When it comes to power metal, you can usually rely on Europe and America to produce excellent albums. Indeed, 2014 in general could have been summed up as the year of power metal, with strong releases from Gamma Ray, Freedom Call, Sabaton and Sonata Arctica proving that power metal was definitely not dead! Australia, however, are no slouches at producing excellent metal bands themselves, and among their ranks are Silent Knight from Perth. Having recently released an excellent album in the form of Conquer & Command, we decided to get the lowdown on the band for UK readers in the lead up to their tour for the album and sent them a few questions, which bassist Stu McGill kindly took the time to answer for us.
How did Silent Knight form?
Silent Knight formed after I demoed a bunch of song ideas and asked my friend Cam Nicholas to add some solos so I could use the tracks to form a band, this was in late 2009. Cam really liked the songs, so he decided to join and together we set a plan for the band and went hunting for the best players we could find. Our first live performance was in April 2011.
What encouraged you to choose the name Silent Knight?
We liked the name Silent Apparition, but it was a bit of a mouthful to say. I kept searching and Silent Knight popped into my head and seemed quite catchy due to the christmas carol of the same name with the different spelling. It stuck straight away, so we kept it and I’m glad we did!
What would you say has been your favourite show to date?
Probably playing Hammersonic International Festival in Jakarta, Indonesia. The capacity was 30,000 and we shared the billing with Lamb of God, Vader, Warbringer, Mayhem and a bunch of other really cool bands.
What has been your favourite song to play live?
From the first album, I’ve really enjoyed playing the album’s title track ‘Masterplan’. it’s a fast song with a great riff and the midsection involves the crowd, so everyone has a good time.
You released your first album, Masterplan, in 2013. What was the writing and recording process for that album like?
With Masterplan, Cam and I wrote everything and we presented that to the band for recording. The recording process was acoustic drums with triggers and DI guitars.
You parted ways with your first vocalist, Zoran Cunjak, in August last year. What was it that encouraged you to make Jesse Onur Oz your new vocalist?
Zoran had a lot of travelling on his agenda and he wasn’t readily available a lot of the time. He has a good voice, but we were also pushing him to enter the higher pitch falsetto territory, which was an idea he was not fond of. Jesse, on the other hand, is a true power metal voice and, as you can hear on the new album, has no problem hitting those extra high notes and i think he is a great ft for the band.
Question for Jesse: you used to be part of the band Soul Legion, which is currently on hold. Was becoming a member of Silent Knight something that you had been hoping would happen or was it just something that ended up happening?
Soul Legion was the band I found in Brisbane to produce power metal, however we ended up producing traditional heavy metal. SL is also a story I am writing. It is put on hold right now, but I have a good feeling that it will be back someday.
When I moved to Perth, I did not know about Silent Knight until I met Stu. Perhaps it doesn’t take too long for power influenced musos ending up in the jam room soon after meeting. It’s pretty scarce.
I’ve never thought I was going to find the ultimate band I was dreaming about in the most isolated capital city in the world!
Meeting SK was one of those moments where you start believing the universe is responding to you.
How was the writing and recording process for Conquer & Command different from Masterplan’s writing and recording process? Did it feel easier that with Masterplan or more difficult?
The writing process was the same, as it was a formula that worked. Recording wise, we programmed some drums due to not having a drummer at the time, it was a lot quicker and cost effective and then, when Paul rejoined the band, he learnt all the parts. Guitars and vocals were done the same way as Masterplan.
What is the song that you are most eager to start playing live from Conquer & Command?
We’re in rehearsals now and I’m really enjoying playing the title track from the new album, it’s up first in the set so I’m looking forward to that.
What are you looking forward to most about touring in support for Conquer & Command?
I’m looking forward to seeing all our friends around Australia and Indonesia and making some new ones too. We are the support act for Helloween from Germany and that’s something really special to me and we’ll be co-headlining a festival in Indonesia with Behemoth from Poland, which will be a great experience too!
You’ve mentioned an interest in re-recording Masterplan with Jesse on vocals on your Facebook page’s About section. Is this something you’re still thinking of doing and, if so, when are you planning to start doing that?
We’d like to re-record that album at some time in the future. Not exactly sure when as yet, but its definitely a possibility.
What would you say is most interesting about the Australian metal scene to international readers and what other bands would you recommend international readers to check out?
I think the most interesting part is how tight knit everyone is because the population isn’t huge in Australia, so most of us in the metal scene stick together and know who everyone is. Bands down here have to work really hard on and off the stage because crossing the water to another country is quite expensive, not like a 3 hour drive in Europe etc so tours might only be once every year or so if bands are lucky.
I know Australia is a long way from you guys, but we have some serious talent down here worth checking out, way too many to list. My short list would be Black Majesty, Lord, Vanishing Point, Harlott (on tour in Europe right now with Annihilator) Damnations Day & Claim the Throne.
Masterplan is available on a pay what you want basis from Silent Knight’s Bandcamp page (available here). Conquer & Command is currently available through the band’s Big Cartel page (available here). Our review of Conquer & Command is available here.