Introduction

Welcome to third installment of my guide on United States Power Metal! You can find the previous installments here:

  Part I: The Basics, Essentials, and Modern Heroes
  Part II: Champions of the 80s

In Pt. I of my guide, I discussed the essentials and modern champions of the genre. My goal there was to provide a solid introduction and base into USPM while also providing the best new releases to sink your teeth into. In Pt. II, I dove deeper into the scene and shed light onto lesser known albums and EPs. Here in Pt. III, I’ll be highlighting demos from the scene.

Playlist

You can find the full playlist included above: here at this link! All bands are included in the playlist in the order they appear below (starting with the author’s picks).

Author’s Picks

Much like pt.II, there’s a lot of bands in this guide, so to help focus everyone’s time you’ll find my personal favorites below! I created an infographic for reference above with the bands and release names.

Apollo Ra – Ra Pariah

See full review here
This one feels like cheating. Apollo Ra released what is essentially a full length album as a demo. Apollo Ra are Crimson Glory with a bit more edge but just as much quality. This release is the epitome of a tragedy, of what could have and should have been. Even at demo quality, I would put this release right up there with greats like Crimson Glory’s S/T and Jag Panzer’s Ample Destruction as some of the best that USPM has to offer.

Blind Assassin – Put to the Sword comp.

Triumphant and mid-paced with epic vocals of the Manowarvariety. Do they live up to the masters of steel? It’s not Into Glory Ride, but I’ll be damned if this isn’t really fucking close.

Baron Steele – Minotaur’s Lair comp.

Powerful and mid-paced epic metal. The vocals remind me of Mercyful Fate, but the overall song structure and riffing is very similar to early Manilla Road (particularly The Deluge). Absolute essential demo for anyone into Epic Heavy metal.

Chalice – One Final Sin

Meaty guitar tone, unstoppable riffs, wide ranging vocals, and mystical lyrics. From the Middle-Eastern inspired “Egypt” to the grandiose “Seven Seas of Rhye”, these guys are masters of the epic. This is one that you really just have to listen to for yourself – truly a masterful showing. The only major downside here is the garbage can production, but the recent demo compilation is a tiny bit more merciful in this regard.

Cyperus – Blow it Out Your Ass Comp.

Progressive and even thrashy at times, Cyperus’s self titled demo delivers everything I could possibly hope for from a USPM demo. Bruce Roderick’s chaotic vocal performance (in the best way possible) reminds me of Glen May’s from Tyrant. To top it all off, the production on this demo is surprisingly clean. Cyperus put out another demo a bit later titled Blow it Out Your Ass and title aside, it’s almost as good as this one. They later put out a full album but completely abandoned their USPM style in favor of some really watered down sell-out level Thrash. Stick to the demo compilation (also titled Blow it Out Your Ass) for unrelenting USPM.

Enchanter – Defenders of the Realm

A unique take on USPM, these guys play a no-frill version of progressive power metal with plenty of epic touches. Imagine if early Fates Warning decided they wanted to lift influence from Jag Panzer – the result would be what we see here! Enchanter later became Longings Past, and released a brilliant, Manilla Road like debut titled Meadows of Maseilya. If you like what you heard here, I highly suggest checking that one out too!

Glacier – 1988 Demo

If Iron Maiden happened to be a USPM band, this is exactly what they would release. Catchy and rifftastic, Glacier’s entire catalog has earned them cult status in the underground community and with good reason!

Prodigy/Oracle – As Darkness Reigns

Thrashing riffs, complex song structures, and powerful vocals, this album combines the best of both the progressive and aggressive sides of USPM. The progressive nature of this album brings to mind Fate’s Warning’s mighty The Spectre Within, but I think the closest comparison is the equally brilliant and obscure Slauter Xstroyes debut.

Oblivion – Quest for Power

Fast, powerful vocals, totally unrelenting riffs and solos – this is aggressive USPM at it’s absolute best. . This demo comes in at 100% and doesn’t let go. Patrick Brown, the vocalist, is the highlight here. Range, energy, power, and grit – he has it all. The only real drag on this release is the obviously abysmal production, but considering that it’s a demo that’s to be expected. The song I linked here is truly one of my favorites and I can only hope you all enjoy this nearly as much as I do.

Tramontane – MCMXCI

Rifftastic and aggressive USPM, these guys are similar to Oblivion who I mention further up. The speed metal edge reminds me of Liege Lord and Griffin. Fans of the aggressive side should check this out!

Remaining Bands

Below you’ll find a list of the rest consisting of other worthwhile USPM demos. In the cases where demos have been reissued and/or compiled together, I made sure to include the title of the compilation. Enjoy!

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Marco

Founding member and primary author and editor of Ride into Glory. Runs the social media accounts. Traditional heavy metal maniac intent to bring heavy metal to the world!

1 Comment

Virtue · January 2, 2019 at 11:22 am

Dear metal fans, search nowhere else for this beloved genre!
These three posts are the ultimate guide to USPM!
Congratulations Marco for your great work!
If i may, i also recommend the following gems:

Sanctum – Believers EP (1991)
[youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bUJ3jTrwuvg&w=640&h=360]

Throes of Sanity – The Upheaval LP (1995)
[youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dqoLpEGAeEs&w=640&h=360]

Intrepid – The Message Demo (1989)
[youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HAVC41K-Oug&w=640&h=360]

Seance – Pray for Me EP (1992)
[youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vPKNHO-iDcg&w=640&h=360]

Zions Abyss (CAN) – T.A.L.E.S. LP (1991)
[youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k9tJoeczgFw&w=640&h=360]

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