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Saturday, January 17, 2009

Chp 220. A little bit of speed. Speed Metal!

[A Metal centric post]

Ask any metal fan which is their favorite symphonic speed metal band and the reply you’re most likely to get is Helloween.

(err… by Metal fans, I mean those who are hardcore into all types of metal and not those who know just the popular bands like Maiden, Megadeth, Metallica etc. Sorry folks, you don’t count.)

Speed metal is one of my favorite genres of metal. And I was high on Helloween ever since high school. Hence in this post we shall talk only about speed metal (and also a little bit about "power metal" because of the close correlation). Hope you enjoy this post.

First of all, for the uninitiated, what is Speed Metal?

According to allmusic:

Speed Metal:

In the early '80s, speed metal became the most popular form of heavy metal in the American underground. Speed metal was extremely fast, abrasive, and technically demanding — the bands played fast, but their attack was precise and clean.

Characterized by fast paced guitar riffs, rapid double bass drums and riotous tempos, what I LOVE about speed metal is the clear crispy lyrics amidst such aggressive music. Hence the likes of thrash, death, doom and black metal differ from speed metal in terms of clarity and morbidity.

Taking this "clean" quality of speed metal one notch higher, we have symphonic speed metal. But in this post I will refer to this genre as just "speed metal" as there are many schools of thought that believe symphony is now an integral part of speed (and also because many of the original popular speed metal bands are now categorized differently or have changed their style).

I. Helloween

Helloween are truly the GODS of speed metal. No doubt about that.

As for me, I came into the Helloween scene late (because of my generation, duh) and was into Helloween only from the early 90s because of my seniors and cousins’ influences.

The first Helloween album I bought was their 7th album "The time of Oath" after my cousin Atea recommended it (around 95-96), and hence that’s my favorite album. I remember the time because money was tight those days (and extremely valuable since I was just a kid) and I bought that album with my own pocket money!!! (That, and Slayer’s "Seasons in the Abyss". Ah, nostalgia!)

"The time of Oath" brought tears to my eyes, especially since it was dedicated to their drummer Ingo who committed suicide the previous year. Based on the prophesies of Nostradamus, this album has the most number of my favorite Helloween songs - "power", "forever and one", "steel tormentor", "the time of oath", "wake up the mountain" and many more.

Funny thing about Helloween though. In the 90s, I couldn’t find any of their albums anywhere in Kolkatta or Chennai (they were still Calcutta and Madras those days). But walk the narrow small winding streets of Aizawl barabazaar and you could see all the roadside vendors with copies and copies of bands like Helloween, Testament, Pantera, Motörhead etc!

In school (St.Thomas - Calcutta and Montfort - Tamilnadu) whenever I tell my non-Mizo friends about this amazing band Helloween, they would immediately correct me, "Kima, Halloween is pronounced HAL-O-WEEN. HAL. HAL. Not HEL. Say it slowly… HAL… O… WEEEEN. You have a slight Mizo accent."

And I would be like, “What the bloody @^$&%$#. The name of the band is HELL-O-WEEN. HELL!!! HELL! NOT HAL."

Yeah, those were difficult times!

Also do not miss "Keeper of the seven keys part 1", considered to be Helloween’s best album and harbinger of symphonic speed / power metal into mainstream rock. The Dark Ride (2000) was the last album I bought before I discovered napster, audiogalaxy and their successors.

But the world of Speed metal is not just Helloween. There are numerous amazing bands out there that follow the styles of Helloween. I’ll take you through two other favorite bands of mine.

II. Axenstar

Perpetual Twilight and The Final Requiem are my favorite albums. Fast paced guitar riffing and bass beat, the songs you MUST check out are perpetual twilight, king of tragedy, the cross we bear, blind leading the blind and the sands of time.

Like vocalist Andi Deris of Helloween, Axenstar’s vocalist Magnus Winterwild has a unique high pitch voice that you can easily distinguish – A voice that seems to transport you across interdimensional realms of psychedelic metal fusion. (RSJ, please hire me! )

III. DragonForce

Ok stop grinning. Yeah I find the name corny too!

Sounds like those anime on cartoon network with space ships that can transform into one giant dragon shaped robot right?

