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JJ's Bizarre Blog #29 - We Have the Power!

Joan

Greetings, travelers! You’ve been on a long journey it seems. Come, sit by the fire and rest for a bit. While we wait and enjoy this splendid summer night, what shall we do to pass the time? Oh, I know, allow me to spin you a tale – one about grand adventure, brave warriors, colossal wars and even battles in the cosmos. If you pay attention, I might even sprinkle in some encounters with dinosaurs, ninjas or space wizards. The Bizarre One is ready with another tome of wisdom for you, so sit back and enjoy as we get our blood pumping with a genre-focused tale about the most epic in all the land. The soaring melodies of the good boy of metal. I am of course talking about power metal!

 

Every river has a source, every mountain has a base, every tree a root and every tale a beginning. Once upon a time, a dark and brooding genre called heavy metal was born and shook the world to its core. There’s a bizarre book about this somewhere I hear. As this new titan grew, it was only natural it would begin to evolve. One of the first-born sons of this new movement would be known as speed metal. The tale goes that speed metal had two sons of his own. One was bold, brash and non-conformist. He was very loud and loved to go fast, but his intentions were pure and noble. He would become known as thrash and there’s a tome about that somewhere too I believe. The other son would one day be christened power metal. He would be sophisticated and he loved to read, indulging in fantastical tales of myth and legend that would later inform his poetry. When he wasn’t busy reading, power metal would hone his musical skills, shredding on guitar at insane speed with arpeggios galore, creating a fast but melodic style inspired by classical music. He would also hone his lovely tenor voice, learning a soaring operatic style that could be heard even across neighbouring kingdoms. And while his thrashy brother focused on speed and raw anger, power metal sought a softer more melodic sound. Perhaps to this day, this is why he is among the most beloved and well known among the metal family, even if some of his brothers make fun of him for his cheesy, nerdy tendencies. He takes it in stride though, for knowing how to have fun is a badge of honour to him. Let us explore the full extent of his tale!

 

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To really understand how power metal rose to greatness, we have to meet his mentors. There is arguably none more important that the Italian-American Elf wizard, the Man on the Silver Mountain himself known as Ronnie James Dio. Straying away from the love serenades of his age, Dio sought to create grand and epic tales that took the reader on a grand adventure. His majestic voice and his masterful storytelling abilities allowed him to grip people firmly and never let go until the hero’s journey was complete. The epic and melodic instrumentation that accompanied this ordeal only elevated it to grander and more awe-inspiring heights. The metal family could never be the same without Dio, but power metal probably would’ve still been at home reading books if it weren’t for him.

 

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The second vital tutor would be the most badass history teacher of all time. The Iron Maiden! She focused on equal parts fantasy and history to tell great tales of heroism and courage. The dual guitar work that told these tales was revolutionary, for no other axemaster had wielded their weapon like this before. The songs were lengthy and ambitious in their composition. Bruce Dickinson, another master storyteller, could tell a deep narrative and still make it catchy and instantly memorable, while his operatic delivery also helped define what power metal would grow up to be.

 

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Papa speed metal was still running rampant in the early days while power metal was still in infancy, in particular in the lands of Germany. Here, countless speed bands popped up that sought to take what grandpa heavy metal and make it faster and heavier. This energetic atmosphere would prove the perfect breeding ground for power metal to leave the roost and become its own subgenre.

 

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This would come to fruition thanks to the mighty metal Gods of Helloween. Truly, no other band has helped write the epic adventure of power meta morel. Nay, they are the ones that started this novel, before passing the pen and paper to the next generation. Born in the realms of speed metal, Helloween quickly established the tenets of true power metal. Fast and melodic guitar riffs and mind bending solos of the Godfathers Michael Weikath and Kai Hansen (who sang too), blistering drums and bass and epic compositions on fantastical subject matter, all presented by the phenomenal tenor vocals of the legendary Michael Kiske. Between the grand epic tales, they also always found the time to slow down with a nice romantic power ballad. Presented in their two Keeper of the Seven Keys albums, topped off with over 10 minute long rock operas, Helloween were the ones that helped power metal become his own man and to this day, these German legends have helped the genre grow like nobody else can.

 

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They raised power metal so much that even after some turmoil and splits within the band, Kai Hansen’s new band Gamma Ray would become almost as iconic and his new project alongside Kiske – the magical Unisonic – would continue the spirit with fresh blood and ideas. Destiny has intrinsically linked these men to the history of power metal.

 

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From then on, Germany would remain arguably the biggest hotbed for power metal to grow. With a rich history and bountiful mythology, not to mention a legendary legacy of classical music, it was the perfect stomping ground for epic tales.

 

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At the same time as Helloween’s glorious ascension, a beautiful melody rang from far away. Up north, in lands full of lakes and marshes, another titan would be born to give power metal its wings – from the fusion of a guitar and a violin, Stratovarius would be born. The co-parents of the genre, they brought a distinct northern sound and also introduced the adventurous youth to the use of keyboards to create an even grander experience. Power metal had made his name known and began forging an unforgettable legacy. And Startovarius would not be alone for long, as a mighty cast of bards and warriors would gather and form the formidable guild of Finnish power metal, one that is among the most influential to this day.

 

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From north, the conquest spread west, for the Kingdom of Three Crowns, Sweden, would be next to thrust their swords into the fray. Leader of this army of Templars would be an armoured man by the name of Hector, representing the undying warriors of HammerFall. Well versed in the classic methods dating all the way back to classic heavy metal, these Swedes knew how to tell tales about fierce battles and fiercer love. The thunder from their hammers would shake the entire world to its core.

