Krilloan – Uplifting Energy and PowerTuesday, 20th December 2022
When it comes to specific subgenres of heavy metal, this scribe has a soft spot for melodic power metal. The type that provides unity, strength in numbers, takes you away from any personal struggles/strife to entertain you in a positive manner. That’s what you’ll get from this latest international outfit Krilloan. Pulling members from four countries (Sweden, Portugal, Argentina, and Germany), these musicians rival a mix of known North American and European veterans with fast, energetic hooks and melodies, captivating listeners in a way that will remind people of acts like Riot, Blind Guardian, Helloween, and Running Wild among others. Their debut album Emperor Rising may be a late 2022 release, but it’s causing quite a stir in the press/internet platforms – and with good reason because quality songwriting and execution to the highest degree does not go unnoticed.
We reached out to main songwriter/guitarist Klas Holmgren who was happy to bring us up to speed on the project’s inception, signing with Scarlet Records, the Michael Moorcock/Michael Whelan connection to the cover for Emperor Rising, special guest choices, thoughts on the power metal movement currently, and what the future holds for these musicians.
Dead Rhetoric: What are some of your earliest memories surrounding music growing up in childhood? How did you discover heavy metal and eventually pick up an instrument to play in bands?
Klas Holmgren: I think it’s like most of the people in the world. Basically Kiss. My older brother played Kiss for me when I was six or seven years old. I was a big Kiss fan, and away I went, basically. Here in Sweden, everyone who wants to play any kind of instrument, when you went to school you were able to play like the flute. I didn’t want to do that, so I didn’t pick up the guitar until I was eighteen years old or so. So, it took a while.
Iron Maiden, the old classics came in. When I was fifteen or sixteen, something like that, I discovered the German heavy metal scene. I probably had heard Manowar and stuff like that before, but it was at that point I discovered Helloween, Blind Guardian, and Running Wild, those bands I really got into. It was the time period that I got into the type of music that I play in Krilloan.
Dead Rhetoric: Krilloan started in 2020 – what can you remember about the foundation of the group, and did you know straight away the style of power/heavy metal scene you wanted to establish with this group, or did it evolve as you assembled this lineup?
Holmgren: Yeah, like you say, the plan from the beginning had nothing to do with where we are right now. There were no plans actually at all to do a whole album, the EP. The first single “Yggdrasil” which we did in 2020, came about from being in another band at the time. We had been playing together for seven or eight years, we laid that band to rest. At that point I didn’t have any other bands to play music with locally, where I live it’s not a big town. I bought myself a little home studio that I put in my basement, so that came about and started learning the production and technical stuff of producing music. I didn’t really know what type of music I was going to play, record, or write songs in that genre. For some reason, the melodic heavy metal, power metal was one of the first ideas I came up with. I grew up with the music, always loved it, but never actually played it within a band.
That was the background for Krilloan. The first song came out, it’s a type of power metal, and I went with that.
Dead Rhetoric: And then you released a series of singles, plus the Stories of Times Forgotten EP would be released in 2021 – was that the plan, to develop things a song at a time and see where things developed before releasing the EP?
Holmgren: Yeah, something like that. “Yggdrasil”, the thought with that was let’s do one song, if I can do it. The original plan was for me to play everything- all the instruments, but I knew I had to find some type of singer because I cannot sing (laughs). Guitars are my main instrument. It was fun to do – I brought in some of the guys in the lineup now for that first song. The second single “Moonblade” came out, and I started thinking about doing some type of record with this. A full album may be too much, because it was a small hobby project I was doing in my spare time in the night/evenings here in Sweden. I wanted to have some type of physical product with this project, so that’s where the EP came about. That’s the background for the five-song EP, and people tended to like this. So, we went on from there.
Dead Rhetoric: You signed a deal with Scarlet Records and recently issued your debut full-length Emperor Rising. What made Scarlet the right label for the band, and discuss the songwriting and recording process behind this album? Were there any specific challenges, obstacles, or surprises that came up in this set of material?
