about themselves and their civilization. They are inherently unstable, because this is a backward-looking inverse inference based on the intentions of the individual, not data in reality.

        This means that if you fail to not just avoid challenging but affirm the following, you will have no career:

        • Diversity
        • Anti-poverty
        • Anti-narcotics
        • Anti-culture
        • Atheism
        • Socialism
        • Equality
        • Pluralism
        • Pacifism

        Look at every major public figure since 1913 and they all endorse these, yet disappear when they stop doing so.

        Conspiracy? No: just herd thinking and uncoordinated bottom-up flocking, herding, schooling, and stampede behavior.

        1. Intermidget says:

          Is the Brett Stevens account a bot nowadays? Looks like it just picks a random comment and spits out the usual stuff, even when not at all relevant to said comment.

          1. If I am a bot, I am written in Perl. It is the master language for glue coding.

        2. Stoned stoner says:

          Hard disagree there, there are plenty of public figures who are such precisely because they are challenging the status quo as dictated by professional complainers. And I’m not sure what your point is as far as Eggers is concerned. He strikes me as honest, and I can’t help agreeing with his distaste for escapist political bullshit although I doubt that was much of a motivating factor for him to create this film, more of a bonus. He made a movie that is cool and more interesting for its emphasis on historical accuracy. It’s not “pro-white”, it’s just always nice to see someone with some skin in the game not let PC nonsense taint his work.

          1. Who out there is challenging the status quo? I see some on the margins like your Jordan Peterson or John Zerzan, but all of their solutions are a slightly different shade of the same, sort of like Hitler chose.

          2. Flying Kites says:

            Any mention of reality is at this point, “pro-White.”

            1. Anything which affirms reality creates hierarchy and therefore is hated by the egalitarians.

        3. Fool volume says:

          You know what I smoked a bowl and understand your comment better now and can see what you mean about public figures, cuz Hitler was fundamentally a leftist I almost forgot, and I understand your basic idea that we are wired for group think at the expense of harmony with nature, I guess I just don’t care, maybe because I’m just more into sex drugs rock n roll and transcending reality through nature worship and contemplation of the spirit

          1. Hitler wanted a Right-wing version of the Jacobins, including the insane parts. Giant shrug there. I mean who can argue with Aktion T4 or deporting non-natives, but repression and Holocausting seem like the return of the guillotine. However, you are making the same mistake with the individualism of your final sentence. Does the world need another armchair fetus esotericist?

            1. Spastic jurassic says:

              Is the fact of experiencing life as an individual (most of the time) the same thing as morbidly obese, blasting your phone in the sauna, can’t be bothered to figure out 4 way intersections individualism? We must satisfy ourselves to be effective and content. Doesn’t necessitate being oblivious or callous to everything. There’s nothing armchair about the way I live, I go on instinct and firsthand experience, I don’t even read much anymore because I feel it interferes with that, and so I’m not interested in investing much energy into it…unless I get a hunch to.

              1. The critique was of a philosophy, not you as a person; I do not know you. But your philosophy is nonsense. Your first line is a false dichotomy. I like the “effective” part. I do not think there is contentment in a dying civilization.

            2. Stoic Mesozoic says:

              I’m also not real precise with words. I’m more into poetry, music and visual art. Believe me I tried with philosophy. But we must play with the hand we are dealt. Fortunately we have Zarathustra.

              Keep up the good work.

              1. I am skeptical of Nietzsche, although he nails a lot of things, and more interested in the Plato-Schopenhauer nexus. Philosophy is just understanding life. It does not require fancy language, but some applied thought, although the academics will try to scare you out of it with their layers of hazing and pretense!

                1. ANUS is DEAD!? says:

                  “I am skeptical of Nietzsche”
                  OH NO!

                  1. He would approve, but I think he got a lot of it wrong.

            3. Bunky says:

              Aktion T4 and Holocausting are the same thing

              1. No, they are not. Aktion T4 sterilized or euthanized retards, the insane, career criminals, and out of control perverts. This was different from the racial hygiene program that led to the slave labor camps (and the violent rhetoric that led to partisan executions and barn burnings).

      2. T Malm says:

        the Lighthouse shouldve been called Turd Tower

        what a ridiculous waste of 2 hours

        1. Gnarly says:

          Hard agree. Eggers is just another hack.

          1. Everything you find in public by a major corporation is “accountable” to voters who skew not just toward the Left but toward the bourgeois idea of being inoffensive.

            1. Tripping encouraged says:

              I mean I’m not crazy about his films but to call him a hack for no apparent reason and to criticize his work on the basis that it isn’t subversive enough seems kinda shallow and a little bitchy.

              1. No, it is the nature of art. You affirm the bourgeois normie mental goyslop, you get treated like the tool and anal whore you are. It’s just life.

                1. on second thot says:

                  dude i cant take you seriously using words like goyslop and labeling shit that you think youre too hard/smart for as bourgeois. you havent even demonstrated how eggers is bourgeois goyslop, you just get off on being an arrogant cunt without consequences like everyone else who lives in the internet.

                  1. You have to be aware of The Other Site where such things are discussed in detail. I just like “goyslop” because back in the day, we used to call McDonald’s “Christian food” because you would have to be a raving normie dependent on a mystical afterlife in order to consume that stool. Goy means “gentile” which generally means “Christian” in the West. Christianity, like all movements dedicated toward forcing humanity to behave instead of enforcing natural selection which picks the best of us, is the death of the West, so ironically is itself intellectual goyslop.

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