My Top 20 Heavy/Power Metal albums of the 90s

Date:2017-09-15 18:08:59
Edited:2017-09-16 15:24:57
I was bored and just to start a discussion on old power metal albums I thought I'd start this thread. The 90s or the late 90s in particular were the time when I really discovered power metal. In the early part of the 90s I was only listening to thrash and death in the main and not even Maiden. Then around 96-97 I heard Land of the Free for the first time although it had already been out since 95 but I had no idea about Helloween and Gamma Ray. Only as vague names in some style of metal other than to what I was listening. In fact I remember reading a poor review for Helloween's Better Than Raw and being less than impressed with it when I heard it. I was into death and thrash then don't forget. I still don't love Better than Raw btw but it's not terrible anymore as I used to think. I just far enjoy the latest albums. By the way this list start Jan 1 1990 and ends Dec 31 1999 so 2000 albums are not here of course.

Here is mine in reverse order but firstly some albums which I love that didn't make the top 20

Running Wild Masquerade
Running Wild Black Hand Inn
Pegazus Wings of Destiny
Manowar Louder than Hell
Destiny's End Breathe Deep the Dark
White Skull Tales from the North
Gamma Ray Power Plant
Crystal Eyes World of Black and Silver
Primal Fear Jaws of Death
Sinergy Beware the Heavens
Virgin Steele The House of Atreus: Act I
Nocturnal Rites - The Sacred Talisman

20 - Domine - Dragonlord (Tales of the Noble Steel) - I doubt many would choose this but Morby's wailing is something else! Domine really hot their stride on this release IMO.

19 - Stratovarius - Visions - a classic Strat disk and does everything a neo-classical disk should do. They had honed their sound to almost perfection by this point as far as the Tolkki era was concerned although I must admit I prefer the post Tolkki era but Visions is undeniable as a classic for pm fans.

18 - Virgin Steele - The Marriage of Heaven and Hell - Part One - Back when VS could absolutely do no wrong. How the might have fallen sadly. A great start to the epic trilogy and masterpieces from Mr. DeFeis.

17 - Gamma Ray - Land of the Free - Maybe higher for many but for me it was the start of my power journey more or less and it deserves a place in this 20 almost for the title track alone.

16 - Grave Digger - Knights of the Cross - Probably my fave GD disk. Heavy and catchy and GD at their pompous best with Boltendahl in epic form.

15 - Demons & Wizards - Demons & Wizards - You'll notice the absence of ANY BG in my list. A big faux pas for many no doubt but D&W was so kick ass with IE music magic from Jon and Hansi's lilting over the top. Epic!

14 - Nocturnal Rites - Tales of Mystery and Imagination - Funny that this was released slightly before Hammerfall's LoK as was their debut released before "Glory" but NR never reached the heights of Hammerfall. Their songs were just as great but unfortunately a poor sound hindered them somewhat but Tales remains my fave NR disk to date with the crystal clear, accented vocals of Mr Zackrisson the big draw as well as the amazing guitarwork and Maidenish songwriting.

13 - Axel Rudi Pell - Oceans of Time - Ok, borderline melodic rock but I think this is my fave album from ARP. One day I'll play it to remind myself. I should really do that with many of these albums. What a nostalgia trip that'll be! As for ARP with Johnny Gioelli, I don't think there was much better not in the 90s anyway.

12 - Stratovarius - Destiny - A personal fave from the Strat discog though I know many would never include it but this was actually my introduction to Strat and I heard the other disks after hence my love for this.

11 - Virgin Steele - The Marriage of Heaven and Hell - Part Two - I have a preference for this over part one but both are amazing but this is just heavier and better for me and Mr DeFeis sounds fucking insane!

10 - Primal Fear - Primal Fear - Gotta give da 'Fear soem props for releasing an earth shattering priest fixated debut. Don't foget at the time Priest themselves were fucking around with Ripper and wasting people's time so this was fucking incendiary. I didn't know Ralfie was in GR before this when I heard this I thought who the fuck is this guy? He's fucking insane!

