I am by nature, and by profession, fundamentally a scientist. Therefore, when it came to considering this rather indulgent project, I had systematically listed what I hoped to achieve. Firstly, I wanted to define United States Power Metal (USPM). After all, how could I con anyone into reading my ramblings if I didn’t know exactly what I was talking about?
In search of the perfect definition, I performed an exhaustive literature search (okay, I Googled it). Turns out – it’s been done – many times, by people more knowledgeable than I – down to very precise details. After wading through multiple arguments over which bands were white collar, which were blue, speed vs power, thrash vs power, I found myself utterly bored.
Inclusion and exclusion criteria would be my next big hurdle – what things are allowed to go on my list, what bands can be considered USPM – and who exactly decides? Does it need to be just albums? Am I allowed to include EPs? Demos? What about those pesky Canadians and their damn fine tunes? I considered a USPM list without the Glacier EP, or Sacred Blade, and a deep shudder ran through me.
Then I thought about my method and analysis. I could use a rating scale, but then I realised that if they weren’t at least an 8/10 then why on earth would I write about them here? Would this be a qualitative analysis of every album? A critique of the album, the music, mixing and mastering down to the very minutiae? Would that be fair to bodies of work that I had only acquainted myself with via such crude vessels as YouTube, or Spotify, or the distinctly dodgy tape player in my car?
I have had many a long rant at a friend (let’s call him O.W.K – he may well feature in future ramblings), trying to explain what I wanted to achieve here, that I wanted it to be a catalogue of my journey through USPM. Yes, he said, enthusiastically. YOUR journey through United States Power Metal. And I realise now that in order to do it any justice, I have to write from MY heart: no science. Who decides what goes on the list? I do! What bands go on there? Any band that I think deserves to. My method – madness! And my analysis – how it makes me feel.
Permit me though, to indulge in a definition: The Oxford dictionary defines music as ‘vocal or instrument sounds (or both) combined in such a way as to produce beauty of form, harmony and expression of emotion‘. This is as close as I’ll ever get to defining United States Power Metal.