Power metal is a sub-genre of heavy metal that combines both traditional heavy metal with speed metal that often adds symphonic context.
That symphonic context is a more brighter/uplifting sound as opposed to the heaviness featured in doom and death metal. Power metal music is often anthemic featuring fantasy and mythology, camaraderie and hope, personal struggles and emotions, war and death; often based on books or national epics. Strong choruses in an effort to create theatrical, dramatic and emotional sounds is the modus operandi. Fast and demanding guitar solos, however, are almost guaranteed. Power metal guitarists and bassists generally play rapid streams of notes, but change chords comparatively slowly, while the bass guitar takes a back seat. Often power metal drummers play double bass patterns with two bass drums, or a double bass pedal; often using them to play a constant stream of sixteenth notes with snare drum accents on the beat; a style most commonly associated with power metal. Keyboards are often incorporated into power metal songs.
Inspired by Ronnie James Dio, Bruce Dickinson, Rob Halford, Geoff Tate and other heavy metal vocalists, power metal vocals are often in a high register, and the singer's vocal range is usually wide; many use multi-layered vocals and some still utilize a harsher 'thrash metal' style, but not a growl.
The term 'Power Metal' was first used in the mid-1980's to refer two different but related styles: the harder sounding speed metal influenced North American version, and the more widespread keyboard based melodic European style.
Those origins of power metal have been traced back to Ronnie James Dio in the late 1970s, for the fantasy-oriented lyrics he wrote for his band at the time, Rainbow. These fantasies concentrated around medieval, renaissance, folk and science fiction themes. These themes and musical styles would act, in part, to influence modern power metal bands, along with Judas Priest for power metal vocal delivery and twin-guitar attack; the high pitched vocal style becoming a prominent feature of power metal. The neo-classical styles of Yngwie Malmsteen, the melodic and epic, anthemic styles of Iron Maiden, even the fantasy battles of Manowar influenced the genre. It would be Helloween's 1987 second album, Keeper of the Seven Keys, Pt. 1, however, that is considered the right mix of power and melody that inspired a new generation.
Queensrÿche, Fates Warning, Vicious Rumors, Virgin Steele, Riot, Jag Panzer, Helloween, Running Wild, Rage, Blind Guardian and Stratovarius are examples of some of the genre pioneers.
By the first decade of 21st century, DragonForce and Nightwish have become the first power metal bands to achieve moderate mainstream commercial success.
Power metal was not recognized by the RRCA (now Diskery) database until 2011. As bands are discovered that meet this description they will be moved under this title from their current position.
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