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Power Paladin - With the Magic of Windfyre Steel

Power Paladin
With the Magic of Windfyre Steel
by Chris Hicklin at 18 January 2022, 5:22 AM

Better known for misanthropic Black Metal bands and the avantgarde output of electronic and post-rock exports such as BJORK and SIGUR ROS, Iceland is not renowned for producing a lot of ecstatically upbeat Power Metal acts, and yet here I am holding the debut release from POWER PALADIN, “With the Magic of Windfyre Steel” and examining perhaps the most garish album cover in recent memory.

Opening with an explosive drum intro, “Kraven the Hunter” thunders abruptly into our headspace, and Atli Guðlaugsson wastes no time at all in asserting himself, proving to be a highly capable vocalist who can go from a deep growl to a high pitched scream with ease. The guitars provide a harmonised dual lead melody, and later an impressive twin guitar solo that is technically diverse but not too showy.

On “Righteous Fury,” a dainty mandolin intro lulls us into a false sense of security before the full power of rhythm section players Einar Karl Júlíusson (drums) and Kristleifur Þorsteinsson (bass) is unleashed upon the unsuspecting audience. It is hard to overstate just how muscular this duo are in their tight and furious delivery, not only here but even more so on the febrile, thrash influenced “Dark Crystal”. In the same vein “Evermore” treats us to a nice little piano piece, before shattering the calm with some NWOBHM riffing and galloping off into the sunset, while the penchant for fanciful introductions is exercised yet again on the Medieval themed “Way of Kings”.

Special mention goes to “Creatures of the Night” which, after yet another enigmatic introduction by way of movie clip, develops into an anthemic sing-along with a brilliantly timed excursion into more traditional forms of Rock, a simple drum pattern keeps the beat while bluesy guitars swirl in a sea of Bjarni Egill Ögmundsson’s keys, building atmosphere bit by bit until the song triumphantly returns. One of the most dynamic pieces on the whole album, and really the only moment POWER PALADIN shows any interest in dabbling in any serious genre hopping. Be sure to check out the spiffy animated music video the band produced for this track, great fun.

Speeding toward the album’s inevitable conclusion the wizarding world’s most famous inhabitant makes an uncredited appearance in the seven-and-a-half-minute symphonic epic “Into the Forbidden Forest” before the spirit of The Kurgan is summoned for the monstrous album closer “There Can Be Only One,” a track that will certainly get the crowds moving when festival season rolls around.

Part of the fun of this album is trying to work out all the cultural references, many (if not all) of the songs are based around popular fantasy novels and films. In some cases, such as “Dark Crystal” the influences are obvious, others such as “Creatures of the Night” and “There Can Be Only One” require a little more specific knowledge. The production is exceptional throughout, the drum sound taut and defined, the bass and guitars are beautifully recorded, and the vocals are crisp. While they only occasionally push at the boundaries of Power Metal, preferring to stay true (for the most part) to audience expectations of the genre, the album never feels stale or derivative. Some of the tracks are stretched beyond their reasonable run time by a little by too much repetition, but on the whole this LP is an exciting ride from start to end.

Songwriting: 8
Musicianship: 9
Memorability: 8
Production: 8

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Kraven the Hunter
2. Righteous Fury
3. Evermore
4. Dark Crystal
5. Way of Kings
6. Ride the Distant Storm
7. Creatures of the Night
8. Into the Forbidden Forest
9. There Can Be Only One
Lineup:
Atli Guðlaugsson - Vocals
Kristleifur Þorsteinsson - Bass
Einar Karl Júlíusson - Drums
Bjarni Þór Jóhannsson - Guitars
Ingi Þórisson - Guitars
Bjarni Egill Ögmundsson - Keyboards
Record Label: Atomic Fire Records
     


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Edited 04 December 2022
 

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