The Guardians

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Ben

Skyliner, please.  I know one of the bandmates online and he sent me the debut album.  Don't worry.  Three albums, two EP's, the first of which of which is rare.  Progressive power metal, so two of my clans: the Guardians and the Infinite.

166
Daniel

Filthy mid-80's heavy/speed metal from Devon, England.

135
Daniel

So , new album next month for a quintessential Guardians band, and nobody posts it?  This forum is a cemetery...




This has got to be one of their best songs since A Night at the Opera.

67
Daniel

Blind Guardian will probably always be my favorite as well, they just have everything I love about the genre. They've been hit or miss past their 1990's run but have never been bad in my opinion, save for the Legacy of the Dark Lands experiment, but I'm actually really excited for The God Machine to come out in a few weeks. It sounds like it has some serious potential for a band that's almost going into their 35th year.

I've been doing some necessary catchup this week after binging Fellowship's debut album for a review and checking out Falconer's debut and follow-up, since I enjoyed their final album From a Dying Ember a ton. It's crazy how Falconer found their signature sound right off the rip and how well put together it all is. Chapters From A Vale Forlorn is a bit more varied and showcases their unique vocals in a more pronounced way, but the debut is still great in its straightforward approach. If anything, Chapters... was a pleasant surprise since Falconer's debut is the album that gets most of the attention, it seems. I'd have to go back to From a Dying Ember again but it still might remain my favorite since I think it does the best job of harnessing all of Falconer's different aspects and leans into the medieval fantasy elements just a bit more. 

Falconer - 4/5

Chapters From a Vale Forlorn - 4/5


87
Xephyr

Gave this one last listen today and I gotta agree, was expecting a bit more out of Solider of Fortune. The album starts out with the killer "Soldier of Fortune", the passable "You Shook Me" which I honestly can't take too seriously since my brain's wires get insanely crossed with the AC/DC song, and the song that inspired this Feature choice "Danger of Love". The album then quickly derails with the run between "Twenty-Five Days" and "Long After Midnight"; "Demon Disease" is a pretty great closer as it goes back to what made the opener "Soldier of Fortune" great, but the rest of the album is a weirdly middling affair of Hard Rock influences and chorus structures that doesn't offer any standout tracks compared to the beginning of the album. It's not like "Faces in the Fire" or "Long After Midnight" are below average songs, but they also don't do anything spectacular either. I'm not a big fan of "Red Light Shooter" and the two ballads don't really hold up for repeated listens, so Soldier of Fortune is basically a singles album for me. I wasn't aware of the vocalist change before posting this, so maybe the earlier vocalist and style would be more interesting to me, like Morpheus said? Guess I'll have to check that out someday but for now, this is very passable Heavy Metal with a few notable tunes. 

3/5

5
Xephyr

Yeah, no worries, I'm not really familiar with how these things work on you guys end.

6
Daniel

Here's my submission for the September Guardians playlist:

Freedom Call - "Metal is for Everyone" (from Master of Light, 2016)

