Imagine deserted volcanic wasteland, freezing winds and the all-embracing darkness of the longest winters on this planet: The obvious inspiration for rather vicious and somber tunes for lonely evening hours that the biggest part of Iceland’s heavy music scene is known for. Who would even dare to think of tales about brave warriors and mystical creatures coming from such an island? Power metal seemed like a fairytale until 2017 when Reykjavík based sextet POWER PALADIN (originally founded as PALADIN) rose in quest of carrying out their uplifting tunes and finally proving everyone wrong. On an island known for its musical doom and gloom, they are the midnight sun.
“Iceland has such a great representation of extreme metal. We didn’t feel we had much to add to that scene so why shouldn’t we do the complete opposite?” the band recall their origins. A truly wise decision! Their first live performances and demo releases were of such good reception that they were booked for Iceland’s main underground festivals, Eistnaflug and Norðanpaunk, and subsequently played at one of the country’s biggest music events, Iceland Airwaves, in 2019.
Highly praised as a “standout” act by The Reykjavík Grapevine, POWER PALADIN kept crafting material at Windfyre Studios, composing their 9-track strong Power Metal debut album titled »With The Magic Of Windfyre Steel«. The opus is a historical landmark for both the group and Atomic Fire Records, being the label’s first full-length release since its recent founding.
“We actually started to write some of these tunes in the very beginning of our band history and captured them over the course of about two years at various places: at Ingi’s bedroom, at Atli and Bjarni’s [keys] workplace, at a cabin outside Reykjavík etc.,” POWER PALADIN say about their approach to songwriting and recording. And while self-producing such a splendid album has been no easy quest, it almost reads like a part from Joseph Campbell’s »The Hero’s Journey«: “So we went through a whole lot of trials, but that’s why we’re even happier and prouder of this record now!”
Mixed by Haukur Hannes at Mastertape Studios (AUÐN, DYNFARI etc.) and mastered by Frank de Jong at Hal5 Studio (BLEEDING GODS etc.), the album makes no secret of POWER PALADIN’s musical idols: “IRON MAIDEN, DIO, HELLOWEEN – the list of bands from the 80’s that influence us is a kind of obvious, but growing up we’ve actually listened way more to the second wave of power metal and acts such as EDGUY, RHAPSODY and HAMMERFALL,” they explain. The group’s love for fantasy games and books from authors such as Brandon Sanderson and Joe Abercrombie doesn’t remain unnoticed either: James Child (Astral Clock Tower Studios) translated that inspiration into the album’s adventurous artwork.
»With The Magic Of Windfyre Steel« gets the listener’s attention immediately. Air guitar-provoking lead single ‘Kraven The Hunter’, a track that’s frequently been aired via Iceland’s radio stations prior to the album’s release, peaking at position #1 of X-977’s chart, sets the right tone for this 51-minute venturesome ride. A ride that ranges from songs in the vein of the opening track like ‘Creatures Of The Night’ to rather aggressive bangers such as ‘Righteous Fury’ and ‘Ride The Distant Storm’. In the end, critics might say that “only a ballad is missing” to deliver all ingredients for a great heavy metal album. But does a power metal saga whose first chapter has just been written need one at all? Well, we will find out in chapter 2…
01. Kraven The Hunter
02. Righteous Fury
04. Dark Crystal
05. Way Of Kings
06. Ride The Distant Storm
07. Creatures Of The Night
08. Into The Forbidden Forest
09. There Can Be Only One
Ingi Þórisson | guitars
Atli Guðlaugsson | vocals
Bjarni Egill Ögmundsson | keys
Einar Karl Júlíusson | drums
Bjarni Þór Jóhannsson | guitars
Kristleifur Þorsteinsson | bass