Holmgren: I think if I remember everything correctly, when we were mixing and in the final stages for Stories for Times Forgotten, I already had a bunch of other songs I had worked on besides doing all the songs for Stories. I had two or three new songs ready at the time that was released last year. Let’s move on, I told the other guys and we decided to move forward and see what we could do. My plan was to do another EP, a goal with the whole thing. Then this spring, I sent some of the demos to labels, especially here in Europe, the United States as well. After some time, Scarlet wrote me back and said yes, they were interested and wanted to do something with this. I talked to the other guys, and we decided to do this.
For us, we are five people living in four different countries just to make things easier (laughs). You might think that may be difficult, but today it’s pretty simple to work with. We are sending files and ideas all across the world with this. The only difficulties with that are that things take a lot of time. I had to send it to Germany, Argentina, Portugal, to come together here in Sweden, so that takes a lot of time. It works very good for us.
Dead Rhetoric: How did the guest appearances with Matthias Graf, Jack Reynolds, and Johan Karlsson come about for the new album?
Holmgren: I always have been like this; I love to have people involved in a lot of different ways. Matthias from Evertale, those two albums they have released so far, really got me back into the power metal genre. I have listened to a lot of power metal, in the 90’s especially when it exploded, and the early 2000’s. After that I didn’t listen to much power metal – Blind Guardian and of course the older bands – but not the new ones. I thought the genre had lost its edge somehow, and everything sounded a bit the same. Evertale got me back into this, it was cool to have him doing some guest vocals on this. I sent him a handwritten mail, a copy of Stories of Times Forgotten to his home in Germany, and I got an email back from and we went from there. Johan from Evermore, I don’t know him personally, but I reached out to him since we are on the same label together Scarlet, they were signed a few months before us. I sent him the song “Break of Dawn (Brothers in Arms)” and he laid down the solo for it, he has a melodic way of playing the guitar. And then we have Jack Reynolds from Battle Born, they are also responsible for me getting back into power metal because they released the self-titled EP in 2020 which was fantastic. I wrote him an email, telling him I liked it, and we became friends after that. I wanted to get him involved, and he was well-suited for the intro screams and outro screams in “Emperor Rising”.
Dead Rhetoric: When it comes to the lyrics for the band, do you enjoy the mystical, fantasy, magical, battles and dragons’ content?
Holmgren: I always think that music should be fun. It should give you energy, power, and make you feel uplifted. The world is filled with sad things and horrible things everywhere. At least in this type of music, it should be fun. I am an old fantasy geek; I have been playing role playing games for most of my childhood growing up. I like the lore, the fantasy, the themes with this type of music.
Dead Rhetoric: How did the cover art process come about – as it’s very obvious that this striking piece gives insight into what people can expect on the musical side if they aren’t aware of Krilloan before?
Holmgren: Yeah, exactly. And I am glad you are saying that because that’s of course the plan. We worked with Alvaro Valverde, who did the single cover for the song “Fireborn” when we first released that, before the EP. This guy is from Spain, he is fantastic with his drawings. He also did the cover for “Prince of Caledor” before the album came out. I had this type of idea, the Michael Moorcock book Stormbringer. The cover for that book was painted by Michael Whelan, it’s a fantastic cover. I wanted to do something like this to bring out the power of that picture. We didn’t want to make a copy, but that was the foundation when I started talking to Alvaro about what we wanted to do. My intention was to have a cover that screams power metal: dragons, warriors, fire, and steel.
Dead Rhetoric: How have you felt about the critical acclaim/response to the record? Are there hopes to be able to possibly get this project on stage for some live shows to support the release – even if it’s on a limited basis with festival appearances or special one-off shows?
Holmgren: At this point, from my part, I think it’s a very odd feeling to read all those fantastic reviews, fantastic messages that we have gotten from other people. You guys wrote a fantastic review for us, a bunch of others. I am sitting here in my basement studio here in Sweden, and I’m just writing songs that I want to hear myself – fast, powerful, melodic songs. It’s mind-blowing to get that type of response, it’s fantastic and very fun. I really love to interact with people who reach out to me, I write them all back and try to connect with people from everywhere. That’s one of the most fun parts in doing music, overall.
You should never say never, at the time being we are five people in four different countries. That might be a problem as it looks today (for live shows). Alex if it were up to him, he wants to do the summer festivals. We will see what happens. It might be quite hard to pull off today, we will see.
Dead Rhetoric: What do you consider some of the biggest challenges facing Krilloan at this point in the band’s career?
