Released By: Prosthetic Records
Release Date: May 17th, 2019
Genre: Power Metal
Taylor Washington – Guitars, Vocals
Alex Parra – Guitars
Andy McGraw – Bass, Vocals
Nathan McKinney – Drums
- Divine Providence
- Carpe Diem
- Call of the Night
- Black Omen
- Fall from Grace
- Bury the Light
- Shoot the Sun
- Dawn of Rebirth
As someone who’s always looking out for promising new power metal bands, one band that managed to catch me completely by surprise when seeking out new promo materials, is American power/thrash/melodeath band Paladin. I had never heard anything about the band going in, but apparently they released a demo in 2017, went through some lineup changes afterward, and now they’re ready to release their debut, Ascension later this week, and it is one heck of a killer album!
The band is led by vocalist/guitarist/songwriter Taylor Washington, who is clearly the star of the album, though the other three members also do an excellent job, of course. Musically, Ascension is quite the interesting release, as its two singles may make it seem like fairly typical power metal, except with a slight thrash edge to some of the guitar work, but there’s actually quite a lot going on throughout the majority of the tracks, with some very thrashy instrumental work at times, as well as some extended harsh vocal sections. In fact, while quite a few power metal bands do use growls on occasion, I struggle to think of many who do it quite the way Paladin do, where a song can start off feeling like thrashy power metal, with strong, soaring clean vocals, and then suddenly a huge, explosive melodeath section will come with some epic growls. And of course, it often goes the other way around, too, with “Carpe Diem” in particular starting out with a thunderous, powerful opening verse that brings classic Swedish medlodeath to mind, before opening up with a soaring, very melodic, cleanly sung chorus. And on top of all of that, the instrumental work often switches from very melodic, albeit guitar driven, power metal, into all out thrash territory within an instant. Suffice to say, the band does an excellent job of genre blending, and while the core of the music is definitely power metal, there’s quite bit of thrash and melodeath to find, often showing up seamlessly into a track, and everything is executed to near perfection.
Performances are excellent across the board, with Taylor and Alex Parra in particular delivering some excellent guitar work, which often switches from very melodic, to quite crunchy or quite aggressive and then back again, in a hurry, while Nathan McKinney’s drumming is generally frantic, to stay on pace with the generally speedy tempos of the tracks, but it’s also very well done. Taylor’s vocals are also impressive, alternating seamlessly between soaring, powerful clean vocals, and some deep, intense death growls, which fall somewhere in between classic death growls and blackened rasps. His clean vocals are smooth, and he does a great job during the epic choruses, while at times having a slight edge to his voice, which also works very well, and is especially effective during the thrashier sections. The songwriting is also impressive, with most songs doing a great job of incorporating different elements, though the couple of more straight-forward power metal tracks, “Awakening” and “Shoot for the Sun”, the two singles for the album, are also both excellent, immediately engaging tracks. Production is top notch, with everything sounding crystal clear and powerful, and for a debut, the band sounds very tight.
Songwriting is one area that can take time for bands to master, but Paladin has nailed it down quite well on their debut, with every song being excellent. It all starts off with opening track and second single, “Awakening”, a very speedy, melodic power metal track, which alternates between frantic, intense verses, and a soaring, melodic chorus, where Taylor really shines. It has some excellent melodies, especially during the chorus and excellent solo in the second half, as well as some riffs that slightly hint at a thrashier sound, though that doesn’t fully emerge until later in the album. Speaking of which, the next track, “Divine Providence”, introduces the band’s full sound, starting off at more of a relaxed mid tempo, before some powerful growls enter in early on, during an atmospheric section that introduces the band’s melodeath side, and then for a while the track alternates between clean and harsh vocals, as well as frantic sections and more mid paced sections, until a big instrumental section later on, where some obvious technical thrash elements appear. And thus, Palandin’s full sound has been properly unveiled, in all its glory, by the time the track is over.
