It’s half way through the year and everybody is falling over themselves to tell you what’s been good so far. There’ll be tons of talk about the Batushka schism or which new death metal band sounds the most old school or what the new crappy Tool album will be like (crappy) but nobody is going to tell you how fucking phenomenal power metal has been this year. You know which genre isn’t ripe with racists and fascists people defending those nightmare beliefs? Power Metal. You know which genre delivers exactly what it promises? Power Metal. You know which genre exists in its own self-contained bubble and is completely uncaring about trends or stances or long sleeve t-shirts with logos on the sleeves? Fucking power metal. So get on some power metal and make your life awesome.
Eternity’s End – Unyielding Expectations were fucking high on this one as Eternity’s End delivered a top-notch, progressive power metal face punch with their 2016 album The Fire Within. Happily, this one is every bit as good, if not better. This is exactly the kind of power metal I was craving all of 2018: creative, balls to wall, majestic, and 100% infectious. This came out at the tail end of 2018 so I’m counting it for 2019 and we should all be so fucking lucky.
Thornbridge – Theatrical Masterpiece
Sweet fucking surprise for me! I had no idea Thornbridge even had a new release coming out, finally giving me more sweet German power metal to listen as well as burning their previous debut album What Will Prevail into the fucking ground. That album showed up in 2016 during a fucking glut of power metal and just blasted the genre in the face with exactly what it needed, which was catchy, well written, grand songs and presence. Thornbridge doesn’t rewrite any power metal rules but they wholly embrace the genre and the edgier Euro style that German bands are sort of known for. There’s still a lot of grandiose and large scale moments, the album is called Theatrical Masterpiece and while it’s not a masterpiece, per say, it is rather theatrical. More so than the last. More aggressive as well, which is a welcomed addition. I’d say this one might not hit me as hard as the debut because I was so desperate for some good power metal at the time, but this is just as good as that album and makes me giddy as fuck that on their second album they didn’t stumble or falter and have produced another high quality power metal album because we sure fucking need them.
The Three Tremors – The Three Tremors
The Three Tremors concept (a play on the “Three Tenors” of opera) originally came into being as a project featuring the massive vocal talents of Rob Halford, Bruce Dickinson, and Geoff Tate in the early 2000’s and fizzled away producing nothing tangible. The concept was resurrected last year this time featuring Tim Ripper Owens of Rob Halford, Judas Priest replacement fame (or infamy) as well as a stint in Iced Earth and his highly underrated Charred Walls of the Damned project, as well as Sean Peck of Cage and more recently the Mercyful Fate guitarists reunion band Denner/Sherman where he’s been crushing the vocals, and the legend that is Harry “The Tyrant” Conklin of the fucking amazing Jag Panzer and Satan’s Host. Phew, let me catch my breath. Of course I was drawn to this project based on the pedigree alone and I fully expected it to be a classic, power metal infused heavy metal cacophony of cheese and brilliant vocal performance, and that’s exactly what it is. It’s a stripped down, heavy, American power metal album that musically exists to let the three vocalists bounce off each other and shine in their own ways. Ripper is unmistakeable and continues to impress me when he’s doing his own thing and not being wedged into established bands. Cage has a powerful voice but seems a little out of his element here as both vocalists, good as they are, are pretty much overpowered by Conklin’s amazing and unmistakeable voice. When they’re all bouncing back in forth Conklin dominates, as do the songs where he’s featured. The others have their moments as well and when they’re isolated they hit the mark but when all three come together it’s a bit of a mess. None of the vocals mesh well together as all three are such dynamic singers, but it’s kind of a glorious mess of power metal and indulgent cheese. I fucking love it.
