Power Metal: Muse to the Fantasy Writer

Hey, kids, want to never have writer’s block in your fantasy novel again? Well, listen, power metal will change your life.

Real talk. Shit’s great. I can’t completely describe it, other than that it’s everything I ever wanted out of music. It’s literally the fantasy adventure genre of music, and I can’t believe no one told me sooner.

Let me try to sell you.

“Power metal” wasn’t a term I understood until I actually heard the music for the first time. It isn’t what most non-metal fans tend to think of as “metal,” though it can definitely incorporate those sound. Power metal relies frequently on symphonic and epic sounds, usually with a “clean” (no growling/screaming) vocalist in the tenor range with a melodic focus and dramatic structure not unlike a cinematic track.

A word that comes up in a lot in reviews is “anthem-like”, and I’ve heard Freedom Call referred to as “happy metal” before for it’s soaring choruses. It’s not incorrect. I can always tell when I’m getting into a good power metal song when I start grinning on the first few notes. I feel things, damn it.

Bands like Rhapsody of Fire and Dragonland create ongoing stories of their own fantasy worlds and the adventures their characters have, while others like Sabaton, Dark Moor, or Magic Kingdom may make tributes to historical figures or battles. Still others, like Blind Guardian (with Rhapsody/Rhapsody of Fire and Dark Moor included), celebrate fantasy or horror literature along the lines of “Lord of the Rings,” “The Silmarillon,” Lovecraft, Poe, Tad Williams, Michael Moorcock, and “The Odyssey”.

Mythology and folklore never go astray here, either-Arthurian, Norse, Celtic, Egyptian, Christian, and Wiccan mythos are all popularly celebrated in common works, among countless others. Bands like Elvenking are dedicated almost entirely to folklore. The more obscure Nine Treasures is a Chinese power metal band which practices Tuvan throat-singing to retell Mongol lore.

There are full albums‘ worth of inspiration for writers, for any kind of fantasy fiction. If someone loves it, and you never knew you loved it, then you can bet there is a power metal song about it somewhere waiting to knock your socks off. I did not know I loved Tuvan throat-singing.

Bet you never knew pirate metal existed, either. Thanks, Alestorm (and many others). Hell, Masterplan themed their entire “Aeronautics” album around steampunk fiction, and Dark Moor preceded their most recent Celtic folk album with a sort of 70s rock collection focused on Ufology. Orden Ogan even unleashed their Western-themed “Gunmen” saga on the world a couple years ago, and Sellsword affectionately coins themselves “mercenary metal” and “seriously unserious power metal.”

There’s really something for everyone in the power and folk metal genres. For any writers who draw inspiration from legends, history, literature, or mythology, power metal is a very accessible, melodic sound that ranges from ballads to anthems to symphonic instrumentals, and I highly recommend it as fuel for the creative mind.

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