Powerslave's Comprehensive Guide to United States Power Metal (USPM)

Page 1 of 3
#1
It's Too Late to Pray. Hold my hand. Let me guide you on the path to true metal.Let me remind you why it is called POWER metal.

Step 1: The Basics

Defining the Sound:
United States Power Metal (referred to as USPM) is a movement that occurred in none other than the US during the early and mid 80s. USPM has a very distinct sound and grit to it. The very core of USPM is influenced by the early NWOBHM movement. The pioneers of the USPM movement took the NWOBHM and made it into something entirely their own. They sped it up. They made it more energetic. They increased the number of solos. The vocals were intensified. They added POWER. Real power. None of this flowery, keyboard-driven, testosterone-free music that most seem to call "power metal".

The majority of notable releases that defined this movement were produced during 1983-1988. Those five to six years resulted in some of the absolute best music to grace the metal genre. As the Power spread, two different sounds began to emerge. One sound was influenced more by thrash and speed metal and is by default more aggressive in nature. The other sound that emerged focused more on melodies and is more progressive in nature.

Getting Started:
Like any other genre of music, the sheer number of bands and releases make it overwhelming to break into. A number of bands in the USPM gained momentum and recognition amongst the community. The follow releases are well known, established classics within the genre that must be covered. Below I have listed the essential USPM releases and broken them down by the two distinct USPM sounds. I've tried to include solid samples to get a general feel for the band's sound. This is where we get our feet wet.

Special Mention:
Manilla Road. These guys aren't easily categorized, but I believe that they deserve a mention even here. Manilla Road are Gods. Must listen albums include: Crystal Logic, Open the Gates, The Deluge, Mystification, Spiral Castle, and Voyager. Everything else they've done is worth a listen for sure.

Slough Feg. These guys aren't exactly the typical USPM band, but they definitely deserve some sort of mention in this thread. They are far and away the best modern power metal band. Traveller is a top 10 of all time metal album, easily. These guys have not put out one poor release, ever. Seriously. Get it all. Every album, demo, EP, split, and single is worth listening to.

First Listens:
For a first taste of USPM, I highly recommend starting with Jag Panzer's Ample Destruction to get a feel for the more aggressive and raw side of USPM. If that's the sound you enjoy, I recommend going through the listed Blue-Collar acts. I would also recommend giving Crimson Glory's Self Titled a listen. Crimson Glory are the epitome of the white collar sound listed below.

Blue-Collar:
Agent Steel: Skeptics Apocalypse, Unstoppable Force
Brocas Helm: Into Battle, Black Death, Defender of the Crown
Destructor: Maximum Destruction
Helstar: Nosferatu, A Distant Thunder, Remnants of War
Jag Panzer: Ample Destruction
Laaz Rockit: Annihilation Principle, Nothing's Sacred
Lizzy Borden: Love You to Pieces, Visual Lies
Iced Earth: Burnt Offerings
Manowar: Battle Hymns, Into Glory Ride
Metal Church: Metal Church, The Dark, Blessing in Disguise
Omen: Battle Cry, Warning of Danger
Riot: Thundersteel
Savage Grace: Masters of Disguise, After the Fall from Grace
Vicious Rumors: Digital Dictators, Soldiers of the Night, Welcome to the Ball

White Collar:
Crimson Glory: Crimson Glory, Transcendence
Fates Warning: The Spectre Within, Awaken The Guardian
Heir Apparent: Graceful Inheritance
Savatage: Sirens, Hall of the Mountain King
Queensryche: The Warning
Warlord: And the Cannons of Destruction Have Begun...
Virgin Steele - These guys have so many strong releases that I'm actually too lazy to link them all. Check out everything from 1994-2000. Guardians of the Flame is pretty good too.
Last edited by \Powerslave/ at Jan 10, 2014,
#2
Step 2: Beyond The Basics

Once the basics have been covered, these are the releases that should be looked at. Fans of the genre should recognize a solid amount of these, but many of these releases are often overlooked.

First Listens:
After the foundation has been set, most USPM fans find their way towards releases like Dark Age's self titled EP.. Personally, this was the first relatively obscure USPM release I listened to. This particular EP is very, very highly regarded in the community and with good reason. In addition to this EP, I would listen to Tyrant's Too Late to Pray. Simply put, it is the pinnacle of USPM. I will explain why I believe so in a dedicated section later on.

