Anyone who thinks giant swords, dragons, and epic battles between angels and demons aren’t completely awesome should really re-evaluate their self-worth and general purpose on this planet. Screw Tolkien and his puny Halflings. Power Metal lyricists have penned some truly impressive battles between mythical creatures. Not to mention the amazing guitar riffs too.
Some say Power Metal is lame. It is, but in an awesome way. Some say it’s a bunch of Dungeons & Dragons nerds with too much time on their hands. I’m not going to lie, that is at least true in some or other way. Does it matter though? Hell no!
You might have heard of MetalStorm’s 101 Rules of… lists. They’re ridiculously funny if you know even a smidgeon about the said genre.
I’ve included the 101 Rules of Power Metal (thanks MetalStorm).
One could say the most well-known power metal band of recent years is British act, DragonForce. The band formed in 1999 and since the release of their second album, Sonic Firestorm, in 2004 has grown from strength to strength, even going as far as being featured in Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock. Metal Hammer went on to call Sonic Firestorm the 2nd best “Battle Metal” album of the last 20 years. How epic is that.
Not only is it funny as hell, but it’s almost a slap in the face of other genres that insist that being more ‘brutal’ is the way to go. Power Metal is about being epic, and having fun while doing it. Also, try not to get offended, elitism is never funny!
So here we go, the
101 RULES OF POWER METAL!
1. You have one goal: be epic.
2. Let no sound be lonely. If there’s a guitar solo, harmonize it. If there’s singing, make it a choir.
3. Keyboards offer a way to add thousands of different textures to a song. Find two of those that you like and use them on every song you write.
4. In a power metal world, everything steel is good, and anything good must be compared to steel.
5. You are not bound to sing about Satan, evil, and/or darkness.
6. You are bound to sing about dragons, freedom, and/or power metal.
7. Remember how no sound should be alone? Same goes for albums. Everything can have a sequel!
8. You are allowed to be blonde.
9. Swords enhance your credibility and your performance. Be sure to carry one regardless of whether or not you know anything about using one.
10. Pick a theme and stick to it. Manowar are warriors of true metal, and they don’t get to sing about anything else. Rhapsody has their Algalord chronicles. Hammerfall has their steel, hammers, and templar. Running Wild has pirates. Blind Guardian has Tolkein. None of them are allowed to sing about anything else.
11. If you have to sing about something else, put together a side project to do it. Avantasia is the perfect model.
12. Ballads are permissible.
13. That doesn’t mean your ballads can suck.
14. The longer a song is, the more epic it is. See rule #1.
15. More solos means more epic.
16. If at all possible, be Michael Kiske.
17. If this is not possible, pretend to be Michael Kiske.
18. Your album cover should include at least one of the following: fire, steel, weird glowing magical items, irregularly muscular men, fists thrust into the air, weaponry, magic creatures (preferably dragons), or bright beams of light around somebody/something.
19. ‘Grim’ and ‘necro’ don’t apply here; they just make you look silly. Now go back to singing your 20 minute epic about dragonslaying!
20. Power metal depends on power chords.
21. 16th notes are the only notes.
22. Unless you’re singing, in which case you are not permitted to hold a note for any less than 2 bars.
23. Keyboards get solos, too.
24. If you can’t be Michael Kiske, you can at least be Timo Tolkki.
25. Actually, don’t be Timo Tolkki.
26. In case you didn’t know, “symphonic” is synonymous with “epic.” See rule #1.
27. Just because 300 bands before you have already done “epic,” there’s always room for more.
28. Songs come in two tempos: metal and ballad.
29. You are officially the only group of people who can refer to themselves as ‘mighty’ without being laughed at. Much.
30. Audiences need to be able to sing along. Make it catchy.
31. Sing in English, even though your fan-base will be comprised entirely of Brazilians, Germans, Japanese, Swedes, and Finns. See rule #30: if it’s not catchy, it’s harder to sing in a language that is not your first.
32. Play in as many bands as possible. More side projects and guest appearances means more epic!
33. Tight. Pants.
34. You don’t have to detune your guitars.
35. Though you probably should drop them a half-step.
36. Unfortunately, you need at least two guitar players. How else are you going to have dueling guitar solos?
37. Keyboards may substitute for one guitar player, as long as they can solo.
38. Fortunately, you don’t need a bass player! Or at least, you never have to use the same bassist twice.
39. Begin all songs with one big swelling chord on the keyboard.
40. Acoustic guitars are allowed. Sometimes.
41. It’s not a tour, it’s a crusade!
42. Layer your vocals, hundreds upon hundreds of times. Don’t worry about them live.
43. Never use mundane words in your lyrics. Nothing is epic if you don’t use words like “majesty,” “glorious,” “magical,” and so on.
