CIRCLE OF SILENCE – Resistance Rising Again
Remember when power metal was purely about the first word: stirring guitar riffs, equally majestic vocal melodies and a pounding rhythm section designed to bring all the tempos home? Germany’s Circle Of Silence certainly do- and on their fourth album "The Rise Of Resistance" deliver all aspects in spades. Think Brainstorm and Mystic Prophecy instead of Helloween or Gamma Ray here.
Needing to know more about the band, bassist Bjorn Boehm took the time to answer these questions. Do not let this quintet fall by the wayside- as the classic power metal style is still vital and necessary and less prone to any sort of commercial ‘trends’ that can kill other sub-genres.
Tell us about your early family memories growing up. What were your first records/ musicians you gravitated to, and eventually spurred you on to becoming a musician? Do you also remember the first instrument you picked up, and did you receive any formal training or was it purely through effort, sheer will and by ‘ear’ training?
As a teenager I listened to the same chart music as my friends. Later I was introduced into metal by early Edguy and Grave Digger. The decision to become a musician was quite simple. I saw all those bands I liked and i thought that I also want to try to play music like that. As a child I had some keyboard lessons for several years. Later I changed to the guitar but only a few months than the whole COS thing started and I decided to play bass guitar because we needed a bass player.
What band(s) came before Circle Of Silence? Did you start right away with creating and performing original material or did you graduate from cover acts into this? If so, who were some of the bands you would cover and particular songs as well?
Before Circle Of Silence there was no other band. Circle Of Silence is my first band. We never had planned to start as a cover band. From the first day on we started to write our own material.
Circle Of Silence began in 2005 and finalized their current lineup a year later. How did the initial idea come about to form the group with this set of musicians, and did you know right away you wanted to play in this traditional, power metal mold?
In the beginning there was no plan to write traditional power metal songs. We just have written the music we liked back in 2005. The first demo was a mix of melodic death, power metal and melodic metal. I think the process to change the direction to a more American power metal style was a natural progression. We just kept writing material and this is what it has become. Now we are known to be an American style power metal band but we want to keep the freedom to try out what we think that fits perfect to the song.
On the current album "The Rise of Resistance" we tried to include some thrash elements, maybe on the next record we follow this path even longer and include even more thrash material who knows.
You released two self-financed independent albums prior to signing with Massacre Records- 2006’s "Your Own Story" and 2008’s "The Supremacy Of Time". What can you tell us about the recording and songwriting with these two efforts, what challenges/ surprises occurred during this time and how was the press/ fan reaction to both of these records? Are they still available for fans to purchase?
It was a great experience to write the first 2 demo CD’s because it was the first time we recorded our own songs. The biggest challenge was to learn how to record everything so that it not sounds like total crap.
The style of songwriting has not changed that much from the beginning until today. We still use the pattern we think that it works best for us. At first we write the complete instrumental track an than we start to write lyrics. When the whole song is finished we start to rehearsal the new piece of music. The first demo is sold out but I think this is ok because a demo should be a rare thing. The second demo can still be purchased in our web-shop but I recommend to buy the latest official releases because the sound quality and tightness on "The Supremacy Of Time" is … well let’s say suboptimal. haha
You signed a label deal with Massacre Records and spent the majority of 2009-2010 writing and recording your third album "The Blackened Halo". Did you have a lot of label interest and what attracted you most to Massacre Records? I also read in a previous interview you road tested "Left 2 Die" in 2008 at a festival in your hometown of Heilbronn, did this help shape your ideas of how you wanted the recording to go?
I think Massacre is the best choice for us because they have their office near our hometown. It is quite comfortable to have your record company near your home. The thing with "Left 2 Die" was not a testing we just wanted to play new material and it worked out really well so that we knew that we are not that wrong with the new stuff.
How do you view the songwriting and recording for this third album now after a couple of years of reflection? What are some of your favorite songs, and if you had the chance to go back and refine things, would you (and if so what areas do you believe need improvement)?
