By Greg Maki
When one thinks of Icelandic metal bands—an admittedly odd way to begin a sentence, but if you’re reading this, you probably have considered the subject at some point in a life that surely is more interesting than that of those who haven’t—power metal likely is not the first subgenre that comes to mind. Black metal, death metal—these are the kinds of harsh, unforgiving musical styles befitting an isolated island nation known for cold and darkness. Until now?
On its scintillating debut album, “With the Magic of Windfyre Steel,” sextet Power Paladin asserts itself as a vibrant new player in the world of power metal, proudly worshiping at the altars of Iron Maiden, Dio, Helloween, Edguy, Hammerfall, et al, as well as some of the greats of fantasy literature and gaming. With bright, dexterous leads on both guitar and keys, galloping rhythms and soaring vocals, including the occasional ‘80s-style gang vocal, this is one spirited set of tunes.
The record begins at its best, with the power metal bonanza “Kraven the Hunter,” based on a somewhat obscure—to me, at least—Marvel Comics character typically serving as an adversary for Spider-Man. With apologies to DragonForce, this would’ve been the song to beat in “Guitar Hero” had it been released 15 years earlier. If this track doesn’t grab you, you might as well hit stop, because to my ears, this is as good as power metal gets. Other highlights include “Righteous Fury,” channeling Iron Maiden in its rhythms and mid-range vocals, and the more mid-tempo groove of “Way of Kings,” inspired by the writing of Brandon Sanderson.
Throughout these nine songs, the pure joy and enthusiasm of the band members is almost palpable. I half expected them to burst from my speakers—a bit of an unpleasant thought when I consider it now, given that I was listening with my AirPods—clad in shining armor, swords held high, maybe a couple on dragonback. Like Bilbo when the dwarves invaded his hobbit hole, I’d soon find myself swept up on an epic adventure, though unlike that little sourpuss, I’d be an eager participant—as long as we get to jam this record on repeat until our destinies have been fulfilled.
Atomic Fire Records – January 7, 2021
Buy “With the Magic of Windfyre Steel.”