But they’re my second favorite speed metal band. "Valley of the damned" is a masterpiece, an example of their many fantasy based themes. And again, like the two bands mentioned above, ZP Theart, vocalist and frontman, has that really melodic and high pitch voice which makes their songs so soothing and pleasant to listen to.

If you haven’t listened to "Through the fire and flames", then you are missing something! It’s their most popular and acclaimed song, and probably the best speed metal song so far! (Just my opinion)

Youtube link of their music video here:

The song even featured in the Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock game, where it was proclaimed the most difficult stage!

[img src blog.wired and istyles ]

Herman Li, guitarist of DragonForce himself could complete just 2% in the HARD difficulty level! If you can complete it at EXPERT difficulty level, then you earn "The Inhuman Achievement" in XBOX 360!!!

And here is 9 years old Ben scoring a whopping 866K on this! I don’t know if he’s the same kid I saw on the Ellen DeGeneres show, but that kid in the show was also playing this same "Through the fire and flames" track.

Here’s the video of Ben in action:

And last but not the least, here is a BOT playing this same game to perfection, programmed by JefffN666.

Before you sign off, try to get hold of another DragonForce song called "Soldiers of a Wasteland" which is as awesome as the above too!

With that, I too will call it a day. Wish I could tell you about my other favorite speed metal bands like Blind Guardian, Running Wild, Accept, Rage, Grave Digger, Sinner etc but due to time and space constraint I’ll get back to my speed metal meditation for now.

Cheers and rock on!

Ps. A little help required from my Mizo visitors - While describing DragonForce, I wanted to say "Guitar zut an tlir kha, a phuh in an rawn phuh chhuak". How do I say this in English??? The closest I could come to was, "They spewed out rapid strumming in quick succession" but that is pathetic and doesn't make any sense. Help anyone?


Pixie said...

Speed Metal?! really?! :P
I am so not into Speed metal either!! :D
but, your post was most illuminating and I did learn something about Speed Metal!! :)

illusionaire said...

heheheheh.... lolz. Yeah, wasnt expecting any comments on this post too because speed metal is not very popular, especially here in India. Death, Doom, Black and Thrash Metal are quite popular when it comes to fast and heavy music here, but a mixture of heavy music and clear vocals sadly does not have a large fan base in India yet... :-(

Eveline said...

If this post on speed metal was written by someone else i probably wouldn't have read it... but since it's you...I thought i'd see what this concept of speed metal was all about. It's actually great music... never imagined that i'd like it. Nice post, kima! Very informative! :)
Have a great week ahead.

Zaia said...

Speed metal! Ka'n ril lo khawp a, Ka la hre ngai lo a ni ang! Hriatzauna tha tak a ni...

Blind Dayze said... favourite song.."I want out"..I want out, to live my life and to be free :-)...Helloween CD chu Kolkata Free School street-ah ka la hmu thrin..pirated ones...

Mosa said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mosa said...

ih ka comment kha grammar dik lo nasa lutk a kan post nawn ange :)

Mary Mount kan luh lai khan kan u te khan an "green bag hring" ah khan Helloween tih hi an ziak rang nuaih thin a.. kei pek khan HellQueen maw te ka lo tia..

hei zawng hi ni e Speed Metal topic a ka sawi theih chu!

Long Live Faith No More :)

illusionaire said...

@ Eveline: Thank you dear. That means a lot! :) Glad I could show you this side of me. Speed and Power metal is my next fav metal genres right after sumphonic gothic metal.

@ Zaia: :-) i rawn visit ve reng reng a, ka lawm e. Nia, speed metal chu han theh lar char char kan tum a nih hi :)

illusionaire said...

@ Blind Dayz: Nice! You sound like a VERY cool guy, unlike your brother! Its just sad though, that you are a Manure fan, unlike your bro *GRIN*

@ Mosa: Oh the brother is here too! lolz. Hey, how come ur l'il bro knows more abt Helloween than you? You sux, dude. lolzzz. :-)

Anonymous said...

