Power Paladin – Riding the Quest for SteelSunday, 16th January 2022
Aiming to strike at the hearts of all who love fantasy, magic, and power metal, Power Paladin seemingly have come out of nowhere and made a decent impact to start the year in their debut album With the Magic of Windfyre Steel. The sextet understands how to keep the melodic touches and virtuoso passages aligned, making sure that you come away firing up the choir singing support in a way that fans of Helloween, Ordan Ogan, Blind Guardian on through to Running Wild, Edguy, Stratovarius or even Dragonforce legions can appreciate.
We reached out to bassist Krilli Porsteinsson and guitarist Ingi Porisson to fill us in a bit more on the formation of the band – the nature of being a power metal band in Iceland – as well as the recording process, signing with Atomic Fire, their surprising appeal in the black metal scene locally, and a bit of their affinity for video games.
Dead Rhetoric: What are some of your earliest memories surrounding music growing up? How did you make the progression into heavy metal music – and when did you start to get the urge to pick up an instrument and perform in bands?
Krilli Porsteinsson: When I was a toddler, I would stand by the CD player and listen to the start of “Owner of a Lonely Heart” by Yes over and over again. I had figured out that I could press the back button to restart the song. The song starts with a pretty chunky, distorted electric guitar. I remember that I really liked how that sounded. That is my first musical memory. As a teen I got really into Iron Maiden, which later branched out into other bands and genres of metal. That inspired me to start playing the bass.
Ingi Porisson: My brother sang in the choir for a high school rendering of Pink Floyd’s The Wall. I don’t think I knew what I was listening to then but the whole thing was recorded on video, that we of course bought. I watched that thing more times than I can count as a kid, singing with the songs, etc. My parents got me into David Bowie as well with Ziggy Stardust being a big part of my musical upbringing. I studied classical guitar as a kid (I think I flipped a coin about whether to study guitar or the accordion) and my brought taught me a few songs, including a couple by Metallica (“One” and “Nothing Else Matters”). That was probably my first dive into heavier music.
Dead Rhetoric: Power Paladin originated as Paladin in 2017 before changing monikers. Describe the process of forming the lineup, was it an easy or difficult process being from Iceland, and did you know straight away the type of power metal you wanted to develop or did the style and characteristics take time to gel?
Porsteinsson: It was pretty easy to form the band. We’ve all known each other for a long time and have played in various bands together. Atli, our singer, formed the band when he recruited me and Kalli, our drummer, after our previous band dissolved. Ingi and the Bjarnis (Por Jóhannson – guitars and Egill Ögmundsson – keyboards) formed pretty much immediately afterwards.
There was never any question as to what we’d play. From the word go Atli asked me if I wanted to join a power metal band. We’ve all been into power metal for a very long time, and Atli had quite a lot of material written long before he formed the band.
Dead Rhetoric: You released a single “Kraven the Hunter” in late 2020 – how was the response to this effort, and do you believe this helped you establish a foothold and presence not only locally but internationally?
Porisson: It was a lot better than we expected, especially here in Iceland – we never thought a glam rock-ish power metal song about a supervillain would be played on Icelandic radio for as long as it did. It definitely helped us get a foothold locally, but I think it did little in regard to the foreign market.
Dead Rhetoric: You signed with new upstart label Atomic Fire Records – who contain many seasoned veterans from Nuclear Blast. What was the process like in signing with this label – and what do you hope you are able to achieve with them versus remaining independent?
Porsteinsson: We had initially planned to release the album by ourselves. We never had any notions of finding a label or promoting the band much. We just wanted to make an album that we enjoyed. After we finished the album, we sent it to some friends, which included Porsteinn K, who is the organizer of Wacken Metal Battle Iceland, and a seasoned concert organizer. He sent it to some people, and some of these people were the people that would form Atomic Fire.
Porisson: Like I said with our 2020 release of “Kraven” – it didn’t really go anywhere outside of Iceland. But with people like Markus, Phillip, Sarah, and others from AF our music has reached far greater of an audience than we’d ever dreamed of.
Dead Rhetoric: With the Magic of Windfyre Steel is the debut full-length for Power Paladin. What were the songwriting and recording sessions like for this record? Any special moments or memories standout – and did you have to work through any obstacles, surprises, or COVID-19 related restrictions to get the final output the way you envisioned?
Porisson: The recording sessions were often short and far in between in the beginning because we were just getting a foothold in the Icelandic scene and kept getting asked to play at gigs. When COVID-19 hit we actually finally managed to focus wholly on the album. Most of the basics were recorded at my place, but the biggest standout was the final push we did to finish recording when most of us went to a cabin for a few days and laid down the final tracks. That’s when a lot of really great ideas came forth.