Holmgren: At the moment, the real plan is we do this because we think this is fun. Music is all about fun in my opinion. If we can get people to listen and they enjoy what we are doing, I assure you that is a bonus for me. We have released one album, we are on a label, we are going to do another record down the road. That will be more challenging the next time around. The first album, Emperor Rising, we could do what we wanted to as we didn’t have a timeframe, we wrote what we wanted to. I guess the pressure may be a little higher than for this album.
My intention will be, I am the main songwriter for the band, I have a bunch of songs ready to record. My plan is to write song after song, and make it sound like the Krilloan sound. We will evolve in certain ways, but I don’t think we will do anything deliberately to sound like this or that. We will always do fast, powerful, melodic metal – and that’s it. It should be straightforward, otherwise you guys will tell us to go back to the roots.
Dead Rhetoric: How do you see the state of the heavy/power metal scene currently on a global scale? What do you enjoy most about the scene, and what changes (if any) would you like to make to improve things?
Holmgren: I think it’s alive and kicking. Metal has gone through different changes during the years. I’m a little over forty, and I wasn’t there in the golden days like some people say, the 80’s. I was alive but not that old. For me growing up in the last twenty years, metal has always been there. As it looks today, it’s more mainstream, and getting into people’s lives in a different way. You have bands like Ghost, Amon Amarth, out in big tours. I remember seeing Amon Amarth fifteen years ago in small gigs in Sweden, what is this Viking metal? Now they are selling out super big arenas from day to day. That’s quite fantastic.
We have a lot of small bands, ourselves included, having a hard time to reach out to the people because there are so many of us. That can be a problem for many (bands), as I see it. In today’s environment, everything you have to do very quick; you have to be seen everywhere, it’s really not possible for most of the bands.
Dead Rhetoric: What do you consider two or three of the most important heavy metal albums that helped shape your outlook on the genre? And what do you consider the best concert you’ve ever attended purely as a fan, and what made that show so special to you?
Holmgren: For me, the iconic album is The Number of the Beast by Iron Maiden. If I remember correctly, that was the first vinyl album I bought myself on a school trip to Denmark for many years ago. That album is one of my absolute top albums. I have to mention the Swedish band Europe with The Final Countdown album. I remember that came out when I was seven years old, and that helped the band explode in the world beyond Sweden as well. It’s very close to my heart.
Talking about gigs, it’s hard to choose. I think the reunion concert with Kiss in Sweden in 1996, that was one of the biggest moments. An arena band, that was my best gig ever. When it comes to smaller bands, we saw In Flames when they released Clayman, that was a fantastic gig in a small venue here. Everyone was sweaty they were blowing people’s minds. The first Sabaton gig I saw, when they released Primo Victoria, we saw them at the Sweden Rock Festival. An hour drive from me. I remember telling my friends that this band will be big, and they became quite big.
Dead Rhetoric: What worries you most about the world that we live in today? What aspects/ problems do you believe the leaders of the world need to focus on more to make things better for the average human?
Holmgren: Like Gene Simmons said once, we are a rock band, not politicians. Since you asked, one of the biggest problems that we have today, at least where we live in Europe, the Russian aggression towards the Ukraine. It’s horrible in 2022 in European civilized countries, and there is a full-scale war that is horrible from the pictures in the battlefields. We have to do something about that.
Dead Rhetoric: How do you see the next twelve months for Krilloan regarding promotion, videos, and other activities? And do the members also play in other bands/projects that you would like to plug for people to check out?
Holmgren: Yeah. Our other guitarist Steve Brockmann he has a band as well Vision of Choice. They just released a new single today. And then we have Alex the singer, he plays mostly in a Queen cover band down in Portugal. They are very successful down there; they are the biggest Queen cover band in southern Europe. We have Marco in Argentina, I don’t think he is in another band at the moment, he teaches bass and a session musician. Christoph, our drummer, he has a studio in Germany, and he’s a session musician as well.
I’d like to be ahead of stuff. Before we were done with Emperor Rising, I had songs ready. It will probably be a new album in 2024, according to the label. The process is ongoing, a slow process at the moment. Hopefully we will at least be done a record late next year. 2024 would be a good release time, I think.