Popoff, Martin, European Power Metal (Book Review)

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Author: Popoff, Martin
Title: Popoff Archive 5 – European Power Metal
Date Published:  2018
Publisher: PowerChord Press
Reviewed:  August, 2018
Reviewer: JP
Rating  3.5/5

Just in time for some summer holiday reading, Canadian author extraordinaire has released a one-two punch of books.  His own Powerchord Press has published POPOFF ARCHIVE parts five and six namely, EUROPEAN POWER METAL and AMERICAN POWER METAL. I’ve read and reviewed both of them back to back and you will notice a lot of similarity between the books and my reviews, but that is exactly the point.  As part of the series, they even look good standing all lined up on your bookshelf, which plays nicely into my obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Like all the books he publishes, you get a good quality paperback, nicely laid-out and easy to read.  In case you are not familiar, for years Popoff has had all these interviews lying around and they weren’t getting made into the big-name’ books about Sabbath, Priest, Maiden etc.  Instead of having this treasure trove of material sit dormant, he screened it, cleaned it up and has presented about 95% new material, hence the opening of the archives.

Looking at EUROPEAN POWER METAL, I think this book was written exactly for me. It has interviews with many people from my best-loved bands.  The book contains 39 interviews ranging from 1999 to 2007, and unlike it’s American counter-part which focuses on only one country, we get bands from Germany, Sweden, Finland, Italy, Denmark, Greece and England, even though technically not part of Europe, we will let it slide.  Beside Biff of Saxon lives in France, so close enough.

There are multiple interviews with the saviours of Metal (in my mind anyway) the Hammerfalls and Primal Fears, interviews with the old dogs, the Helloweens, Blind Guardians and Gamma Rays and great discussions with bands who at the time were pretty unknown such as Nocturnal Rites and Firewind. Popoff digs deep and gets into cool chats with some of the darker stuff like Evergrey and Mercenary. I suppose that is one of the reasons I loved BW&BK magazine back in the day, they were the only North American magazine smart enough to play attention to the emerging global Power Metal scenes, and not just the Nu-Metal that was contemporary in the United States at the time.   I can’t count how many times people being interviewed said the US was just a weak market for this type of music.

Highlights were some cool interviews with Doro during her ‘darker’ years as she was transitioning from her original melodic 80’s style, through her darker experimental years, to her Germanic, anthemic, pounding Metal style where her style has settled for the last five or six albums. It was also certainly cool to learn more about Tad Morose!    He interviewed Italy’s Labyrinth but I would have liked a few more interviews with the other four members of the ‘Big Five’ of the Italian progressive Power Metal scene;  DGM, Eldritch, Secret Sphere and Vision Divine. However, the title of the book is ‘Power’ Metal so I guess the pack of keyboard-loving, frilly-sleeved, Italians with wild manes maybe didn’t make the cut.

As with anything in life, your preference for this book will be determined by your tastes.  I happen to love and own the vast majority of all the catalogues of every European Power Metal band interviewed, so to me this book is fascinating and totally worth it.  This is a fairly limited run so grab yours today!