Well as I said before we doesn’t have changed the style of songwriting that much over the years. At the moment my favorite COS songs are "Synthetic Sleep", "Nothing Shall Remain" and "Blood of Enemies". Right now we are satisfied with the result of the recordings but of course in several months or years we may think the other way. I think this is a normal process because you improve yourself as a musician and person with every song you write.
The latest album "The Rise Of Resistance" appears to my ears to be an even stronger Circle Of Silence effort, a power/traditional metal tour de force with sharp riffing, piercing vocals and a lot of melodic/ harmony elements while the songwriting flows effortlessly. What did you do differently this time as songwriters – as I understand there are three members of the band who contribute to the process? Is it natural maturation that in turns develops new, stronger ideas – or do you take the feedback from the critics/ fans into account?
The whole process was the same but this time we focused on two songwriters. Christian had written most of the music and I was responsible for the lyrics. As you said I also think that it is a natural process that you create stronger ideas over the time. We always try to write the music we like and not the music that someone expects to hear from us.
Artists like Brainstorm, Mystic Prophecy, Iced Earth, and Rage come to mind the most when I take in your style. Do you mind these reference points and comparisons- and who would you say collectively most of the members of Circle Of Silence enjoy for artists when it comes to their metal/ hard rock tastes?
I don’t mind if someone compares our style with these bands. The taste of music inside of Circle Of Silence has a wide range. We listen to almost every style of metal and even some old school Hardcore stuff.
How would you describe Circle Of Silence when it comes to your live show? Name some of your favorite shows with the band through the years- as well as your favorite show/ festival you personally attended when just being there in the crowd… ?
Circle Of Silence on stage means fun and energy. One of the best shows we have played so far was the release show for our new album "The Rise of Resistance" with 100 minutes pure Circle Of Silence energy. One of the best shows I have seen was the In Flames concert at Wacken Open Air in 2003.
What are your thoughts on the metal scene in 2013? How do you as a band balance out the workload in terms of music versus the business side of things (booking shows, dealing with management, budgeting for money)? I would imagine you still have to have day jobs to support your music endeavors, correct?
Yes you are right, we all have regular jobs. It is simply not possible on our level to live exclusively from the music. The metal scene is still alive and breathing. So many little festivals are coming up around here in Europe and especially in Germany. The other side is that there are so many cd releases every month that you have to fight for that your cd is recognized by the people. The balance between making music and the management differs from time to time. Right after an album release you have to manage more promotion requests than making music.
How would you describe the personalities within the band? What do you think each member brings to the table to make Circle Of Silence unique and special? Do you share any outside interests / hobbies away from music with the members of the band?
I think the different taste of music within the band makes Circle Of Silence unique in our sound. The most important point why we are still playing with our founding line-up is that we are still friends and hang out together.
If you had a limitless supply of money and a year to be able to do anything you wanted to do, how would you design your dream year? What types of experiences would you have, where would you like to travel, and what new skills would you set out to learn and master?
There are so many things i want do. Traveling around the world to visit awesome places, playing a big tour with Circle Of Silence and just enjoy my life.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received- either regarding life or your metal music pursuits?
Be proud of what you’ve created.
What do the next 12 months look like for Circle Of Silence? Have you already started composing material for the fifth album- and if so what direction do you think the material will take?
We haven’t started to write new songs yet. I think after this release we take a little break of writing songs.
But in a few weeks we will start to write songs for the next album. At the moment I cannot say which direction it will be. The next step is to find a good booking or management partner for the Circle Of Silence.
If you could assemble the ultimate music festival, what bands would you put together (be it current lineups or bands no longer in existence)?
I think this depends on the mood you’re in but if I have to name 10 bands know I would say: In Flames, Heaven Shall Burn, Sentenced, Iron Maiden, Machine Head, Nevermore, Soilwork, Slipknot, Brainstorm, Iced Earth.