I am sure that all epic metal fans know Paladine, the band from Greece, which delivers anthemic epic metal and is influenced by the Dragonlance saga novels! Well, the Greek epic heavy/power metallers have just released their sophomore album, “Entering the Abyss”, and are ready to conquer the world with their fine blend of European and American power metal. Myth of Rock, enchanted by the new songs of Paladine, came in contact and spoke with Paladine mastermind/bassist, Christ Stergianidis, who answered humbly and patiently our long list of questions. Come on, let’s enter the abyss ! …
by Michalis Kapetanakis
You are now releasing your new album, “Entering the Abyss”, four years after your debut album, “Finding Solace”. How did this debut album go commercially? What’s your opinion for this album now?
It did quite well, I believe, in spite of being a debut album, with several problems in its production, coming from a new band that came out of nowhere. People embraced it, mainly because it is an honest album, true in any case. What do I think of it today? Of course, I would change a lot of things, but this makes sense, since whatever you listen to after a long period of time, with all the experience you gain through the years, you definitely want to change various things in it. It is very likely that after four other years, I will want to change some things in “Entering the Abyss”. This has to do with evolution and how you perceive some things over time.
What should the heavy/power metal fan expect from “Entering the Abyss”? Would you say that this new album is the natural continuation of “Finding Solace”? How important is this album for Paladine?
What is on “Entering the Abyss” and what every fan should expect from it is an epic style, epic melodies with very anthemic refrains. An album based on a very beautiful story, which unfolds slowly before him, while listening to the songs. A strong and much more sophisticated than previously rhythm section, stormy solos and very passionate, punchy vocals. In a nutshell, a very carefully carved and to the point album. To be frank, I wouldn’t call it a natural continuation, but a natural progress. I believe that “Entering the Abyss”, if you exclude the subject of the lyrics, has nothing to do with “Finding Solace”. The second album is the most important for a band, I think, because at this point, you have found your identity. Always the first album moves in more experimental phases and surely the band is still looking for what paths its existence will follow. The second album is much clearer on that.
In the new album, Nikos Protonotarios sings only. Why did he leave the guitar?
Apart from the fact that two excellent guitarists joined the band, Sotiris Paraskevas and John Kats, I think it was better for Nikos himself to dedicate much more to the voice than to have also the weight of the guitars, which happened on the first album. This decision was made long before the production of the second album. From the live show with Q5. Certainly in the live concerts now, Nikos, handling only the vocals, will be able to give all his potential to singing and performing on stage.
Paladine has three new members, two guitarists (Sotiris Paraskevas, John Kats) and a drummer (Babis Tsolakis). How were these new members selected for the Paladine line-up? Is there the desired chemistry in the band’s new line-up?
Sotiris came first in the band. Two years after the release of “Finding Solace”, if I remember correctly. He immediately matched with the band, as he is a great player, but above all, a very good guy, quite low-profiled, with a lot of appetite, always developing due to the unstoppable practice. A diamond for our scene. Later, during the production of the album, John Kats came and a little later, Babis Tsolakis. I don’t hide the fact that I had a discussion with John a few years ago to come to the band, but the right time was now. A very good guy, with an appetite for creation and an excellent player. He came and matched with the band immediately, I believe. Then, Babis, the brother! Whatever you may say about this guy, is little. Well-known drummer with his very successful band Fragile Vastness. So many years in the field and in the scene. A gentle giant. An awesome transfer, I'm really glad that I got to know him much better through the band.
The current line-up of the band doesn’t include a keyboard player. Who did play the keyboards on the new album? Why isn’t Marilena Plitsi, who played the keyboards on “Finding Solace”, anymore in Paladine?
All keyboards on the new disc are midi. We are very happy that we had Marilena in the band, a very talented pianist, but for personal reasons she did not want to continue with the band and of course we wish her the best. We did not want to look for a new keyboardist in Paladine, because the band would later consist of six people, which doesn’t make it very flexible.
When and where did the recordings of ‘’Entering the Abyss” take place”? Why did you choose again Thimios Krikos as the producer? Which are Thimios Krikos’ characteristics as a producer?