103
Daniel

August 2022

1. Blind Guardian – “Deliver Us From Evil” (from “Blood Of The Elves”, 2022)

2. Fer de Lance – “The Mariner” (from “The Hyperborean”, 2022)

3. Black Label Society – “Death March” (from “Mafia”, 2005) [Submitted by Daniel]

4. White Whizzard – “High Roller” (from “Over the Top”, 2010)

5. Slough Feg – “Street Jammer" (from "Hardworlder”, 2007)

6. Rage – “Light Into the Darkness” (from “Secrets in a Weird World", 1989) [Submitted by Morpheus]

7. Grave Digger – “Spirits of the Dead” (from “The Grade Digger”, 2001)

8. Avantasia – “The Wicked Rule the Night” (from “The Moonflower Society”, 2022)

9. GALNERYUS – “DESTINY” (from “RESURRECTION", 2010)

10. Fellowship – "Oak and Ash” (from “The Saberlight Chronicles”, 2022)

11. Iron Maiden – “Heaven Can Wait" (from “Somewhere In Time”, 2015 Remaster)

12. Stormwarrior – “Iron Gods” (from “Heading Northe", 2008)

13. Iron Savior – “Mindfeeder” (from “Condition Red”, 2002)

14. Mercyful Fate – “Burn In Hell” (from “9", 1999) [Submitted by Morpheus]

15. LOUDNESS – “Clockwork Toy” (from “Thunder In The East" 1985)

16. The Lightbringer of Sweden – “Skeletor” (from “Rise of the Beast", 2020)

17. Manticora – “Playing God” (from “8 Deadly Sins", 2005) [Submitted by Morpheus]

18. Wisdom – “War of Angels" (from “Marching for Liberty”, 2013)

19. Haunt – “Heroes" (from “Burst into Flame”, 2018)

20. Dark Moor – “Somewhere in Dreams” (from “Project X”, 2015) [Submitted by Andi]

21. Virgin Steele – “Through the Ring of Fire” (from “Hymns to Victory”, 2018)

22. Scanner - "Terrion" (from "Hypertrace", 1988)

12
Daniel

A Narrative Soundscape can be considered Jon Schaffer's own attempt in an orchestral/spoken-word album like the equally poor Legacy of the Dark Lands by Blind Guardian, while in an almost similar situation to Varg Vikernes with his late 90s ambient Burzum albums. Most of the Iced Earth classic songs were botched up by that "narrative" style, including that track, "Dracula". While the original song is a strong classic in its original album Horror Show, this is the only cliche weakness from that Show:


49
Daniel

I came to London's Pagan Altar relatively late in their career while putting together the Metal Academy podcast several years ago & immediately found them to be an interesting prospect. They were generally labelled as one the early exponents of the doom metal sound & I found their 1982 self-titled release to offer a fair bit of enjoyment even if there were a few flaws in their sound that I struggled with. They definitely weren't a pure doom outfit either as there was also a lot of traditional heavy metal in their sound as well as a touch of psychedelia. I later experimented with Pagan Altar's re-release of their early demos (entitled "The Time Lord" which was released in 2004) & found it's combination of doom metal & 70's hard/psychedelic rock to be just as entertaining. In fact, at that point I started to label Pagan Altar as the first true exponent of the traditional doom metal sound given that those recordings dated way back to 1978/79. And this brings us to "Mythical & Magical" (Pagan Altar's third full-length album released in 2006) which is a record that seems to receive universal praise from somewhat of a cult following within the underground metal scene & I was very keen to find out why.

The first thing I noticed about "Mythical & Magical" is the raw production which doesn't sound anything like the clinical modern-day metal production jobs we're so used to hearing these days. This one is thinner, dirtier & sounds very much like it could have surfaced from the early 80's NWOBHM scene which I would guess was something the band were likely aiming for. Much like Pagan Altar's earlier material, "Mythical & Magical" offers an interesting mix of styles & influences although it's well worth noting that there's very little doom metal on offer here. This time the band have opted for a sound that seems to draw upon the hard rock-driven NWOBHM sound of early Iron Maiden & Judas Priest, the more epic US power metal of Cirith Ungol & Manilla Road & the more organic & bluesy American hard rock of the 1970's with dashes of progressive rock, folk & even country tossed in for good measure. The high-pitched vocals of Terry Jones are instantly recognizable & are still just as repetitive as they ever were so if you've struggled with him previously then you shouldn't expect much respite here while the emotive & creative lead guitar work of his son Alan is as impressive as I remember it being & is the obvious highlight of the album with most of the tracklisting's peaks appearing at the crescendos of his lengthy solos. Things do get a bit cheesy at times, particularly during the guitar harmonies & the more epic sounding sections. I actually find the more expansive & progressive tracks to be the most consistently interesting (see "The Sorcerer" & "The Erl King") with the simpler hard rock numbers sounding pretty tame & boring in comparison. When Pagan Altar focus purely on a heavy metal sound they're generally very successful, particularly on opener "Samhein" which utilizes a dark Sabbath/Dio/Maiden gallop (there are several across the tracklisting actually) & builds in intensity gradually over time. I could definitely do without the country rock number "The Crowman" as it sounds like it's been torn straight off US country radio while the short & fairly lightweight folk instrumental "Sharnie" doesn't add much to the album either in all honesty.

