The Best Power Metal Album - Metal Storm Awards 2018


1.  Powerwolf - The Sacrament Of Sin 208
2.  Visigoth - Conqueror's Oath 122
3.  Primal Fear - Apocalypse 106
4.  Judicator - The Last Emperor 28
5.  Mob Rules - Beast Reborn 23
6.  Black Viper - Hellions Of Fire 21
7.  Orion's Reign - Scores Of War 19
8.  Dragony - Masters Of The Multiverse 18
9.  Angra - Ømni (write-in vote) 14
10.  Guardians Of Time - Tearing Up The World 11
11.  Kamelot - The Shadow Theory (write-in vote) 9
12.  Manticora - To Kill To Live To Kill (write-in vote) 8
13.  Ironflame - Tales Of Splendor And Sorrow 6
Total votes:
632



Black Viper are a young band from Norway and their debut album is a speed metal dynamo full of pure metal energy. Influenced by American power metal acts such as Agent Steel and Abattoir and even early Queensrÿche (the album starts with the main riff of "Walk In The Shadows"), Hellions Of Fire also worships the ground Walls Of Jericho has walked on. The screaming guitars, the melodic high velocity, the vocal reverb, the audible bass, and the overall sound are all delivered in a way that is definitely not new but they damn well make for a great listen.

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This year's power metal category, as always, has a bit of a broad range; we've got a couple of old masters sharing their veteran wisdom, a couple of young upstarts making earnest efforts, a couple of weirdos off in their own world doing their own thing. This is the goofy-ass, silk-wearing, sword-swinging, dragon-worshiping, book-reading nerd band for nerds that no self-respecting power metal scene* can live without. Synthesized brass and heavenly, melodramatic choruses abound; these are the Europower titans carrying the torch of operatic, gloriously paced anthems into the new age. The Wheel Of Time turns, and ages come and pass, leaving power metal that becomes legend.

*This should not be construed to suggest that power metal as a genre has any self-respect.

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Guardians Of Time have a dark glow burnished by the steel of heavy, modern metal. Their riffs live in the post-thrash world; the drums thunder with extreme presence; the vocals scream beyond the majestic and into the fearsome. Tearing Up The World follows up Rage And Fire, a 2015 Metal Storm Awards nominee, with the same tight production and polished sound, but the mood is just a bit more serious. This is epic power metal that has been bred in a stormy world of heavier, groovier, more metallic influences than what was once available, taking the genre into hard-hitting territories that many power metal artists fall short of.

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When listening to this album, it's hard to believe that it was made by just one musician. The person responsible is Andrew D'Cagna, and he is behind all the instrumentation in Tales Of Splendor And Sorrow apart from the solos, which were played by guitarist Jim Dofka. With just the right dose of cheese that power metal needs, with sing-along choruses that bring to mind Helloween of the Kiske years, and with the closing epic "Our Great Defender" as a tribute to the late Ronnie James Dio, Ironflame's sophomore release is no less than a triumph of traditional metal.

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Three years after the more experimental and heartfelt At the Expense Of Humanity, Judicator returns with what they do best: Glorious and shiny US power metal. This time the band chose to tackle the First Crusade through The Last Emperor. This highly dynamic and cohesive album is filled with bombastic hooks and gorgeous layered vocal lines that would make Hansi Kürsch (who even guests in one of the tracks) proud. It is shorter that their previous albums, but trust us that it packs some serious heat!

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Mob Rules made such a great decision looking to 21st-century Iron Maiden for influence on Tales From Beyond; they're primarily of the continental school of power metal - no sense denying that Helloween feel - but after more than 20 years on the job, it's great to hear the band adapting to changes in the sonic landscape in a way that other artists haven't, and you can hear the search for the road less crusaded down on Beast Reborn. Even if Beast Redirected would be a less extreme and more fitting title, the vitality of Klaus Dirks's vocals and the band's powerful, earthy songwriting makes Mob Rules stand out among peers from the same scene, and that's no mean feat considering that we're closing in on the 20th anniversary of their debut.

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It took ten years for Orion's Reign to follow up its debut, but they put all that time to good use, mastering the art of power metal symphony. This Greek sextet possesses a wealth of musical talent and songwriting acumen; Giannis Kompatsiaris has the perfectly ideal range for a power metal vocalist: he can deliver relatively deep, authoritative gusts from the chest to bolster the dramatic impact, and he can abandon his terrestrial command for screams so high in pitch that they can cut above any blazing guitar solo or choral melody driving the band forward. Orion's Reign borrows from folk, traditional heavy, and multiple power metal philosophies to forge an album that is in every respect grandiose, in every moment catchy, and in every fan's heart a magnificent quest.

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Lycanthropapacy hasn't been this relevant since that giant wolf attacked Saint Francis. Powerwolf's amped-up pop metal suits the name; they sure have power, and by golly do they have wolves. Sacrament Of Sin spins Attila Dorn's ecclesiastical expulsions into blood-boiling anthems of nocturnal horror and mischief; backed by organs and thundering riffs, Powerwolf's grandiose sound matches the over-the-top image. This is Powerwolf at the full moon, when their metal Requiem is most potent - perhaps an album that we could point to as the band's defining release.

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Pedal to the metal and take no prisoners. With Apocalypse, these German power metal veterans once again deliver an enjoyable and highly addictive album. Bassist Mat Sinner knows how to write memorable sing-alongs, and Ralf Scheepers brings them to life with his outstanding vocals on this release. The guitar solos are pure guaranteed headbanging, and, while there are no big surprises on Apocalypse, it proves that Primal Fear's musical formula just works.

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There is absolutely no need to break new ground when your main priority is leading the charge through the lines of the untrve army, so sally forth with Visigoth and their second call to arms, Conqueror's Oath. Most of the tracks here follow the same formula already established on their debut (and already established by the likes of Manilla Road over 30 years ago) of fast-paced, dual-guitar harmonies, solos galore, epic choruses, and the like. There are more hard rock moments, a few longer songs with a bit more of a doomy feel, and more polished songwriting without disposing of the general epic nature, and the baritone vocals should lift the morale of any disgruntled soldier as the guitar harmonies ride alongside the cavalry.

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