About Me

Interview with Power Paladin

Fast, powerful and hype. Those the best words to describe one of the best Power Metal albums, released on the 7th January, by Atomic Fire Records. From the Icelandic landscapes, Krilli, the bassist, chatted with Metal Imperium about the whole process of the album, the songs, music and video for “Creatures of the Night”. Did you know that the video was made on the other side of the globe? And that Iceland has a strong Underground scene?

M.I. - Hi there, Krilli. Greetings from Portugal to Iceland. How are you and how is everything in Iceland?

I’m good. I think everything is fine, except for the most part. 

M.I. - First things first, I would like you to introduce yourself and the band’s history, please.

My name is Kristleifur Þorsteinsson. I am the bass player from Power Paladin. We formed the band, back in 2017. Atli, our singer, had written a lot of material and wanted to start working on it. When the band our drummer Kalli was in, disbanded, he immediately contacted us and asked if we wanted to create a Power Metal band. 
It didn’t take long to fill out the rest of the band. We started working on material and played some gigs. Then in 2018, we started recording our album. It was finally released back last January, by Atomic Fire Records. It’s the short version.

M.I. - Iceland is known to be home to great bands, such as Sólstafír, Kontinuum and Audn. The Vintage Caravan have also made a good work, carrying the island’s music around the World. You are the first Power Metal band. How does it feel to be the first band of the genre of your country? Do you feel it will open new doors for bands to expand new horizons?

We’re not technically the first! I mean, I think we’re the first that has recorded an album and released it internationally, but a couple of years ago, none of all the previous albums, were known outside the country. But it feels great! We’re the only current active one and I think there was a need for Power Metal, here in Iceland (laughs). 
I don’t know about that! I think there’s already international horizons of the Icelandic Metal scene. I mean, you’ve mentioned bands like Sólstafír and it’s kind of who made the biggest impression internationally. I think that, although we are the first to make an impression in this particular subgenre, Icelandic bands continue to make a good name for themselves. 

M.I. - Let’s talk a bit about your origins, shall we? Iceland has a huge History of Extreme Metal, mainly on the Underground scene. Your live performances took place at the most important Underground festivals, such as Eistnaflug and Norðanpaunk. Therefore, you played at one of the country’s biggest music events, Iceland Airwaves, in 2019. How important is the Underground scene for the bands and the Metal community? Is it a way for them to get recognition and a deal with a label?

It’s very important, because when you form a band, you need someone to play to. If there’s no scene and no community to play for, there’s not much you can do. I mean, it’s been great playing at Eistnaflug, Norðanpaunk and these festivals. Having that, existing in the country, even though it’s a small country, it’s absolutely vital if you want to form a band and want to release good music. So, if it wasn’t for the community here, we wouldn’t probably even form the band.
I don’t think it was important in our case, because we finished recording the album and then it was picked up by the label. I don’t think the album would have existed without that community! It was interactively very important, but I don’t think the fact we played at these festivals had must to do with it, because I don’t think these festivals are known outside the country. 

M.I. - Congrats on signing with Atomic Fire Records. A new label that has much more to show us. Care to tell us how did that partnership started and how they contacted you?

We finished recording our album, it was ready back in January, last year. Originally the plan was simply to release it by ourselves on Spotify or something. But we sent the album to some friends, including a guy named Forster, who is a concert organizer, here in Iceland. He sent it to some people, including Markus, from Atomic Fire Records. They contacted us and wanted to talk to us. Yeah! The “ball” started rolling from there! It was kind of an accident! We sent it to our friend and he sent it to some friends. That’s how we had the record deal! They’ve been absolutely wonderful to work with! So great!

M.I. - “With The Magic Of Windfyre Steel” was released on the 7th January and is your debut album. The song that started it all and is considered an hymn is “Kraven The Hunter”. It is a catchy tune and marked your first physical release. It was aired on Iceland’s radio stations prior to the album release. It was chosen to the detriment of other songs. What criterion were important for the choice of this song and why this one?

I think it’s the most accessible on the album. It’s not really a Power Metal song. It’s almost like an 80’s serene Rock, with a sing-a-long chorus. I think that was the main reason that we chose it. It was kind of the most accessible and the most fun. It would grab more people’s attention!

M.I. - This album was recorded on the summer of 2020. The songs are hype, melodic, fast and super Power Metal. Still we can feel the power of the Icelandic nature: freezing winds, long winters and deserted volcanic wasteland. Even brave warriors, such as vikings and mystical creatures, would come from such a mystical place. How important is someone’s heritage to create an album, especially for a Power Metal band?