In the end I found "Mythical & Magical" to be a bit of a mixed bag with the tracklisting struggling for consistency. In fact, I'd suggest that I really only got enjoyment out of half the album. Thankfully the stronger material is classy enough to carry the dull moments which has resulted in the experience feeling fairly positive overall. I still can't say that I see what the big deal is with Pagan Altar though as this is once again a release that I've enjoyed while I listened to it but are unlikely to return to very often in the future. In terms of the band's discography, I'd suggest that this is probably the least appealing of the three Pagan Altar releases I've checked out to date & I suspect that's got a fair bit to do with the lack of doom metal on offer but there's not all that much between the three really. "Mythical & Magical" is a nostalgic ride through a period in rock/metal history that I was too young to fully take in & it serves that purpose quite well but I can't say that I see it as being in any way essential.

For fans of Cirith Ungol, Manilla Road & early Cauchemar.

3.5/5

1
Xephyr

It is good to occasionally add in tracks from different genres and/or eras that don't get much of the spotlight. That's kind of what I've done with the 90s/early 2000s metalcore eras in this month's Revolution playlist. Anyway, once again I'm going to comment on a few tracks here that I still like, for memories' sake. Here are my thoughts:

HammerFall – “Steel Meets Steel” (from “Glory to the Brave”, 1997)

4.5/5. I loved HammerFall a lot when I was still heavily into power metal, though not as much, despite great classic songs like this. The lyrics in the bridge explain the song's concept, "In July in '99, the Holy City was stormed and won, Jerusalem was freed, we thanked the lord for our glory."

Within Temptation – “Iron” (from “The Unforgiving”, 2011)

5/5. This epic expressive song still touches my heart to this day with the angelic voice of Sharon den Adel. This is awesome music for symphonic metal lovers like I was. Such godly spectacular power! Sharon is very much one of the symphonic metal queens out there. An awesome song to play at full blast when driving an abandoned highway, and it reminds me of DragonForce's "Cry Thunder".

Nightwish – “Nemo” (from “Once", 2004)

5/5. Another brilliant symphonic metal classic piece! I loved this album back in my high-school-age teens. The sound is so amazing and lovable, with Tarja's beautiful voice. Those were my earlier days of orchestral metal magic. I feel like g****mn crying from the lyrics about loss and longing. And this album Once was the band's last with Tarja...

Stratovarius – “Infinity" (from “Infinite”, 2010)

4.5/5. I've heard of Stratovarius for a very long time, though not at long as the previous bands I've commented on, and this is still an excellent melodic progressive epic from that band. Any metalhead would enjoy this even with better songs in those listeners' arsenal! This could've really helped well with spreading awareness of the possible end of the world when the virus was on the rise. This song is so popular, though a few points are off due to the song and others from this album being plagiarized into Dragon Ball game soundtracks. That's OK if you wanna unleash your SUPER SAIYAN!!!

Iced Earth - "The Hunter" (from "The Dark Saga", 1996)

4.5/5. This one continues the classic streak with killer riffing and a soaring chorus, almost perfect for this playlist and its original album. There's more of this awesome glory to come in other songs, but that's all for now, good Guardians!

1
Shadowdoom9 (Andi)

So for those of you having been active around the same time, I'm sure you know that I used to be really into power metal before maturing into metalcore and other modern heavy genres in metal. And while it was great that you've encouraged me to revive my epic melodic past, and I found a good amount of great discoveries I hadn't found before, I would've liked them much more back in those days. I was just expanding something I've matured out of, based on recommendations, and it didn't feel right for me. I knew some sh*t would eventually go down, and when it finally did in that incident due to my unaware presumptuousness, I had enough. I switched out of The Guardians and into The Sphere without looking back.

