Martin Popoff - Popoff Archive – 5: European Power Metal
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The 2020 eBook by Martin Popoff.
Popoff Archive – 5: European Power Metal is my 260-page book of interviews with members of Ark, Blind Guardian, Children of Bodom, Dirty Deeds, Dream Evil, Evergrey, Firewind, Gamma Ray, Hammerfall, Helloween, Labyrinth, Lullacry, Masterplan, Mercenary, Nocturnal Rites, Primal Fear, Royal Hunt, Saxon, Silver Mountain, Sinner, Stratovarius, Tad Morose, TNT and Warlock—a pile more detail below.
As I said in my letter to many of you asking to vote which genres to do, it’s been bugging me forever that I’ve got this interview archive of all these interviews I’ve done that will never wind up in any of my books, and thus likely never see the light of day... unless I made books out of them, of course! And voters, thank you for all the input and picking a few or even saying you would take them all. It’s possibly these only go so far as these respondents.
Again, very important: if you have a pile of my books, don’t worry about overlap—this is material I haven’t used in my books, with minor exceptions, a quote here or there. I don’t want to give you material you already have from me. So as a way to unlock this material, I’m compiling the raw transcripts, in Q&A form, with a little background info and historical context to each chat, into book form.
Popoff Archive – 5: European Power Metal, as you can see below, fleshes out a bunch of the Primal Fear/Sinner story, plus Helloween/Gamma Ray/PC69. A significant chunk of Hammerfall’s history is covered, as well as that of Blind Guardian and Children of Bodom. Power metal got a lot of votes, although that was before I’d split it up into US and European. But hopefully, the enthusiasm for both books is there.
In this edition, we have the following; I’ve included an excerpt from my lead-in explanation for each.
Ralf Scheepers, Primal Fear, Gamma Ray, February 1998
We’d soon have them showing up regularly in Toronto here, but back in ‘98, any of this sort of stuff making its way here was a rarity. This chat was predicated on the band’s very first album, Primal Fear.
Andi Deris, Helloween, PC69, April 1998
Good guys though, and a vibrant, vital band making lots of new music all the time. This chat was in support of Better than Raw, the band’s eighth album of regularly smart, mature power metal.
Joacim Cans, Hammerfall, March 1999
Still credit goes to Hammerfall for reigniting (Keep It) true heavy metal pride. Heck, it gave us a growing magazine to run for another ten years.
Nils Eriksson, Nocturnal Rites, April 1999
Awesome band, and forever left kind of mysterious, first, due to their death roots, second by their cool genre-straddling vibe.
Tony Harnell, TNT, May 28, 1999
This is one of those fairly detailed chats, because I had to spin a bio or one-sheet out of it to give to the label. At the end there’s a little bonus with the Norwegian guys who usually aren’t the spokesmen for the band.
Tony Franklin, Dirty Deeds, October 29, 1999
Loved the sort of stinging smack-in-the-face rock ‘n’ roll of this bunch.
Frank Roessler, Sinner, May 4, 2000
I guess what I’m saying is so much of this book is like a distant dream of another me.
Doro Pesch, Warlock, Doro, June 19, 2000
Doro is passionate and enthusiastic about her work, so that wasn’t going to be a problem.
Oscar Dronjak, Hammerfall, September 28, 2000
Hammerfall were at centre stage when the discussion would inevitably fire up o’er whether unabashed, unapologetic heavy metal could garner much of an audience, now up into the age of nu-metal.
Alexander Kuoppala, Children of Bodom, November 12, 2000
For this chat, we went off the expected Alexi to his second banana guitarist Alexander.
Mat Sinner, Sinner, Primal Fear, December 20, 2000
Impressive as well, he produces the thing, getting bold yet relentlessly professional tones from which Ralf Scheepers emerges armed with his banshee wail.
Christer Andersson, Tad Morose, February 23, 2001
Their name was always linked with Morgana LeFay, both bands being Swedish, both, tough, accessible and impressively pro.
Andre Andersen, Royal Hunt, May 20, 2001
Check out Popoff Archive – 6: American Power Metal to see what DC Cooper has said about Andre. Very interesting and pretty candid account—at least from his point of view, of course—on his break with Andre.
Tom S. Englund, Evergrey, July 3, 2001
Evergrey are one of those special cases of a band that doesn’t quite fit these easy subgenre categorizations we all use so that we can discuss metal in an efficient manner—yes, I think they are necessary.
Kai Hansen, Helloween, Gamma Ray, October 2001
I mean, really, is there any band that defines power metal more precisely, no eccentricities, than Gamma Ray?
Hansi Kürsch, Blind Guardian, January 28, 2002
A power metal band of distinction, Blind Guardian came to their high ranking the honest way, by toiling through the wilderness years, with a catalogue that goes all the way back to 1988, with Battalions of Fear.