 

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Beyond them, years later, a hulking war machine would rise out of Fallun, Sweden and commence an unstoppable global conquest. The armoured conquerors known as Sabaton! Arguably the biggest thing not just in the domain of power metal, but all of metal entirely, Sabaton are a force to be reckoned with and a stage they perform on is never the same afterwards. Their anthems about varied world history rings true with anyone who hears them and they have developed a massive following of devout loyalists. War is never over, thus Sabaton will always be there to be the bards of great courage, carrying on the torch first lit by Iron Maiden decades ago.

 

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With so much force, Sweden naturally continues to be a power metal stronghold till this day and together with Germany and Finland, they form a friendly eternal conflict over who can produce the most and the best power metal. The true victors in the end are all of us fans.

 

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Over nine mountains to the tenth, power metal’s conquest allowed the entirety of Europe to become his holy domain. Dragons, knights, castles, fantastic beasts and mystical landscapes, there was no shortage of topics to cover and the obsession with literature, above all the works of J.R.R. Tolkien provided an endless supply of adventures to explore. Innovation would arise as well, such as from the incredible swordsmen from DragonForce, who sought to push the speed of their guitar work to the limit and took inspiration from these magical new distant realms called “video games”.

 

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But power metal sought more glory, for he was not content with ruling over just one continent. Soon, on massive dragon wings, he flew over the Atlantic and began storming the shores of the United States. From then, a forgotten viking titan would arise from the earth. With a mighty masculine presence and glorious anthems, so loud they opened the California fault line, this new warrior would conquer the world all on his own. His name is one you could never forget – Manowar! The Warriors of the World have been an unstoppable force ever since formation and they have united the hearts of countless under their grand banner.

 

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Manowar would not be alone in becoming American disciples of power metal. More and more guilds were forming and joining the fray. Harder hitting and with a distinctly macho presentation, obviously preferring Conan the Barbarian to Lord of the Rings, American power metal carved out its own legacy and has remained strong to this day.

 

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Naturally, with such a large army to lead, power metal wouldn’t stop adventuring after conquering the Americas either. Soon, all over the world, soaring guitar solos and operating choruses of fantastic tales would ring out, making one thing clear. Power metal was here and his name is to be remembered!

 

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As one conquers, one grows, so it’s no surprise that like other movements, power metal added new skills to his moveset too. Almost from the very beginning, power metal has been obsessed with classical music and symphony orchestra, so the birth of what would be known as symphonic power metal seemed written in stone. The first big spark would come from the roads to Rome, as several Italian virtuosos joined forces to forge a new alliance. Guitar master Luca Turilli and classically trainer keyboard wizard Alex Staropoli, together with the Dio-esque magical voice of Fabio Lione, would light the fire called Rhapsody – combining the speed, melody and epicness of power metal with glorious symphonic elements that elevated the adventure to levels of grandeur never seen before, telling the multi-volume tale of the Emerald Sword. Regardless of their later turmoil that ended up in a schism, spawning multiple concurrent band iterations, their collection of legendary tales, regardless of which name they’re under, is unrivaled.

 

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At the same time, across the Atlantic, a guitar maestro known as Thomas Youngblood would have the same idea. Gathering a crew of elite musicians, he created the fantastical band of Kamelot, who combined power metal energy, symphonic expansiveness and operatic stories to craft one of the greatest power metal followings in the world. While the band itself was American, it very much aligns with the European school of thought, primarily because most members have consistently been European. Chief among them are the two iconic frontmen of it all – the angellic-voiced bard from Norway, Roy Khan, and the radiant prince charming from Sweden, Tommy Karevik. Together, they would sear their anthems into your very soul.

 

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From this grand leadership, a global symphonic movement would arise, bringing classical music into a new age – one ripe with fantasy, imagination, glory, strength and hope. The thirst for adventure can never truly be quenched, so it deserves a soundtrack befitting in scope.

 

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While power metal conquered the rest of the world, Europe had already been his dominion for a while now and his presence there remained unshaken. So, while the lord was out on conquest, the European bands were looking for ways to entertain themselves. A big inspiration in this regard would come from the Scottish space knights from GloryHammer. Exploring adventures beyond the Earth and even the Sun, with a grander tale than anyone before them, all while injecting a hefty dose of jovial humour into it all, GloryHammer showed that having fun is vital to a healthy heart and there is more to the world than what is right before us. Thus begins the newest age.

 

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Inspired by them, there were numerous comedic power metal forming all across the European domain. With tales of dinosaurs, furniture magic, fighting birds, ninjas, samurai and more, tongues planted so firmly into cheek that they pushed out the other side, this new era explored the pure enjoyment of adventure. While sometimes the victims of ridicule, these bands never cared about that. Having fun is important, being able to make joke of oneself is vital to staying grounded and one shouldn’t be ashamed of ones weird and nerdy tendencies. The party atmosphere all over Europe has been incredible ever since.

 

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But alas, every story must end somewhere and it seems that moment is approaching for us. Power metal is a worldwide force to be reckoned with to this day and every festival gets shaken up by his power year round. Power metal is a romantic in many ways and is also the most approachable, positive and easily digestible of the metal subgenres and does irreplaceable work when it comes to recruiting new members into the metal legions. I hope that you are inspired to do the same. Even if you choose to only stay within power metal’s borders, there is still so much to explore and enjoy, that I don’t think you will ever be bored. 

 

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So thank you, travelers, for sitting here with me and indulging my tall tales. I hope this experience has enriched you! My chronicles have all been detailed below for your appreciation and now you have the ideal tunes to sing along to during your continued journeys, no matter where they take you. Stay strong and keep questing! The power is in your hands to achieve all your dreams! Till next we meet!

 

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