Abattoir: Vicious Attack
Amulance: Feel the Pain
Apocrypha: The Forgotten Scroll
Armored Saint: Raising Fear, Symbol of Salvation
Attacker: Battle at Helm's Deep, The Second Coming
Axehammer: Windrider
Axiom: Vicious Circle
Ballistic: Ballistic
Banshee: Race Against Time
Black Death: Black Death
Cauldron Born: Cauldron Born
Cerebus: Too Late to Pray (Vastly inferior to the Tyrant album of the same name, but still really good )
Chastain: Ruler of the Wasteland
Dark Age: Dark Age
Damien Thorne: The Sign of the Jackal
Deadly Blessing: Ascend from the Cauldron
Destiny's End: Breathe Deep the Dark
Druid: Vampire Cult
Exxplorer: Symphonies of Steel
Fifth Angel: Fifth Angel
Glacier: Glacier
Graven Image: Graven Image
Griffin: Flight of the Griffin
Grudge: Barbarians of the New Earth
Hawaii: One Nation Underground
Havoc: The Grip
Heathen's Rage: Heathen's Rage
Heretic: Breaking Point
Hexx: No Escape, Under the Spell
Hittman: Hittman
Iron Cross: Iron Cross
Ivory Tiger: Metal Mountain
Lazarus/Lazarus Sin: Intracranial Mass
Leatherwolf: Leatherwolf, Leatherwolf II
Lethal: Programmed
Liege Lord: Master Control
Longings Past (aka Manilla Road Lite): Meadows of Maseilya
Lords of the Crimson Alliance: Lords of the Crimson Alliance
Malice: In the Beginning...
Matthias Steele: Haunting Tales of a Warrior's Path
Medieval: Medieval Kills
Medieval Steel: Medieval Steel/The Dungeon Tapes
Militia: Sybling
Mystic Force: Shipwrecked with the Wicked
Nasty Savage: Nasty Savage
Nightcrawler: Soldier in Time
Obsession: Marshall Law
Oliver Magnum: Oliver Magnum
Original Sin: She Will Find You Out
Overlorde: Return of the Snow Giant
Phantom: Cyberchrist
Phantom Lord: Evil Never Sleeps
Pharaoh: Bury the Light, Be Gone
Powermad: Absolute Power
Purgatory: Tied to the Trax
Ravage: Spectral Rider
Realm: Endless War
Rebellion: And the Battle Begins...
Ruthless: Disciple of Steel
Sacred Oath: A Crystal Vision
Sacred Rite: Sacred Rite
Sacred Warrior: Master's Command, Rebellion
Sanctuary: Refuge Denied
Satan's Host: Metal From Hell is their only completely true USPM album, but all their works are worth listening to.
Screamer: Target: Earth
Sentinel Beast: Depths of Death
Shok Paris: Go for the Throat
Slauter Xstroyes: Winter Kill
Steel Assassin: War of the Eight Saints
Steel Prophet: The Goddess Principle
Stormtrooper: Armies of the Night
Tension: Breaking Point
Thrust: Fist Held High
Titan Force: Titan Force
Trauma: Scratch and Scream
Twisted Tower Dire: Crest of the Martyrs
Tyrant: Legions of the Dead, Too Late to Pray
Warrior: Fighting for the Earth
Winter's Bane: Heart of a Killer
Last edited by \Powerslave/ at Jan 16, 2014,
#3
Reserved. I will post a section ENTIRELY dedicated to very obscure EPs and to demos. I need time to compile it all together. Until then, let these fantastic demos tide you over in addition to the other releases I already listed:

Chalice: One Final Sin
Prodigy/Oracle: As Darkness Reigns
The Beast: Power Metal
#4
Reserved for any further need. I'd appreciate input on formatting. Also feel free to suggest bands that I missed. There are releases I did not put on there. I highly encourage discussion of any sort in this regard. As for RIGHT NOW, I just ask that no one suggest extremely obscure EPs/Demos. I'm working on that section as of now.
#5
This is your crowning achievement Powerslave. I have nothing more to express except pure and utter adoration.
Quote by Senor Kristian
Viking fact no. 1: Viking helmets did not have horn.
Viking fact no. 2: Vikings tobogganed on their shields into battle.
Viking fact no. 3: Vikings drank mead.
Viking fact no. 4: One of your ancestors are likely to have been raped by a viking.
#6
nicely done, man! time to study now hehe
Free your mind and your ass will follow
The kingdom of heaven is within
Open up your funky mind and you can fly

Sumdeus
#7
Quote by The Virtuoso
This is your crowning achievement Powerslave. I have nothing more to express except pure and utter adoration.



I've listened to almost nothing but USPM for the last 2-3 weeks in preparation of this. I just need to go listen to Nagelfar or something before I overdose . Also, check your messages.
#8
This is deadly mate. Glad to see some bands I've been pumping around here on there, even if you knew them before.

HELLEDIT: I'll wait until the last post is completed before naming the bands you might have missed
Quote by NotFromANUS
"Don't brutal your sister, Timmy!"


last.fm
Last edited by Helloween4Ever at Jan 9, 2014,
#9
Killer. Bye bye money.
Quote by Ultraussie
I want to try that while playing the opening riff to "Tempting Time".

0-0-0-13-0-0-0-0-13 or something like that alalalala but It;s so heavy and off time and awesome and you could not f**k anyone to it.


Quote by Ingested
burzum IS nazi. well, varg is.
#10
'Tis a shame that I'm on a binge of drug-fueled music...

Any drug-fueled USPM perhaps?
Philosophy > Life
#11
Quote by Helloween4Ever
This is deadly mate. Glad to see some bands I've been pumping around here on there, even if you knew them before.

HELLEDIT: I'll wait until the last post is completed before naming the bands you might have missed

Hah which bands? Honestly, I'm surprised I've never seen Lizzy Borden or Laaz Rockit mentioned on here. They're fairly well known in the scene. Also please feel free to tell me what full lengths I missed. I'm only excluding some EPs and all demos as of right now. I keep having this feeling that I'm missing obvious releases. I just added Liege Lord and Black Death. I pimp both all the time, but they just slipped my mind.

@Strangle,

@Moogle, all blue-collar USPM goes well with alcohol if that counts.
#12
Quote by \Powerslave/
Hah which bands? Honestly, I'm surprised I've never seen Lizzy Borden or Laaz Rockit mentioned on here. They're fairly well known in the scene. Also please feel free to tell me what full lengths I missed. I'm only excluding some EPs and all demos as of right now. I keep having this feeling that I'm missing obvious releases. I just added Liege Lord and Black Death. I pimp both all the time, but they just slipped my mind.


I know VG reps Lizzy Borden (speaking of which, Visual Lies has a couple of decent tracks as well), and I for sure have brought up Laaz Rockit at least a couple times (probably years ago lol).

But yeah, thanks for doing this man! So many bands on here I've never heard of before, so I've got my work cut out for me.

You may want to throw in Legend - From the Fjords

It's like, the Sega Dreamcast of heavy metal haha.
#13
Quote by MoogleRancha
'Tis a shame that I'm on a binge of drug-fueled music...

Any drug-fueled USPM perhaps?


'Master of Disguise' is as coke-fuelled as you can get!
Quote by Ultraussie
I want to try that while playing the opening riff to "Tempting Time".

0-0-0-13-0-0-0-0-13 or something like that alalalala but It;s so heavy and off time and awesome and you could not f**k anyone to it.


Quote by Ingested
burzum IS nazi. well, varg is.
#14
I know severed and I have posted Lizzy Borden from time to time on here. I included them in one of my past radios.

Best thread ever by the way.

Just for the sake of discussion, I find Glacier's Demo '88 to have much more interesting material than their s/t.
Who are you? The prince of darkness? Don't you have any friends?


#16
Quote by Stranglehold
'Master of Disguise' is as coke-fuelled as you can get!

I was thinking more along the lines of psychedelic drugs...but may be time to expand my horizons!
Philosophy > Life
#17
Has anyone besides VG ever gone looking for physical copies of these?
Quote by Ultraussie
I want to try that while playing the opening riff to "Tempting Time".

