Heartfelt hails, salutes, subtle nods and solemn bows, all you heroes and villains. As implausible as it may seem, it’s time once again to dust off our helms, spot clean those cravats, fluff those poet shirts, iron those knee breeches, OIL THEM BOOTS, PREPARE THOSE LEVEL 7 SPELLS, AND… Well, whatever else you normally do to prepare for 40 metric tonnes of power metal getting crammed into your glorious earholes. It’s time for We Have the Power, the 2022 edition!
As has become law ‘round these parts, we officially kick off the Last Rites List Season with a rousing celebration of the year’s full gamut of power metal and all things power-related, including Euro and US strains, symphonic, neoclassical, prog-power, heavy-power, and even some dashes of power-thrash and speedy power to fully fill out those extra thicc pantaloons. Full exposure is the ultimate goal, and just how and who is allowed entry is once again fully up to a gut (and often game-time) decision by yours truly. This is far from my first rodeo, though, so don’t worry too much about boundaries. Even if something pushes a little too far outside the lines, I have confidence that everything landing inside the top 30 is something any relatively reasonable power fan could sink a full set of teeth into. Ultimately, why throw a relatively small net when a larger one stands to reap greater rewards for everyone.
Last year’s edition of We Have the Power featured an unprecedented 310 contenders, which seemed completely absurd at the time, especially considering the amount of work involved in cataloging and listening to that much music inside a relatively brief window of September through November. Sure, a good chunk gets an ear as it drops throughout the year, but you have to listen to everything heading into a year-end list such as this. Thing is, as challenging as all that absolutely is, I have come to very much appreciate that full shot of positivity in the second half of the year. No one needs to read yet another discourse related to enduring amidst pandemic times, so suffice to say marching into the 2022’s closing months with an endless supply of music tailor-made for optimism is a godsend I very much do not take lightly.
Before we dive in, let’s quickly highlight two notable trends in the realm for 2022. First, outside of the continued proliferation of all things symphonic, power metal bands continue to greatly overburden the club’s maximum occupancy rule. In short, it’s well beyond time to get these poor bastards out of their home studios and back out on the road again when a project comes down the pike that features one principal architect and ONE HUNDRED AND THIRTY GUESTS. C’mon.
The second trend is much more positive and involves attempting to comprehend how this year managed to deliver so many bulldozing debuts. An impressive 9 releases that landed in the top 30 are debut full-lengths, which is testament to power’s continued potential for growth, as well as its capacity for drawing in new and splendid talent. Big score for the good guys.
Right! That’s about it. This year’s list of contenders managed to outmatch last year’s by just a touch: 316. That’s so much power that my power very literally went out for 22 hours last Sunday as I continued to work on putting this piece together. Please do not clue in my neighbors that I’m to blame, as I happen to know they are fairly well armed.
Keep your eye out for the new Krilloan (Emperor Rising), which drops December 9th. I was hoping to get a promo copy in time to consider it for this list, but that didn’t happen. There’s a new song available, though, and it’s a doozy. Also, here are six players that didn’t make the cut because they fell jusssst outside the lines:
- Chaos Frame – Entropy: too proggy
- Zero Hour – Agenda 21: too proggy
- Gladenfold – Nemesis: too deathy
- Sumerlands – Dreamkiller: too traditional heavy metally
- Imperial Circus Dead Decadence – their latest: too Cradle of Filthy
- Queensrÿche – Digital Noise Alliance: too Rÿchey
ENOUGH GABBLE / INTO BATTLE!!
THE TOP 5 EPS OF 2022
5. Power Beyond – Timeless Time
[Cover artwork: Felice Savarese] I had no prior knowledge of Italy’s Power Beyond before stumbling across the Timeless Time EP a few months ago—not exactly a shocker, as the band has only managed a couple demos, one other EP, and a scattering of singles in, um, 23 years of existence. Hey, sometimes it takes a little time for things to fully percolate, no? And when the end result is something as satisfying as these 20-or-so minutes, that wait is certainly worth it. Something that helps set Power Beyond apart is the fact that they build their foundation with as much doom and bits of thrash as they do power, so the end result is notably unique and comes across a bit like Heathen colliding with Candlemass, Memory Garden, or Malta’s hugely underrated Forsaken.
4. Dark Forest – Ridge & Furrow
[Cover artwork: Christian Horton] When Dark Forest are at their best, they are crafting notably melodic, plucky, heartening, legendary classic power / trad metal that’s as warm as the winding memories of a long, epic quest. Oh, wait, that’s basically every single thing the band has literally ever done! If you’re a longtime fan, you understand news of anything new by Dark Forest is worthy of celebration, and Ridge & Furrow is certainly no different. Sometimes the band’s efforts throw just a little extra wind in the sails, though, and I do believe this is one of those very excellent occasions. Suffice to say, you will walk away from Ridge & Furrow wanting more, so hopefully we’ll see a new full-length at some point in 2023.
3. Prehistoria – Cursed Lands
[Cover artwork: Adam Burke] Let me tell you something, whenever Indiana’s Prehistoria musters enough material for a debut full-length, it’s gonna be a big deal. Thankfully, we have this absolute ass-kicker of an EP to while away the days, weeks, months, but hopefully not years before that eventually happens. The band plays a wonderfully aggressive form of slightly progressive power that falls in the neighborhood of, say, Persuader or Noble Beast, and they’re fronted by a killer vocalist who’s, as I said with regard to the EP back in July, “equally adept at hitting pure power highs as he is at layering those same heights into something that’s really not that far off from King Diamond.”
2. Adamantis – The Daemon’s Strain
[Cover artwork: Wyrmwalk] Adamantis plays the sort of power metal you want at your side whilst… Well, storming the walls, which just so happens to be the name of the very first song on this mighty EP. Their style is soaked to the bone with an abundance of classic US power influence, but what sets them apart from a fair bit of their peers is the manner in which they likewise channel a particularly epic form of doom that calls to mind Atlantean Kodex and Solstice (UK). These songs are as hearty as a haunch of elk pulled directly off the fire, particularly that epic 13-minute closer, and anyone who owns a sword not at all intended purely for decoration would be a fool to not have these songs in their regular rotation.
1. Sleeper Ship – The Gateway
[Cover artwork: Jane Paul] If you’re not yet aware of Canada’s Sleeper Ship, I’m guessing you are thoroughly aware of its principal architect, Unleash the Archers guitarist Andrew Kingsley Saunders. Yeah, he’s a geetar dynamo, and he’s responsible for absolutely everything that goes down on this walloper of an EP. Great news: You will absolutely be served all the hair-scorching fretwork you’ve come to expect from Saunders through his mainstay. Perhaps unexpected news: Sleeper Ship sports a clear and very present influence of Devin Townsend, so you will also be treated to that unmistakably uplifting, kinda weirdo, occasionally light-speed, very brainy prog that mixes into this particular powerful formula like the most comfortable glove ever.
