STEEL AGGRESSOR A Rival of the Fittest

Steel Aggressor hails from USA and the band performs classic USA power metal, scaling from Blind Guardian, Iced Earth to Grave Digger. But as a matter o fact, they also have their own style and vibe to offer. They are just about to release their upcoming 3rd issue for Stormspell Records so I have done one interview with Rick Cope in order to promote the band and third forthcoming album…

Although that Steel Aggressor has released two albums so far you are still a newcomer name for me. So, please could you say us few words about the band in order to start the interview.

unnamedSure thing! I actually started this project back in 2010, just leaving the first band I was in called Phantom Witch. It was basically designed to get out my own ideas, sort of a selfish dream to satisfy myself, haha! Its always been a challenge and a revolving door of musicians, me being the only original member. I basically wanted to put out the kind of metal that nobody seemed to want to play!

As a matter of fact Steel Aggressor has released two records so far, one in 2001 and the second in 2013 so what could you tell us about these records?

Actually the first record was released in 2011 titled “From Ruins to Dust”, an album where I was first testing my abilities as a musician, which honestly I had no idea what I was doing! Haha. I knew playing fast was fun, I never was much of a lead guitarist nor a singer so I had to tread carefully! But I tried to stay in my boundaries though I did experiment with different sounds and genres I liked. To my surprise people actually liked it, haha… The second album came in 2013, “Mourning Star… Total Eclipse” which was also experimental in many ways. It was a far more progressive style than the last album, something I had a lot of fun with. I actually teamed up with the Phantom Witch guitarist who co‐wrote some of it along with doing all the solos. I’ve learned a lot of what to do and what not to do with that album, but felt like another test for myself… it was ok but man I could have done stuff differently!

You are just about to publish your third record for Stormspell Records (USA). So, what could you tell us about the forthcoming effort? I have a chance to check out some new stuff and it seems that this is the most mature record that you’ll unleashed so far…

Third times a charm! Haha! Well though I enjoy elements from my earlier work, “A Rival of the Fittest” came together the way I hoped. I sort of knew now what I wanted and how to get it. I really took my time with this and pushed my limits much further. I’m finally getting a grasp on the vocal aspect which opened many doors, along with hunting down a furious drummer who seemed limitless! I also made sure I found a studio and engineer who could manage such an undertaking because this one was much more demanding. In the end I had total creative freedom!!! The only one thing that came as a disappointment to myself was the shorter album length. This one runs a bit shorter than “Ruins”. However, this one is much more compact with ideas and I feel the quality is more concrete. I bit off a little more than I could chew on the sudio I chose because it was quite expensive, there was one song that was half completed we called “A Quest Shunned Within” that was just not going to make it on this one. I’ve already been living cheap and then I lost a transmission in my work vehicle, so I had enough!

There’s also a marvelous cover artwork specially done for the upcoming fulllength. Who has done? It seems that some special efforts have been putted in the new album…

Ahh… I’ve always been lucky in this department! Alan Lathwel has returned to do the artwork, he also did “Ruins”. There has indeed been some special efforts, but this effort always come natural to Stormspell. Iordan takes much pride in his releases… I used to feel the artwork was always better than my own music!!! HAHA. Finally I did something that I feel completely satisfied with.

How would you like to describe the sound of Steel Aggressor? In fact, the band’s music is based on traditional heavy metal influences, both coming from US power metal and from German power metal, too. Would you mind to name some bands that have the major influence and impact on you…

I probably wear some influences on my sleeve, Blind Guardian for sure because they are my favorite band and their attention to quality and detail are admirable! They also have a deep feeling that many bands just can’t generate the same way within me. I like to try to capture that feel in my own music, but without trying to totally emulate them. I do strive for identity, and I love much German metal such as Rage, Gamma Ray, Running Wild, Grave Digger, Angel Dust, Scanner… All bands who have a lot of indivuality! I also love the classic USPM like Iced Earth, Virgin Steele, Jag Panzer, Omen, Manilla Road,

Meliah Rage, Brocas Helm, Liege Lord, etc. I also am a huge fan of NWOBHM and classic thrash. Of course there are some random classics like Heavy Load, Angus, Arakain, Turbo, Sortilege, ADX, etc. scattered all over Europe. I collect and listen to A LOT of older metal!

