Welcome to Secret Steel, the new project of The Metal Observer — Chapter I: “Power Metal 1: Genesis”
We have sifted through and evaluated countless bands and we have hand picked 10 of the best that power and heavy metal has to offer and thus “Power Metal 1: Genesis”!
Have fun discovering these awesome bands, for more information please look below!
Hailing from Sandy, Utah, Shadowseer are a great addition to the Mormon state’s surprisingly illustrious metal scene, boasting bands such as Judicator, Visigoth, Hourglass, Eagle Twin, Caladan Brood, Disforia, Ered Wethrin, Gallowbraid, or Katagory V already. Firmly entrenched in power metal, the quintet knows how to stay away from the most common pitfalls of the genre (their eponymous 2015 debut does not contain any songs about dragons, knights or elves, for example) and instead uses the very warm voice of Aleks Ignjatovic as one defining factor to add depth and charisma to their songs, which extend into either end of the spectrum. They avoid the all too traditional melodies and vocal lines in favor of a fresh and energetic approach that takes in inspiration from different sets of the genre. They distill them into an exciting approach that should not only appeal to the die hard power metal fans, but also crosses over into the epic side of heavy metal with some thrash elements for good measure. “Cursed of all Time” is the opener of Shadowseer and is a good example of their talent for gripping buildups.
Uruguay is not exactly known as a hotbed for metal, but Montevideo’s Crystal Gates have all the talent and potential to change that single-handedly. Firmly standing in the symphonic sector of the genre, the quintet also is one of two bands on “Secret Steel” that have a lady on the mic, further setting them apart from the rest. Even though Carolina Perez is a soprano and, as mentioned above, the music is definitely symphonic, Crystal Gates are not just another band trying to entice fans with high vocals and tons of bombast. Instead, they add good guitar crunch, double-bass and energy to the mix, making their debut EP A Quest for Life a thoroughly enjoyable affair. Striking a remarkable balance between catchiness and heaviness, the Urus utilize the keyboards to add the symphonic touch without overpowering the rest of the instruments, adding to the maturity they display at such a young age. “Wild Sons of Earth” is an energetic romp through the symphonic side of power metal.
Defecto released an excellent debut album last year and their singer Niklas Sonne also fronts Theory, whose darker, heavier and more modern outlook on prog power is sure to rise to the top on the back of their debut album The Art of Evil. Despite being a new band, the members are anything but inexperienced. Sonne, as mentioned, is also applying his trade in Defecto and Evil Masquerade. Bassist Kim Mikkelsen used to provide the deep end for Twilight and Odin Laugesen Madsen is a guitar teacher at the Danish Metal Academy, so there is quite some talent united here. Taking inspiration from power and progressive metal, as well as some thrash and more modern elements especially in the slightly down-tuned guitar sound. The Danes channel a heavy, intense sound that displays a remarkable hand for plenty of progressive twists and turns embedded into great cohesive tracks with plenty of dynamics and flow. “The Art of Evil” is the flag-bearing title track of their debut album, showcasing the band’s range well.
Virginia’s A Sound of Thunder have been very active in the underground for several years now and are proudly and defiantly independent! Led by front lady extraordinaire Nina Osegueda, their approach to heavy/power metal has a hard rock sensibility to it that takes no prisoners. Although they are much heavier than most of the bands on this list, they still maintain a strong sense of melody along with incredible songwriting talent. One thing you can be certain of with A Sound of Thunder is that they are old school metal to the core. It permeates everything they do, from their 80s influenced sound (think Razor and Riot) to Nina’s immensely powerful voice that could shatter glass, not to mention her penchant for wearing leather and spikes onstage. They have refined and expanded their sound over the last few albums but A Sound of Thunder have always remained true to their roots. Those roots are represented beautifully on “Queen of Hell,” which possesses truly wicked riffs and a beat that puts Satan himself to shame.
