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.
Twisted Tower Dire are a band with a very special place in the annals of US power metal. They formed in 1995 and released a majority of their material in the early 2000s. This was a time in which the majority of bands were shying away from more traditional styles of heavy metal, but Twisted Tower Dire were one of the few exceptions. They’re a band known for their fast paced, dual guitars and heavy use of singalong choruses. Before they really established this iconic style of catchy, but riff-centric power metal, they released a couple of unique demos that are unlike the rest of their discography.
Prodigy/Oracle were a progressive power metal band from Florida – given a description like that, Crimson Glory and Savatage immediately come to mind and indeed Prodigy fit in nicely with those two. Unfortunately for the band, they were a day late and a dollar short and by the time they released their only offering, As Darkness Reigns, interest in the style had long since waned and they were relegated to relative obscurity. Luckily for die-hard fans, the internet gives us a fantastic avenue to appreciate and share bands that didn’t quite make it in their own time.
Making the transition from demo or introductory EP to a full fledged debut album isn’t easy. We see it time and time again – bands put out a rough around the edges release with promise and then for one reason or another don’t quite live up to that promise. Luckily for us, that isn’t the case here. Herzel’s Unis dans la gloire demo is one of the precious few modern era traditional metal demos that has stayed in my regular rotation for years and their recently released debut album Le dernier rempart is everything I hoped for in a follow-up.
By the late 80s, Harry “The Tyrant” Conklin was already a seasoned veteran vocalist with a varied resume. He had already sung on Jag Panzer’s Ample Destruction; a rough around the edges US Power Metal classic that needs no introduction. Shortly afterwards, he ventured into more occult dwellings with Satan Host’s Metal from Hell – an album that was equal parts Jag Panzer and Venom. Not one to be limited by choice, Tyrant joined Titan Force in 1987 in what proved to be a near 180 from his previous musical ventures. Titan Force represented the more melodic and progressive side of the US Power Metal spectrum, one which placed emphasis on non-linear songwriting but more importantly – strong vocal harmonies.
In the ancient days of 1986 a mysterious band known as Lords of the Crimson Alliance would release a single album and then vanish into the night. With members boasting names such as Zan Zan, Far Cry, Cutterjon, and Grom, this 4 piece unleashed a totally unique and otherworldly slab of US power metal that would stand the test of time as one of the best releases in the genre.
Sword-and-sorcery fiction is heavily related with epic heavy metal. Robert E. Howard and Michael Moorcock are two of the first names a heavy metal fan might have in mind mainly because of characters like Conan the Barbarian and Elric of Melniboné.
When DMR Books started, they had this crazy idea of releasing an anthology of fantasy fiction including stories written by heavy metal musicians. Soon enough, more books followed and now we have the chance to talk with Dave Ritzlin of DMR Books about this story.
Midwestern US underground metal legends, influenced a ton of bands in trad and even a little outside of it – albeit in more modern times than in their own era – you know the drill by now.
It’s December and the year is now coming to a close. With new releases drastically slowing down, it’s the perfect time of year to take a step back and jam some of metal’s most classic and influential bands. For the rest of this month, the Ride into Glory team will be looking at some of our favorite songs from metal’s finest artists. Up first are the legendary Manowar!