I don’t think it’s actually very important to us. I mean, we’re mainly influenced by European bands, like Rhapsody, Blind Guardian and Edguy. As you mentioned earlier, there’s been little Power Metal, here in Iceland. 
So, I don’t think that us being from Iceland, was a big influence on the album. On the contrary! Almost our influences are from abroad. From Europe, especially! 

M.I. - Let’s talk about the process. You started the writing of some of the tunes at the beginning of your history and we can hear it clearly at the songwriting. It was held at several places and despite being a self-produced album, which is an amazing and superb record, that has all the elements that the fans of the genre love, it wasn’t an easy task. Care to tell us more about that journey, please? 

When we founded the band, Atli, our singer, had a few songs written already. He had, at least, “Way Of Kings” and “Evermore” written before we formed the band. Our writing process is usually Atli or Ingi, our guitarist. It usually starts with a foundation for the song and then, they will send it to the rest of us, for feedback and improvements. The song will keep changing, the entire process and when we rehearse, we usually change it quite a bit. 
Once we recorded the songs, they changed quite a bit. Atli had written the songs, we started with them and then we, very quickly, wrote more songs together. Then we started recording, back in 2018. It was a huge boom, that both, Ingi and Bjarni, our keyboard player, are educated sound engineers. So, they had the all know-how and all the tools and skills, to record and produce the album. So, yeah! That was absolutely special!

M.I. - You even compared the making of the album like a part of Joseph Campbell’s: “The Hero’s Journey”. For those who aren’t familiarized with that book, care to give us a summary about it and tell us what is the subject?

I’m not sure who compared the album to that, but Joseph Campbell had this theory about an overhacking to human storytelling, where, it starts with a hero, who exists in the normal world and then he finishes a cult to adventure, which he refuses. Then he goes through all this stages, such as the crossing of the Threshold and into the magical world.
I’m not sure who, in the band, made that comparison, but it’s pretty funny. But I don’t think I would make it myself. For me, there’s a certain incomprehensible journey, called “A Meeting With A Goddess”. In that case for us, it was. Meeting Atli, I think!

M.I. - “Into The Forbidden Forest” has an Iron Maiden’s vibe to it and is very majestic. Also the German influence is very notable. How important is the European Metal scene to create the music? Which countries influenced you the most?

Very important! As I mentioned earlier, most of our influences, come from Europe, particularly Germany has been a hotspot for the Power Metal scene from the beginning: Helloween, Gamma Ray, Blind Guardian and Edguy are absolutely huge influences for us and you can definitely hear that on the album! Gamma Ray is especially a favorite of mine and “Into The Forbidden Forest” was one of the last songs that we actually wrote. There was another song that we planned for the album, that we ended dropping, because it didn’t work! So, we wrote something on the last minute and that was “Into The Forbidden Forest”! Yeah! It’s definitely my favorite song on the album! Personally, it is meant to be huge, soring and majestic!
Rhapsody, from Italy, Angra, from Brazil, are also a huge influence and just Power Metal and classic Metal from all over the World. Iron Maiden is a huge one, obviously. Judas Priest as well. They’re both from the UK. 

M.I. - “There Can Be Only One” has a great feature: orchestration and environment. How did you compose that theme?

Bjarni, our keyboard player, composed all the orchestration and programmed all the orchestration on the album. 

M.I. - With this album, you’ve proved that Iceland can also be a good country to produce awesome albums. Let’s talk about some songs: “Dark Crystal” starts with a slow progression, followed by a remarkable rhythmic variety. The most awesome thing about it, is how Atli Guðlaugsson sings it. How did you compose the music, the guitar lines and instruments for it?

Ingi, our guitar player, wrote that one. He actually wrote it before we formed the band. I believe that he was trying to form some kind of Prog Metal band. He was studying sound engineering, in the Netherlands. He wrote the song for the other band, which was a Prog Metal band. I think you can kind of hear it on the song: it’s a bit different, from the rest of the album. So, yeah! That’s entirely Ingi’s! it’s a really good song! 

M.I. - “Creatures of the Night” has some amazing features: the video! It was created by students in the Bachelor of Design (Animation & Interactive Media) program at RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia. They’ve collaborated with bands, such as Helloween, Children Of Bodom, Tankard, Korpiklaani and Alestorm to name a few. It was quite an adventure! How did they contact you and was it surprising that they showed interest on making the video? Did you follow all the magic, from day one until the end? Did they show you how they make the videos?

