power metal

One of the things that irritates me about the metal scene is the habit of making everything sound like a bigger deal than it really is. I'm referring mostly to the incessant need to label any project that features people who have been in other bands as a 'supergroup'. The bands that actually deserve to be called that are exceptionally rare, and the cluttering of the scene with dozens who wrongly wear the moniker only serves to make me even more upset when the end result turns out to be lackluster.

There are times in a band's career when they need a shock to the system. For whatever reason, they get stuck in a rut and lose the spark that made them what they were. Fans can hear it, and when that happens, the critics begin to grow louder. Each album becomes less beloved than the one before it, there's more talk about their prime being over, and anticipation for the future begins to wane. When this happens, there aren't many things that can be done to return a band to their former glory.

In what has been a quiet year for traditional power metal, there's a gaping hole waiting for someone to step through and become the next big thing. The mainstay bands are either in between albums, or have moved too far away from the core sound for purists, which sets the stage for someone to claim this as their time. One thing we have learned over the years is that power metal is never going to go away, no matter how much it is looked down upon by the masses.

Originally founded in 2007 under the verbose name “Dragonslayer Project,” Austrian metallers Dragony shortened their title, tightened up their operation and released their debut album “Legends.” It promises the pitch-perfect escapism we’ve all come to expect from symphonic power metal, complete with the standard tankard-swinging anthems and finely tuned lore.

I was first introduced to Edguy during my college years, when "Mandrake" was the band's signature album. That album was possessed of fire and heart, armed with a devil-may-care attitude and a new age power metal swagger.

There’s something about German power metal that sets it wide apart from all other manifestations of heavy metal; it is even different than the power metal from other European nations. The strong identity of Germany’s entry into the genre seems to be brewed from a combination of that country’s robust tales of yore and musical idiom inexorably entwined with baroque and opera.

What seems like a lifetime ago, I can remember sitting in my college radio station and giving Stratovarius a shot. I had of course heard and read much from friends and in publications, but as a kid growing up in the whitewashed suburbs of New York State’s capital city during the days before downloadable music, Stratovarius albums eluded me.