Avantasia – Moonglow
Nobody has, or likely ever will, accuse Tobias Sammet of being subtle. Even when he’s taking up vocal chops in Edguy there’s a distinct level of over indulgence. Avantasia is his solo project and his excuse to just go full on, power metal saccharine. I legit thing the projects first two releases, the Metal Operas one and two are legit power metal classics and on point examples of how even the excess of this genre can produce well crafted music. From there Tobias got even more ambitious, grand, and theatrical. The follow up album The Scarecrow and the double albums The Wicked Symphony and Angel of Babylon found Tobias bringing in his many musical friends and a who’s who from all over power metal and hard rock. These albums are also the most self-indulgent and over the top albums you’re likely to find. Then he just sort of stuck to that template to varying degrees. The following two albums may have been just too much of this sort of thing because I lost interest in them, despite my love for cheese-fueled power metal so I approached this new album, Moonglow, with trepidation. Much to my surprise I was immediately hooked back into Avantasia land with all it’s mighty grandiosity and bombastic nonsense. It also didn’t hurt that the second song, “Book of Shallows” features both Hansi Kürsch (of fucking Blind Guardian, rubes) and Kreator’s very own Mille Petrozza. Only Tobias Sammet’s mad scientist approach to metal could have produced a song with those amazing vocalists in it, and have it be good. And that’s how the rest of the album goes. A ton of guest musicians, insane, cheesy, over indulgent power metal and it’s fucking awesome.
Mortanius – Till Death Do Us Part
It pleases my heart to hear bands trying new stuff with power metal. Dream Troll and Lor come to mind instantly but now Mortanius joins the list. While maybe not as adventurous as either of those bands, they are thinking more progressively and combining the genres of power metal and progressive metal. Now, that’s not new but add in the intense theatrical and dramatic elements, the exceptionally long, winding, story driven songs with various instrumentation, and the more bizarre prog timing tropes and it’s enough to make it stand out from the pack, both prog and power metal. It’s only downfall, and it’s a major fucking one, is their cover of Wham’s absolutely horrendous “Last Christmas.” I couldn’t even make it 30 seconds into it. I don’t even care if they totally reinvent that song, there’s no fucking saving it. I just deleted that song from the album and there you have a complete album that’s experimental and crazy enough to work.
Twisted Tower Dire – Wars in the Unknown
My whole fucking year was made with the announcement of a new Twisted Tower Dire album. It’s been 8 years since their previous album Make it Dark and that album is easily one of my favorite heavy metal/power metal albums. That album will hook itself on to you and become part of your being with it’s diabolically catchy songs. You’ll find that same melodic and infectious song attack on Wars in the Unknown. Twisted’s absolute celebration and honoring of heavy metal is what drives this band and you’ll be hard pressed to find any practicing band that extols such energy and fun and that’s exactly what makes them stand out. You’re going to have a good time with this album, no doubts at all and that’s exactly what heavy metal needs, a Twisted Tour Dire in 2019.
Tanagra – Meridiem
Sent to me as a promo, because I’m living they metal highlife now, I was more than fucking pleased to see this show up in my inbox. As I mentioned (all the fucking time) power metal is blasting this year out of the water and Tanagra’s previous album None of This is Real was a power metal sleeper album of 2015. With the sophmore album Tanagra still revels in power metal glory but has fucking upped the progressive and dramatic story telling components of their song writing. Grand in scope with songs that are individual journeys as well as inform the entire album’s journey, this creative song writing and story telling dynamic is what I fucking love about power metal. The cheese, or the cheese, but the music and songs are un-fucking-deniable. 2019 is the year of power metal and it’s the fucking best thing about metal in this fucked up year.
Paladin – Ascension
Hot fucking hell, this album fucking rules. It’s an extremely energetic, riff show of power metal, thrashed the fuck up and topped with a little melo-death just for good measure and that makes it super fucking fresh and exciting and all the things I want. It’s not even fucking around and if I had to pick a top power metal album for the year, this one would likely be it.
Lunar Shadow – The Smokeless Fire
Lunar Shadow simply fucking dominates at the classic, epic heavy metal style. Their approach is so directly straight up heavy metal but they take it that one step further with simply beautiful melody and structure so they don’t just sound like every other traditional heavy metal worshipping band right now. Epic is right and this album fucking slays.
Skelator – Cyber Metal
Power metal and more traditional forms of heavy metal have been on fucking fire this year and have been completely satisfying when most of the rest of metal-dom is rife with fucking bullshit so when a band like Skelator, that fully embraces the ridiculousness of heavy metal comes along and fucking owns it, I stand up and take notice. Taking the drive of Judas Priest and Manilla Road, and infusing that with a heavy hitting power metal/speed style and jacking the whole fucking thing up with sci-fi nerdery (I mean, there’s a fucking Fist of the North Star song on this), Skelator totally fucking own all the fun and killer riffs. Purely refined heavy metal awesomeness.