Anyway, I was already planning out that departure several months prior by moving away from bands of heavy/power/symphonic metal and the more melodic side of progressive metal that I've never really listened to so much anymore. That was also to make space for more bands I might discover in the future. Now let's say I completely sever my ties with The Guardians genres (NOT now, but possibly sometime in the future). Would it all be gone from me, or would I keep a few bands that have been significantly important to me from the start? Definitely the latter! There are 4 power metal bands that were the first ones ever to get me into the genre, and I probably wouldn't enjoy that genre or any other metal genre without them. Or perhaps I would, but start someplace different. Anyway, here they are:

DragonForce - The FIRST EVER band I've enjoyed in metal, all thanks to my brother and my father showing me that song "Through the Fire and Flames". Some more info here: https://metal.academy/reviews/6091/9475

Power Quest - The "spin-off" band of DragonForce, formed by former DF keyboardist Steve Williams, with DF guitarist Sam Totman and vocalist ZP Theart appearing in early releases. My first self-recommendation!

Dragonland - Found this band when someone credited the song "Holy War" to DragonForce in a YouTube video. With this mix of power metal and TSFH-like orchestration, my like for symphonic metal started to rise.

Kamelot - This one really sealed my symphonic power metal direction along with progressive hints. "Sacrimony (Angel Of Afterlife)" sounds like, WITHOUT copying, Dragonland's "Shadow of the Mithril Mountains".

Yep, those 4 power metal bands I never want to forget because they were so highly important in my life. I look forward to seeing what new material would come from those bands this year and the next. I also plan to make a playlist compiling the band's best vocalist eras (DragonForce - ZP Theart, Power Quest - Alessio Garavello (plus bonus finale with Chitral Somapala), Dragonland - Jonas Heidgert, Kamelot - Roy Khan): https://open.spotify.com/playlist/2M7GR2iNTK4AgkIuddARKM

Long live my power metal heroes!

0
Xephyr

Mercyful Fate, despite being held in high regard by many heavy metal fans are an inordinately divisive band. Or, to be more accurate, singer King Diamond with his falsetto histrionics is able to elicit singularly strong negative reactions in some. Personally I don't have a problem with him, sure sometimes I wish he would reign it in, but generally I don't have a problem with his vocal style, but I can definitely hear why others might. One thing we will never know is whether the band would have had as much success as they have without Diamond's unique vocal approach to set them apart. Personally I believe the songs and riffs are strong enough to have ensured a considerable following, but you just never know do you - the music business is a notoriously capricious beast.

Anyway, the good news for both the King Diamond pro and con camps is that on this first reunion release KD seems to have toned down his more outlandish vocal tendencies and utilises them more effectively by confining them to passages to which they seem to be more suited (of course, alternatively, this may just annoy both camps equally). Personally I think In the Shadows (ironically) allows the rest of the band to emerge from King's shadow and to shine on their own terms with the lead guitar work especially benefitting from this curtailing of vocal excess. As on their early releases there are plenty of memorable riffs present, the opening brace of Egypt and Bell Witch in particular having brilliant main riffs, as does the following track, The Old Oak, but this track does give in to some songwriting excess and becomes a bit cheesy in the middle section despite some excellent soloing. Room of Golden Air even features a riff that sounds a lot like Dave Mustaine on Hangar 18. For me the riffs and the solos are the real strength of this album and I found that it succeeded in spades where both these aspects are concerned, axemen Shermann and Denner deserving great praise for their work here. Lyrically it's a bit silly at times and KD will always present a problem for some listeners, but as I mentioned earlier he has reined it in a bit, although he does try to break free occasionally - Thirteen Invitations for example - and I found these to be the less enjoyable parts.

I had not listened to In the Shadows before this month's feature, although I was familiar with a couple of tracks and whilst it isn't quite up there with the band's earlier material it is still a strong heavy metal release and certainly shouldn't disappointed anyone who is already a Mercyful Fate fan.

4/5


3
Xephyr


It definitely requires some experimentation because it obviously doesn't work the same for each of the Clan's playlists. 

I absolutely wouldn't use the same methodology if I was doing the playlists for The North or The Infinite; there's something about cheesy and bombastic Power/Symphonic Metal that feels more corny than usual if it's slotted in-between some Judas Priest or Iron Maiden.

