This article is the first in a trilogy of guides chronicling the United States power metal (USPM) scene. This first section focuses on defining the sound and providing listening essentials. It also includes excerpts from interviews with Mike Sabatini of Attacker and Howie Bentley of Cauldron Born.
The German thrash metal scene of the 1980s, often called Teutonic thrash because of the old Germanic tribe name, is not the most obscure or overlooked part of metal overall. Bands like Sodom or Kreator are popular and, relatively speaking, commercially successful. In terms of available information, the German metal media also make this scene quite approachable to a new listener: interviews, articles and documentaries are all available today within a few clicks. This is an invitation to take a look under the hood of a fascinating and very influential scene.
Looking back, it’s hard to view 1984 as anything other than a banner year for heavy metal. The sheer amount of world-beating releases across a wide range of styles is almost unmatched by any year to follow. So then, with metal exploding worldwide on an previously-unmatched level, with this article we’re taking a look at what happened after - in the wake of the NWOBHM.
Hell Symphony: The Czech Black Metal Sound (Ft. Interviews with Master’s Hammer, Root, and Blackosh)
As black metal began to arise as a global movement in the early 1990s, regional scenes began taking hold. Beyond the infamous Norweigan one, many small regional scenes emerged in Sweden, Finland, Greece, Brazil and perhaps most curiously, the Czech Republic. The scene in this country had its origins in the 1980s as underground tape trading managed to expose a handful to the occult sounds of Venom, Bathory, and Mercyful Fate among others in spite of the restrictions under the iron curtain.
With so many quality releases released over the last decade, we decided to collectively compile our favorite albums. You can find our top 30 traditional metal albums of the 2010s here!
The Secret of Steel: A Guide to Epic Heavy Metal Pt. 1 – Introducing and Defining the Genre (Ft. An Interview with Manilla Road)
Part 1 of a 4 piece series on Epic Heavy Metal. This segment defines the sound and explores the beginnings of the genre. This part also features an interview with Randy "Thrasher" Foxe of Manilla Road.
An unexpected wealth of rock bands formed all around Latin America during the 70s, laying potential blueprints for Heavy Metal in the early 80s. Nowadays, every country has seen an explosion of bands, but back then things were a lot harder to come by. These early Metal artists pioneered not only a sound in their respective countries, but a true counterculture as well.
In the 90s, only Sweden and possibly Finland competed in overall popularity to the Norsk scene. In the midst of the Norwegian popularity, another country in Southern Europe was forging its own take of Black Metal. This country was Greece.
Heroic fantasy has always been a popular lyrical subject for heavy metal bands, and it’s not hard to see why. Heavy metal simply isn’t normal. You just can’t write powerful, dynamic compositions and have the vocalist sing about mundane things such as walking the dog or taking out the trash (unless by “trash” you mean “posers”). There are many different approaches a band can take to penning lyrics of the fantastic. Some are inspired by mythology or films, while others create their own stories. Some look to literature for inspiration. Those that do usually find it in J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, Robert E. Howard’s Conan the Cimmerian, or Michael Moorcock’s Elric of Melniboné.
In the context of the larger metal scene, Spanish metal never caught on in a significant manner. There are many reasons for this, starting with the fact nearly all the bands sang in Spanish to the fact many bands lacked the musical infrastructure to gain wide distribution and tour internationally – unlike the UK, Germany or Sweden. There was also a sense of self-deprecation, with many “heavys” disliking their national scene and opting to just listen to bands from abroad. But to metal diehards, Spain’s 80s scene is still worth checking out. Whatever the scene may have lacked in originality, it made up for it in charm and passion in the face of zero commercial support.
Gladius & Goēteia: A Guide to Classical Mythology & History in Traditional Heavy Metal (80’s Origins)
The gladius was the standard-issue sword of the Roman legions, whence the word gladiator gets its name. Goēteia is the ancient Greek word for sorcery. While much of traditional heavy metal old and new has been inspired by “sword and sorcery” literature, as well as by the legends and history of medieval Europe, several bands have peered further into the past to the classical world of Greece and Rome. From sorceresses enthroned on remote Aegean isles to swords dancing in the imperial arena, our heavy metal gods and heroes have time and again put the Classics in classics.
Ah, Sweden! Land of the Northern Lights, insanely beautiful people, and delicious meatballs. But wait! - there is more: insanely catchy pop music and powerful metal, two things god forbid should they ever combine.
It's no secret that as a whole, heavy metal is a genre dominated by men. At the time of publication, it's International Women's Day - a day meant to highlight and celebrate women. What better way to celebrate than with quality heavy metal with women at the reins? I want to take the time today to talk about some of our favorite bands - both new and old. Below you will find the earliest pioneers and trailblazers who helped carve the way, followed by 15 old school, classic bands, and we close by talking about 15 of our favorite, currently active new bands!
Starting with the late 60's and early 70's, the Japanese were absorbing the hard rock and folk rock happening in the West and releasing their unique takes on it. This continued through the rest of the 70's until Japan become a common Asian fixture among big world tours towards the end of the decade. Scorpions, Judas Priest, and Van Halen played there to sold out crowds, and you can only bet there was an entire scene full of metal bands inspired by these that developed soon after.
On Friday July 27th, Mark "The Shark" Shelton passed away while playing the Headbangers Open Air fest in Germany. Mark was an active musician from 1977 all the way to the very end. In his decorated career that spanned over 40 years, Mark has put out 20 full length albums. Read more...