Dead Rhetoric: How did the cover concept come about for this album with artist James Child? It’s quite breathtaking and has standout qualities that seem tailor made for ideal merchandise possibilities…
Porsteinsson: Atli found James’ stuff online. He had done a lot of fantasy artwork and commissions, and his style was perfect for what we wanted. If I remember correctly the only criteria we gave him was that it has to be huge, it had to have all the members of the band somewhere, and it had to have a dragon.
Dead Rhetoric: What characteristics or traits do you believe are important to convey with the lyrics, music, melodies, and harmonies for Power Paladin song to song? Is it also a challenge to meet the expectations of what you want to get across musically as a sextet without overstepping the needs of each song as songwriters and performers?
Porisson: Big choruses. Nothing in this band will work without a gigantic chorus. But we never really feel like we have to argue too much. Some solos are cut here and there, some verses are shortened, some orchestral arrangements are made a bit less overwhelming, etc. but it normally ends with us all agreeing with the end product. One moment comes to mind, when Atli really wanted us to have a harpsichord solo in “Ride the Distant Storm”. I was very reluctant to that idea (a solo had to be cut for it), but after he pushed it on, I decided ‘okay, I’ll show him it won’t work’ and sat down to write a harpsichord solo so bad that he would hate it. Obviously, I failed, and now that’s one of my favorite parts of the album.
Dead Rhetoric: How would you describe Power Paladin when it comes to your live performances compared to what people hear on the record? And what have been some of your favorite memories to date on stage?
Porisson: It’s a lot rawer while playing live, but we still try to keep the ‘big sound’ element to it by utilizing playbacks for choirs and orchestras, even dual leads. The record is a lot more polished. My favorite moment right now is playing at Andkristini 2021 – a black metal festival. Didn’t expect the crowd to accept us as well as they did.
Dead Rhetoric: What do you consider some of the biggest challenges the band faces to date? Do you believe being from Iceland can be a difference maker to the good, or is it harder to prove your value and worth compared to power metal acts from say Germany, Scandinavia, or North America?
Porisson: I think the only challenge we face is the fact that we’re not allowed to play here in Iceland. It can be a bit sad to practice for a gig only to have it cancelled on your, but we’re hopeful for the future! Being from Iceland has helped us in a way that it’s something people associate us with – the power metal band from Iceland.
Dead Rhetoric: What would surprise people most to learn about the members of Power Paladin as people? Do you share any interesting hobbies, passions, or interests away from music when you need that creative/collective recharge?
Porisson: 50% of the band are programmers by trade. But we’re a nerdy band, guess that’s not really a surprise. We love playing video games together as well, which is not surprising either. Me, Krilli, and Atli have been playing a lot of 7 Days to Die in the last week for example.
Dead Rhetoric: Who do you use as a benchmark that would you like to see your career possibly parallel in terms of creativity, success, and respect? Do you set short term and long-term goals for the group – and if so, where would you like to see the band growing over the next few years?
Porsteinsson: I think all of us have very little in the way of expectations or goals for the band, and I think this is a good thing. As mentioned earlier, we had no plans to seek out a label or do much in the way of promoting the band, and all of this is kind of an accident. This band is a hobby for all of us, a thing we do for fun, and not a career, and we don’t want it to become one. It is already wildly more successful than we ever anticipated. If the band were to dissolve tomorrow, all of us would walk away satisfied, having achieved everything we set out to do and then some. We are thankful and humbled by the reception that we have received, and we’re all just a little bemused and seeing where this goes.
Porisson: I for one won’t be fully satisfied until we play at Wacken though.
Dead Rhetoric: What worries, fears, or concerns do you have regarding the world that we live in currently? If you had the power, energy, time, and resources to make an impact and change those aspects, what do you think needs to be worked on currently to make the world a better place for all?
Porisson: I think global warming will always affect us and we need to tackle that. If I had any power at all I would want to fix that. What’s the best way to go about it though, I’m not sur, although we definitely need to stop eating meat.
Dead Rhetoric: What can you tell the readers about the music and heavy metal scene in Iceland? Who are some artists to look into, and do you feel you have decent support in your home country for your style or do you have better support in other parts of the world?
Porisson: It’s a very solid scene and always has been. It’s often the same people in many bands but that doesn’t mean that different bands don’t have different characters. The black metal scene here is amazing even though it probably consists of like eight to ten people but recently some young newcomers to the scene have been starting some of the most intense bands I’ve seen in a while. There’s a lot to be excited about. We feel we have a very surprising support from the black metal scene, something that we did not expect so yeah, we definitely feel the support here.
Dead Rhetoric: What does the next year or so look like for Power Paladin in terms of promotion for the new album?
Porisson: Good question, it’s hard to decide anything when it comes to live shows, but hopefully we’ll be able to at least play a release gig! If not, then I’ll guess we’ll just go back to writing new songs.