Silent Winter, who was founded in 1995, will soon release its debut album called The Circles Of Hell. Why has it taken 24 years you may ask. Well, so do I. Therefore I asked the founder Kiriakos Balanos what happened back then, and what we can expect from the band this time around.
First of all, before we talk about the upcoming album, I am curious about the history of Silent Winter. Because, the band was founded back in 1995 and released two demos in ’95 and ’97, but after that the band became silent. What happened?
Balanos: The band was, as you mentioned, formed back in the mid 90’s and released two demo tapes. After playing some gigs, the band broke up after two years because almost everyone in the band left our hometown to study at the university or to work in another city.
This year, I decided to reform the band with the help of a new drummer, John Antonopoulos, alongside three new members; Mike Livas on vocals, Themis Karvelis on guitar and Giorgos Loukakis, who was the rhythm guitarist in the initial line-up, on bass.
How was the search for new members? Did you contact your former band members?
Balanos: No, the former members are now working in other countries or they play in other bands, so I didn’t try to contact any of them. I just asked my former rhythm guitarist to help us with the bass lines, and so he did.
So, the band hasn’t been active at all since ’97?
Balanos: No, the band totally split up. We made some concerts from 1995-1997, and that’s all.
In 2018 the band appeared on the scene again. Is this something you have been thinking about ever since the breakup, or is it something that has come to your mind the recent years?
Balanos: I have always been thinking that I must rewrite some of the songs from the demos with a new fresh sound now that the circumstances are easier than back then. So, I decided to start with «Far Away» and «In The Road». And it was then I met up with John Antonopoulos, and we decided to reunite the band.
In 2018 Silent Winter released the five-track comeback-EP The War Is Here. One of the songs is, as you mentioned, a new version of an old demo song («Far Away»). What can you tell me about the other four; when did you write them?
Balanos: The other songs are totally new and recorded through the first six months of 2018.
When you did a new version of «Far Away», did you notice how the band has changed and developed musically? How different are the new version compared to the old one?
Balanos: Yes, and that was the point. The two demoes were recorded under awful and amateurishly conditions, and the sound was very far from what I had in my mind for the songs. The new «Far Away» ended up exactly as I intended.
You must understand it wasn’t easy being a musician in Greece back then, especially if you lived outside the capitol. There were not many music studios, and the few that existed had no knowledge of metal music.
How has you, and the band, changed and developed musically? Do you write the same music as you did in the 90’s?
Balanos: I grew up in the 80’s and 90’s when power metal and metal generally was on top, with bands like Helloween, Judas Priest, Stratovarius, Iron Maiden, Running Wild and Manowar. Those were and is my influences, and I want to write good and melodic music that I enjoy myself – and if I like it, I share it with the world.
The music of Silent Winter is good, old power metal, like it was in the 90’s, and we are happy to see that a lot of people are enjoying it as much as we do.
In May Silent Winter will release the debut album called The Circles Of Hell. How does that feel, being over 20 years after the band was founded?
Balanos: The fact that we managed to record this album so soon after the EP [The War Is Here, 2018], shows that we have the appetite and willingness to give the world music of good quality.
How has the songwriting been?
Balanos: The recording began last summer , and we have been recording almost up til now before the songs will be mixed and mastered. I wrote the songs on this album, as well as the songs on the EP, but I hope in the future that the rest of the band will contribute with their own ideas and songs.
How would you describe the music on The Circles Of Hell?
Balanos: I do not want to label our music as Euro power, or similar to Stratovarius etc. On this album you can hear all genres of power metal; like US power, European power and even traditional heavy metal. It’s a mix that will satisfy every fan. We even have a ballad, that is recorded in Collaboration with the soprano singer Dragica Maletic.
Do you feel certain this time that the band will stick around for a longer period?
Balanos: That is difficult to answear. Of course I want that to happend, but things are different this time around. We have jobs, families and other obligations, so there aren’t much time left to focus on the music.
Are you planning any shows or tour after the album is released?
Balanos: Yes, we are planning some shows here in Greece and we would concider every other offer that comes in our way.
I want to say a big thanks to all the fans around the world that supported us, listened to our music, and with their negative or positive reviews have made us stronger and made us work harder to create even better music. Keep the flame alive!