Tuesday, August 18, 2015

No Longer the Kings of Metal? Is Power Metal on the Decline?

There once was a time when I was an aspiring to be a heavy metal vocalist. I was a wannabe power metal god, hoping to be placed in a pantheon of iron-lunged deities that included King Diamond, Halford, Dickinson, and Kiske. My main inspiration came out of the masked legend Midnight, taken from this world far too soon. Crimson Glory will forever be one of my all-time favorite bands.

But two things have happened over the past few years: firstly with college I've had no time to practice singing; the occasional drunken karaoke is my only opportunity to belt out some Judas Priest. And secondly, my focus has turned towards the more extreme acts of death metal, black metal, and grindcore. Can't do a death growl yet, but one day I shall.

Though it seems like I'm not the only one to move away from the jovial stuff. I frequent other metal sites such as MetalSucks and Metal Injection and they seem to take the more extreme route as well. Literally the only times I've seen any news in the past couple years on power metal is when there's a new album from an upper-tier band or if they have some shit to say about Dragonforce. Pretty much the only way for me to get any good indicator of what's going on is to see who's playing ProgPower USA.

Maybe I'm just imagining this because of my perspective, but from what little I can make out that seems to be the narrative. Power metal bands I find when I research for my Metal Metal Land posts are a distinct minority and often seem be lacking in spunk or originality; more often than not I'm listening to someone who's trying far too hard to emulate Dragonforce or Firewind. That might be one reason. The metal community's need to divide and separate everything might also play a factor; a death metal band will get no end of shit if a song on an album features singing. Hell, there's even a site called No Clean Singing. Has metal's extremity gone so deep that certain bands could no longer be considered metal but rock?

Over the past twenty years, extreme metal has exploded while it seems the more traditional styles have remained stagnant. Let's do a little compare and contrast by looking at two festivals that showcase the talent for these two divisions: ProgPower USA and Maryland Deathfest. The first PPUSA was in 2001 with 11 bands; Deathfest was in 2003 with a whopping 37. Since then, MDF has been spread out over several venues over four days, with almost 90 bands participating at this year's event. This year's PPUSA is composed of the venues at Center Stage Atlanta and features 20 power and progressive metal bands. As you can see, one festival's had significant growth while the other hasn't even broken twice of what it started with.

So what do you guys think? Am I correct in my assessment? Is it just as strong as ever? What's giving it a limp? And will it be charging head-on into the winds again anytime soon?

Talk amongst yourselves.

Stay heavy, my friends.

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