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Shiroe Makabe’s Top 10 Sword-Metal Bands

Written by Top 100 Arena on 2012-08-18

What is sword-metal?  It is heavy metal music with a fantasy theme, that is, metal music about swords!  It is the greatest kind of metal out there because of a variety of elements, from the operatic singing to the intricate guitar work.  Here are some of the best sword-metal bands out there.  Check them out and convert to the Metal Brotherhood!

10.  Dragonland https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PGP5LgUsvK0
This up and coming band is just working their way into the sword metal scene, but with a huge bang.  Some of their songs are about The Lord of the Rings.  And check out “Never-ending Story,” a cover of the 80’s song for the movie.  Anyone who can power-metal that has potential as a sword-metal band.

9. Kamelot https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J-TUufvK0gU
This band performs a lot with Nightwish, and it is easy to see why.  The sounds of the two bands are very similar: ethereal in quality yet symphonic and melodious.  Note the eerie soprano in the background of “Ghost Opera.”

8.  Iron Maiden https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xSZbbTjM0Es
This classic metal band is an early example of sword-metal as a genre.  Before there were several types of metal, there were bands like this, Metallica, and Black Sabbath rocking the halls.  In the case of Maiden, they were singing about swords.  “Can I Play with Madness” is a classic about a youth experimenting with magic.

7.  Blind Guardian https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c98gIxCe1zo
With a lead singer who was operatically trained and an epicness to their sound, this German band delivers a punch.  The song “Battlefield” was chosen by Adult Swim for their Robot Unicorn Attack: Heavy Metal Edition, and the song fits in well with the explosions and other game sound effects.

6.  Nightwish https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i5SUSmedMm8
One of the most famous sword-metal bands, this Finnish band is interesting because they have a female lead singer whose voice, integrated with a traditionally male genre, is otherworldly.  Influential to many other sword-metal bands, Nightwish is almost like listening to a band of faeries perform heavy metal. 

5.  Sonata Arctica https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gkx24b10c7Q
This quintet is considered progressive metal or speed metal, but what they combine is melodic guitar with synthesizer to create a unique sound that is 100% Sonata Arctica.  Add this to the fact that lead singer and songwriter Tony Kakko is a self-taught musician with only two years of formal training and what you have is one of the best bands of all time. 

4.  Rhapsody of Fire https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5-TbGS0eU7g
This Italian band does entire albums that tell one single story.  For example, their album Symphony of Enchanted Lands is about four princes seeking out a magical sword.  With powerhouse guitars and action-packed lyrics, Rhapsody of Fire is actually one of the better-known bands of the genre.

3.  Dragonforce https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aUWCrCXiVpA
This British metal band actually has two guitarists, who work in tandem to create an incredible and dynamic sound experience.  A lot of their songs have inspirational themes about persevering through hardship and being strong.  “Valley of the Damned” is a flat-out fantasy story, though.  Dragonforce is easily the most popular sword-metal band out there currently, with “Through the Fire and Flames” featured in Guitar Hero.

2.  Black Sabbath https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YCjspyo-_aI
Black Sabbath is more famous for being a precursor to the metal genre in general, but because of their occasional fantasy song as well as their undeniable influence over some of the other bands on this list, they deserve a spot here.  Ozzy Ozborne, the lead singer, almost deserves his own spot on this list for some of his songs, such as “Bark at the Moon.”  But even Ozzy wouldn’t be Ozzy without Sabbath.

1.  Manowar https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sLCTq1QdFq8
Manowar is the band that defined sword-metal as a genre.  When they’re not singing about motorcycles, or how awesome metal is, they are singing about swords and battles.  Imagery of Viking raids comes to mind when listening to a Manowar song.  Even great ballads like “Heart of Steel” or “Swords in the Wind” are centered around a fantasy theme. 

Altogether, these bands are the top bands of the genre.  Even if you don’t like metal music, they’re worth checking out because unlike mainstream metal, they’re melodic, richly-toned, and have great vocal work.  Plus, the music is inspirational and energizing, at least to me.  I hope you enjoy!

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