Quoted Xephyr

I agree that it is very much dependent on the clan. I regularly listen to the North playlist which is compiled by Ben and the Pit compiled by Vinny and they both work very well indeed with a mix of tracks. I don't think I would enjoy the North playlist as much if it kicked off with a bunch of blackgaze and folk metal tracks, becoming more raw as it proceeds or the Pit if I suddenly hit a groove metal iceberg in the middle of the playlist, whereas one track is ok because you know something good is just around the corner.

Just out of interest, members of the Fallen (or anyone else who may listen to the Fallen playlists), do you think my current approach works for the Fallen or would it be better with the extreme stuff more evenly spaced out?


8
Vinny

Ambush are not a band I have come across before and so I went in without too many expectations. It is true that the band do owe a massive debt to eighties' Judas Priest and while they do turn in a couple of decent Priest-ish tracks in opener Firestorm and Don't Shoot (Let 'em Burn) too many of the rest are quite ordinary and lack the hooks and memorable lines of classic Priest and even those two have horrible whoa-oh moments in them that were one of the worst things about 80's metal in my opinion. Then there's a track like Close My Eyes that sounds far too close to Don't Stop Believing or some such shit. Personally I enjoyed the soloing, but then again I like more restrained solos rather than extravagant and excessive shredding. I think it's fair to say that my favourite Guardians-related material resides quite far back in time and although this does hark back to the eighties even Judas Priest were left wanting in that decade (it was all downhill after Killing Machine) and this references The Scorpions as much as Priest. Overall, a couple of decent tracks and some unremarkable stuff that refers back to an era I was never that enamoured with in the first place. Sorry, but this is not really for me.

2.5/5

2
Shadowdoom9 (Andi)

Guys, I just thought it would be helpful to Xephyr and Saxy for me to create their respective playlist threads. They wouldn't have to spend any extra time making those threads, while I can do the commenting as soon as possible. I have a life outside the internet as well. But if there's a rule that only the creator of a playlist can create a thread for that playlist, and I know about it earlier, then I would've let go of the matter. Now I understand that not everyone needs to be helped.

Another issue, regarding this specific clan playlist, is my evidential dwindling passion for The Guardians. I was kind of over-rushing on creating this thread and commenting on half the songs in this playlist, and wanted to get them all done because, like I said, I have a life outside the internet and might be away for some events this week. So some of those comments I've made may not be accurate to how I truly feel, especially since I've announced moving away from half of those bands within the past couple months or so, and the power metal bands I liked more at least 5 years ago than now. So with that, I think, as of now, I'm gonna take a hiatus from The Guardians and any Guardians-related activities, then later see if I'm up to continuing my time in the clan or switching to a different clan I'm more comfortable in. Sorry for any trouble I've caused, all....

4
Shadowdoom9 (Andi)

This one definitely took a couple of listens for me to get into as I was initially taken off-guard by how European it sounds. I mean there's a lot of melodic/symphonic stuff going on here, much more than on "The Black Halo" which offers a more mature sound than this. It's interesting that you see "Epica" as the darker album Andi because I see it very much the other way around. Thankfully repeat listens saw the quality in some of the chorus hooks starting to dig their teeth in & I eventually found myself enjoying "Epica", just nowhere near as much as I'd hoped I would given that "The Black Halo" is my all-time favourite power metal release. "Epica" on the other hand is a bit of a mixed bag for me personally with some really strong material being brought back to earth by some cheesier stuff. I struggled with the most popular track on the album "Center of the Universe" as well as "A Feast for the Vain" & "Lost & Damned" while the many short interludes were pretty hit & miss too. The stronger material was really very solid though, particularly my album highlight "Wander" (one of two ballads included), the muscular "Farewell" & the well-composed "The Mourning After (Carry On)". There's an absolute crap-tonne of Dream Theater worship going on on this record & frontman Roy Khan very clearly wants to be James LaBrie. Little does he know that he's actually the more talented vocalist of the two though & his power & control are one of the keys to the success of this album. I would have toned down the symphonics a bit but the rest of the instrumentation is splendidly executed. It's just that I could really do without some of the more European sounding power metal moments like the guitar melodies that kick off "Center of the Universe". Overall, "Epica" is not a bad power metal record. It just doesn't come close to reaching the dizzying heights of the anthems found on its follow-up. Awful cover artwork apart from the hotty with the wings too.