THE TOP 30 FULL-LENGTHS OF 2022
30. Dragonland – The Power of the Nightstar
[Cover artwork: Pedro Sena]
Hey! After a pronounced 11-year intermission, dragonlanb is finally back! And the results of that terrifically stretched interruption are… well, good! To be direct, that’s likely The Power of the Nightstar’s biggest obstacle: step away from the spotlight for a decade+ and fans will expect the silence to finally get broken with something that blows their minds more than the dog suddenly coughing up a bag of rare diamonds. No, this record isn’t exactly a hurled bag of diamonds that finally lays all your financial woes to rest, but it’s unquestionably Dragonland, and it certainly doesn’t sound as if the members stuffed their wares into storage and spent the last decade eating bonbons and streaming every episode of Law & Order. Everyone sounds great—guitar and keyboard leads are clean, plentiful and adventurous; Heidgert’s voice sounds on point and gets plenty of opportunity to hook with a chorus; there’s a decent amount of varied pace (leans slower, though); and while the album’s sci-fi concept is sort of lacking in originality, the fluidity from one song to the next makes its fairly drawn-out hour+ go by fairly quickly.
29. Circle of Silence – Walk Through Hell
[Cover artwork: Francisco Garcia Garcés]
What I very much appreciate about a band like Circle of Silence is the fact that they’ve always managed to tackle an aggressive form of Euro power without sounding like a copy of a xerox of a replica of the one millionth ode to Painkiller, and they do so without really coming across as overly meatheaded to boot. At its core, Walk Through Hell delivers 50 minutes of melodic, punchy, catchy power sans bells and whistles that’s built on a similar foundation as bands such as Mystic Prophecy, Tad Morose or Brainstorm. Sure, the record puts little effort into breaking new ground, but sometimes all you need is a sharp kick to the chiclets without the bullshit window dressing so many other bands use to disguise the fact that they don’t remember how to write solid, catchy heavy metal.
28. Unlucky Morpheus – Evolution
[Cover artwork: Uncredited]
I very often find myself utterly and wonderfully confused by the power metal scene from Japan. 95% of the bands manage to feature a level of virtuosity that’s so next level I wonder if the players are even of this planet, and the wizardly virtuosos behind the music frequently mix in so many different styles and moods at every turn that half the time I’m not sure if I’m listening to power metal, a breakfast cereal commercial put to djent, or an intro to an animated version of the band Immortal as babies. Basically, anything goes, and in the case of Unlucky Morpheus and their 19th album Evolution, that anything is a form of lifting and aggressive power that’s fairly symphonic, occasionally poppy, a touch neoclassical, and almost always as hyper as a gerbil pulling a triple shift on an exercise wheel that powers an entire city. It all works, though, in a very magical sort of way, and I guarantee you by the end of these 35 minutes you’ll feel like you could dunk over Joel Embiid while wearing concrete shoes.
27. Idol Throne – The Sibylline Age
[Cover artwork: Mark Erskine]
Indiana’s Idol Throne harkens back to an age where it wasn’t at all rare to find umpteen bands across the globe grabbing two fistfuls of the burgeoning thrash scene and tacking a healthy dose of US power to the formula. Thrash was so often misrepresented as an unintelligent off-shoot mostly designed to provide a soundtrack to trashing a hotel room, so infusing an added level of melodic sophistication was a very sensible step not only for American bands such as Heathen, Metal Church and Flotsam and Jetsam, but for their European counterparts as well. Germany’s Paradox quickly comes to mind—an underrated band that seems to be a particular apple of Idol Throne’s eye, as The Sibylline Age is absolutely stacked with a similar form of very swift riffing infused with oodles and caboodles of melodic fret sorcery. If you still find yourself forcing records such as Product of Imagination, Heresy or even Grinder’s oft-overlooked Dead End into the ears of everyone in your immediate area, you will surely crush hard ’n’ heavy on this notably impressive debut.
26. Steel Arctus – Master of War
[Cover artwork: Manos Lagouvardos]
Hellenic hammerers Steel Arctus opt to label themselves as epic heavy metal in lieu of power, but theirs is a style that’s clearly indebted to classic power acts such as Manowar, Jag Panzer and Running Wild, with a healthy gobbet of Painkiller thrown in to give the full picture that unmistakably radiant veneer. The record is fairly straightforward in that essentially every song provides the listener a totally belting companion fit for conquering even the most stubbornly un-epic days, but you will find some interesting embellishments painting the corners here—bits of leapin’ pipes, some moody doom akin to Grand Magus, and just a teensy touch of hard rock attached to the bumper of “Black Mountains” (the closest thing the record comes to a ballad.) All told, if you find your patience wearing thin for overly sweetened power metal and would rather the style come across more like a big barbecued turkey leg at a ren faire, Master of War is very ready to jump into your face.
25. Mantric Momentum – Trial By Fire
[Cover artwork: Uncredited]
It simply would not be a year on this planet Earth without approximately fifteen releases from Frontiers Records testing the following theory: “What would happen if Foreigner got into a head-on collision with Alter Bridge?” Apparently they would join forces rather than spend a few weeks in traction. Anyway, sometimes the formula works, oft-times it doesn’t, and I suppose a rocket scientist is not required to figure out which end of the spectrum Mantric Momentum falls. The reason Trial by Fire works is rooted in two factors: 1) Despite still holding firm to a sort of “Jorn driving a Dodge Charger over the speed limit” hard rockin’ sense, the record also flexes enough of a true melodic power edge replete with FAT riffs to give it a meaner bluster (thanks to Christer Harøy of Divided Multitude), and 2) Vocalist Terje Harøy (Pyramaze) has a BIG voice you can’t help but get knocked over by. Like, “this guy probably doesn’t need a microphone to be heard in the back of the venue” big, which makes the record’s hooks all the more lethal. If you’re looking for a reason to wear big sunglasses in a fast car with more square footage of horsepower than trunk space, Trial By Fire might be your ticket.
24. Crystal Gates – Torment & Wonder: The Ways of the Lonely Ones
[Cover artwork: Stan W. Decker]
I’d like to offer a heartfelt salute to Uruguay’s Crystal Gates for throwing their collective hats in the ring with one specific (and very noble) goal in mind: to embolden the lonely with a notably soaring form of symphonic power. Most would agree there’s not much worse in life than prolonged feelings of isolation, abandonment or just generally sensing you’re very out of place, even amongst a teeming crowd, so it’s of vital importance to keep the ol’ quiver loaded with arrows to help defend yourself against depression. Torment & Wonder: The Ways of the Lonely Ones is just such an arrow, as these 50 minutes are packed to the rafters with bright, infectious, exceedingly melodic haymakers. Yes, you’ll need an appreciation for operatic vocals that are basically dialed to 11 one hundred percent of the time, but they’re folded into the overall design quite well, and I challenge you to walk away from Torment & Wonder without carrying a tune or two with you for the remainder of the day. Bonus: Fantastic leads!
