Powerheads in Space

October 27, 2011 in Thematic Playlist by Arno Callens

Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Black Wind Metal. Its ten-song mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no metalhead has gone before. Imagine all that in a Leonard Nimoy-voice, it’s much more impressive. We sailed the seven salty seas and now it’s time to trade vessels and take a spaceship to the stars. The following bands will take you on a voyage through stellar explosions and intergalactic gateways to strand on deserted moons and asteroids in our expansive galaxy. They’ll also take you through space and time, shatter the continuum and make even Stanley Kubrick weep with their twists on nature’s law and man’s understanding. Some even cry out to the heavens about the state of the particular bit of rock we call Earth. In case you get lost in the philosophical implications of some songs, just remember that the answer to the mysteries of our existence is “42”. That should just about do it. Now, set your controls, enter a date and see what your future holds, what kind of fate awaits you there in the night, as you dissolve into the light!

DISCLAIMER: This list is mostly progressive power metal, another with more straightforward power metal will follow.

Dragonland – Supernova

The Mission: This is basically a very bad idea. If you follow Dragonland’s instructions you will actually blow up THE SUN. And soar into the resulting explosion. Not a bad idea for a dull Sunday afternoon, but I can’t imagine it’s good for your health.

The Vision: I don’t think I’ve ever come across a more impressive intro to anything. Some machinery twinkles and twitters, some intercom guy mumbles incomprehensible narration, and then it’s the bombastic orgasm of the century. Pounding orchestral beats, guitars and drums, angelic woman’s chanting and ever climaxing melodies on top of melodies; you immediately know you’re dealing with a masterpiece. Once the vocals come in, it’s appropriately spacey, ridiculously catchy and ludicrously epic. A grand symphony of the solar system, Dragonland proves they don’t need dragons to make them fly.

Pagan’s Mind – Enigmatic Mission

The Mission: As you can predict, it’s quite enigmatic. Lost in some metropolis of ice, Pagan’s Mind warp themselves through time across strange nebulas and star ways. I don’t know what it’s about either.

The Vision: None of that matters though, because this song is simply delicious. From its swinging main riff to its bouncy lead guitar melodies and the unforgettable chorus, this is soaring-through-space-and-time deluxe. This was my introduction to the band and I have adored them ever since. And now I can’t resist any longer: “Timewarp, eyes of the nebula!”

Keldian – Lords Of Polaris

The Mission: Keldian impersonate the rulers of Polaris in this ice-cold and yet so heartwarming song. They are the lords of Polaris, the masters of the Northern Star, who control the winter wind and snow. We, humble mortals, are huddled round the fire praying that they’ll be merciful.

The Vision: Where to start? From the dual guitar leads to the exchange between the mournful female voice and the eerie Gregorian chants before the wonderfully addictive chorus, there is too much splendid in this song to fathom. An outstanding track of the exceptional album “Journey Of Souls”, we shouldn’t be bowing down to the lords of Polaris, but to Keldian themselves. Bow, I command you!

Adagio – The Astral Pathway

The Mission: Adagio has a flavor for the mystic and obscure, the magical and occult. It’s far from clear, but this song seems to be about a transcendental connection with the stars and the benefits or dangers that may involve.

The Vision: Down-tuned guitars, a creepy atmosphere going from a reassuring whisper to a gruesome snarl, this is Adagio at its best. Like Sons Of Seasons they’re a symphonic progressive power metal band gone dark and might be the most suitable musical connection to the fantastical and unspeakable realms of H.P. Lovecraft’s imagination. As readers of the American master of horror know, Lovecraft wasn’t afraid of a little inter-dimensional travel so who knows what lies underneath the depths of this well-crafted and infectious song? “Stand with me, I will make your way through shadow.” Only for those who dare to navigate the darkness.

Andromeda – Star Shooter Supreme

The Mission: Not too far-fetched, Andromeda wants to fly on a shooting star and see the sights of the galaxy. I don’t know if such a trip comes with breakfast included or not.

The Vision: An oddly simple and straightforward song for what was once a promising progressive metal band. Its rhythms are impossible to sit still to and the chorus just demands you to sing along. Tasty keyboard work and riffing, this is a sign that this band once knew how to deliver. Sadly they seem to have lost their way.

Pathosray – Sons Of The Sunless Sky

The Mission: The Earth lies in ruins, the Sun is gone from our sight. Man reflects on his place in the universe and realizes he is just a dot among the stars. But hey, whether or not you change from regular mayo to a diet product actually matters and let no one tell you otherwise!

The Vision: Pathosray nails the desperation that comes with post-apocalyptic territory, and even finds some hope among the smoking ruins. Nice and heavy sections merge into a mesmerizing chorus, a trademark of this often overlooked band and their second album “Sunless Skies”. Delicate piano and acoustic work make for a nice bridge from the dystopian grandeur and a strong guitar solo guides us right back to the heights of the sun-depraved firmament.

(This spot was reserved for Manigance’s “Larme De L’Univers” but that song isn’t on the Tube, sadly.)

Twilight Guardians – Through The Stars

The Mission: A lift-off from the Earth into the higher regions of heaven, amidst the silence and emptiness of space.

The Vision: Twilight Guardians get credit for their Madonna-cover “La Isla Bonita” and little else, but I for one am fan of their third album “Sin Trade”. The atmosphere is very dreamy, like a distant echo from another world. The keyboard-work is outstanding and sets the mood for a mesmerizing chorus with chilling and smooth vocals. Sit back, relax and inhale the silence…

Illusion Suite – Scarlet Skies

The Mission: In the mould of Pagan’s Mind, it seems to about a little trip through the dimensions to sights unseen. May include characters from “Hellraiser”. Seriously, where is my totem, because this stuff is making my head spin.

The Vision: The progressive revelation of 2010 Illusion Suite were an immediate force to be reckoned with when their debut album “Final Hour” hit. Diverse and memorable throughout and this song is no exception. A haunting and serene atmosphere, soaring and immortal melodies, and the guitars can tear it up when they have to. A second record from these Norwegians cannot be released soon enough.

Anubis Gate – The Final Overture

The Mission: Similar in concept to Seventh Wonder’s “The Great Escape”, our planet’s number is up and we have to relocate to a yet unknown planet. Don’t forget your toothbrush, it might be a long ride.

The Vision: Another bunch of space-and-time-hoppers Anubis Gate perfectly blend the calculated coldness with human emotion. Almost clinical in sound, Jacob Hansen’s voice lends an aura of sensitivity to the music that touches the heartstrings. A farewell letter to the planet we helped destroy, without judgment nor optimism. Facing facts and shedding tears is what they’re all about.

Star One – Intergalactic Space Invaders

The Mission: We need something fun to go out with and this is just the song. It’s about Star Trek, chronicling the adventures of Kirk, Spock, Uhura, Bones, Sulu, Chekov and Scotty.

The Vision: Russell Allen as Kirk and Damien Lewis as Spock , it’s a power metal geek’s wet dream. The signature slow throbbing riffs layered with Aryen Anthony Lucassen’s tasty keyboards are present and even the most diehard Vulcan will have trouble keeping his giddiness inside when the upbeat chorus hits. And you don’t have to be a massive nerd to enjoy it.