0-0-0-13-0-0-0-0-13 or something like that alalalala but It;s so heavy and off time and awesome and you could not f**k anyone to it.


Quote by Ingested
burzum IS nazi. well, varg is.
#19
PM'ed, and I'm fairly certain I have a few of the albums up there on wax, somewhere or another.
Quote by NotFromANUS
"Don't brutal your sister, Timmy!"


last.fm
#20
I can't see anything glaringly obvious missing. Ace thread, mate.
I’m not the man I used to be, I... I can’t go back to Arkham.

I... I should return to Arkham.


Among the churchyard’s mouldering stones I recognise a name – my own.
I have come home to Arkham.

#21
Quote by beadhangingOne
I know VG reps Lizzy Borden (speaking of which, Visual Lies has a couple of decent tracks as well), and I for sure have brought up Laaz Rockit at least a couple times (probably years ago lol).

But yeah, thanks for doing this man! So many bands on here I've never heard of before, so I've got my work cut out for me.

You may want to throw in Legend - From the Fjords

It's like, the Sega Dreamcast of heavy metal haha.

I'm positive I was the first person to post Legend on here when I was like 14 . God they're ****ing killer, not sure they go with the USPM scene though. Speaking of which, I opted to add a few modern releases (Axehammer - Windrider, Ravage - Spectral Rider, Overlorde - Return of the Snow Giants) because they fit the scene so well. Would you all consider Slough Feg for this thread? They're not exactly USPM but I think their catalog is insane and Traveller is a top 10 of all time album for me personally.

Edits:

I do not own ANY physical metal releases. Long story as to why, but this will remain true until I graduate from college and move out.

If anyone is having difficulty finding digital releases, please message me. I can help you out.

Also, the glacier demo is SICK. Like I said, I'm compiling all the demos I've heard over the years. It'll take a long time though. I think a few of the bands aren't even on the archives.
Last edited by \Powerslave/ at Jan 9, 2014,
#23
Great stuff Powerslave. I'll see if I have anything that could be used more-so. There are quite a few I've had literally no experience with in the second post.

Quote by beadhangingOne
I have a feeling that the stuff in the second post is probably super-hard to find or prohibitively expensive.


Always re-issues coming out from High Roller records and Shadow Kingdom.
#25
I'll throw Slough Feg into the OP. I think I'll put them in the same section with Manilla Road.

If anyone will know essential full lengths that I missed, it will be The Fish himself. For anyone who hasn't heard it yet, Lords of the Crimson Alliance should be prioritized. I can't count how many times I went back and listened to The Sorceror while making this list. Seriously one of the best white-collar tracks I've heard.

I'd also like to note that there is a large number of Canadian bands that were inspired by the USPM movement. There's lots of killer bands that have a similar sound to the bands I listed here.
#26
What, no solstice? Thought that was your jam.
Quote by severed-metal
Come to think of it, my penis should've listened to more death metal.


Quote by Morphogenesis26
So my question is. Can Pre-Cum fluid pass through my underwear, my jeans, onto and through her jeans, through her underwear, and impregnate her?
#28
Or American for that matter. Regardless, I still worship at the Altar of Solstice <3.

Added 3 releases: Destiny's End - Breathe Deep the Dark, Phantom Lord - Evil Never Sleeps, Longings Past - Meadows of Maseilya.
#29
Quote by \Powerslave/
As for RIGHT NOW, I just ask that no one suggest extremely obscure EPs/Demos. I'm working on that section as of now.


You tempt me. I am known to give in to temptation like no other, but I'll bide my time for now.

It's killer to see passion for a sound that used to get absolutely zero recognition here and I mean zero. This is a style of music that really encompasses that raw appeal to Metals capability for displays of power and the over the top worship of said theme. All pretensions are stripped away and you are left with RIFFS and MOVEMENT. This movement seizes you and you assume the power stance, iron claw in the air and all that's left is headbanging heaven. There is something to be said for the not-so clean cut catchy tendencies of the genres song writing. To excel at this you risk going into boring song structures and predictability. To avoid that really takes balls and riffs.

