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A Beginner's Guide To Heavy Metal #15 - Power Metal

Updated on August 12, 2013

Metal's Fantasy Land

Fantastical tales and stories of world's beyond have always been a part of metal music. From Black Sabbath's tales of the supernatural to Led Zeppelin's tellings of Tolkien stories put into song, the worlds of fantasy and metal have always been intertwined. But it was not until the 80s that they were brought together as a full on genre, when heavy metal musicians began to fully embrace the subjects once reserved for the nerds and bookworms of the world as sources of lyrical inspiration, combining blistering high speed metal music with tales of fantasy and science fiction, the following albums can only be summed up in one word: epic.



Dio - Holy Diver

It is impossible to overstate Dio's importance to heavy metal and rock music in general. From his time in Richie Blackmore's Rainbow to fronting Black Sabbath, he has always had a penchant for writing lyrics containing stories of magic, evil, worlds unknown and all manner of things that can be found in any D&D game, usually serving as a veiled commentary on some subject in the real world, like a good fantasy story should. This was his first venture as an artist all on his own, and it is a triumphant one at that. The cover sets the tone for a series of catchy, beautiful, yet incredibly powerful metal anthems.

What To Check It Out?



Judas Priest - Painkiller

They ushered in the NWOBHM, they set the standard for the "metal look" in the 80s, and come the 90s, they came roaring out of the abyss after the less than stellar performance of Turbo with one of the most powerful albums to ever scream from unsuspecting stereos. Metal messiahs from another world, terrifying monsters stalking the night and soldiers from the under world are among the multiple characters that feature in this, one of the ultimate headbanging albums you will ever hear.

What To Check It Out?



Iced Earth - The Reckoning

Those of you in the know will be likely to note that this is in fact a four song CD single and not a full album. And while that is true, and there are many other incredible albums in the Iced Earth catalog, this is the first to feature former Rob Halford replacement Tim "Ripper" Owens on vocals, and it is on this that he delivers my favorite performance on any Iced Earth song. So great is his performance on those four songs, especially the title track, that this single definitely earns a spot as one of the greatest power metal recordings ever made.

What To Check It Out?



King Diamond - Voodoo

Good ole King Diamond. The psycho-operatic singer who pioneered black metal and had an influence on more metal bands than could ever fit any list, and master of concept albums dripping with eery tales of all manner of creepy things, and nowhere is that delivered with more punch than on this, which is already a must buy if anything for the incredible solo on the title track provided by the one and only Dimebag Darrell.

What To Check It Out?



Epica - Requiem for the Indifferent

Soaring melodies, incredible riffs and a powerful symphonic backing, frequent Kamelot collaborator and beautiful vocalist Simone Simmons belts it out like no other on this metal masterpiece. Often considered to be one of the mainstays of symphonic metal, but I personally felt that this band delivered more intensity than symphony which is what puts them on this list for me.

What To Check It Out?



Stratovarius - Polaris

The debut of guitar master Matias Kupiainen, this album shows him filling the truly large shoes left by world renowned guitarist Timo Tolkki with all of the skill and prowess anyone could hope for, and helps make this album truly a marvel to behold. A Stratovarius album is always an experience to listen to, and if you haven't heard them before, this is a great place to start.



Yngwie Malmsteen - Unleash the Fury

Yngwie Malmsteen has had many things said about him in the course of his long and brilliant career, but a couple of things you will never hear being said about him, are such words as subtle and quiet. No, Yngwie is at his best when he is doing what he does best, shredding up and down a guitar neck and blowing his listener's minds with bombastic fury, all of it unleashed in full force on this taught, slick album. If songs like "Crack of the Whip" and "Bogey Man" don't instantly make your head start moving, seek help.



Children of Bodom - Blooddrunk

Easily the most extreme and dark entry on this list, guitar genius Alexi Laiho blasts out what I still consider to be the best work of COB's incredible body of work. Nowhere have death metal screams, haunting and instantly catchy melodies, and searingly fast guitar work been combined to such perfection as on this offering, once again from Finland.

What To Check It Out?



Helloween - 7 Sinners

A lot of people know Helloween from their Keeper of the Seven Keys albums, and I was tempted to put the first on here instead. But when considering what was the most powerful entry, I ended up having to side with this one for one simple thing: The vocalist. Michael Kiske is an incredible vocalist in the Bruce Dickinson vein who from a very early age possessed a range and control of his voice that could possibly even match Bruce. But in terms of the sheer punch delivered, current vocalist Andi Deris just has such strength behind his voice, combined with the much darker tone and music of this album, that create some truly great headbangers that I guarantee will be stuck in your head for days on end.

What To Check It Out?



Dragonforce - The Power Within

I love Dragonforce. In my mind, there is no other band on the planet besides Avenged Sevenfold that is waving the flag for lightning fast guitar work and mind blowing guitar solos so proudly and brilliantly than Dragonforce. And while all of their albums demonstrate what makes them so amazing, none highlight just how much epicness the band truly has than this one. The riffs and solos are as intricate and blazing as ever, the melodies are incredibly and beautiful, and while I was initially skeptical of new vocalist Marc Hudson, who had some pretty big shoes to fill after original vocalist ZP Theart left, he proves once and for all that not only can he match ZP in terms of range, he even surpasses him in sheer strength of his voice. This album is the perfect soundtrack to daydreaming an epic fantasy tale.

What To Check It Out?

A Tale Of Epic Proportions

These albums more than any show that while heavy metal will always be a place for those looking for something dark and heavy to find refuge, metal made by lovers of fantasy delivering soaring melodies and wicked guitar work will always have a place amongst them to call their own. Few things highlight the sheer diversity of metal more than looking at the spectrum from Black Metal to Power Metal, that all encasing dome is part of what will always allow metal to triumph over all.


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