The Last of the Mohicans Pt. 1: STEEL GALLERY [English]

Posted by universechild On Feb 12, 2012 1 comments

[ Click for Greek ]
Metal fans often concern ourselves with heroes,mainly with the musicians and music creators,but also with the heroes (real or fictional, armed with the pen, typewriter, or the blade) who inspired them.

One of the most important kind of heroes, is those who are not seen much, but without whom none of this would be possible. Armed with their passion and love for this music, their contribution is sometimes “invisible”, but that is just because it's real and ever present .Some may not like the next comment but the line “You don't know what you got til it's gone” is true-the presence of these heroes would be felt (noticed) only if for some reason stopped doing what they do.


Speaking about the early/mid 90's, the situation in the countryside was not exactly peachy, finding and purchasing records was hard. There were just a few record shops whose Heavy Metal division was extremely small and consisted mostly of “easy digestible” metal like Whitesnake, Guns ‘n Roses, Iron Maiden and of course... Metallica.

To place an order you had to spend at least 15 minutes until the shopkeeper finally understood what you are looking for, and you had to wait for several days not knowing for sure if your order will arrive.

Aside from that, the high prices were a factor that discouraged a lot of kids our age. We are talking about a time that a CD was sold for about six thousand drachmas (roughly 15 pounds in UK money, or 25 dollars) or the classic 6.900 sticker and only the “cheap” Warner releases (those with the yellow exclamation mark sticker) were sold for three thousand (2.900). But none of those were metal. I of course did not have the luxury of spending that much but it all turned out for the best because I've lived (and still do) in the “luxury” of this music.

At that time there was also an obscene – in my opinion - mentality concerning the record reviews. They promoted a lot of weak (to say the least) releases, resulting in a lot of young fans throwing away their allowance in expensive glass coasters, at the same time there was a lot of lousy reviews for excellent bands. Without the use of the internet it was a literal stone age and all those who received free promo discs to write a couple of lines about had the real power. That is another story, and a bitter one that is, we'll come back to that in the future.

I must have been 14 or 15 years old when I “first met” Steel Gallery Records. I called to order Conception's “The Last Sunset “ album. On the other end of the line there was an exceptionally polite person whose voice still “echoes” in my head, not because of its tint, but due to the agitation his question caused.

"Do you have an Id?"

''All right, now we're screwed'', I thought to myself...

In fact I had not had my Id yet and to receive a mail order, a registered one, would require me to have one.....NICE...

I didn't have time to complete my terror and horror filled thoughts when I heard him laughing, he tried to pull my leg, and he managed it.

To make a long story short, the Cd was almost ''beamed'' and it was in my hands in two days, and at a  very reasonable(at least for my standards) price....And the story goes on something like this....
Steel Gallery  Records was founded as a record shop in 1996 by Kostas Athanasoglou and it is considered one of the classic Greek Metal companies which thrives in our Macedonia and in our country’s most beautiful city, Salonica.

At first, Steel Gallery functioned solely as a record shop, whose presence saved not only the metal hungry Thessalonians, but mostly the northern Greek province (and some ''Caught In The Middle'', just like me).

Kostas' ''demons'' would not let him rest just yet. You see for some people who are really committed to and totally love metal, providing and selling records just isn't enough. In 1999 he decided to establish a record company in order to promote the Greek Heavy, Power and Prog Metal scene. Thus, alongside with the record shop he carried on with the production of Greek Metal bands of the genres mentioned above.

At this point it is necessary to mention that the Greek metal scene was famous(or infamous) for it's extreme bands. The bands that enjoyed greater promotion and recognition abroad ,all belonged to the darkest extremes of the metal spectrum. Namely Black and Death metal with elements from the more ''innovative'' sounds of the 90s like goth metal and ''atmospheric'' with female vocals and so on. By reading the most mainstream(oxymoron, I know)metal magazine, a much younger audience could easily come to the conclusion that Greek metal could be summed up to a handful of bands with brutal, heavy accented, vocals whose name reminded of ''sepsis'' and ''rot''.

Kostas was one of the ''voices of resistance'' one could say, who supported more classic and traditional metal sounds. It is a well known fact that Greg from Eat Metal Records is a Heavy and Epic enthusiast, while Kostas places his faith in prog and power metal, both of them supporting the bands they truly love to hear. There is no wonder that both labels don't have any Death, Black or even hair metal bands in their roster.

Steel Gallery Releases

Exemplary bands of the Greek underground scene like, Windfall, Imaginery, the sublime Angelo Perlepes and his Mystery, Horizon's End, the Greek cypriots epic metallers Arryan Path, Innosense, Wardrum, Everflow, the power metallers Blade Of Spirit, progsters Until Rain, Agnosia, have always had (and will continue to) the support of Steel Gallery Records. And those who consider themselves fans might find it a blessing to escape the mainstream mentality of big names like Dream Theater and Fates Warning.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with great performing skills, but I never found the meaning of displaying it in 6 minute solos if you cannot communicate the right emotions.

So if you would like to know what original, ''technical'' metal is all about, just drop by Kostas' shop if you ever find yourself in Salonica, or log in to the awesome online store, which not only portray quality and professionalism, but also his love for metal music.
Don't think that Kostas's search ends there. Alongside Steel Gallery Records he also founded Arkeyn Steel Records which deals with re-releases of non-Greek metal bands (mainly Prog and US Power)

Starting with Scarlet Rayne, Enchanter and Manifest, he managed to put out the amazing Heir Apparent – One Small Voice CD/DVD, as well as other well hidden American gems such as Sahara - Times Forgotten Sands, Tramontane -s/t, Commandment, Omega Point, Blakkout, Kraken and so on.

This whole article might look like an advertisement but that is only if recognizing some individual's value and paying them tribute can be viewed as such. Sometimes (if not always) we must speak up because we know that nothing is for granted. We were not born yesterday and we all know that for every one who works out of love and passion for the scene, there are several others trying to make a quick profit from it, damaging it as well as all the bands they touch in the process. We are all familiar with such cases and sadly we all need sometimes the ''villain'' and the ''asshole'' to remind us of the value of the ''good guys''

English Translation: Low Budget Warrior

Arkeyn Steel Releases

Steel Gallery (site)  
Arkeyn Steel Myspace 

Address: Steel Gallery/Arkeyn Steel Records
c/o Kostas Athanasoglou
Filikis Eterias 33
GR-54621 Thessaloniki Greece
Tel./Fax.: +30 2310 233363


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