Jorn Lande, Ark, Masterplan, The Snakes, April 15, 2002
Jorn Lande, now there’s a power metal rock star, the European David Coverdale, as it were. Everywhere Lande touched down, a very cool record emerged, not the least of which came from his solo band Jorn.
Joacim Cans, Hammerfall, November 14, 2002
Here’s another summit with the band that dared champion heavy metal and all its trappings.
Jens Johansson, Yngwie Malmsteen, Stratovarius, January 24, 2003
There was a lot of excitement around these guys, and they were perennials in our mag, Brave Words & Bloody Knuckles. Here’s a chat with the always delightful and jovial Jens, on the occasion of the band’s ninth album, Elements, Pt. 1.
Mat Sinner, Sinner, Primal Fear, January 29, 2003
Not sure that early mystique can ever be recaptured by the modern-day, self-aware Sinner, but you be the judge.
Sami Vauhkonen, Lullacry, February 20, 2003
They come, they go, but again, there was a good bit of buzz for this quite hard to categorize Finnish act, Lullacry caught somewhere between gothic metal, traditional metal, alternative metal and power metal.
Michael Weikath, Helloween, April 25, 2003
The inventors and reigning kings of power metal, Helloween, just kept cranking out the records and engaging their base as we worked our way through the ‘90s and 2000s, returning on May 12, 2003 with a record awkwardly called Rabbit Don’t Come Easy.
Andrea Cantarelli, Labyrinth, June 2003
Ah yes, Italian power metal. The reputation, of course, was of classical melody, keyboards, not a lot of heaviness, thespian vocals on top of epic, dramatic frilly sleeves metal that was almost poppy in its overall (lack of) heaviness.
Alexi Laiho, Children of Bodom, August 1, 2003
Children of Bodom were a pretty big deal at this point, and even today, I’m quite surprised how often I see their merch walking down the street supporting some sullen headbanging specimen of our city of six mil.
Anders Johansson, Silver Mountain, Yngwie Malmsteen, January 13, 2004
Had to take the opportunity to catch up on a little bit of hallowed frostcore history, for here was the immense Silver Mountain, reforming and issuing new product.
Urban Breed, Tad Morose, February 4, 2004
Here’s a chat with the literary head of a band that should not be forgotten.
Mat Sinner, Sinner, Primal Fear, February 12, 2004
I suppose the idea was that these guys were filling the void Priest and Maiden had left and they were doing it ably and efficiently. And they were German, so there was that.
Timo Kotipelto, Stratovarius, solo, April 2004
Yep, I even interviewed Stratovarius guys for their solo albums, so it seems.
Tom S. Englund, Evergrey, April 18, 2004
Another great album from Sweden’s progressive and emotive metal genre-jumpers, The Inner Circle was the band’s fifth, putting Evergrey on course for a high level respect from the metal community.
Rikard Zander, Jonas Ekdahl, Evergrey, April 26, 2004
Bonus chat on top of Tom’s pretty heavy analysis preceding, with Rikard, the keyboardist and Jonas, the drummer.
Gus G, Dream Evil, Firewind, July 2, 2004
Greek axe maniac Gus G was one of the first guys who really got that stigma of being in a bunch of bands all at once, and all of them power metal, just to make it even funnier.
Marcus Siepen, Blind Guardian, July 8, 2004
Pretty sure this short chat was also predicated on me writing a Guitar World survey about power metal.
Marcus Siepen, Blind Guardian, November 1, 2004
Man, interesting, there wouldn’t be another Blind Guardian album for two more years, making the gap between records four-and-a-half years.
Janne Wirman, Children of Bodom, November 10, 2004
This is more of an opportunity to put face to name, keep relations up between the mag and the band, as I went onto the ol’ tour bus to talk to Wirman.
Henrik “Kral” Andersen, Mercenary, December 22, 2004
Maybe it’s a bit of a provocation including this fine and creative Danish act in a book of power metal interviews. But there’s melody, there are keyboards, it’s proggy… balanced against all else, elements that might have the band classed as melodic death metal, I suppose.
Ralf Scheepers, Primal Fear, July 2005
So how would heavy metal history have been different had Ralf Scheepers got the Judas Priest gig instead of Ripper?
Oscar Dronjak, Stefan Elmgren, Hammerfall, August 10, 2005
Very cool finally getting to meet these guys in person, this interview taking place on the bus beside a Toronto venue called the Opera House, which is about a nine-minute walk from my office.
Kai Hansen, Helloween, Gamma Ray, May 4, 2006
It looks like I might have been working on the Derek Riggs book at this point, given the direction of the interrogation.
Biff Byford, Saxon, March 8, 2007
Wow, this has actually been a long journey. And those gin and tonics Tom Englund indirectly suggested have taken their toll. Let’s end with a band that was there at the beginning of all this.
Learn more about Martin Popoff at http://www.martinpopoff.com
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