The recordings began in the beginning of 2020, after the preproduction was complete, something very important for the production itself. Thus, we began with the guitars, which were recorded at Thimios Krikos’ home studio, and the drums, the bass and the keyboards followed. Some acoustic instruments were recorded at the DevaSoundz Studio. Vocals were recorded by Nikos Protonotarios at his home studio in England and we left the solos for the end.
Our co-operation with Thimios on the first album was very pleasant and very friendly. Having developed a very nice relationship with him, I decided to work again with him on the second album. He is a person, who honors the work of every band and tries for the best result. Let me also mention the great help of Nikos Iosifidis in the whole production.
Thymios as a producer is very meticulous. In a good way. He can take out of every player, who is recording, the 100% of his potential. He sweats the shirt, as we say in slang, and he is in general very pleasant as a person.
This second album was mastered by Giorgos Nerantzis. How much important was Giorgos’ role in the final result?
His role was huge. I believe that the mastering was the strong point of the production, by an acclaimed professional. In fact, two masterings were done, because we didn’t get exactly what we wanted with the first mastering. The persistence of the band in the specific style that we wanted and the professionalism of Giorgos brought the desired result.
Who were the song composers and who wrote the lyrics of the new songs? How is a Paladine song usually made?
The main song composer in the new album was Nikos Protonotarios, who wrote seven out of the eleven songs of the album, and all the vocal lines. Then, Sotiris Paraskevas, who wrote the other three tracks and all the solos except one, written by John. Personally, I set up the whole concept and wrote the lyrics together with the introductory part, in which Thomas Sykes gave his voice.
Usually we make our songs according to the concept. Every composer who is going to write a song, has in mind the style he needs to render the story of the album, and he starts. The song is worked on until the end, very draft, and in the pre-production we bring it to an 85% of the final result. In other words, the song is built from its early, draft shape gradually towards completion. It’s a nice thing, especially when writing the vocal lines. When we have the song without the voices, for example, Nikos starts and sings on it with draft lyrics, in order to give the style but also the melodies and lines he wants to bring it where he wants, in his own, personal style. Then we write the lyrics based on what he has sung. I can say that this is quite fun.
What is the source of inspiration for the composition of Paladine music?
I cannot say exactly that we are inspired by this or that band, since it is obvious that there is no copy from another band’s song. We mostly draw inspiration from the decade of the 80s, but also from the power metal scene in general all these years. On the second album there is definitely a more modern touch and the band finds its identity. I believe that the inspiration of the band is the music itself and the very good musicianship that exists.
As far as the lyrics are concerned, you are influenced again by the Dragonlance saga. Would you say that your lyrics hide allegories and symbolisms?
And the second album is inspired by the bestselling novels of Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman, telling the fantasy world of Dragonlance. Do the lyrics have allegorical symbolisms? Yes they do. The basic meaning of the story is a man, who may be selfish and arrogant, he may want to conquer everything and do everything to achieve that, however, there is always something inside or outside him that will push him to find his good side and in the end, all the suffering he did can be forgiven.
Your music is in an epic heavy/power metal style. How do you see things nowadays in the global heavy/power metal scene? What’s your opinion for the Greek heavy/power metal scene?
From 2010 onwards, and I say this as a heavy metal fan from the late 80s - early 90s, heavy metal is flourishing again. Big names made very good records, while they were on ice all the past decade. It is like reviving, no matter how heretical I may sound, hahaha, if not the 80s, the 90s for sure. This is a very encouraging thing.
As far as the Greek scene is concerned, I can say only one thing - huge! Yes, the Greek power (and not only) metal scene has become a protagonist and is getting stronger over time, from old and many new bands. Awesome compositions, amazing productions, world-renowned musicians, what can I say ... whatever I may say, is little. A big WELL DONE, I hope it continues even stronger.
I believe that musically you have found the perfect balance between European and American heavy/power metal sound. Do you agree with me?
I'm really glad you believe that. People consider us more like a euro-power band, but I also believe that we have a lot of elements from the American scene. We certainly are not considered to be playing US metal but there is a tendency towards it, mainly due to the strength of the songs and the style. We dοn’ t use too many keyboards and choruses, two key elements of the European sound, and I would say that we are a European band with American touches! At least until the next record, hehehe!