But man, the passion is what will really get you. The scent of the garage; the audible cues of the rehearsal room; and the RIFFS born solely of Metal just feels fucking good. There are exceptions, but USPM will make you feel good. And I mean good. Righteous even. It lifts spirits without forsaking POWER, like a great Paladin of Metal.

Cauldron Born - Imprisoned With The Pharaohs
4:20 - onward
Just listen to this.
What does this do for you? Because for me this is a pair of wings granted to my human form. For me this is a bright celestial light that awakens a vast reservoir of strength in me. I find myself accelerating at a falcon pace through clouds of firmament. I feel a vision of greatness being fulfilled. I go further, further and further into this incredible genial veranda of colossal magnitude.

And when it's over I open my eyes to find myself thrashed in my room. My face has a permanent stupid smile on it. My neck is a dull ache from the worshiping I offered to this awesome sensation.

It is POWER!
A heathen, conceivably
but not,

I hope,
I’m not ashamed to be white
Vi doede ikke... vi har aldri levd
Barbarism is the natural state of mankind
Civilization is unnatural

It is a whim of circumstance
an unenlightened one
#30
Pharaoh and Crescent Shield both deserve mentions. Both of Crescent Shield's albums are very, very strong, while Pharaoh's two most recent albums are two of the best power metal albums ever, US or Euro.

Also, someone from another forum I visit put together this list of the top 50 USPM albums. A lot of overlap but there are a few things on it that are missing from this list (Twisted Tower Dire, Aska, the afore-mentioned Pharaoh and Crescent shield, and a few others).
Last edited by Scourge441 at Jan 9, 2014,
#31
Quote by VampireGoldfish
You tempt me. I am known to give in to temptation like no other, but I'll bide my time for now.

It's killer to see passion for a sound that used to get absolutely zero recognition here and I mean zero. This is a style of music that really encompasses that raw appeal to Metals capability for displays of power and the over the top worship of said theme. All pretensions are stripped away and you are left with RIFFS and MOVEMENT. This movement seizes you and you assume the power stance, iron claw in the air and all that's left is headbanging heaven. There is something to be said for the not-so clean cut catchy tendencies of the genres song writing. To excel at this you risk going into boring song structures and predictability. To avoid that really takes balls and riffs.

But man, the passion is what will really get you. The scent of the garage; the audible cues of the rehearsal room; and the RIFFS born solely of Metal just feels fucking good. There are exceptions, but USPM will make you feel good. And I mean good. Righteous even. It lifts spirits without forsaking POWER, like a great Paladin of Metal.

Cauldron Born - Imprisoned With The Pharaohs
4:20 - onward
Just listen to this.
What does this do for you? Because for me this is a pair of wings granted to my human form. For me this is a bright celestial light that awakens a vast reservoir of strength in me. I find myself accelerating at a falcon pace through clouds of firmament. I feel a vision of greatness being fulfilled. I go further, further and further into this incredible genial veranda of colossal magnitude.

And when it's over I open my eyes to find myself thrashed in my room. My face has a permanent stupid smile on it. My neck is a dull ache from the worshiping I offered to this awesome sensation.

It is POWER!

You've described why I love this sound so much. Nothing but riffs. Metal at its core. I really started to discover USPM when I was 14 and in an emotionally rough spot in my life. It was just impossible to stay in a completely negative mood when listening to something so empowering. I just can't listen to something like Axehammer's Stand Up and Fight without a big, stupid, fukking smile on my face.

I'll definitely want your complete input once I get Part 3 set up. As for now, do you see any prominent full lengths that I've missed?

Edit:

Scourge, that's Nergal, isn't it? I haven't spoken to him, but I see him all the time posting about USPM. He has a very nice youtube channel as well. I know all of the bands you've mentioned. I'll consider putting them up. I'm really hesitant on putting newer bands up unless they really, really epitomize the sound. I had Chastain on there, but I might've lost it in one of my edits.
Last edited by \Powerslave/ at Jan 9, 2014,
#32
Twisted Tower Dire are stylistically closer to Euro power metal, me thinks. But there's one big difference: they have balls.


I wish there were more USPM tabs available. Not a single Cauldron Born tab in sight. There's very few for even the more prominent bands like Omen and Jag Panzer.
I’m not the man I used to be, I... I can’t go back to Arkham.

