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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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!
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!
- Amulance – The Rage Within
- Angellic Rage – 1990 Demo
- Assalant – The Damage is Done
- Assassin – Metal Massacre
- Attaxe – Attaxe comp.
- Autumn Silence – Echoes in the Garden comp.
- Bad Heaven – Demo Anthology
- Bad Karma – Death Has No Calling Card
- The Beast – The Beast
- Beyond Reason – A New Reflection comp.
- Blackstorm – Twist of Fate comp.
- Black Reign – Legion
- Blakkout – Ignorance of Man
- Borrowed Time – Arcane Metal Arts comp.
- Brocas Helm – Demonstration of Might comp.
- Brute Force – You’ve Been Warned
- Chozzen Phate – Chozzen Phate comp.
- Cross – Metal from Above
- Czar – Black Sunday/Iron Curtain
- Dagger’s Edge – Deathwish
- Damascus – Forest of Dreams
- Damien Black – Dead of Winter comp.
- Deadly Blessing – An Eye to the Past comp.
- Deliverance – Sword of the Necromancer
- Demon Bitch – Demon Bitch
- Descending Fate – Castle of Ice comp.
- Disorder – 1989 Demo
- Draxxis – 1989 demo
- Dreemwich – Beyond Imagination comp.
- Eternal Champion – The Last King of Pictdom
- Ether Breather – Death Dream
- Enforcer – Classic Chicago Metal comp.
- False Witness – Crestfallen King comp.
- Fatal Violence – Ashes Tell No Tale comp.
- Forte – Dementia by Design
- Genghis Khan – The Awakening and The Passage comp.
- Genocide – 1988 Demo
- Ghost Story – The Image and the Reality
- Graven Image – People in Hell Still Want Ice Water comp.
- Graven Rite – The Summoner’s Pit
- Heathen’s Rage – Fight ‘Til the End
- Heir Apparent – Triad
- Helstar (and Vigilante) – The James Rivera Legacy
- Hirax – 1984 demo
- Ice Sword – 2015 Demo
- Iscariot – Arisen
- Jag Panzer – Shadow Thief comp.
- Invid – 1991 Demo
- Karian – 1984 Demo
- Lazarus – 1989 demo
- Legion – Nice Guys Finish Last
- Lethal – The Arrival
- Letching Grey – Seraphim
- Maelstrom – This Battle to Make History, yet History Never Comes
- Malibu Barbi – 1986 demo
- Malice – 1984 demo
- Matthias Steele – Matthias Steele
- Max Planck – Kill the Pain
- Mercury – 1989 demo
- Militia – Regiments of Death
- Myramainz – Myramainz
- Mystic Force – Shipwrecked with the Wicked comp.
- Nasty Savage – Wage of Mayhem
- Nemesys – Scarred for Life
- Oblivion Knight – Oblivion Knight comp.
- Oliver Magnum – 01986
- Overlord SR – Medieval Metal
- Outlander – Outlander
- Paramoure – For the Love of Death…
- Pontius Prophet – Rites of Hatred
- Powerlord – Evil Dead
- Radakka – Masquerade
- Rat Attack – Rat Attack
- Realm – Perceptive Inceptive
- Recon – Recon
- Rightful Heir – Wills of Iron (Blades of Steel)
- Rolen – 1989 demo
- Salem Spade – Witch Hunt comp.
- Sage Meridien – Whispered Tales
- Saharra – Time Forgotten Sands
- Salem’s Lot – 1989 Demo
- Scarlet Bride – Scarlet Bride
- Shadowcast – The Premonition comp.
- Sleepy Hollow – A Legend Retold
- Smokescreen – 1988 demo
- Solar Eagle – Charter to Nowhere
- Steel Assassin – From the Vaults
- Steel Prophet – Inner Ascendance
- Stone Dagger – The Siege of Jerusalem
- Stone Soldier – Invincible Metal
- Strychnine – No Escape…Live or Die comp.
- System – 1988 demo
- Syrus – Syrus
- Talisphere – Talisphere
- Twisted Tower Dire – Hail Northern Virginia
- Valkyrie – Choosers of the Slain
- Vatican – Metalmorphosis comp.
- Wicked Lester – The Resurrection
- Winter’s Bane – Winter’s Bane
- Witch Slayer – 1983 demo
- Wrathskeller – Eve of the End comp.
- Zaxas – White Room Life?
- Zillion – For Headbangers Only