Many accuse epic metal of being outdated. What would you answer to them?
I would say that YES, it is. They are right, but what’s the wrong with that? I believe that the inspiration that comes from anywhere is not a reason to be silenced. Too many bands around the world, that are not epic metal, are outdated. Too many, I don’t need to say names and examples. So I think being outdated is not a bad thing, if it doesn’t reach the limits of ridiculous. Do you become outdated, if you talk about dragons and magicians, having much deeper meanings in the lyrics? Ok …
The first album had an undisputed hit, the eponymous song ("Paladine"). Do you think the new album has such a hit? In my opinion, it has, "Mighty Heart"!
I really like the question. I will say that you are right about “Paladine”. I think it is the hit of “Finding Solace” and personally my favorite track of the album, which I loved from the very first time. So, in the second album I tried very hard at the end to find my favorite track, definitely “Mighty Heart” is a hit of the album, but not my favorite. A personal favorite is the title track, “Entering the Abyss”.
The cover artwork of "Entering the Abyss" was made again by Jimmy Ling. How did you decide to work with him again?
Jim is a very good friend of mine and an acclaimed painter and professional. His first work for us was very successful and we thought it would be a great idea to co-operate again. The way he works is amazing and I didn't really think of anyone else to do the cover of “Entering the Abyss”. I am absolutely happy with the result.
As part of the promotion of your debut album, you opened for Manilla Road and Q5. How do you remember these live shows now?
It was a unique experience. Our first live show with Manilla Road in Kyttaro club? Which band would not be happy! Second live show with Q5? We think of them and we feel amazing, we see the future with such live shows ahead. Apart from the huge experience, we also met many good people from these bands, with whom we have kept in contact so far. The participation of the people, our whole performance and the vibe in these live shows will never be forgotten.
Your second album is coming out via No Remorse Records again. How did you decide to work with No Remorse Records again?
To be frank, we didn’t plan to co-operate again with No Remorse Records. After the release of “Finding Solace”, we dissolved our cooperation very smoothly and amicably, and we were left without a record label. We looked at several companies, foreign and Greek, for the release of our second album. Fate finally brought us to meet again Christos from No Remorse Records and finally to agree on the release of the second album.
Which is the relationship of the members of Paladine? Simple bandmates or even friends?
Bandmates and partners in the beginning, very good friends and brothers in the end. That's how it goes. Fellowship with something in common, binds people. Especially when there is chemistry between them, cooperation ceases to be cooperation and a friendly relationship comes. Thanks to all the guys who took part in this journey, each one in his own way.
How much did the quarantine due to the coronavirus affect you? As members of Paladine and as humans? Is the fact that the new album is released amid a lockdown good or bad?
I can say, no matter how bad it sounds, that the quarantine helped to make the new record faster. That's because all the individuals, who took part in it, were quarantined and had a lot of free time to work on the record… except me, hahaha! As people, surely this whole situation was very bad. Not going out of your house is very ugly and having an invisible insidious enemy out there is scary. All the guys were inside and everything was done from a distance.
The worst thing about releasing the new album now is the lack of live shows. Unfortunately, the record cannot be promoted this way. Of course, as people sat at home, many hours on their computer and with a lot of free time, the promotion through social networks bore fruit. This is a consolation and not what we wanted. To conclude, I do not think the fact that the disc came out in quarantine is bad. We hope that next year the live performances will start and at this time people will learn the songs better so that they are ready for what will follow.
How do you plan to promote “Entering the Abyss”?
We promote the album through magazines and radio. We have a promoter who does a very good job mainly abroad. We promote the album on social networks and internet sites. We have put the record on all electronic platforms and we also have No Remorse Records which also does promotion work as it knows best. There are no live shows as we all know, but I believe that good work has been done and is being done in the field of promotion.
Your message to those who read this interview!
Be all well and safe, first of all. Our health is everything. When all is well, support as much as you can our bands and our Greek scene, because these years have been very difficult, especially in terms of the bands’ finances. Do not forget that every record is, apart from a lot of time and thought for every band, a big financial burden. Thank you for 'listening' to me so far and keep the flame always burning!