3.5/5

2
Xephyr

Even though my suggestions did not make it to this playlist, I'm still gonna comment on a few of the tracks here:

Crimson Glory – “Dance On Fire” (from “Strange and Beautiful", 1991)

4/5. This song is from the album where Crimson Glory switched into a sound closer to hard rock while keeping the metal, but it's a groovy song to dance to. Midnight's vocals shine in his last album with the band. RIP

Battle Beast – “Eye of the Storm” (from “Circus of Doom”, 2022)

4.5/5. This one has an insane amount of Malmsteen-style guitar, the anthemic vocals of Judas Priest and Dio, and the background symphonics of Nightwish.

Opera Magna – “La Herida” (from “Del Amor Y Otros Demonios - Acto 1”, 2014)

3.5/5. A good work of power metal art, though a little too operatic for what I prefer nowadays and with Spanish lyrics. The operatic part comes in when a mysterious female singer enters with her beautiful vocals.

Eternity's End – “Call of the Valkyries” (from “Embers of War”, 2021)

4/5. This one attacks as a stomping anthem. Enough said!

Iced Earth – “Dante's Inferno” (from “Burnt Offerings”, 1995)

5/5. Ending this playlist is the finest part of Iced Earth's career, the band's longest track at over 16 minutes of relentless metal fury! The two-minute intro gets you ready for a f***ing skull-bashing great time. The moments range from quiet to heavy quite a few times. Seriously you gotta enjoy this if you wish to be worthy in this site! I'm happy that I can finally see the appeal of such an epic that would please me and others for generations.

1
Shadowdoom9 (Andi)

Just to clarify, I would never attempt to apply pressure on someone to change their view or opinion on something as subjective as music. My intent was to clarify what we were aiming to achieve in my own mind, as I thought the point was to pick ten tracks that we personally liked, but that gave an overall sense of the clan in question to someone who was unfamiliar with it. Hence my own list included tracks by Manowar, Helloween and Nightwish that, though I do actually enjoy those tracks, would never get near a "My Top Ten Guardians Tracks" list, but do cover the whole Guardians spectrum at least to some extent.

In addition, if anyone does feel pressured by anything I post please feel free to tell me to fuck off.

9
Daniel

I cannot get into this either. I must admit that my knowledge of metal acts incorporating classical instrumentation like this is quite limited. I know Folk and Neoclassical Metal, but this specifically is reserved basically for Haggard and Obesquiae. But even I can tell from a general knowledge of metal that this record does not sound very good. There is a severe lacking of bass presence on this record, making the heavier portions quite lackluster. It has so many of the same production issues that early 90s death metal, but with this being more doom metal, it comes across really flat since the kick drum is not double bass blistering.

The vocals are....there. The harsh vocals sound phoned in and lazy. The clean vocals sound cool and provide much needed substance that is missing in the low end. As for the symphonic elements, they are the best part of the album. Haggard may have been better off just making an album of Renaissance music; without the guitar and drums, the instrumentals can be fully appreciated with an independent bass line. They still aren't very good though, as the keyboards constantly eclipse the winds and strings.

I feel like I should credit Haggard for bringing attention to a different style of symphonic metal that I never cared to search out before. The use of classical songwriting techniques over a style that is not power metal is a nice change of pace, but the way in which it is executed leaves a lot to be desired.

