Stormspell Records has rocketed to the top of my list of favorite labels this year, with a case of such enjoyable and varied heavy/power metal pyrotechnics as Blazon Stone, Grimgotts, Númenor, Ancient Empire, Nocturnal Alliance, Raging Fate, Dream Tröll, and perhaps my favorite of the lot, the subject of this review: Sweden’s Palantír.
There is no music in the world that I love more than the surge of classic, turn-of-the-millennium power metal that erupted out of Sweden between 1997 and 2003. Stormspell, for its part, has explicitly marketed the release of Palantír to fans of, and I quote, “Falconer, Lost Horizon, Morifade, Nocturnal Rites, Dragonland just to name a few.” If that’s not setting the expectation bar outrageously high for yours truly, I don’t know what is. I’ll be honest, I actually ordered this CD completely blind based on that recommendation alone — even before listening to the couple of songs that were featured on Bandcamp. I know, I know, I should know better at this point — but wouldn’t you know it? For once, and arguably when it mattered most, the ridiculous label media hype machine didn’t let me down.
Lost Between Dimensions is not perfect, and it’s not a particularly close tie to any of the Swedish greats mentioned above, but it is a delicious amalgam of Swedish power metal tropes — I would identify it most closely with Morifade, early Nocturnal Rites, and early Steel Attack — and it’s one of the most faithful recreations (do not read: disappointingly derivative) of that hallowed style that I have heard in quite some time. Vocalist Markus Olkerund (Starblind, briefly of Rocka Rollas) has a clean, capable delivery that, while lacking the abrasive edge gainfully employed by some of his countrymen, provides admirably memorable chorus lines, solid harmony, and adept smoothness. The guitar and rhythm work is refreshingly varied – there’s no ceaseless double bass ’n’ tremolo picked power chord repetition here. Palantír’s songs are varied and laden with nuance. From the evocative desert tonality of “Warriors Of The Sun”, with its lilting verses and headbanging chorus, to the long-running title track, which boasts a dramatic build and anthemic vocals, the trio varies tempo, guitar timbre, and percussive approach to creating a rich layer of compositions that rewards repeated listens.
When I review the qualities of this album, I find myself wishing only for little things: a little more guitar here, a little more vocal chutzpah there, and perhaps a bit more outside-the-box drumwork. However, given what Palantír has delivered without a dedicated keyboard player and with a relatively basic toolkit of sounds and genre expectations, I think it’s fair to assess this album with pride and fondness as a devout follower of Swede-power. It has turned out to be not only one of the foremost unsought power metal delights of 2017 but also one of my favorites for the year, period.
Tracks to check out: “Revival,” “Warriors of the Sun,” “Centre of My Life,” and “Lost Between Dimensions”