As opposed to other forms of metal such as doom or death metal, power metal has much cleaner vocals with notes ranging from tenor to almost soprano in quality. These characteristics can be seen in musicians such as Ronnie James Dio, who sung with multiple bands including Black Sabbath before starting his own band, Dio, in the early 1980s. The typical power metal lyrics are quite varied with themes such as mythology and war being common as seen in bands such as Dragonforce, Manowar, and Firewind.
There are two subtypes of the genre, American and European power metal. American power metal, which is characterized by high vocal registers, focuses on themes such as war more than its European counterparts, which tend to have more uplifting lyrics. Bands such as Liege Lord, Savatage, and Manowar are among the most well known American power metal bands. European power metal, which was initiated largely in Germany with bands such as Helloween and Angel Dust, combines the American use of guitars with the more melodic sound of the keyboard. European power metal has succeeded in surpassing American power metal in popularity, espousing more ballad-like qualities with more classical, fantastical, and romantic themes.