5/10

3
Xephyr

It's good that I didn't move away from submitting track suggestions to The Guardians, but I'm already moving away from a few of the bands in this playlist (more info here: https://metal.academy/forum/9/thread/1158). Don't worry, I might a few occasional throwback suggestions to those bands in later playlists. Anyway, here are my thoughts on some tracks:

Black Sabbath - Heaven and Hell (from Heaven and Hell, 2008 Remaster)

4/5. A decently great track to begin this playlist, but my attempts to get into 70s/early 80s are still far from my range. However, long live the voice of another passed hero of metal, Ronnie James Dio! RIP

Running Wild - Riding the Storm (from Death Or Glory, 2017 Remaster)

4.5/5. Personally, I think this highlight should've opened the playlist. After the two-minute intro that sounds like it could've inspired the Pirates of the Caribbean soundtrack in the compositional sense, the vocals by Rolf Kasparek come in to shine, especially in the chorus filled with emotion. The riffs cross through like a violent thunderous typhoon into your head, as the charged-up verses and powerful choruses are brought together by the drums all in this unforgettable song. That's the pirate metal "Thundersteel"!

Sabaton - Seven Pillars of Wisdom (from The Great War, 2019)

4.5/5. An amazing catchy song from this band that I started listening to 8 years ago. Sabaton was once one of my favorite power metal bands, but after taking them out of my playlist 4 years ago, it is now time for a proper farewell to this band. I salute them and their "Winged Hussars" and other tracks! (do I get a medal?)

Savatage - Not What You See (from Dead Winter Dead, 1995)

5/5. One of the best songs from one of the best Savatage albums! At least I'm still keeping this band's music with me while saying farewell to the bands I'm moving away from. A flawless song for ice skating, with excellent lyrics and amazing music. Even though Savatage is in the inactive void, TSO is doing their best to keep the music alive. An epic uplifting classic so nicely done! A better metal future is all that I see...

Nightwish - The Siren (from Once, 2004)

5/5. One of my favorites from Tarja-era Nightwish! Though I enjoy their material with Floor Jansen as well. I hope Marko Hietala is doing OK...

LORD - Set In Stone (from Set In Stone, 2009)

4.5/5. A band in a more modern age that prefer to stick to their classic heavy/power metal guns. Set in Stone was a spectacular album, and this song I still think is d*mn amazing with great solos. Their legacy shall be set in stone!

Dream Evil - Children Of The Night (from Evilized, 2003)

5/5. Another awesome underrated band! The intro starts things off perfectly. Listen to that sweet music, like Scorpions but heavier! This is probably my favorite song from this band, it's very awesome! It's been nearly 5 years since I last listened to this band, and this still hits hard.

Elvenking - Warden of the Bane (from Reader of the Runes - Divination, 2019)

4.5/5. This track has some of the fanciest guitar work by the band. Enough said!

The Night Eternal - Elysion (Take Me Over) (from Moonlit Cross, 2021)

4/5. Once again, classic heavy metal continues to rise for future generations. However, the gothic twist makes this band sound too much like Danzig. With that said though, it's truly worth playing air guitar to this one. It is quite great with nicely improved singing. Occult-ish metal prevails!

Grand Magus - Valhalla Rising (from The Hunt, 2012)

4.5/5. Yet another underrated band! This probably would've worked better for my earlier epic metal taste, but it still kicks a**. The crushing guitar and heavenly soloing is far better than the pop sh*t outsiders like too much. Hail this cool band, despite moving away from them during my doom metal departure. It's amazing how they use the same tuning as modern Katatonia (C tuning) for a low yet epic guitar tone.

The Lord Weird Slough Feg - Walls of Shame (from Down Among the Deadmen, 2013)

4.5/5. A good song to listen to from this band one more time before farewell. Praise the Lord Weird Slough Feg!

ANGRA - The Voice Commanding You (from Aurora Consurgens, 2006)

5/5. Aurora Consurgens and Aqua are less superior than the rest of Edu Falaschi era of Angra, but they still rock hard. Rafael Bittencourt does unbelievable riffing, especially at over the 4-minute mark that leads us to a happy powerful ending to this glorious speedy song.