23. Seventh Storm – Maledictus
[Cover artwork: Victor Costa]
I get the feeling Portugal’s Seventh Storm doesn’t really want to be considered a relative of power metal. Could be totally off with that remark, but it seems fairly reasonable based on the fact that Maledictus sounds mostly comparable to an adventurous prog power outfit akin to Symphony X, yet the bands listed as influences in the album’s promo materials stretch impossibly across Bathory, Paradise Lost, Tiamat, Cradle of Filth, Fields of the Nephilim and even, um, Van Halen, with nary a power or prog band in sight. This record doesn’t really sound very much like any of those promo-mentioned bands, but I certainly wouldn’t balk if one of the members eschewed the requisite corsair garb in favor of a sweet Wildhoney long-sleeve on stage one night.
Anywho, Seventh Storm is the brand new project from one-time / longtime Moonspell drummer Miguel Gaspar, and on tap here is a spicy blend of fairly progressive power that’s largely progressive in the way it seamlessly blends some moderately more extreme elements to give Maledictus a harder edge. Oddly enough, that harder edge whispers “black metal” as much as it occasionally does a touch of “alt-metal” (particularly with those gravelly vocals tacked to it), but everything boiled together in that big ol’ cauldron results in a stew that’s… Yeah, a pretty impressive and unique blend of progressive heavy / power that’s tailor-made for bobbing up and down for weeks at a time out on the open sea.
Style: Progressive Power that doesn’t sound at all like Bathory or Fields of the Nephilim
Sample: “Haunted Sea”
Label: Atomic Fire Records
Release date: August 12
Band website: Seventh Storm
22. Palantír – Chasing a Dream
[Cover artwork: Nick Kay]
Sweden’s Palantír play a style of Euro power that’s equally as indebted to the Helloweens and Gamma Rays of the genre as they are to the more progressive, keyboard-driven Seventh Son of a Seventh Son-era of Iron Maiden. Accordingly, Chasing a Dream is a true yarn-spinner of a record, and its greatest strength is built on a foundation that emphasizes a near limitless amount of melodic lead tussling twixt the guitars and new keyboard player, Johannes Frykholm (Symphonity). Vocalist Marcus Olkerud is fairly prominent in the overall mix—perhaps even a tad too prominent, given how light the riffing feels at times—but his is a style that fits this type of narrative well, especially if you find the idea of Michael Kiske colliding with Styx’s Tommy Shaw as a terrifically unique temptation.
21. Seven Kingdoms – Zenith
[Cover artwork: Jan Yrlund]
Chronic fans of Seven Kingdoms generally seem to concur on one significant detail: the band hit a particularly triumphant sweet-spot with the one-two punch of The Fire is Mine (2012) and its follow-up Decennium (2017), the latter of which was likely only outmatched that year by their Canadian allies Unleash the Archers and their unconquerable Apex. (Side note: with the benefit of hindsight, those two records should have topped We Have the Power in 2017. Drink deep of my shame.) Since then, UtA found further success with Abyss (2020), an album that softened the edges and underscored some (very possibly brow raising) poppier elements, and now Seven Kingdoms follows suit with their fifth full-length, Zenith. So, yes, parallels between the two bands will continue to flourish, and a significant portion of Zenith’s success and defeat will rely on just how much the listener will be able to connect with songs such as “Love Dagger” that sound as much power metal as it does a hair-sprayed Lita Ford hit from MTV circa 1988.
20. Visions of Atlantis – Pirates
[Cover artwork: Zsofia Dankova]
Please, blessed kings, queens and general overlords of power metal, ease back on the flippin’ pirates. I realize you provide a noble service in keeping the buccaneer apparel industry alive and kicking, but I’d be willing to bet there are currently more power metal pirates in 2022 than there ever were actual pirates, so maybe it’s time to pump the brakes. Counterargument: I should just shut the hell up, because as long as we have sea-bound plunderers of Visions of Atlantis’ caliber to offset the grim nausea of endless Alestorm counterfeits, the waters are still pretty navigable. The band’s eighth album, Pirates (have we seriously gotten to this point?), is a very smooth and balanced adventure that never really bludgeons you over the head with any one element. It’s melodic without being overly noodly, symphonic sans the required tux, and it’s just syrupy enough to narrate an elaborate stage production without candy-coating to a point that requires 6 hours of Cannibal Corpse cleansing after jamming.
19. Empress – Fateweaver
[Cover artwork: Nguyen Hieu]
What an empressive debut! [Weeps intensely in a cold dungeon whilst awaiting the long, grim march to the gallows pole.]
Philadelphia’s Empress is the latest crew of adventurers to add their name to the swelling ranks of the NWOUSPMTAVTAS (New Wave of U.S. Power Metal That’s Also Very Theatrical and Symphonic), and Fateweaver, their remarkably polished debut, sticks the landing like a band that’s been working the room for a decade. Sure, I’d say there’s still a little wiggle room for innovation moving forward, but there’s well enough good-to-greatness spinning, soaring and careening through these 48 minutes that your lid will very much enjoy flipping like a frog that’s just wandered into flymageddon if you count bands such as Nightwish, Kamelot and Epica as crucial pleasure zones. Every player here is loaded for bear, but I’d say the ultimate key to Fateweaver’s success, outside of its knack for hook, is how heavy it hits, both in terms of riffing and that distinct symphonic wallop.
18. Backfire – The Two of Us
[Cover artwork: George Papas]
**BIG FAT CHEATER ALERT** Yeah, so, Backfire is a progressive metal band with little relation to power beyond sporting a very power-worthy album cover. So, why the green light when equally serviceable releases from, say, Chaos Frame and Zero Hour get halted at the border? It’s largely because it felt as if Backfire landed from out of nowhere, which definitely added to the overall wow factor. Plus, as noted at the start of this blurb, I am a big fat cheater.
The Two of Us is this Italian quintet’s debut, and positively nothing about the release would lead anyone to believe this is a new band just starting to get their feet wet. These songs are polished, but not to the point of erasing the grit from some deliciously rugged riffs (“Killed Freedom”); an impressive array of moods are presented, with a first-string skill level of fluidity laid down amidst all those time signature shifts; and vocalist Naomi Gemignani is an absolute powerhouse from start to finish. The fact that a record of this caliber can drop without a demo, EP, or even an advanced single to give even a hint of what’s being worked on seems pretty rare, but I guess some bands are just lucky enough to be natural winners right from the jump.