20-year veterans in the metal scene, German Mercury Falling have somehow managed to almost completely fly under the radar. Introspection is their fourth album and raises the question how such quality can remain without a record deal. Recorded by none other then Iron Savior’s Piet Sielck, the Germans draw a few parallels to fellow German metal legend Angel Dust in the way they incorporate piano and keyboards into their songs. Overall though, they deftly connect all the dots between double-bass driven power metal glory, thrashy heaviness, soaring melodies. Frontman Michael Pabst’s deep, powerful voice manages to leave his distinct stamp on the songs. The true strength of their songwriting shines bright on the almost 20 minute long 5-piece title track that covers the whole spectrum. “King For One Day” is taken off their latest effort and also features Piet Sielck as guest vocalist.
Named after a play on the word “leviathan”, Calgary’s Viathyn have really made a name for themselves for successfully amalgamating power and progressive metal into the amazing roller coaster ride that is Cynosure, the band’s second album from 2014. Despite lots of tempo and rhythm changes, Viathyn’s brand of metal always stays immediately accessible courtesy of the outstanding melodies and vocal lines of singer Tomislav Crnkovic, which draw the listener under their spell every time. Add to this some virtuoso solo talents and amazing drum patterns that reveal incredible details with each repeated listen, and one gets an album that oozes both instrumental prowess and amazing flow and is a riveting ride even the 15th time in. “Shadows in our Wake” is a great example for the sheer variety Viathyn are able to fuse into great, cohesive songs.
That a band called Everfrost doesn’t reside in tropical climates should be a given. This Finnish troop is representing the cheesy, keyboard-laden side of power metal that fans and haters alike jokingly call “flower metal.” Everfrost have decent riffs and a galloping sense of rhythm that both accents and offsets their cheesiness. This is symphonic power metal at its most glorious with vocals that sound a bit like Tony Kakko with a thinner accent and simplistic yet surprisingly effective drumming. “Three Tier Terror” is Everfrost at their fastest and most glorious, with bouncing keyboards and booming riffs.
One out of two bands on “Secret Steel” that do not even have a proper release out, Atlanta’s Paladin are the scorcher of the bunch. They take a power metal foundation and spice it up with excursions into thrash metal and even some growls, which definitely put Paladin into the heavier end of the spectrum. The quartet only recently upgraded from instrumental status and their fearlessness to engage multiple vocal styles perfectly rounds off the Georgians’ brand of traditional metal alloy. A precursor to their upcoming debut album, “Call of the Night” is a perfect representative for the band’s amalgamation of power and thrash metal as well as the vocal spread between powerful cleans and accentuating growls.
Some know Fraser Edwards for his work with Ascension and Sharky Sharky, but the Scottish guitar virtuoso also has a little solo career on his own. Despite being a solo project, Fraser has a whole line-up behind/around him. The most well-known member is singer PelleK, not only known for his seemingly endless stream of cover albums, but also his work for Damnation Angels. He sticks to the power metal genre with perhaps a bit more emphasis on the guitar wizardry. “I Am God” showcases both Fraser’s dazzling fretwork and his remarkable talent for harmonic intricacies that should satisfy both camps of shred and power metal.
The brainchild of Brimstone Coven’s Andrew D’Cagna (also Nechochwen, Coldfells, Obsequiae and a whole bunch of others), – I R O N F L A M E – (yes, written like this for metalness) is the second band of our showcase that does not have a demo or anything else out so far. That being said, their take on epic heavy metal is sure to catapult their upcoming debut Lightning Strikes the Crown into one of the spots of “most anticipated debut of the year”! They display an uncanny knack of taking the most traditional style of metal and make it sound fresh and contemporary with some occasional excursions into the power metal realm. “Vengeance Rising” is an exclusive new track by the band that is only available on “Secret Steel”!
We also just have to give credit where credit is due: Our awesome logo has been created by ModBlackmoon, all hand-drawn awesomeness and for great prices as well! And the amazing cover artwork comes courtesy of Serbian master Dusan Markovic, check out his website for more great art or get in touch with him for something custom drawn!
And we had asked you to stay with us until the end, right? Click on the cover below to get to our Bandcamp compilation, where you can check out all of these awesome bands!
If you have any comments, questions or recommendations for bands to feature here, you can send us an email at secretsteel [at] metal-observer [dot] com (sorry for the code, but spambots are everywhere!