I don’t know what it is, but ever since I was a young guy I’ve typically had an aversion to trends, especially in music. Going to punk shows during my high school years, I’d laugh to myself at all the kids with the same spiky hair and leather jackets, who were obviously into the fashion or “scene” aspect of the music, rather than the music itself (of which, I’ll admit, I’m somewhat embarrassed to have been such a purist). More than a decade later, I haven’t really changed at all. I can’t help but write off many new bands these days, whether it’s a retro-thrash band named after an old Anthrax song, a long winded “post-metal” band with nautical themes, a bubble-lettered stoner rock band, a flat-brimmed nu-deth-shuggah band, or, quite possibly the most hilarious of them all, any black metal band still wearing corpsepaint that isn’t Immortal. All of this stuff comes off as tired and derivative to me, and with any style of music that becomes trendy, the posing is just too obvious.

But, I’m not here today to talk shit on popular bands. I’m here to talk to you all about a once relevant subgenre of music known as power metal, that couldn’t be further from “cool” right now. A friend of mine once referred to power metal as “the new punk rock” as if to say that at least playing punk music these days will get you laid. If someone is playing power metal, it’s probably because they are 100% down with that shit, regardless of how silly they may look to the rest of the world. And that, I have nothing but respect for.

And no, I’m not just claiming to be down with power metal now because it would be “ironic.” At one point, I even co-invested a lot of money into the release of a power metal record, knowing that it would take years, if ever, to get my money back.

You might be asking, “Sacha, how could you possibly be THIS down for power metal?” Since you asked, let’s take a little trip down memory lane, shall we? It was 1998. I was 17. I went to see my favorite band at the time, Death, at the Whisky here in Los Angeles (the show that was later released as a live CD and DVD (yeah, I’m tr00)). I would never be the same after this show, not because of Death, but because of the band opening for them, Hammerfall. That’s right. Whimsical anthems of kingdoms, princesses, and horseback warriors played by guys in frilly pirate shirts, leather, and chains. It was so uncool, but so catchy. Like Iron Maiden, but… well, gayer. A classic example of something so wrong feeling so right.

Over the years I came across many more power metal groups who would blow my mind. I can’t remember all of them, but here are a few gems I’d like to share with you:

Luca Turilli – “The Ancient Forest Of Elves”

This song was on a BWBK sampler forever ago, sandwiched between something like Immolation and Morbid Angel. I’m sure you can imagine my reaction. I remember thinking, “Holy shit, THIS is the soundtrack to virginity.” Italy must be full of booger-eating D&D nerds, cause this guy is like Justin Timberlake over there.

Fairyland – “Ride With The Sun”

Allow me to break this down for you. A group of grown men unanimously agreed to name their band FAIRYLAND. These guys are obviously not concerned with coming across as cool. Props.

Onward – “Night”

These guys were from L.A., and while I clowned them hard back then, I have to say I honestly enjoy this song. You do have to laugh at this video, even though it was made at a time when metal in general wasn’t viable enough to justify a music video budget.

All this being said, I FUCKING DARE the young metal musicians out there to bring power metal to a level where Hot Topic co-opts frilly pirate shirts into the mainstream.

You guys have any favorite power metal bands? Anyone new I should be checking out? I haven’t been keeping up on new bands lately and would love to hear something new.

P.S. – If anyone can hook me up with a copy (physical or digital) of Smelly Boggs’ s/t record, I’ll send you the entire Intronaut discography and any shirts I have laying around in your size. Making this post inspired me to listen to the record but I can’t find mine!


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