17. Graveshadow – The Uncertain Hour
[Cover artwork: Roman Ismaylov]
Sacramento, CA’s Graveshadow would like to remind you that symphonic power metal isn’t just about billowy shirts, corsets, and off-off-Broadway stage productions—it can just as easily bare sharp teeth and crack skulls. Yep, amongst other things, that means harsh vocals make an appearance throughout The Uncertain Hour, and while that’s something that normally sets off all manner of klaxons for power purists, it’s incorporated into Graveshadow’s overall charge with a deft hand. They offset the spectacular range and power of newly recruited fireball vocalist Rachl “Raxx” Quinn perfectly, and they mix effortlessly with the record’s boundless barrage of deliciously aggressive riffing. That fierce fretwork is certainly one of Graveshadow’s greatest selling points, outweighing the symphonic element by an easy 5-to-1, but it’s hard to not underscore the significance of Quinn’s delivery to The Uncertain Hour’s overall success. Sure, losing one-time Helion Prime vocalist Heather Michele Smith was a hard pill to swallow, but a vocalist as capable as Quinn will do wonders for easing that pain moving forward.
16. Stratovarius – Survive
[Cover artwork: Gyula Havancsák]
Seventeen albums in and Stratovarius still knows how to hit the high points. True, they continue to push that bouncier power designation that’s poles apart from the more progressive stylings that suffused the early Timo Tolkki years, but by Odin’s frosted shorthairs, this now very familiar Strato-hug sure feels welcome when the world around us continues to throw spinning maelstroms of misery into our faces day in and day out.
It wasn’t all that long ago when I ribbed the band for attempting to make us swallow lyrics like “Climb a hill, learn a skill, all of your dreams you can fulfill,” but Survive is a shade darker compared to a record like Nemesis, and while the lyrics still spin impossibly wild lyrics such as “I’ve got the eye of the tiger / I have the will to fight / You are my trial by fire / You are the one tonight,” the hook and palpable warmth of these choruses will cradle you to sleep at night. Plus, it’s hard to say no to the gobs of guitar and keyboard leads that prove the players continue to cook with a chef de cuisine’s expertise.
15. Michael Romeo – War of the Worlds // Pt. 2
[Cover artwork: Drake Mefestta]
One could make a case that the side works of Michael Romeo—the true Sultan of Shred—are a little too proggy to gain access to a list such as this, but there is indeed power in them thar hills, and records like War of the Worlds Pt. 1 & 2 lay down enough of a reminder of a pending Symphony X release after a long 8 year wait to warrant inclusion.
Pt. 1 of this endeavor ended up kicking the world in the crown jewels square enough to win the #2 slot of WHtP 2018, bested only by Thaurorod’s magnificent Coast of Gold. Surprise, surprise: Pt. 2 preps an eerily similar fare with just as much gumption, which means we can expect an equal amount of mind-bendingly impressive fretwork tied to all the endless hairpin turns befitting of a neoclassical sorcerer of Romeo’s stature.
Really, the biggest shift in 2022 relates to the vocals. Croatian vocal phenom Dino Jelusick swipes the shoes left by the equally impressive (and unknown to me) Rick Castellano, and to be perfectly honest, I missed the latter during my initial run-throughs. Jelusick really does throw down just as hard, though, sporting a slightly lower register that sounds a bit like an extremely handlebar-mustached Jorn logically fused to, you guessed it, Russel Allen.
14. Tad Morose – March of the Obsequious
[Cover artwork: Peter Morén]
March of the Obsequious is the best thing Tad Morose has done since 2003’s leveling Modus Vivendi. No further draw is likely needed for anyone familiar with the band, but for those who’ve managed to miss the train o’er these many years, just know Tad Morose has spent the better part of the last 30 years delivering some of the most stubbornly consistent dark, heavy, and mean power metal in the business. The majority of fans would likely agree they hit a notable pinnacle amidst the Urban Breed era in the early 2000s, but it’s not like the years that followed with Ronny Hemlin behind the mic somehow fully forgot how to hit the listener square on the chin. Sometimes the line between solid and really good is as thin as a promise, though, and March of the Obsequious manages to hit higher heights simply by being more direct (40 minutes—get in, hit ‘em where it counts, get out) and making sure that tidy delivery is a shade more infectious, shadowy and melodious.
13. Lords of the Trident – The Offering
[Cover artwork: Uncredited]
At this stage in the game, one can hardly count themselves a power metal fan without proving time and again that a near impervious tolerance for schtick remains holstered at any given moment. That said, I will freely admit that my limit teeters on the edge of the world’s very last edge when it comes to bands that willingly choose to look as if the members looted a Walt Disney Studio in the middle of the night without the benefit of flashlights. Pirates, ninjas, thieves, and rangers are all clearly acceptable representations in our realm, but united under a single banner with names like Fang VonWrathenstein, Baron Taurean Helleshaar, and (gulp) Asian Metal? Damn-near unacceptable. And that’s coming from a guy who once voluntarily sported parachute pants paired with a Piece of Mind t-shirt.
Nevertheless, I walked into full-length number five from Wisconsin’s Lords of the Trident with loins thoroughly girded, and the experience was… quite pleasant, all things considered. Like, how could a record like this not be frivolous and unduly tacky? To the contrary, The Offering is stacked with windfalls, the greatest being the absolute live wire delivery of vocalist Tyler Christian (aka Fang) and the irrationally melodic fretwork pairing of Akira Shimada (Asian Metal) and Brian Koenig (Baron Helleshaar). The record is too long, beyond a doubt, and I do think the riffing would be better served if it were a bit more stout at times. Otherwise, The Offering is 100% legit, despite forcing heroes from wholly different realms to awkwardly play together in the same sandbox.
12. A Sound of Thunder – The Krimson Kult
[Cover artwork: Joseph Schmalke]
**SLIGHT BIG FAT CHEATER ALERT** Washington D.C.’s A Sound of Thunder continue their stubborn commitment to being considered an ideal contender for America’s Most Underrated Heavy Metal Band with their ninth full-length The Krimson Kult. Aye, a stickly stickler might balk at the prolonged insistence of labeling the band “power,” particularly with the extra shot of ‘70s strut punched into the arm in 2022, but this record still fits on the same bill with any number of other bands similarly marching under the flag of power’s earliest US manifestation—hitters such as Slough Feg, Visigoth, Night Demon, Pharaoh et al. So, yeah, instead of wasting time attempting to rule the roost as The Gatekeeper of the Power Keys Part I & II, wouldn’t it be a hell of a lot cooler if you just allowed the powerful greatness of ASoT and The Krimson Kult to provide the necessary doorway to enlightenment? Vocalist Nina Osegueda has more power in her vocal cords than your pappy’s 1970 Ford Ranchero, and the band’s covert ace in the hole is a wonderfully hefty bass attack that hits the giblets like a kick from a mule.
