Every end of the year I try and round up all of the power metal albums that have come out over the year and that I have listened to, then I try to make a judgement on them in list form. This never works. This does not work because I do not listen to nearly enough power metal compared to other genres. I am not the person to ask regarding high profile power metal that could be added to the canon of contemporary releases. What I can do, however, is scour this year’s Bandcamp releases for albums everyone has missed and present a grab bag of gems, oddities, and bizarre treasures. These releases are scattered throughout the year but all represent quality, or at least the promise of quality, given the right amount of circumstances.
I just want to make mention that the EP cover for Starborn’s The Dreaming City is fantastic and a step above their 2014 demo. The artwork by Luke Oram truly captures the 80’s sci fi / fantasy escapism that was inherent to bands like Blind Guardian and Fates Warning, two bands that guide Starborn’s music. Rooted firmly in the cusp between United States Power Metal and the formation of the European variety, Starborn is gathering support for their debut album. While not entirely there musically, Starborn only has a few areas to work out before making their unforgettable debut.
Hopefully you like Bal Sagoth or are at least familiar with them. If you are, then this album is going to be a blast through the icy stars. Forsaken Eternity is a Portland based three piece who have taken harsh vocals, narrative voice overs, and a penchant for space opera to make 4 songs that are so hilariously exciting I wish there was more. Though Forsaken Eternity uses Bal Sagoth as a divining tool, they are not clone of the style but rather they are drawn from the same netherspace.
“The Maldives is a tropical nation in the Indian Ocean composed of 26 coral atolls, which are made up of hundreds of islands. It’s known for its beaches, blue lagoons, and extensive reefs.” This is not the place one thinks about when they imagine heavy metal. Well, maybe neoclassical shred. Okay, most certainly neoclassical shred. If one is interested in instrumental metal that rips like waves lapping off a beautiful beach, then this could be your new favorite record.
Drakkar has been around for a little while. Formed in the mid 90’s, this Italian power metal band has attempted to strike the balance between classic power metal and more contemporary hard rock. Run with the Wolf is advertised as a concept album, but it is more of a collection of unrelated songs ranging from pirate expeditions, Game of Thrones love letters, and reverence to Odin. In all honesty, the record is scattered and disjointed but this never takes away from the passion that seems to be burning inside this band.
December XII is the work of three Russian individuals who have been working since 2012. Similar to Drakkar, there is a certain passion that emanates from this album even when certain parts, including vocals and instrumentation, sometimes falters. I think it is important to note that sometimes imperfect power metal can be just as charming as seamless production. Listen to the early track “Vogue” and tell me that you are not smiling by the end. Also, this album is $1 so there should be no reason to not check it out.
Alright. You are here for one reason. You like video games and heavy metal. This should not be a large stretch. There exists a small scene of video game cover bands who have devoted their entire existence to recreating music from a variety of entertainment. They have their own conventions and related scenes of fans and patrons. Daniel Tidwell has been working tirelessly for the past few years covering everything from the Dexter Theme to various music from Final Fantasy. Popular and obscure, geeky to socially acceptable, everything you could possibly be familiar with is in here.
Christian metal is strange because one goes into the record assuming many things. On the surface, Signum Regis is a competent power metal band whose lyrics revolve around biblical and transcendental themes. Take this and combine it with soaring vocals and twin guitar leads, and the style fits and runs without much fuss. Think of this as less christian metal and more just power metal with a cosmetic change in lyrics.