1
Shadowdoom9 (Andi)

I've enjoyed all those bands/genres I've listened to, but there are some times when I've realized they might not be for me because of my interest for those bands fading and my moral compass pointing at which genres I might not feel comfortable with listening to more based on my mood. For death metal, doom/gothic metal, and black metal, I've left those genres because of my concerns about how those lyrical themes of violent gore, dark depression, and irreligious Satanism (respectively) would affect my outside-world rep, as I'm still this young dude in my early 20s living with my parents and expected to spread positive vibes to other outside-world people I know, and a couple bad experiences triggered that realization. Then there are some bands like those heavy/power metal bands mentioned above that I'm moving away from because after 6 months or more, I've noticed that my interest for those bands went from "some of the best bands ever!" to just "meh, not going anywhere". Part of that problem is, I was way more interested in heavy/power metal at least 5 years ago, then when I was losing steam in those genres, my YouTube pen pal introduced me to listening to Trivium, which got me into revamping my metal interest into heavier genres like metalcore and modern progressive metal, and formerly melodeath and gothic/doom metal. Then a couple years later, here in Metal Academy, when some of you like my earlier epic power metal taste enough to motivate me to revive it, I appreciate it, but the strength of power metal passion just isn't as much as it used to be. Another thing that triggers me is the copyright troubles I might face when, say, sharing on YouTube.

Also here are two more bands that I'm moving away from as well:

Lord

Mastodon (actually a progressive/sludge metal band, no heavy/power metal at all)

I definitely will try to improve my interest in heavy/power metal and progressive metal despite moving away from some bands (with occasional throwbacks to those bands in playlist track submissions), but will I fully return to those bands and the genres I'm straying from in the future? Though that would be great, only time will tell....

3
Shadowdoom9 (Andi)

Let's extend both lists to 30 and look out for more albums.

Heavy metal:

#26 Judas Priest - Sad Wings of Destiny (7903 / 3.89)

#27 Iron Maiden - Brave New World (7885 / 3.72)

#28 Iron Maiden - Fear of the Dark (7581 / 3.21)

#29 Ozzy Osbourne - Blizzard of Ozz (7033 / 3.75)

#30 Metallica - Garage Inc. (7005 / 3.15)

WITHOUT heavy metal:

#26 Iced Earth - Something Wicked This Way Comes (2253 / 3.65)

#27 Blind Guardian - Battalions of Fear (2167 / 3.38)

#28 Iced Earth - Burnt Offerings (2110 / 3.72)

#29 Blind Guardian - Follow the Blind (2102 / 3.33)

#30 Nightwish - Angels Fall First (2037 / 3.06)

11
Shadowdoom9 (Andi)

Wow. Sabbath are AOR!! Let's move this one to the "unpopular metal opinions" thread.

Quoted Sonny

I didn't say Sabbath as a whole are or sound like AOR, just that one song. C'mon, you can't tell me you don't hear it, that song is super light compared to their usual fare.


Quoted PrincetteScarecrow

I agree. This might've been a hint for the band's heaviness decreasing in their next 3 albums.

9
Daniel

It seems to be increasingly obvious to me, as we get into the third year of clan featured releases, that my own metal tastes are possibly not as broad as a number of other Academy regulars. A case in point is power metal, or more specifically European power metal. By and large I can't stand it - it literally makes my ears hurt. I guess my preference is rawer when it comes to metal - funeral doom, conventional black metal, OSDM and thrash being favourites, so I tend to struggle with the more bombastic styles such as power and symphonic metal. Hammer King most definitely fall under the european power metal umbrella and while I could stomach a track or two, by the album's midpoint I had had enough and come the end I felt like puking from excess cheese consumption. Too much... too much of everything. I just could not stand another harmonised chorus or neoclassical lead break. I'm not even sure how many songs are on the album as they all just blurred into one coagulated fucking mess. Power metal must be one of the great misnomers in metal because to me it is the musical equivalent of WWE wrestling when all I really want to see is bare-knuckle pit fighting!

I'm feeling generous so I'll give it 2/5.

5
Xephyr

I am afraid we went too power metal here again for my tastes.  I am not even happy with my own choices this month on reflection, although I note my Helstar choice got swapped out for something else?

Sorry Andi, but that Dragonforce track is awful.  I mean the original is contrived enough but they somehow manage to heap more cheese on it.

Absolute winner putting that Judas Priest track in though, and Pagan Altar are always a great choice.

2