I believe that was through Atomic Fire, the label. They’ve been working with this animation school, in Australia, for a while now. They’ve done videos for quite a few other bands, throughout. I think they did one for Helloween and Children Of Bodom, I think! Yeah! They’ve been working with that school for quite a while! That’s how that came about. I absolutely loved that video! It was really weird to have someone animate you as a cartoon, for a music video. 
No! Initially they asked us for concepts, for what we would like to see on the vídeo “Creatures of the Night”. The lyrics are very evocative. So, we gave them the initial concept of us fighting these spooky creatures. That’s all what we told them. We saw some initial concept art, but then we didn’t see anything until we got the entire vídeo, right before it was released! 
No! We only saw the concept art for the sign of the characters and the signs of us in cartoon form, but we didn’t see anything of the process until it was completely finished. 

M.I. - “Kraven The Hunter” was transformed into a cool video!!! Tell us more!!!

The label contacted a guy named Glen Mountford, an Australian film-maker. We needed to make a video for “Kraven”. He shot it in Iceland, but we had no idea what to do. We had to toss around some ideas, but we ended up going with this story of us being suck, into an arcade, videogame machine. He recorded the entire thing in one day, at the office that Atli and Bjarni both work at. We didn’t clearly see the intro part of it. Working with Glen was great! So much fun!

M.I. - The album was mixed by Haukur Hannes at Mastertape Studios (AUÐN, DYNFARI etc.) and mastered by Frank de Jong at Hal5 Studio (BLEEDING GODS etc.). How did it go and did any band members help on that matter, since they have experience on sound engineering? 

Ingi did some rough mixes to begin with! But because Ingi and Bjarni have produced the entire album, we wanted some fresh air on it and the guys that did the mixing and mastering, they’re both Ingi’s friends. We did know them from their sound engineering studio, from Holland. So, he was in contact with them already. They did a fantastic job!

M.I. - Congrats on taking the number one spot on the Japanese Amazon. How important is Japan for Power Metal bands?

Thank you! It was a surprise! It’s quite important! Galneryus is an absolute Power Metal Titan! A lot of bands have live albums recorded in Japan, like Blind Guardian and Children Of Bodom are two them. So, we would absolutely love to go play in Japan someday and it was quite an honor to get the phenomenal reception we have there. It was quite a surprise!

M.I. - What are your Power Metal influences? And the other genres? Literature related, what are your favorite type of books and authors?

As I said before, the biggest Power Metal influences are Blind Guardian, Edguy, Helloween, Gamma Ray, Avantasia. Iron Maiden is a huge influence on all of us, as well as the classic, especially the new wave of the big Heavy Metal, from the 80’s. Hammerfall is another big one. So, yeah! Just all the Power Metal greats! All the Metal greats!
I’m not a singer myself, but Hansi Kürsch, of Blind Guardian and Tobias Sammet, of Edguy, I think, are two of Atli’s biggest influences. 
I think we’re all emerged in fantasy and sci-fi literature. I’m a big fan of Brandon Stanton and his New York Archives. “Decor” is a big one for me.

M.I. - Iceland is also known for not having too many concerts from metal bands from other countries. What’s your opinion about that? Since you’re becoming one of the ambassadors, will you help your metal scene and bring bands over there to play?

It’s just one of the costs of living on a rock, in the north Atlantic, I mean, but it’s great when bigger bands do come here. It definitely has pushed some pretty big ones a couple of times, like Meshuggah, Opeth, Behemoth. But we travel abroad quite a bit for concerts and we did it before the pandemic. All of us went to the Wacken Open Air a couple of times.
So, if the mountain doesn’t come to you, you come to the mountain!
I mean, hopefully! But I think it’s far more likely that we’ll come over to Europe to play! If we can attact some other bands to come play here, that would be fantastic as well! 

M.I. - Speaking of playing, do you have any plans for touring this year? What countries, maybe Portugal? Festivals? Could you tell us more details, please?

Not this year! We’ve only released the album and we started making plans after that. Everything is kind of opened in the air after the pandemic. It’s not impossible. We might play a couple of shows in Europe, but we’ll hopefully play more shows in Europe in 2023. Hopefully in Portugal! It would be fantastic!

M.I. - Thank you once again for the interview. Could you leave some words for Metal Imperium, Portugal and the Portuguese fans, that want to know you, please?

Thank you so much for the wonderful reception we’ve gotten! It’s been crazy! If you enjoy the album, that’s fantastic! Thank you!

For Portuguese version, click here

Listen Power Paladin, on Spotify

Questions by Raquel Miranda