11. Arrayan Path – Thus Always to Tyrants
[Cover artwork: Giannis Nakos]
Cyprian epic power metallers Arrayan Path have been pinging my radar for the better part of the last decade+, but it’s been a minute since they dropped something powerful enough to kick me right out of my seat. Thus Always to Tyrants is just such a record, and while I’d freely admit it would reap the benefits of some judicious editing (the record is as long as the movie Toy Story, for hell’s sake), the band’s highly narrative and innovative approach to songcrafting does actually lend itself to absorbing the record in one sitting without feeling as if you just sat through a 3-hour lecture on water heater installations.
First and foremost, I’ve long held the opinion that Nicholas Leptos sports one of the most under-appreciated voices in metal today—a beautifully clean tone with an absurd range tailor-made for concept albums such as this (centered on King Evagoras, the ruler of the Kingdom of Salamis in Cyprus.) If the man remains a mystery to you, just understand he was slated as the next vocalist for Warlord, but that particular dream came to a premature end with the extremely unfortunate passing of William J. Tsamis in 2021. Anyway, Nicholas’ performance throughout Thus Always to Tyrants is nothing short of remarkable, and the overall grandness and seamless fluidity of the music that backs him here is equally as rich and alluring.
10. Heavy Metal Perse – Jumalia paossa
[Cover artwork: Yannick Bouchard]
Jumalia paossa marked my first encounter with Finland’s Heavy Metal P… European carry-all, and holy mother of Ukko was it ever one of 2022’s most strangely rewarding discoveries. Strange because of the band’s name, of course, which unfolds into something even more extraordinary once you discover “perse” is the Finnish word for “ass,” but also strange because as loopy as everything appears to be on the surface, the music tucked behind the walls of Jamalia paossa delivers 40 minutes of Grade-A heroic power with catchy melody flying from literally every corner. And… And! AND the record jumps from the gate with an absolutely majestic, winding, adventuresome, occasionally speedy 14-minute epic to set the stage! Bold move, you delightfully barmy perseholes. BOLD. Beyond that brazen opener, the remainder of Jumalia paossa folds in all manner of power shades spanning Running Wild to Heavy Load to Gamma Ray, and one can’t help but appreciate the band’s decision to stick to their native Finnish, sung primarily by Blazon Stone vocalist Matias Palm, who also plays a mean guitar on this here record.
9. Fellowship – The Saberlight Chronicles
[Cover artwork: Péter Sallai]
I would call my relationship with The Starlight Chronicles “complicated.” I was familiar with the band going in, so their brand of outrageously uplifting symphonic power wasn’t exactly a jolt to the system, but experiencing that level of Disney merriment for over an hour for each session was… a little uncomfortable, to be honest. I mean, even Dumbo had to see his dear sweet mum shackled in chains. Likewise, Up is an unbelievably heartening film, but Carl and Ellie find out they can’t have children AFTER building a nursery, and then Ellie flippin’ dies. And the death of Bambi’s mom remains one of the most heartbreaking moments in the history of film. Point being, Disney knew, and will always know, that the highs can only reach the highest heights if you allow people to witness the brutal lows in tandem.
Well, there are literally no lows tucked inside The Starlight Chronicles. That’s by design, though, as the band figured the populace had enough woe kicked down their gullets from, you know, real life, so why not offer one hour of pure cheer to fill the corners of the daily 24? The record also happens to flex an incredible amount of musical muscle—like, these guys compose at a level of sophisticated complexity that would pitch Rachmaninoff’s tent for a solid week.
After a time, the hooks here most certainly did their job, and cheerfulness won the day, but I do recommend the vinyl version that edits down the joyfulness to a moderately more manageable 51 minutes.
8. Galderia – Endless Horizon
[Cover artwork: Felipe Machado Franco]
Similar to Fellowship, France’s Galderia is the sort of power metal band whose ultimate goal involves providing listeners with a mighty and notably shiny sword to aid in our daily skirmishes against life’s myriad miseries. Endless Horizon does the deed in what feels like a more manageable way, though—one that’s not afraid to keep a certain pop vibe in its periphery in lieu of Fellowship’s preferred “symphonic power after bonging six Red Bulls” flight path.
Galderia songs such as “Elation” or “Gonna Change It All” do indeed sound a stone’s throw away from something you might come across in a magical Eurovision Power Contest, but there’s enough classic Helloween in the band’s foundation to keep things firmly planted in a power realm that’s not at all gutless. The lead work throughout Endless Horizon is particularly satisfying and comforting, and I would venture to say it would be nigh impossible to walk away from the record without having at least half the record’s booming choruses nailed to the brain matter for the remainder of the day.
7. New Horizon – Gate of the Gods
[Cover artwork: Eric Philippe]
Sweden’s New Horizon is multi-instrumentalist Jona Tee’s first foray into pure power after spending the better part of the last decade and a half bringing the heat with the hard rocking H.E.A.T., a project dedicated to keeping ‘80s bands like Whitesnake alive in the modern age. Tee’s always had power in his heart, citing bands such as Helloween and Edguy as perennial favorites, and Gate of the Gods underscores that enthusiasm in spades by delivering 50 minutes of classic power with an emphasis on adrenaline. Some of Tee’s harder rocking edge does manage to accent some of the corners, but make no mistake, this is an endeavor 100% dedicated to power’s magnificence.
The initial plan was to adhere to Frontier’s typical formula of providing a revolving door for the vocal spots, but fellow H.E.A.T.’ster and current Skid Row vocalist Erik Gronwall nailed his song so well that Tee decided to make the partnership official for the full run. There are guests, though (of course): fellow hard rocker Robban Bäck (W.E.T.) sits behind the kit, and a slew of lead guitar champs provide appearances up and down the record, including Sam Totman of DragonForce, Love Magnusson of Dynazty, Dave Dalone of H.E.A.T., and Niko Vuorela of Temple Balls.
6. Power Paladin – With the Magic of Windfyre Steel
[Cover Artwork: James Child]
If you spend any significant time trolling the waters of underground heavy metal outside of power, you are perhaps aware that Iceland’s chief export deals mostly in a notably dark, often atmospheric, largely formidable form of cold black metal—bands such as Misþyrming, Svartidaudi and Zhrine, just to name a few. Grim Power Paladin certainly is not, and to say the band sticks out like a sore thumb amongst all the severity normally erupting from this extremely volcanic corner of our globe is an understatement of epic proportions. But, as the least figgy Newton of all the Newtons loves so dearly to remind us, “for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.” Well, With the Magic of Windfyre Steel certainly delivers the requisite positive pushback to all that negativity, as the record hammers out 50+ minutes of unbridled Keeper of the Seven Keys worship punched to the ceiling with a 40oz shot of clean epinephrine. The overall mood here is about as bright as a view of the sun from a chair positioned a mile away, but the Power Paladin formula has serious teeth (including a few well-placed growls that sound very “Tales from the Thousand Lakes”), so it’s a battle-ready companion that honestly defies the sort of cartoonish (but great) artwork that adorns the cover.
