The Fate Of Power Metal


Hey look, an image!

While I’m not the end-all source of information for all things power metal, I do have my personal opinion on it; it is my favorite genre of music and there will be nothing like it. High-range clean vocals, double-bass fountains, power chords, soloing keyboards and heavily melodic leads with the usual inclusion of full-blown orchestrations could possibly be used to describe all elements used in the genre, just that so much variety could be and is done to spawn an entire catalog of bands. Even before the genre was born people like Gary Moore and bands like Iron Maiden gave the inspiration for it to be created, until bands like Helloween and Stratovarius immortalized the genre. Of course, along with these guys were Sonata Arctica, Hammerfall, Freedom Call and many more that I haven’t even listened to.

But I’m not exactly here to give a history lesson on power metal. I just really do want to point out the fact that while they were great back then, nowadays most of them are struggling to sound as good as they did before. And it’s not their fault really, a lot of things change based on how long you live, how you live your life and how you compose music.

I’ll point out the two people from two bands…whom I realize to be people I also pointed out before in a previous post…so I’m not gonna repeat what I said before about them two. Yes, I am again talking about Timo Kotipelto of Stratovarius fame and Tony Kakko of Sonata Arctica fame. I used these two guys as an analogy for Lux Aeterna, but now this mention is really ABOUT them and their genre of music this time around. So I said that their voices weren’t as good as they were before. But watching more live videos of them from 2011 make me realize that even though they’re still there, they’re not gonna last forever.

That goes for all the legendary power metal bands. Sure, Stratovarius’ most recent album Elysium is still my best album of 2011. Helloween’s 7 Sinners kicked major ass and is THE best representation of their brand of “dark” power metal since The Dark Ride. Sonata Arctica’s live performances (HAHAHA I am not mentioning The Days Of Grays cause I don’t like it…maybe my opinion will change…someday) are better now with Elias Viljanen filling in Jani Liimatainen’s shoes better and also the fact that they’re willing to downtune songs so that Tony doesn’t have to force the high notes he already can’t reach. Dark Moor’s Ancestral Romance, Heavenly’s Carpe Diem and Freedom Call’s Legend Of The Shadowking are all fine albums that aren’t as great as previous ones but are sure signs that these bands can still make great music.

Now the problem. All these bands are dinosaurs. Or if not, they’re going to become dinosaurs eventually. Or they did something to hasten their progression into becoming part of an extinct civilization. Point being, there is no more new power metal in general that can garner my interest anymore nowadays. They all come from bands I already know, who have already had their glory days and may possibly never have them again. Maybe I’m not looking hard enough, maybe I didn’t mention a single thing about more popular examples like maybe Rhapsody Of Fire, Nightwish and the like, but then again even those have been around for some time already. It’s like, these days, the things I hear just make me go all “this vocalist ain’t Michael Kiske” or “I’ve heard that riff before” or “This COULD’VE sounded so much better” or maybe just “interest lost” which happens the most.

I worry about my favorite genre. There seems to be no more fresh faces. And the ones I hear give the feeling of “been there, done that” for the most part. Can’t there be more innovation? Helloween and their transition into dark power metal? Stratovarius and their neo-classical influence? Sonata Arctica and their poppy but addictive sound and the progressive elements in later years? Rhapsody Of Fire and their forever-bombastic approaches? Freedom Call and their flower-power metal?

I guess I can at least look forward to what the dinosaurs are doing, what with their supergroups and all recently…but so far bands like Symfonia, with the former lead songwriter for Stratovarius’ discography pre-Polaris, Timo Tolkki along with ex-Angra/Shaman vocalist Andre Matos and the former members of Helloween and Sonata Arctica have disappointed me with their underwhelming debut album. Well, sure, it’s nice, but definitely underwhelming with a monstrous lineup like that. That’s one glimmer of hope down; I can still look forward to Fairyland’s fourth album with my favorite female power metal vocalist Elisa C. Martin of early Dark Moor back on vocals and the interesting combination that made a Guilty Gear character’s name composed of Kai Hansen and Michael Kiske working on Unisonic.

Oh well. Someday, I hope things will change for power metal…for the better…if you think they already have, feel free to point me where I can see it.

*ends post on a light note*

If not…then this genre’s fanbase can always wait for my own brand of power metal in the future HAHAHAHAHAHA

~ by rtnario on April 24, 2011.

7 Responses to “The Fate Of Power Metal”


  2. I agree with you there. I’m a late convert to power metal, but I already feel like I’ve heard it all; I’ve listened to much of the discography of the usual suspects (Stratovarius, Sonata Arctica, Freedom Call, Helloween) and the relative newcomers/fringe power metal bands (Nightwish, Gamma Ray, Kamelot, Symphony X, Hammerfall), and I want something new, but I can’t seem to find it. I think this stagnation also helps paint the genre with the cliche/cheesy tag, as well. In my all-too-uninformed opinion, though, I feel like there needs to be a new turn in the genre, an evolution in the sound, to hold off the end of such an epic branch of metal.

    • Glad you do! But seriously, there really needs to be something new and fresh to make sure this branch of metal doesn’t die, but where’s that going to come from? No one’s innovating anymore, and most don’t even sound like themselves. This is my favorite genre of metal and I get a lot of inspiration from it; I don’t want to just see it die off.

      • I’ve come across a couple of new bands with some interesting directions, some I like, some a bit weird (Alestorm). I’m a big fan of what Avantasia is doing; as much as it is a supergroup, Tobias Sammet runs it very well and it’s definitely his project – it feels like a regular band with just an awesome amount of styles packed into an album. And it toes the genre line, as well, with softer songs interspersing the hard rock/heavy/symphonic/power metal. While this mainstreams the CDs a bit, I also think it adds the variety that some other bands (Iron Savior, Gamma Ray) could use.

    • Ah, yes, Avantasia. I started listening to them recently because I heard the “The Scarecrow” album, and the title track is so simple yet addictive and amazing to my ears (plus all the other great songs). And of course, Alestorm is the one true pirate metal band and I’ve already heard Black Sails At Midnight which was really good.

      Yes, Avantasia does make the genre mainstream, but it’s true when it comes to variety, I don’t hear that much in those other bands anymore…in fact I specifically remember hearing an “I Want Out” clone in Gamma Ray’s “To The Metal!”.

      Apparently the only interesting power metal nowadays are the ones that change the sound a lot, but really, I’m craving for more of Sonata Arctica’s first two albums and the mentioned-in-this-post Fairyland album. There’s this new band though called Gallows End that may be good (they have a very traditional approach, no keyboards) but I haven’t heard them so well.

  3. It seems like the going rule these days is, once you’ve made it as a power-metal band, you have to make some drastic change to your style. Edguy and Sonata Arctica have both taken nose-dives in quality lately (Avantasia is still good though) for that precise reason.

    The only way to make it as a new power-metal band anymore is to have a gimmick. DragonForce has their blistering speed; Alestorm has their pirates; there are probably other examples.

    Name one single power-metal band founded after 1999 that could do a world tour right now? The only one I can think of is Alestorm. Yikes.

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