44. Wizards! You need wizards!
45. Although your costume does not require corpse paint, it will require a cape, lots of jewelry, and the aforementioned swords.
46. Unless you are Manowar, in which case you are too metal for clothing.
47. Come to think of it, don’t be Manowar.
48. Wear armor if at all possible. Hammerfall can give you an idea of the variety of acceptable armors, ranging from leather to ring-mail.
49. Songs don’t begin at full speed. Gradually work your way into an epic frenzy.
50. Hail true metal!
51. Acoustic guitars are for intros and bridges. Then crush them with steel.
52. Epic. Tight. Pants.
53. Higher vocals are epic vocals. Female lead singers are great for this.
54. So, male lead singes should sound like female singers. See rule #52.
55. True warriors can tell the difference between albums.
56. Concept albums are totally epic. Nobody will ever see it coming.
57. Liner notes must include pages of backstory, either of your epic saga of conquest over dragons and evil or of your epic battles with alcoholism while recording the album.
58. Drugs aren’t metal.
59. Beer, however, can be served in all kinds of true metal ways.
60. “Flagons of ale.” It’s appropriate to your fantasy-riddled lyrics, and it almost looks like “dragons,” so you score extra points.
61. Since you can’t get away with grunts, growls, and other troll-like noises, you will have to sing.
62. Your accent will show as a consequence.
63. To compensate, sing about killing trolls. Preferably with the swords that you carry onstage.
64. More sequels = more epic. See rule #7.
65. Guest vocalists, guest guitarists, and any special appearances from outside your band will make your sound more epic, even if the track sounds just like all the other songs on the album with an extra solo.
666. Norsk Arysk Blak Metal! Rahhh!!!
67. Begin songs at half-tempo, and then, when listeners least expect it (i.e. at exactly the same time it happens in all your other songs) kick into full speed complete with double-bass and power chords.
68. Bass players: one note. Really fast.
69. But include one enormous crazy-ass bass fill before the chorus, even though the production will bury you so far in the mix that most people won’t realize your band has a bass player.
70. Just because you don’t play black metal doesn’t mean you can’t use Tolkein.
71. Whenever you short of ideas, pick up your Dungeons and Dragons books. You might as well be the first band to sing about owlbears.
72. Never leave Europe.
73. For purposes of rule #72, Japan may be counted as part of Europe.
74. Oh, and South America was colonized by Europeans, so it can count too.
75. Orchestras make a great addition to your album. Since you can’t afford one, find a new patch on your keyboard.
76. If your live album does not have the crowd singing all the harmony parts for you, you aren’t epic enough to justify a live album.
77. If you are European, use as many archaic English words in your lyrics as you can. Obfuscation is epic!
78. If you are South American, your lyrics should be closer to standard English, though nobody will ever read them.
79. If you are U.S. American, you probably aren’t actually a power metal band. Sing about tanks, or something.
80. If you are Italian, write some lyrics in Latin. Your American fans won’t be able to tell the difference between your Italian lyrics and your Latin ones, but Latin is epic.
81. Remember, shaving is epic, haircuts are not.
82. Entire albums must be recorded in the same key.
83. For that matter, entire careers may also be recorded in the same key.
84. Guitarists, remember: dun da-da dun da-da dun da-da…
85. Make your band logo very angular, but perfectly legible.
86. More than a logo, you need a mascot.
87. He need not be distinguishable from Eddie, but he does need to be on all your album covers.
88. At your first gig, if you feel a “rising force”, do be sure not to get it all over your audience.
89. Record your best songs unplugged, and sell them as an EP.
90. Do not expect anyone to buy the EP.
91. Remember, power metal fans are not gay. They are just comfortable with their masculinity.
92. Sing along.
93. Don’t get caught singing along.
94. Glitter is not epic.
95. Neither is body oil. See rule #47.
96. If you see a black metaller in the woods pretending to be a troll, see rule #9 and rule #63.
97. In your liner notes, thank everybody you toured with, even if they’re Stratovarius.
98. Complain about Stratovarius constantly even though you’ve bought all their albums and listen to them more than anything else in your collection.
99. Power metal must be pure; do not mix it with other metal styles.
100. To repeat: be epic.
101. I ran out of funny things to say way back at rule #52, but any less than 101 rules would so not be epic.