5. Eternal Ascent – Reclamation
[Cover artwork: Uncredited]
Easily the most rewarding element attached to the significant work required to create a roundup such as this every year is stumbling across the occasional project that’s largely unknown (and sans record deal) that manages to produce a final product that’s directly on the level of the big players who have the benefit of major label backing. Eternal Ascent is just such a project, and their stunning debut, Reclamation, boasts 57 minutes of hearty symphonic power of such a high caliber that I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised to catch seven layers of shit for not allowing it to take home the ultimate crown. Given enough time, I might end up regretting not vaulting the record higher, but I do think Reclamation would be better served if it were edited down to a tidier 45 minutes. I get it, though: You’re stuck in pandemic times with plenty of free time and no shows to attend, so why not crank it the hell out and let all the limbs hang freely. Still, there’s a lot to digest here, and you have to at least appreciate the idea of everything being narrated by the sort of vigorous vibrato one might expect a feller such as Jason Momoa to belt out. Sound good? Love the idea of being barraged by endless speedy leads riding atop the perfect balance of pomp and brawn? You will absolutely find a world of satisfaction inside Reclamation’s halls.
4. Dragonhammer – Second Life
[Cover artwork: Solomacello]
Big changes in the Dragonhammer camp for 2022! Well, relatively big—it’s not like they went from water to wine since 2017’s Obscurity. Gone, however, is longtime guitarist / vocalist Max Aguzzi, and in comes a new guitarist, new drummer, one hell of a potent vocal replacement, and a decision to morph the Dragonhammer formula into something more epic, more symphonic, and more… well, everything. The shift has definitely worked, as the very aptly titled Second Life delivers 11 bangers crammed to the rafters with all the speed, gallantry and majesty anyone would very much hope to get barraged with when faced with an album cover that features bearded dudes throwing down against an immense black dragon.
Second Life is pretty much a win from most every angle, but new vocalist Mattia Fagiolo is the definitely the not-so-secret weapon delivering the death blow that vaults things over the edge. If you like the idea of kicking your day into full gear with a more raw form of Rhapsody, you will definitely find a very willing and well-armed companion with this record.
3. Freternia – The Final Stand
[Cover artwork: Felipe Machado Franco]
As much as I appreciate the bands that push the power envelope in an effort to stand out and keep things fresh, there’s really something to be said about a band like Sweden’s Freternia that opts to say, “Eh, you guys go ahead and have fun with your bells and whistles. We’ll just be over here spinning the classics and crafting the most authentically quintessential power metal record a listener could ever hope to hear in 2022.” I suppose one could make a case for one or both of the fairly stubborn albums from Sabaton or Wind Rose doing similarly this year, but something about The Final Stand feels even more dipped in the classic gleam of power’s true golden age.
These dudes hinted at glory with their triumphant return to the game in 2019, The Gathering, but this year’s venture finds the band hitting their full stride as a focused unit, unearthing the best means to form an ideal build of power metal’s version of Voltron. More Voltron in power metal moving forward, please, and less “one guy with 50 guests” creating an unwelcome fire hazard.
Pure and simple, if you prefer your power to skip the superfluous decorations in favor of just belting out riffy, melodic, catchy ripper after riffy, melodic, catchy ripper, The Final Stand is definitely your huckleberry.
2. Induction – Born from Fire
[Cover artwork: Péter Sallai]
Brothers and sisters in power, I must have been smoking some fiiiiiiine banana peels a few years back to not have given Induction’s 2019 debut much of a sniff for that year’s We Have the Power. Luckily, the band is back in 2022, and their sophomore effort, Born from Fire, pretty much does everything the debut did, but lifted to the next level.
In case you somehow remain unaware, Tim Hansen is Induction’s principal architect, and hopefully you don’t need me to remind you just how important that last name remains to the realm of power / heavy metal. Tim certainly does his papa very proud, wielding that six-string as if it was the first thing handed to him right from the womb (it probably was), but he’s done an equally impressive job of surrounding himself with similarly minded / similarly gifted bandmates, as Born from Fire delivers enough virtuosity up and down these eleven cuts to award the band a “progressive” tag atop the dominant “symphonic power” designation.
Induction is particularly adept at blending, bending and shading, offering just about everything that’s been celebrated in terms of power metal’s most significant stylistic shifts and trends over the last two decades into an amalgamation that sounds uniquely… Induction. Yes, the foremost coloring is a particularly bombastic form of symphonic power, but Born from Fire also boasts AOR elements, speed metal, hard rock, a touch of schmaltzy rock (best to avoid “Eternal Silence”), more than a few knotty complexities, and even one blast-beated surprise attack tucked in the ol’ sleeves. And yet, despite all these varied ingredients, the results never feel over-baked or unnatural, which is testament to Born from Fire’s overall triumph.
1. Blind Guardian – The God Machine
[Cover artwork: Peter Mohrbacher]
Let’s be reasonable about this. Could there be another choice for #1 in 2022? I mean, of course there could be, but there also could be a heavenly band comprised of Dio, Chuck Schuldiner, Cliff Burton and like 20 others waiting for us all up in the heavens, cutting epic record after epic record, all narrated by Christopher Lee. (Side note: I’m down.)
The God Machine is the most realistic choice for the best power metal record of 2022 not because Blind Guardian is the genre’s G.O.A.T. and therefore wins by default, but for the simple reason that the record represents a freshly invigorated, largely direct version of the band we’ve come to love delivering some of the most vital, aggressive and catchy material they’ve done in years. The God Machine is the album Blind Guardian needed to make in order to properly vent the endless frustrations we’ve all been subjected to over the last several years. This is, above all else, primal Blind Guardian striking back at negative forces. Whenever people say, “Yeah, [Band X] is cool, but they’ve gotten soft,” a copy of The God Machine should immediately fire directly into their Triangulum Australe. “Try THIS on for size, Copernicus.”
And yes, I understand there are people out there—some of them even diehard Blind Guardian fans—harping about how they weren’t giddily dazed by the record, but my theory is those people are actually cylons. Like, the old cylons that look like they’d have issues navigating a modest flight of stairs, not the hot cylons with their intimate straddling and throaty cooing in hopes of securing those covert defensive codes.