I... I should return to Arkham.


Among the churchyard’s mouldering stones I recognise a name – my own.
I have come home to Arkham.

#33
VG touched on something very important. One of the main reasons why I love power metal in general (USPM and EUPM) is because of the sense of movement that not many other genres display. The riffs, the kick of the drums, all work together to create a feeling of propulsion. Like a nuclear submarine or a rocket.
Who are you? The prince of darkness? Don't you have any friends?


#34
I was looking through my lists to see if there were any bands you might have missed, and you put my lists to shame. Everything on it mine from another country. My USPM knowledge is so pathetically lacking, and I had no idea.

It's bitter-sweet. Drudging through this list so I can redeem my metal honour.
#35
I'll add a few bands. I'll throw up Pharaoh, although for the record I find them to be highly overrated. Great band, but I think their talent is overstated . I'll also be adding Twisted Tower Dire, since I ****ing love them as well. Chastain, Steel Assassin's Debut, Steel Prophet's Debut, Winter's Bane (I had them up with CHastain as well, but I lost a bunch in my various edits and formatting it seems).

The only one I haven't listened to is the Wretch debut. I'll take a look at that when possible.
#36
Quote by \Powerslave/
As for now, do you see any prominent full lengths that I've missed?


You did perfect man. No input from me until we start doing some obscure gems.

Quote by Kepulix

I wish there were more USPM tabs available. Not a single Cauldron Born tab in sight. There's very few for even the more prominent bands like Omen and Jag Panzer.


If I could see a Cauldron Born tab I would die. Despite the awesome playing Mr. Bentley did on For Mircalla, there is something 100% original and unique about the bouncy, unfamiliar yet instantly catchy riffs found on Born of The Cauldron. Absolutely nothing like it.
A heathen, conceivably
but not,

I hope,
I’m not ashamed to be white
Vi doede ikke... vi har aldri levd
Barbarism is the natural state of mankind
Civilization is unnatural

It is a whim of circumstance
an unenlightened one
#37
Quote by Kytokinesis
VG touched on something very important. One of the main reasons why I love power metal in general (USPM and EUPM) is because of the sense of movement that not many other genres display. The riffs, the kick of the drums, all work together to create a feeling of propulsion. Like a nuclear submarine or a rocket.


There is something to be said about music that gets you to move subconsciously, even simple Dance music. But in this context we break those boundaries and move at a hellish pace of sprinting and flying. It really is one of the cornerstones of the genre as far as I'm concerned.

A riff starts in the toes. Tap, tap.
It moves up the leg. Up and down your leg stomps.
Then the upper body assumes the powerstance, bracing for what is next...
When the riff finds its way to the brain. FIRE IN THE BRAIN!

If the Power Metal has accomplished what it set out to do, by now you should be thrashing or atonally roaring along.
A heathen, conceivably
but not,

I hope,
I’m not ashamed to be white
Vi doede ikke... vi har aldri levd
Barbarism is the natural state of mankind
Civilization is unnatural

It is a whim of circumstance
an unenlightened one
#38
Quote by VampireGoldfish
There is something to be said about music that gets you to move subconsciously, even simple Dance music. But in this context we break those boundaries and move at a hellish pace of sprinting and flying. It really is one of the cornerstones of the genre as far as I'm concerned.

A riff starts in the toes. Tap, tap.
It moves up the leg. Up and down your leg stomps.
Then the upper body assumes the powerstance, bracing for what is next...
When the riff finds its way to the brain. FIRE IN THE BRAIN!

If the Power Metal has accomplished what it set out to do, by now you should be thrashing or atonally roaring along.

Yes.

Yes.

Yes.

So many of the tracks are great to sing along to as well. I don't think I've ever been able to listen to Queen of the Masquerade without singing along to the chorus.
#39
The chorus riff of Heart of Steel gets me every time. The soaring vocals over it is icing on the Metal cake.
A heathen, conceivably
but not,

I hope,
I’m not ashamed to be white
Vi doede ikke... vi har aldri levd
Barbarism is the natural state of mankind
Civilization is unnatural

It is a whim of circumstance
an unenlightened one
Page 1 of 3