The melodeath elements only get stronger on “Call of the Night”, which opens with a very speedy, melodic, growled chorus that certainly brings many classic Swedish melodeath tracks to mind. This continues on for a while, before Taylor brings back his clean vocals for an epic chorus, and then the track continues to alternate between melodeath and power metal as it goes on, which makes for one explosive, highly addictive track. Fans looking to hear the thrashier side of the band need look no further than “Call of the Night“, another frantic track, which kicks off with some very hard hitting, thrashy guitar work, and while it does throw in more growls during the chorus, it’s pretty much an unrelenting power/thrash assault from start to finish, with some very powerful and intense clean vocals from Taylor, as well as an incredibly fun and heavy instrumental section in the second half. It’s definite one of those tracks where the band does an amazing job of alternating between their wilder, heavier side, and their more melodic power metal side, with both aspects coming through perfectly. While the album has some great vocals, the more instrumental side of the band comes through strongly on “Black Omen”, another speedy, very hard hitting track, which has some great extended instrumental sections, and the guitar work gets very technical in places. There are some vocal sections, as always, including both clean vocals and growls, but it’s the instrumental sections that standout the most, most notably during the first minute, as well as an extended section in the second half, which alternates nicely speedy, heavy guitar work, and a very nice slower section.
The album moves into slightly more straight-forward material for a while, starting with “Fall From Grace”, another speedy, very melodic track, with an extremely strong chorus. It has a slight thrash edge to it during the verses, but it also has some very nice melodic guitar work, as well as one of the best choruses on the album. Next is “Bury the Light”, one of the band’s earlier songs, as it appeared on their 2017 demo, and it’s another track which brings some classic melodeath to mind, with some very melodic guitar work early on, before speeding up and unleashing some intense growled verses, which give way to a slightly slower, very melodic chorus, which alternates between the two styles. It’s a simply, yet very fun track, which again shows both the heavy and more melodic sides of the band quite well. Perhaps the most straight-forward song of all is lead single “Shoot for the Sun”, a fast paced, hard hitting track which has very technical guitar work, as well as some classic speed metal influences, with intense rapid fire verses, and a simple but fun chorus. It brings the first two Hibria albums to mind, and is definitely a very fun, catchy track, as well as a great display of heavy, guitar driven classic power metal.
Moving towards the end, “Vagrant” is another track which does a great job of incorporating the band’s various styles, with fast paced, slightly thrashy verses, a very melodic, cleanly sung chorus, and some growls here in there, as well as more thrahsy guitar work in the second half. Next is “Dawn of Rebirth”, another one of the more thrashy songs on the album. It has a nice mix of both vocal styles early on, as well as some great melodies during the verses and chorus, and then it the second half it has an extended instrumental section where the band goes into full on technical thrash territory again, and it’s absolutely glorious! Closing out the album is “Genesis”, the longest and most epic track of the bunch. It has some nice melodic guitar work throughout, and starts off with some powerful harsh vocals, during a nicely paced, though not terribly speedy section. It carries on at this pace for a while, before slowing down in the middle for some of the most melodic and beautiful guitar work on the entire album, and Taylor alternates wonderfully between his two vocal styles, delivering some of his best vocals with both styles, before the music picks up one last time to close out the album. It’s an epic track on its own, and it’s definitely an excellent way to close out the album.
Paladin is one of those bands that kinda crept up on me from out of nowhere, and they managed to make a strong first impression with their debut, Ascension. It’s an excellent blend of speedy, melodic power metal, aggressive, technical thrash and some epic, powerful melodious death metal. While the power metal elements are the most prominent and are on every track, the band does an excellent job of blending the three styles together on most of the tracks, which helps make it quite a unique album. Fans of all three styles are highly recommended to give this album a listen, as it’s an amazing debut on all levels, with excellent musicianship, great songwriting and a killer vocal performance. This is a band I could see doing really awesome things, so hopefully they can gain a large following with this album, and have the success they deserve!
Written by: Travis Green
My Global Mind – Staff Writer
Travis Green is a Canadian based writer for My Global Mind, with a particular passion for power metal, as well as an interest metal in all its forms.