“Okay, calm down, champ,” he said to himself as he slowly realized taste is wonderfully subjective and one person’s prize is another goblin’s garbáge. Life is truly a box of chocolates.
I’ll wrap things up the same way I wrapped up the review for The God Machine back in August: “Ultimately, opting for something ‘more down to earth’ was a very smart move for a band that’s spent the better part of the last decade+ finding new and meaningful ways to be anything but, and it is indeed very refreshing to hear Blind Guardian achieving that objective so…awesomely in 2022. Over and above that, a recent clip of Kürsch and Olbrich made it seem as if they plan to use The God Machine as some sort of springboard for a new era of the band—tidings I’m guessing will prompt more than a few soiled pantaloons amongst longtime fans. In the meantime, get fully prepped and primed to fully lose your heart to The God Machine, a wonderful record Blind Guardian very much deserves to release in the year of our Lord 2022.”
2022’s Full List of 316 Competitors (Bandcamp links provided where applicable):
A Sound of Thunder – The Krimson Kult
Achelous – The Icewind Chronicles
Adamantis – The Daemon’s Strain EP
Aerodyne – Last Days of Sodom
After Evolution – War of the Worlds
Afterimage – II: Beyond Horizons Infinite
All Empires Fall – Oblivious Momentum
All Things Fallen – Shadow Way
Allen / Olzon – Army of Dreamers
Altaria – Wisdom
Among These Ashes – Dominion Enthroned
Amoriello – Phantom Sounds
An Ancient Legend, Long Forgotten – Regress
An Ancient Legend, Long Forgotten – Progress
Angel Nation – Antares
Angelia – Cerca del cielo
Anthea – Tales Untold
Anubis – Eternal Youth, Eternal Night EP
Aquilla – Mankind’s Odyssey
Arcane Tales – Steel, Fire and Magic
Ardarith – Home
Ariabl’Eyes – 冥鳴フィアンサイユ Act: I EP
Ariabl’Eyes – 冥鳴フィアンサイユ Act: II EP
Arrayan Path – Thus Always to Tyrants
Ashes Of Ares – Emperors and Fools
Avantasia – A Paranormal Evening with the Moonflower Society
Axel Rudi Pell – Lost XXIII
Azeroth – Senderos del destino
Backfire – The Two of Us
Battle Beast – Circus of Doom
Bells and Ravens – What Death Cannot End
Beriedir – Aqva
Binary Creed – Inferno
Black Eye – Black Eye
Black Hole – Whirlwind of Mad Man
Blackslash – No Steel No Future
Blind Guardian – The God Machine
Blizzard Hunter – The Path of Triumph
Boguslaw Balcerak’s Crylord – Human Heredity
Bonus – Disyuntiva
Borealis – Illusions
Bridear – Aegis of Athena
Bullet Ride – At the Gates of Hell
Cain’s Dynasty – The Witch & the Martyr
Caravellus – Inter Mundos
Celestial Wizard – Winds of the Cosmos
CETI – CETI
Chaos Control – Call of the Abyss
Chaos Magic – Emerge
Charon’s Claw – Streets of Calimport
Chez Kane – Powerzone
Chronomancy – Shadows in Atlantis
Chronosfear – The Astral Gates Pt. 1: A Secret Revealed
Circle Of Silence – Walk through Hell
Civil War – Invaders
Cloven Hoof – Time Assassin
Collidor – Collidor
Confidential – Devil Inside
Cremisi – Iustizia EP
Crimzon Flare – Crimzon Flare
Cross Vein – Silver Lining EP
Crusade of Bards – Tales of the Seven Seas
Crystal Ball – Crysteria
Crystal Gates – Torment & Wonder: The Ways of the Lonely Ones
Crystal Viper – The Last Axeman EP
Damiano’s Elysium – The Land Beyond Dreams – Part 2
Dan Johansen – Realm in the Sky
Dark Forest – Ridge & Furrow EP
Dawn of Destiny – Of Silence
Debler Eternia – Perversso
Deep Sun – Dreamland – Behind the Shades
Desert Near the End – The Dawning of the Son
Desolation Angels – Burning Black
Diamond Chazer – Starriders
Doublegeddon – Geddon Dangerous
Dragonfly – Domine XV
Dragonhammer – Second Life
Dragonlance – Chaos and Law
Dragonland – The Power of the Nightstar
Dragon Throne – Dawnbringer
Dreamtale – Everlasting Flame
Dynazty – Final Advent
Edenbridge – Shangri-La
Elysatium – The Giant’s Fall
Emerald Sun – Kingdom of Gods
Emetropia – Equinox
Empress – Fateweaver
Enchanted Sword – Chapter 1: Hero Reborn EP
Epinikion – Inquisition
Escapist – The Maze
Eternal Art – Civilization
Eternal Ascent – Reclamation
Ethereal Realm – Enter the Realm EP
Even Flow – Mediterraneo EP
Evergrey – A Heartless Portrait (The Orphean Testament)
Evil Conspiracy – The Demons Mark
Excalibur – Volando Hacia el Infierno
Falkkone – Edge of Extinction
Fallen Sanctuary – Terranova
Fate Gear – Killers in the Sky EP
Fate Gear – Killers in the Sky Part 2 EP
Fellowship – The Starlight Chronicles
Flames of Fire – Flames of Fire
Fortis Ventus – Vertalia
Freaks and Clowns – We Set the World on Fire
Freternia – The Final Stand
Galderia – Endless Horizon
Gauntlet Rule – The Plague Court
Gengis Khan – Possessed by the Moon
Ginevra – We Belong to the Stars
Glasya – Attarghan
Gomorra – Dealer of Souls
Grailknights – Muscle Bound for Glory
Grand Finale – Resonance EP
Grave Digger – Symbol of Eternity
Graveshadow – The Uncertain Hour
Greyhawk – Call of the Hawk EP
Hagane – Code ; 9021
Hammer King – Kingdemonium
Hammerfall – Hammer of Dawn
Heaven’s Guard – Pathfinder
Heavy Metal Perse – Jumalia paossa
Helios – Touch the Sun
Hexed – Pagans Rising
Hibria – Me7amorphosis
Highlord – Freakin’ Out of Hell
Hok-Key – In Existence
Hollentor– Escaping Myself
Holy Dragons – Jörmungandr – The Serpent of the World
Ibridoma – Norimberga 2.0
Ibuki – My Life
Idol Throne – The Sibylline Age
Imperial Age – New World
Imperio – Su mágico elixir
Incursion – Blinding Force
Induction – Born from Fire
Infidel Rising – A Complex Divinity
