Friday, December 19, 2008

Holiday Buyer's Guide 08- Symphonic/Power/Folk Metal

Other Sections:

-Accessible Metal
-Mainstream Rock
-Indie Rock
-Power/Folk/Symphonic Metal
-Indie Folk
-Extreme Metal

Symphonic/Power/Folk Metal

As is true with many good albums in the symphonic, power, and folk metal genres, a number of the albums on this list blend all three styles into their own unique sound. While some albums are certainly more power metal based, while others primarily feature folk metal, fans of any of the genres should look into the other two if they haven’t already. There’s a reason they’re grouped together, and while there weren’t any “album of the year” contenders released in any of the three genres this year, here are ten solid choices for fans of symphonic, power, and folk metal.


The Last Alliance

Battlelore is a very strange band to say the least. Their sound combines a wide variety of metal subgenres, most notably power, folk, symphonic, and melodic death metal. The Last Alliance doesn’t do anything to change their sound, but consistency is one of Battlelore’s strong points. Their sound is unique, their lyrics relating to The Lord of the Rings are appropriately nerdy and over-the-top, and anyone who isn’t shaking their head at the description will likely love what these guys are doing. It’s very unique, and despite its ridiculous nature at times, Battlelore’s sound is one of the most epic in metal. If artistic songs about epic fantasy battles don’t completely turn you away, this album is for you.

Dawn of Destiny

Rebellion in Heaven

I’ll admit it. I’m a sucker for female-fronted power/symphonic metal. I love the combination of beautiful female vocals with blazing guitar riffs and melodic keyboards. Chances are, I’m not the only person who loves this style of music, and if you’re like me, you’ll love Dawn of Destiny’s Rebellion in Heaven. Dawn of Destiny is closer to power than symphonic metal, and is a very solid entry in the power genre. The vocals are consistently powerful and melodic, and there is quite a bit of variation and originality in Dawn of Desinty’s sound. Fans of power metal and female-fronted metal would be wise to give Rebellion in a Heaven a place on your Christmas list.


Tinnitus Sanctus

While one could argue that Edguy’s formula is starting to wear thin, it’s hard to listen to them without smiling. This is an immensely talented power metal band that doesn’t take their music seriously in the slightest. Tinnitus Sanctus is a slightly more mature record than what fans may be used to be, but it’s still a fun, lighthearted, and comedic metal album with some of the most impressive musicianship and intelligent songwriting of Edguy’s career. Just because Tinnitus Sanctus isn’t vastly different from typical Edguy doesn’t imply that Edguy is just your average power metal band. The humor, musicianship, and even the variety within the songs themselves makes Edguy a band that even those who aren’t into power metal can listen to and appreciate. This album has yet to release in the U.S., so you’ll have to wait until January to buy it if you’re an American Edguy fan, but European metalheads should consider adding Tinnitus Sanctus to their wishlist this holiday season.



Eluveitie is a very unique folk metal band, and thus Slania, the second album from the band, is a very unique album. If you’re not a fan of folk metal, then you really don’t have much of a reason to listen to it, but Eluveitie’s impressive combination of folk and melodic death metal makes for one of the most interesting sounds in folk metal. Slania is the type of album that takes folk metal in completely new directions, not only by fusing it with melodeath, but also by playing folk metal itself in a non-formulaic way. There are songs here that remove the metal elements entirely, as well as songs that use typical folk instruments in ways not normally used in folk metal. While most other bands of the genre have been reusing the same formula again and again, Eluveitie have created their own and are willing to stray from it. In doing so they have made an album that all folk metal fans should hear.


Two Tragedy Poets (...and a Caravan of Weird Figures)

Two Tragedy Poets is an acoustic folk rock album from power/folk band Elvenking. While that may sound like career suicide to some, this is actually a very good album. Elvenking doesn’t exactly posses the lyrical quality necessary to make a typical folk album, which is why Two Tragedy Poets is anything but a typical folk rock album. The songs are still structured like power metal tracks, and the songwriting is intentionally fun and over-the-top. While an acoustic folk album could have been a huge failure, Elvenking not only do a great job of tweaking their sound to work in an acoustic setting, but they also do a great job of tweaking the acoustic folk formula to fit their style. The result is a purely fun album that anyone looking for a fun folk metal experience should enjoy.



Sagas is an epic and often ridiculous metal album that blends elements of folk, viking, and even black metal into one completely over-the-top sound. This is a fun and epic album that is mostly a folk metal release at its core, but crunching riffs and harsh vocals make it not only much heavier than the typical folk metal album, but also more fun. The musicianship is incredibly solid, the vocals are appropriately over-the-top, and it comes together to create what can only be described as a brilliant mess. If you like folk metal, Sagas is an interesting and unique take on the genre that is definitely worth getting this holiday season.


Korven Kuningas

Korven Kuningas isn’t a drastic departure from Korpiklaani’s formula. In fact, there is little here to distinguish Korven Kuningas from other Korpiklaani albums. Still, Korpiklaani’s formula is not one that needs a lot of tweaking. Korven Kuningas is another fun folk metal album that never takes itself seriously, and it’s one that fans of the band will almost certainly enjoy. If you’ve yet to discover Korpiklaani’s unique brand of folk metal, Korven Kuningas is a good place to start. It’s a fun album with a unique sound, and while it won’t be anything new to fans of Korpiklaani, it’s still a folk metal album that’s hard not to like.

Manilla Road


Voyager is exactly the kind of album that Manilla Road fans wanted and expected. That is to say, it’s a musically stunning album filled with epic songs and rough vocals. Manilla Road isn’t exactly going to be gaining any popularity with this album, but those who know what this vastly underrated band can do were in for a treat this year. Voyager is yet another solid Manilla Road album, and fans of power/epic metal should give this band a listen. Regardless of whether you get Voyager or one of the many solid past albums, just make sure you look into them. They’re one of the most talented bands in metal, and they’ve been one of the metal underground’s most underappreciated acts for the last 20 years.



Pyramaze’s third release, and first and only release with Matt Barlow (Iced Earth) on vocal duty, is one of the most surprising albums of 2008. Pyramaze was known almost exclusively for vocalist Lance King, who left after two albums. Oddly enough, Immortal is quite possibly Pyramaze’s best album to date. The musicianship has improved dramatically, and Matt Barlow works exceptionally well with the rest of the band. This is power metal at its best, and in a year that featured disappointing new albums from Iced Earth, Evergrey, and DragonForce, Immortal has come out of practically nowhere to become the one of the most essential power metal releases of 2008.

Yngwie Malmsteen’s Rising Force

Perpetual Flame

Perpetual Flame is another one of the year’s most surprising albums. Of course Malmsteen’s guitar work is technically impressive, but it’s the vocals from Tim “Ripper” Owens that makes Perpetual Flame more than just your typical speed metal album. Yngwie’s guitar playing still lacks the passion that he has been missing for most of his career, but the riffs he’s come up with here are some of his most technical and even some of his most unique. There’s no denying his technical skills, but Owens’ vocal performances adds a much needed dimension to the music that makes Perputal Flame a good album. If you’re a fan of Malmsteen, power metal, or blazing fast guitar skills, Perpetual Flame is a solid choice.

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