STAHLHAMMER is one of the most powerful bands to ever come from Austria. They play a very well arranged and thought-out mixture of metal with both hard-core and industrial elements, along with some symphonic arrangements.
Stahlhammer was originally started back in December 1992 when Michael Stocker left his old band El Fisher and met Gary Wheeler who had just left his former band Blind Petition. They talked about a new type of metal with a focus on the German language and looked for other musicians to join them until finally they had the original four person group. The band name was originally going to be "Eisenherz", but copyright laws for the German "Prince Valiant" stories prohibited this. The line-up for their debut album "Killerinstinkt" [High Gain] consisted of vocalist Gary Wheeler, Thomas Schuler playing guitar, Peter Karolyi on bass, and Michael Stocker, their drummer. This first album became widely known throughout Austria and Germany partially due to the success of their video for the Pink Floyd cover "Another Brick In The Wall". Later, vocalist Gary Wheeler was replaced with the intimidating voice of Georgij Alexandrowitsch Makazaria to produce their second album "Wiener Blut" [High Gain]. A single for "Wiener Blut", their metal version of a waltz originally by Johann Strauss, also followed.
Bassist Peter Karolyi was a member of the Vienna Staatsopernballett and met the well known conductor and choreographer Renato Zanella. He helped to arrange performances for Stahlhammer's shows, crossing their metal music with classical dance. The band performed more than 200 shows following "Wiener Blut" ranging from small club gigs, to their tour with S.O.D., to big festival shows where Stahlhammer played along with bands like Joachim Witt, Subway To Sally, and Rammstein.
The connection with Zanella brought about many opportunities for Stahlhammer including their performance at Volkstheater in Vienna as part of the "Impulse Tanz Festival". Soon after, the media picked up on the band and Stahlhammer was shown on many German and Austrian TV stations like ZDF, ORF and ARTE among others. In September of 1997, Stahlhammer was the first metal band in history to perform at Staatsoper in Vienna as a part of the opening gala. On the 1st of July, 1998 the band played at Heidenplatz in Vienna where they performed their version of "Wiener Blut". Thousands of people gathered there to see them, and the show was seen on television by over 35 million people!
In the meantime the band's new guitarist Conrad Schrenk joined the band to record their third album entitled "Feind Hört Mit" [Nuclear Blast]. Schrenk was a former musician with Falco, the legendary pop artist who tragically died in 1998. Therefore Stahlhammer has recorded their metal versions of two Falco classics for the album ["Jeanny" and "Koks"]. These songs strongly influence the F@lco: Cyber Show where Makazaria performed along with others in tribute to Falco. They also produced a video for "Der Mann Mit Dem Koks". Stahlhammer also invited three opera singers Barbara Karolyi, Tanja Golden and Barbara Schindler, as well as Mario Gheorghiu who played violin as guest performers on the album.
Following the album "Feind Hört Mit", the band toured through Europe, but Stahlhammer's singer Georgij Makazaria left the band and has had a few hits with the Austrian pop band Ohrrausch. Guitarist Conrad Schrenk also left Stahlhammer to pursue some solo projects. There was a long silence from the band and many people did not know what had become of the band.
However, in April 2002, Stahlhammer returned with their new guitarist Niko Stössl and their original vocalist Gary Wheeler! The band dropped their deal with Nuclear Blast and made a new contract with the Canadian company Prime Time Muzik to release their fourth studio album "Eisenherz". In Europe, the album was handled by Point Music. It took a long time to find the right studio and engineer, but their new producer Wilfried Schneider got the album finished. "Eisenherz" was finally released worldwide on the 30th of September, 2002, nearly ten years after the band's founding.
Stahlhammer also got a new deal with the major record company Universal for the Austrian edition of "Eisenherz", released a week earlier on the 23rd of September. The band played over 70 club gigs throughout Europe with the success of Eisenherz and the dance version of their coversong "Eisbär".
Stahlhammer's 5th studio album, Stahlmania, was released on the 20th of September, 2004. The band was signed to Goodsongs and this album was distributed by Sony Germany. Stahlmania featured a cover of the famous Falco song "Out of the Dark", a remake of the Udo Jurgens classic "Merci, Cherie", and over a dozen originals.
Soon afterward, Stahlhammer was hard at work once again on their newest and current album, Opera Noir, released at the end of March 2006 on the label Def-Dick. Taking a nihilistic approach to the songwriting, Gary Wheeler and Peter Karolyi produced an incredible album nearly an hour in length. Former drummer Michael Stocker had left the band temporarily to be with his family. Following the tradition of other Stahlhammer albums, Opera Noir has coversongs, this time of David Bowie's "Heroes/Helden", Phil Collins' "In The Air Tonight", and a remake of the schlager tune "La Paloma".
Singer Gary Wheeler is currently involved in some other music projects at the moment, but a tour to support Opera Noir is planned for the following months.
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Killer Instinkt lineup
Wiener Blut lineup
Feind Hört Mit lineup