Helloween, knew them from the time i was a 5th Grader, reason being my brother playing them quite often. I like "Keeper of the Seven Keys", "I want Out", "Your Turn", "A tale that wasn't right", "Windmill" (love this one). Another song i can't bring to mind. Anyways, love them...
Dragonforce, just listened to one of their songs. Darn nice!!!!

The Chhamanator said...

I have to confess, I didn't read the post because I'm more of a cultured guy who loves Opera and listens to the London Symphony Orchestra. But I did watch the kid playing guitar hero. Awesome! I have a free version of guitar hero called frets on fire and discovered that it ain't all that easy. I do like Helloween songs specially Dancing Queen and Stayin' alive.

Anonymous said...

Nice post Kim...keipon speed metal cu listen nuam ka ti lutuk.. Helloween soi hian teeanger nih lai a mutchhuak toka Headbanger's Ball kan en thin min ti hre chhuak alom mole... Danny Mcgill and his power onions and all... cuan tunlai nitin ka ngaithlak thin Dragon Force poh i lo soi chhuak. H Li is a guitar God...

btw are you the one we use to call Magic in STBS


Anonymous said...

You listen to Racer X too? No wonder Paul Gilbert fans were angry with him while he was in Mr. Big :)

-makima aka kima-tha-zawk

Mariuca said...

Dropping off some love for Sandman! I'd love it if you could send over one of ur clones my way lol! :):):)

Mr.Pervert said...

Im an arsenal fan and so are you, you are not into fake music but a metal fan..great.. dragonforce??? not bad in studio...but i've seen so many show of theirs where the guitars are completely out of tune... Helloween??? Great.. just great.. aahhh... what about progressive bands like RUSH, Shadow Gallery etc.

and guys check out MINDWALK (name of the band). They are much better than this kid. They play real instruments and they ROCK!!!

Coming to Guitar Hero III, i've completed every song in all difficulty, who's better than a cartoon music influenced Herman Li?? :)

Mr.Pervert said...

correction: "video game music influenced Herman Li"
typed as "cartoon music influenced Herman li"

illusionaire said...

@ Anonymous: Thanx for the comment. Yeah I love all those songs too, especially Windmill coz it's quite different from their usual style. Have you listened to their cover versions of songs like Beetle's "All my loving", Jethro Tull's "Locomotive Breath", Scorpions, David Bowie, Faith no More etc etc...? Its from their album called "Metal Jukebox". A must listen, I must say! :)

@ Zualbonez: Hehe, why am I not surprised to see my metal loving friend comment here? You've stated your views/opinions in all my music related posts so far, do you know that? :) Thanx. And yeah, Herman Li is God! :) That dude rocks!

In STBS? Well, I dont remember if I was called Magic or not... maybe, maybe not. Why? Were you in STBS too???? Which batch?

@ Makima: Well, I remember having listened to a couple of racer X a looong time ago, but I think its more of a mainstream heavy metal right? Speed metal is distinctive not only because of its styles but because it was once considered an underground form of music that was not conforming to the normal styles of heavy metal. A rebel, I must say :)

illusionaire said...

@ Marzie: Hahahaha! Sweetie, if I was to send you anything, why the hell would I send you my clone???? I will only send you the REAL ME! *wink*

@ Chhamanator: lolzzzzz. You forgot to mention other famous Helloween songs like "I will survive", "Achy breaky heart" and "We're going to Ibiza". :-P bleh. i rawn ti ho zo vek! :)

Many symphonic speed bands also have orchestra style back up vocals too, which is freaking awesome. You should check them out too, mister cultured guy. :)

Mr.Pervert: hehehehe. Well, I'll get to progressive bands some other time. My next upcoming post on music is about Power Metal, and that has a HUGEEEEE list of my fav bands, because many symphonic speed bands too belong to this category. I will post it later (Dont wanna make two consecutive music posts)

hehe... I think H Li was stoned when he played Guitar Hero III :P

Mariuca said...

Hi Sandman! Thanks so much for voting for me, love ya! :):):)

illusionaire said...

The pleasure's all mine Marzie :) hugzzzz.

Zorami said...

This post def is Greek to me, but I'm anyway gona save it and gulp it down ;)

illusionaire said...

Oh please do :)