In September of 1996, Kostas Athanasoglou after a 12-year active presence in the area of Heavy Metal through fanzines, distributions-trades, radio shows, sales representative at heavy metal record shops and above all an lps, cds and demo collector himself with a collection today surpassing 8000 LPs/CDs/DVDs and over 700 original demo tapes, decided to start Steel Gallery Records.
Steel Gallery Records is an underground Heavy Metal record shop which was created to distribute material to the heavy metal audience of Greece that until then other well known heavy metal record companies were reluctant to, thus covering a very big gap in the area of Heavy Metal. The company was established in Thessaloniki and originally started with distributions of independent labels and bands such as Jesters Tears (Germany), Defyance (U.S.A), EyeFear (Australia) and many more. The acceptance and enthusiasm was great and Steel Gallery Records quickly begun in the following months further distribution through complete catalogues from independent record labels such as Sentinel Steel, Nightmare (U.S.A), Goldtrack, Arise, Locomotive (Spain), Loud ‘n’ Proud (Sweden) Hellion, B.O., B. Mind, Angular (Germany) and many more.
After the recognition and consecration in the Greek market as the 2nd best metal music store in Greece (voted by the readers of the Greek metal magazine “Metal Invader”) the shop began expanding on other articles such as vinyls/lps, flags and videotapes. Nowadays, the number of cds distributed through Steel Gallery Records, surpasses 5-6000 titles, a unique number by Greek standards. Unfortunately, all of these were primarily enjoyed by the heavy metal fans of Thessaloniki, and to a much lesser extent by the remaining heavy metal fans throughout Greece (only through mail orders and quick visits). This resulted in constantly increasing demand for the company’s presence in Athens. Responding to the pressure of the metal fans of the Greek capital we decided to venture further in Athens as well.
After careful planning and consultation of the current market, we set up shop in November 2000 in a space that for many years was known to the fans of Athens because it was home to another metal record label, known as Unisound. The company was bought and finally it officially became Steel Gallery Records No. 2, in an area of 70 square feet with modern equipment, metal decoration and atmospheric environment. The heart and soul of Steel Gallery Records 2 is George Theodorelos, with many years of rich knowledge and service in the area of Heavy Metal, and a publisher of the very successful fanzine Power Metal for years. Steel Gallery Records 2 a few months after opening day, featured 3000 CD-titles and that number was daily enriched with new material. We hoped that soon we would surpass the original difficulties and Steel Gallery Records 2 would turn into every metal fan’s hangout in Athens. In November 2003 and after a successful 3 year period in the Athenian market, Steel Gallery 2 is sold to the up-and-coming label, Eat Metal Records. At the same time, the shop in Thessaloniki was moved to a more central location (33, Filikis Eterias Str.), 200m away from Tsimiski Str, Thessaloniki’s most commercial street.
The activities of Steel Gallery Records, however, did not end with the distribution of music material, and in September of 1999 the department of production and distribution was created that constitutes an independent record label (the first one established in Thessaloniki) followed in March of 2001 (with usage of the technological means of our times) by the construction of the first Greek Heavy Metal Internet Record Shop, in order to release metal to every corner of Greece. The surprises that Steel Gallery Records reserved in the future for those that trusted and visited us were many and unique by Greek standards.
At the moment, Steel Gallery Records has put together a large clientele from all over the world through its online web-store and constant E-bay and Discogs presence and also managed to keep Greek metalhead’s interest at an all-time high with daily new arrivals.
Steel Gallery Records, realizing a pure metal record label in Greece was missing, moved fast in the creation of an independent label (the first founded in Thessaloniki) with the goal to promote Greek bands in foreign continents and raise the country’s metal profile and prestige internationally. Having many years of experience in the international scene and having been in business with companies/corporations such as Hellion Records, Underground Symphony, LIMP etc. it was not hard to get established in the field right away. Of course, the initial thoughts of a metal record label began when a promotional CD by the band Mutiny reached our company. The decision to promote our first production (Mutiny: Muted) in May of 2000 was immediate.
The CD was welcomed enthusiastically from the metal fans of Greece but also internationally (has already sold over 1000 copies). From that point on, everything became easier with demos from several groups arriving constantly. After continuous listening sessions, certain bands were selected for our next productions. Those were Mystery, Theodore Ziras, Imaginery, Dream Devoid, Horizon’s End, Windfall that would slowly but gradually begin to rise in the Greek and international scene.
The first four new cds circulated in April of 2001. Important contacts were established simultaneously with other bands, and many surprises ensued. After 2002, more newly found Greek labels started following in Steel Gallery Records’ steps and released several worthy Greek efforts. The competition between labels and groups grew resulting to the increase of quality groups coming to life.
In the year 2002 Steel Gallery Records discovered two up and coming band hailing from Athens: Imaginery (featuring the famous B. Katsionis and one of the greatest Greek voices, Leonidas Hatzimichalis) and Dream Devoid. 2003 saw Steel Gallery Records releasing two more Greek bands this time from Thessaloniki. Pandemonium (originating back in the 80’s) who along with Sarissa, Vavel, Northwind and Deceptor ruled in the 80’s, re-record their demo material and ink a deal with Steel Gallery Records.
After deciding to broaden its horizons, Steel Gallery Records signs the jazz/fusion/intelligent three-piece Uthull thus leading to new opportunities for the label. The Uthull experiment was quite a success and the sales figures, particularly of the USA net distribution, were really good since the band includes the best Greek bassist K. Domenikiotis and Horizon’s End keyboardist Sakis Bandis.
The next two releases saw the light of day in 2004. First off was Geyser, the ghost band that in the late 80’s/early 90’s composed 63′ minutes worth of material that had never been released, not even in demo format!!! Kostas Athanasoglou together with Kanistras (ex-Sarissa) and Ulysses (Geyser’s singer), retrieved the material and the final result was a 14-track album of pure heavy metal sound. Second up was K. Domenikiotis’ project (bass, Uthull) with Sakis Bandis (keyboard Uthull, Horizon’s End) and the well-known in the Thessaloniki area voice of Jim Tiktopoulos (ex-Medivial, A Band On, Astral Crossing) called Stargate. The sound was melodic heavy metal for fans of Ten, Talisman, Royal Hunt.
The first release of 2005 was the long and quite eagerly awaited debut by Arryan Path, “Road To Macedonia” who after 4 years of hard work and 2 amazing demos chose to sign with Steel Gallery Records. Surely fans of Warlord, Manowar must hold this album high. The second release of 2005 was also the debut album by Blade Of Spirit, who after their decade-long presence and consistent output (several demos and compilation appearances) in the underground circles, took the first step releasing through Steel Gallery Records their debut Shadow’s Race. Strong, in your face heavy metal from Kozani.
2007 begin with two new releases. The first was the sophomore Uthull album called “Ultrasonic” and the second release is split album with Blade Of Spirit and Dark Nightmare (6 studio songs + 4 video tracks – Limited to 1000 Handnumbered CDs). With the next two releases bound to be talked about and generate enthusiasm and discussions in the ranks of metalheads in and out of Greece, the year 2007 looked promising for Steel Gallery Records.