I don’t know, but have you ever played live so far? Anyhow, do you plan to promote the new album by playing live? Any more serious offers?

This I hate to admit but live shows are difficult for us! We’ve played 5 or 6, all within Indiana. Its a musician thing… mainly drummers! There’s not enough to go around and people don’t care about this genre I play… so its TOUGH. I could hire professionals but that comes at a professional price! I’m the only one funding this money drain! Haha… With the exception of the label paying for manufacturing our cds. But I have full intention on playing again… I guess its up to the fansbase! If this grows so will the money I

hope. Profit isn’t on my mind, I just wanna play! I’ve opened for Act of Defiance with ex Megadeth members which was amazing, and also opened for Havok, probably the bigger live experiences we’ve had. I’ve submitted some stuff in hopes to play Ragnarokkr in Chicago and 70,000 Tons of Metal but given a short live resume it may not come easy!

You’ve signed a deal for Stormspell Records. Could we conclude that this is a new lever and step for the band? Are you satisfied by the label and the colleague bands? From my point of view, Stormspell has become one of the most important labels that keep the flame of traditional heavy metal burning since they are always enthusiastic to put some more efforts in newcomer bands…

You’ve got that right! Stormspell has been a band’s best friend! This would have never gotten off the ground if it wasn’t for it. No one is looking for bands that resurrect the glory of traditional power metal it seems. Bands like Blazon Stone fit in nicely here, but it seems like the market has gotten one dimensional elsewhere. We fans of the best genres on earth need more heroes like Stormspell with an ear for quality and diversity!

What could you tell us now about the scene in USA? It seems that there are some interesting things once again happening out there…I mean Cirith Ungol will tour again, there are some interesting true metal festivals and events…and also more and more bands from Europe come to visit USA as well…

I know I may speak a tad negatively towards the local scene “not caring”, but it’s true things here are getting better slowly but surely! Its like Grave Digger coming here suddenly for the first time ever last year, its a dream come true. I’m seeing them here with Blind Guardian this month as well! It’s funny, I never meet fans of these bands UNTIL a show. Are we hiding under rocks??? Haha. It seems the fanbase is dominated by death metal, black metal, doom, and hardcore… There’s also a fair share of Dimebag “impersonators”!!!

We have privately talked about making a tribute to Blind Guardian. Although that this is still initial idea it could easily happen during next year. But, what songs would you like to cover from BG if you have a chance for it and why? You’ve even mentioned some demo records…

Yes, this is an excellent idea! Its a tough choice because they have so many amazing songs and Hansi’s range is so much higher than mine! But I’ve always wanted to do “Banish From Sanctuary” being the first Blind Guardian song I’ve ever heard. “Welcome to Dying” would be fun, anything off the first 3 albums are in my vocal range. I’d like to touch on the “Imaginations From the Other Side” song but may take some work on the vocal arrangements to fit me… Also love the song and lyrics, I feel it! “Bright Eyes” is another possibility for a lot of the same reasons. As far as the demos, I actually would have liked to have seen some of them on “Battalions”… “Dead of the Night”, “Lucifers Heritage”, “Symphonies of Doom”, and “Brian” are pretty good songs that could be spiced up a little!

I would like to thank you for the interview and I wish you all the best. I hope that Steel Aggressor will gain much deserved respect with the upcoming, third record!

Thank you as well Marko! Always a pleasure! I’m going to keep pushing hard with limited resources! Haha! And might I say the same for your band as well, Numenor is very talented and EPIC stuff!!! May the whole Stormspell roster prosper!

  • Answers by Rock Cope
  • Interview by Marko Miranovic
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