Sunday, 8 July 2007

Powermetal Feature

Here is a piece I wrote on Powermetal for the blog on I was mortified when Dom cut my top 10 from the blog post as I had spent ages thinking about it. Here is the original piece in all of its pagan glory.

Through the Fire & The Flames We Shall Survive!
Dragonforce are here to slay false metal.

Imagine going to a show where the crowd are dressed like Viking warriors replete with horned helmets and broadswords. A crowd that chant as one, fist in air, sword waving, to the smoke filled stage. The band emerge to blinding lights and riffs quicker than you’ve ever heard. Hold on, there are three guitarists. No, two guitarists and a keyboard player who looks like he’s playing a spaceship. And they’ve each got their own podium. And they have beer bongs strapped to their mike stands so they can chug while they tap solos that would make Van Halen pass an enema. Welcome to a Dragonforce show.

Dragonforce represent everything that is great about Power metal. A total escape from reality. Driven by blastbeats and riffs like lightning you’re off into a world of warriors, dragons, elves, valour, battle and heroism. It’s over the top showmanship to the power of googolplex. It’s totally fucking ridiculous, like playing Grand Theft Auto but inside of a Dungeons and Dragons game. And it rules.

Dragonforce are something of an anomaly. Britain just doesn’t really churn out riff slaying Power metal like the Europeans or the Yanks. It must be something in the water; we just aren’t cut out for the spandex showboating required in Power metal stagecraft 101. Sure Britain produced the bands that formed the nucleus of the NWOBHM but Maiden were always sort of like some dudes down the pub that went a bit crazy on stage for an hour and even the high camp of Priest still had that city of steel working class edge to it.

This country has never churned out Stratovarius’s, Manowar’s or Helloween’s. Hands up who remembers Blitzkrieg, Holosade or Tyrant? Didn’t think so… With the exception of maybe Marshall Law the US and the Europeans owned Power metal throughout the 80’s and 90’s. Even today, and despite Herman Li probably being the best metal guitarist in the world, Dragonforce can pop over to Germany and play a bunch of open air festivals to like 100,000 leather clad nutbags and get back to London and be lucky to fill the Astoria. Weird. The only place all the Brit Powermetalers get to hang out together and wear their Viking hats is at the annual Bloodstock festival in Derby. Hardly Wacken….

Funny really because it was a British band that probably lit the touch paper on the whole thing. Remember when Ozzy lost his marbles a bit more than before in ’78 and Geezer and Iommi finally gave him the shove? OK, remember that mad little hopping midget guy with the pipes called Ronnie James Dio who came in and helped make Heaven & Hell the best thing they did since Vol.4 (Ozzy apologists can suck my dick, Heaven and Hell rules, what you gonna do? Spring Never Say Die! on me?). Well Dio was in this mad visionary band called Rainbow with Ritchie Blackmore who wrote all those Deep Purple riffs middle-aged guys hum in the shower. Rainbow record sleeves look like fragments of a shining, future Avalon thanks to Ken Kelly (nephew of the legendry Frank Frazetta, look it up) and they pretty much started the whole thing.

Here are 10 great Power metal records to shake your fist too:

1) Rainbow, Rainbow Rising (1976)
2) Manowar, Battle Hymns (1982)
3) Cirith Ungol, King Of The Dead (1984)
4) Omen, Battle Cry (1984)
5) Helloween, Keeper Of The Seven Keys I (1987) and II (1988)
6) Blind Gaurdian, Tales From The Twilight World (1990)
7) Gamma Ray, Land Of The Free (1995)
8) Stratovarius, Visions (1997)
9) Primal Fear, Jaws Of Death (1999)
10) Dragonforce, Valley Of The Damned (2003)

No comments: