Power Paladin - With the Magic of Windfyre Steel
Atomic Fire Records
Power Melodic Metal
9 songs (51'26")
Release year: 2022
Reviewed by Alex

As difficult and as stressful as my year end 2021 turned out to be, I wasn't in the mood for anything serious. Being from Iceland Power Paladin may have turned out to be one of the burgeoning black metal bands from that country, but the moniker itself and the cover art gave me a hint I can be in for a mindless power metal ride. Something I could definitely go for at that moment … and I turned out to be right, although mindless is not quite an epithet I would attach to With the Magic of Windfyre Steel, the band’s debut.

Without much intro Power Paladin plunges into Kraven the Hunter from the get go. Possessing some harshness, but also indulging in a lead, throwing in some flamenco acoustics and even a hint of glam metal, Kraven the Hunter is honestly not the typical album song. Righteous Fury, with its teeth shattering double bass transitioning into a gallop, to be repeated several times again (Ride the Distant Storm, Into the Forbidden Forest) is a much more typical representative. Epic, but without abusing symphonics, not emulating Rhapsody, but really reminding me of Lost Horizon and Hammerfall, Power Paladin would have been a power melodic find somewhere 20 years ago … until that genre ran out of steam for me. Sometimes a dead ringer in terms of rhythm and melodies for the aforementioned Lost Horizon (Ride the Distant Storm), the album covers many cliches from the standard genre book but is hellbent on delivering bright, jovial and sunny disposition. Sometimes these songs shine so brightly, they can blind, and you notice some cheese helpings in spoken vocals of Evermore or keyboard lead in Ride the Distant Storm. Cartoonish opening on Creatures of the Night made me really think whether these lads are taking themselves seriously or having way too much fun, but throughout all its twists and turns on With the Magic of Windfyre Steel the band manages for guitars to fight through eventually and maintains catchiness. In fact, I tended to like the latter half of the album better, meaning that not all Power Paladin’s secrets were revealed in the first 2 minutes, and songs like Into the Forbidden Forest, also replete with gallop to double bass beats, justify their length with an epic middle. Even closer There Can Be Only One, where you think it must be a ballad with a piano opening, slides into another last hurrah punchy gallop. With a few folk touches as well, Power Paladin doesn’t become early Falconer, but stays away from being plasticky polished.

Atli Gudlaugsson’s vocals are rather high, which adds to this perennial sunshine atmosphere, but it lacks a bit of power in the middle and lower register, so he is helped with a gang vocals from time to time. At the recent 50 yrs of Metal tour by Judas Priest (the concert I took my son to) Swedish Sabaton were a supporting act. While not terrible, I think I wouldn’t mind if Power Paladin substituted them and provided the audience with a looser, less militaristic fun. True to their cover art, and mentioning kings, dragons and sorcerers in their lyrics, these Icelanders do come off as relaxed, authentic and engaging. Definitely less uptight than anything Rhapsody put out in the last 8-10 years, if you are a fan of old Hammerfall, Edguy or, yes, Lost Horizon, you can easily add 10 more points to the score and owe it to yourself to seek this out. I am far from being a fawning fan, but this is quite respectable.

Killing Songs :
Righteous Fury, Ride the Distant Storm, Into the Forbidden Forest, Way of Kings
Alex quoted 80 / 100
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