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Paladine – Finding Solace

Paladine
Finding Solace
by Dino "K_Knight23" Perelli (www.dadknight.com) at 26 June 2017, 12:18 AM

In the mid-nineties I read Dragons of Autumn Twilight by Mararet Weis and Tracy Hickman. Their high fantasy novel based off a Dungeons and Dragons campaign is a love song to the pen and paper game and the first entry into the series from which the band PALADINE garners its influence; named after the high and noble god of the Dragonlance universe.

PALADINE’S debut album, Finding Solace, feels like it would have been loaded in my Walkman while I was reading my Dungeon Master’s Guide in the nineties; and this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. There is something honest and refreshing about the traditional structuring of the songs that comprise the album - lots of galloping percussion and riffing, dual melodic guitars, harmonizing and clean vocals presenting hymn after hymn while occasionally breaking into articulated screams. PALADINE ticks off all the Power Metal boxes with “Finding Solace”, including haunting acoustics scattered across intros and outros and making up an entire track with “The Inn of Last Home”, which is beautifully atmospheric and makes me want to Live Action Role Play.

I’ll get the weakest track out of the way. “Metalizer”, although musically consistent with the rest of the album and reminding me of some punchy Judas Priest tracks, is disconnected for other reasons. It departs from the Dragonlance inspired tracks that make the rest of the album unified, and although technically proficient, doesn’t really stand out in all the surprising ways the other songs do.

Their namesake track, “Paladine”, is one of my favorites. The way Nick Protonotarios sings the name Paladine with earnest reverence isn’t so much the thing of pronunciation but one of prayer. These guys aren’t just selling this theme, they’re totally buying it; and I love them for it. The track is more of the same rhythmically thrashing riffs and galloping blast beats, and a bit of choral synthesizer. Hit the refrain. Nail the solo. Bridge it and queue the fade away outro. I know, it’s textbook and familiar, but it doesn’t bore.

“Master of Present and Past” had me nodding my head to the lyrics and wanting to sing along from the beginning. An anthem to darkness and power, the track never relents, bringing a fast paced solo just when you think they might cut out. The nonstop pressure and declaratively pounding sound is an aural assault of apocalyptic proportion that completely captures the material that they draw their inspiration from. It’s so by the book, but damnit I love it. “Mountains are melting from the power of his spell” and “demons are marching” and I’m grinning like an idiot.

Lyrically, each track pays homage to a character or setting within the lore, similarly to how the last track focused on Dragonlance fan-favorite, Raistlin Majere. Even if you’re not a fan of the novel, it might still feel redundant. Our first track, “Dragonrider”, is a familiar soundscape punctuated by high noted screams, reminding the listener about twelve times the speaker is a dragonrider. The song almost became a parody of itself when it surprised me by cutting the distortion and going into a slow, acoustic dirge complete with background flute and soft, harmonizing vocals that might have accompanied Boromir’s funerary procession; this moment of solace is broken by a burning guitar solo and more high-pitched notes that reminded me of Bruce Dickinson.

Their sixth track, “Finding Solace”, is a soft acoustic lament in which I found nostalgic reminiscences of an era in this musical genre as a veiled parallel to the time before the book series’ Age of Despair. Groups like PALADINE remind me of my youth, when the world didn’t seem so dark and crazy, and in a sense, listening to the album provided an idiosyncratic solace itself. Personally, I felt a closeness and felt like I was coming home to something I had almost forgotten. Perhaps the best characterization of the album, as I’ve expressed, is comfortably ‘familiar’ – a word coming from Latin to mean “house servant” or “to serve” – and that’s what this track does, it serves to remind me of a part of my life long ago, of a home I left. You won’t need to be a fan of the Dragonlance series to feel the emotion in the pleading, plucked strings and warm strumming.

The track transitions into a catchy bass solo by Chris Stergianidis that opens “Midnight Sky”, which reminds me that there aren’t enough songs about werewolves not performed by SONATA ARTICA. The track pulses with aggression, taking a temporary pause to feature maddening whispers and a valuation of lycanthrope before ripping into another solo.

PALADINE draws inspiration from early nineties metal, but this reviewer would argue that the band performs best when demonstrating its flexibility, blending the larger-than-life sound of their power roots with a folk accompaniment of a certain ethnic edge that reminded me of the band’s home country. You’d expect this at some renaissance faire. The soft tavern music is a pleasant contrast that grounds them as well as emphasizes that although formulaic, PALADINE is a sincere album, unabashedly in love with the genre, and although its interpretation doesn’t bring anything new to the table, it is not a soulless facsimile of others and times gone by. Rather, it is an entry that could have been presented to me as a newfound artifact of the past.

Sometimes you don’t need to reinvent the wheel. If you like power metal or the fantasy setting, these Grecian troubadours will bring you some ambrosia.

Songwriting: 7
Originality: 7
Memorability: 8
Production: 9

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Dragonrider
2. Master of Present and Past
3. The Inn of the Last Home
4. Knight of the Black Rose
5. Paladine
6. Finding Solace
7. Midnight Sky
8. The Metalizer
Lineup:
Chris 'Crazy' Stergianidis - Bass
Stamatis "Revan" Katsafados - Drums
Nick 'The Metalizer' Protonotarios - Guitars (Lead), Vocals
Thanos Kollintzogiannakis - Guitars (Rhythm)
Marilena Plitsi - Keyboards
Record Label: No Remorse Records
     


Rating

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Edited 19 November 2017
 

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