09 - Edguy - Theater of Salvation - My first Edguy disk and probably still their best IMO. VGO is good but Theater is my business man. Tobi had found his feet even though he was still very young.

08 - Luca Turilli - King of the Nordic Twilight - Luca's debut solo was kicking man. It was even more melodic and better than the day job. Alex the keysman must have thought Luca what the fuck man you are saving the best songs for yourself dude?? Olaf Hayer was perfect on this as well. It's a shame that Luca has abandoned full metal for cinematic soundscapes. Try to find your metal roots Luca next time bro! Still "King" is a masterful melodic power metal album.

07 - Iron Savior - Unification - Definitely my fave Savior disk. I remember absolutely playing the goddamn shit out of this. Maybe I'll do it again soon who knows but I adored this disk. Piet was the man then then he had a period in the doldrums but he's been back with the last three Savior but as for the 90s Unification was the dog's bollocks for me.

06 - Nightwish - Oceanborn - I remember first hearing Stargazers and being totally floored by the majesty in that song. I hadn't heard too much operatic vox in metal before then or probably not even at all and suddenly I have Oceanborn in my hands and an obsession with Nightwish starts up. They would go onto change style a fair bit and my love for the band has far reduced for Tarja less Nightwish but Oceanborn is undeniable as the staring point for the euro operatic power metal scene.

05 - Sonata Arctica - Ecliptica - I remember thenclearly an ad on the back of terrorizer mag(I was a religious buyer of death/thrash/extreme) saying that SA outplays 99% of the power metal bands out there or words to that effect. I remember thinking well I ought to check it out. Can't remember exactly how we "checked" bands out in them days but I remember hearing Replica somewhere and think damn that's catchy and then I just bought it and the rest is history. Even though the album is a bit naive and the band must have been incredibly young the talent is completely overwhelming. Possibly one of the best pm debuts ever!

04 - Rhapsody of Fire - Symphony of Enchanted Lands - Legendary Tales was good or even great and a bit jolt from Italy for the symphonic power metal movement as a start but SoEL is where it's at man. This had a wow factor that by today's standards is fair normal or even slightly tame, but trust me at the time that kind of wide screen production was a joy for the ears. Pus the songs stuck in your head for ever!

03 - HammerFall - Legacy of Kings - The kings and the kick starters of the Euro scene of course with GttB but that album is sorely overrated IMO. This album is infinite times better in everyway and remains a huge part of their live set. They always play at least 3 -4 tracks from it and the songs never get old. Even the production by today's standard remains great. The disk will be 20 years old by Sept 2018 I wonder if they will tour it and call it the Return to Legacy tour or something and play it back to front! That's what bands normally do isn't it? :-)

02 - Running Wild - The Rivalry - My absolute fave from Rock n' Rolf and co and my first taste of RW actually. I barely even knew of them as a name before seeing an ad again in a metal mag saying that RW had released it's latest piratical masterpiece and again a very good review in terrorizer mag which reviewed the odd power metal album. I was devouring pm at this stage so I was lapping RW up with a big spoon. I remember just being wowed by Rolf's lyrical ability and the fantastically epic choruses. Rolf retired and of course he's back the last few years. The Rivalry album is also nearly 20 and is perhaps the last really essential album from Rolf. He's had good or even great albums since but it's basically rehashing former glories still at least he hasn't completely given up and has enthusiasm for metal again even though he has many faults.

01 - Virgin Steele - Invictus - And finally we arrive at my ultimate power metal disk of the 90s from the mighty Virgin Steele. The album was also released in April 98. That was a magical year for power metal wasn't it and it will also be 20 years old soon. Perhaps the last truly great VS disk and the heaviest and most aggressive too. David DeFeis sounds possessed on this disk and yet the melodies capture your thoughts and imagination. the production could be much better but VS has never been about clear sound. People complain about the leyboard sound but I actually think that slight cheap sound actually suits the songs. And in the end it's all about the songs and there's not any duff one in sight and the album lasts for bloody ever(like most VS) and completes the Marriage trilogy to perfection. VS at their very best and my fave heavy/power metal disk of the 90s no doubt!

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