Innerforce – Arcadia
Inner Urge – Consume and Waste
Ironflame – Where Madness Dwells
Iron Allies – Blood In Blood Out
Iron Kingdom – The Blood of Creation
Jack Starr’s Burning Starr – Souls of the Innocent
Jani Liimatainen – My Father’s Son
Jorn – Over the Horizon Radar
Judicator – The Majesty of Decay
Kaledon – Legend of the Forgotten Reign – Chapter VII: Evil Awakens
Kamijo – Oscar
Kerion – Cloudriders: Age of Cyborgs
KiaRa – Archangel
KingCrown – Wake Up Call
Kliodna – Way of Heroes
Knight & Gallow – For Honor and Bloodshed
Knight’s Oath – II EP
Knights of the Forge – Metal Law
Krilloan – Emperor Rising
Lastera – From the Ashes
Leatherwolf – Kill the Hunted
Legions of the Night – Hell
Liliumdust – Our Deepest Hollows
LionSoul – A Pledge to Darkness
Lord – Blood Red Skies EP
Lords of the Trident – The Offering
Lost Dawning – Embers of Dusk EP
Lunae Lasciva – No muero me transformo
Magistarium – Dreamlord Opera
Mai Yajima – Metamorphose
Majesty of Revival – Pinnacle
Manigance – Le bal des ombres
Mantric Momentum – Trial by Fire
Mardelas – Mardelas IV
Martyr – Planet Metalhead
Master Spy – The Ghost Agent EP
Matenrou Opera – Shinjitsu Wo Shittiku Monogatari
Medjay – Cleopatra VII
Memoria – Memoria
Memorias de un Despertar – Takiorqowaqay EP
Mentalist – Empires Falling
Merciless Law – Troops of Steel
Merciless Law – The Undying Fire EP
Metal Cross – Soul Ripper
Metal Factory – Defeat All
Meteora – …Of Shades and Colours
Michael Romeo – War of the Worlds // Pt. 2
MindAheaD – 6119 Part 1
Moonlight Haze – Animus
Naufragant – A Short Life
New Horizon – Gate of the Gods
Nocturna – Daughters of the Night
Nordic Union – Animalistic
Oath Sc – Hallowed Illusions
Oïkoumen – Dystopia
Oknos – From Ashes
Onward – Of Epoch and Inferno
Palantír – Chasing a Dream
Papilio Effectus – Metamorphosis
Phoebus The Knight – The Last Guardian EP
Planeswalker – Tales of Magic
Power Beyond – Timeless Time EP
Power Paladin – With the Magic of Windfyre Steel
Powergame – Slaying Gods
Prehistoria – Cursed Lands EP
Quantum Twilight – Hypersonic Demolition
Rage – Spreading the Plague EP
Rain – A New Tomorrow
Remains of Destruction – New Dawn
Renacer – Siembra y cosecha
Resistance – Skulls of My Enemy
Reternity – Cosmic Dreams
Reviver – A Thousand Lives
Rie a.k.a. Suzaku – World Journey 2
Ring of Fire – Gravity
Rizon – Prime Time
Royal Hunt – Dystopia – Part II
Sabaton – The War to End All Wars
Saints ’N’ Sinners – Rise of the Alchemist
Salamandra – Opus Bohemica
Sands of Eternity – Beyond the Realms of Time
Sartori – Dragon’s Fire
Scream Maker – BloodKing
Serious Black – Vengeance is Mine
Serpents Kiss – Dragon King
Seven Kingdoms – Zenith
Seventh Servant – The Tree of Life
Seventh Storm – Maledictus
Seventh Wonder – The Testament
Shadowfall – The Dark Chapter
Shadows of Steel – Twilight II EP
Shaman – Rescue
SheWolf – SheWolf
Shield of Wings – Unfinished
Shining Black – Postcards from the End of the World
Shiver of Frontier – Faint Hope to the Reality
Silent Knight – Full Force
Sinner – Brotherhood
Siren – A Mercenary’s Fate
Sleeper Ship – The Gateway EP
Sorrowful Winds – Deny Reality
Soturit – Myötätuuleen
Space Vacation – White Hot Reflection
SpellBlast – Classified — V
Spirits of Fire – Embrace the Unknown
Spitfire – Denial to Fall
Splintered Throne – The Greater Good of Man
Starchild – Battle of Eternity
Star Eternal – Atlas
Star One – Revel in Time
Starchaser – Starchaser
Stargate – Unbroken Diamond
Steelballs – The Neverending Fire
Steelwitch – The Witch is Back
Steel Arcturus – Master of War
Stormbound – December
Stranger Vision – Wasteland
Stratovarius – Survive
Strider – Into Glory Stride
Striga – Siedme nebo
Sunless Sky – Prelude to Madness
Sunstorm – Brothers in Arms
Swarzo – Born to Rule
Symphonity – Marco Polo: The Metal Soundtrack
Tad Morose – March of the Obsequious
Terra Atlantica – Beyond the Borders
The Ferrymen – One More River to Cross
The Midgard Project – The Great Divide
The Mighty Wraith – Elegies
The Mystic Euphoria Project – It’s a Mad Metal World
The Silent Wedding – Ego Path
The Uncrowned – Witness
Theandric – Fight Among the Tombs EP
Theory – Obsidian Haze
Threads of Fate – The Cold Embrace of the Light
Thunderlord – Thunderlord EP
Thyter – Origins EP
Tierra Santa – Destino
Timeless Rage – Untold
Trauma – Awakening
Trick or Treat – Creepy Symphonies
Tristan Harders’ Twilight Theater – Drifting into Insanity
True Strength – The House, The Holy, The Third
Tungsten – Bliss
Twilight Aura – For a Better World
Tyrants of Chaos – …Into Oblivion
Tyrants of Chaos – Relentless Thirst for Power
Ultima Grace – Ultima Grace
Unlucky Morpheus – Evolution
Validor – Full Triumphed
Vanquisher – An Age Undreamed Of
Veonity – Elements of Power
Veritates – Silent War
VH Frenzy – Bleak Light
Victorius – Dinosaur Warfare Pt. 2 – The Great Ninja War
Visions of Atlantis – Pirates
Vivaldi Metal Project – EpiClassica
Voldt – Vandalism
Volturian – Red Dragon
Vrynlia – The Other World
Walls of Babylon – Fallen
WarCry – Daimon
Warkings – Morgana
We Are Legend – Fallen Angel
We Are to Blame – Duality I EP
Whirlwind – 1714
Whiteabbey – Volume Two
White Skull – Metal Never Rusts
Wind Rose – Warfront
Winter in Eden – Social Fake
Wizards – Seven
Wolf – Shadowland
Wolfs Moon – Psycho Underground
Woods of Wonders – Lost
Worwyk – Dark Embrace
Zaria – Tell the Wind
Zeke Deux – Advance to Glory EP
まだ見たことのないセカイ – Flannel Flower EP