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Crystal Viper's Marta Gabriel: "…we kind of re-visited this vibe and these emotions from back in the day, when we were a young band. I think this energy is also present on the new album"

Interview with Marta Gabriel from Crystal Viper
by Lior "Steinmetal" Stein at 13 January 2021, 10:21 PM

It is great to discover something that apparently was always there, at the front center. Perhaps it is the result of way too may selections out there, but no one could be blamed for that as people have more stuff to listen that they will in a lifetime, now that is pure freedom. Anyhow, discovering Crystal Viper, after listening to bits and pieces over the years, was bound to happen probably and that day came with the introduction to the new "The Cult", which is also a new chapter for the band in the French label, Listenable Records. Steinmetal had the pleasure to talk to the leader and founder, Marta Gabriel, about how this album shaped up, concepts, musical direction and more…

Hello Marta, it is a sheer pleasure to have you for this interview for Metal Temple online Magazine, how have you been doing?

Marta: I’m OK, thank you! Hope you’re also doing well!

Clearly this past year hasn’t been easy, this pandemic really made a number on a lot of people, industries, cultures, the works. How have you been coping personally with the situation throughout this global crisis?

Marta: Well, it’s difficult time for everyone. No live shows and no travels, so I haven’t seen my friends for months, because all of them live far away from the place where I live. The economic situation doesn’t look very good either, I know that a lot of people lost their jobs. However, I try to use that time the best I can.

Looking forward into the coming months, do you see the end of it? Is there a chance for these vaccinations to work and finally set us free, back to our lives and of course our beloved music in a live form?

Marta: I have no idea what will happen in the next months. I wish there would be someone to say “Hey, in 3 months from now it’s all going to be good again”, but it doesn’t work that way. I really hope this pandemic will end soon, as it impacted, and still impacts, Crystal Viper in not the very good way. We played only 8 shows to promote our last album, then the pandemic began. All our shows planned for 2020, including festival appearances and the tour got cancelled. Our new album “The Cult” is going to be released in less than 4 weeks, and we have no new band photos nor music video: members of Crystal Viper live in 3 different countries, Poland, Germany, and Sweden, and it’s still impossible to travel, without the risk of being quarantined.

Other than being a year which many would like to forget, it also marked yet another milestone for your band Crystal Viper, with the signing with the French label, Listenable Records. After having such a strong relationship with AFM Records, and it was quite long as it seems, what was the basis to the decision to move to Listenable? What did you find in Listenable that attracted you to go forward with them?

Marta: Our deal with AFM Records expired, and we decided to firstly finish the new album, and then find a new home. Joining new label is like getting married, like joining new family. We are very happy with Listenable Records, as they understand what Crystal Viper is all about, and they are passionate about heavy metal.

If there is one fault that I needed correcting is to take a closer listen to Crystal Viper. Thankfully, I took the chance given and I listened to your brand new album, “The Cult”. On a philosophical level, I can assume that there is no really unifying theme to the release, in your opinion, on what this album mainly focuses?

Marta: All songs on “The Cult” are inspired by the works of H.P. Lovecraft. He’s probably my favorite writer ever, and the impact his works had on the pop culture is outstanding. There is no deeper meaning behind the lyrics this time, every song was inspired by different novel or story. I also dare to say, that fans of his works will like our album, we can say it’s one big tribute to his legacy.

Which of the song’s lyrical concepts captured your attention after listening to the entire package, music and lyrics entangled together?

Marta: Well, I wrote all the lyrics myself, and I was writing them while already knowing the musical background. I don’t think any of them captured my attention in some special or unusual way, I rather always pay attention to details, and I treat all my works the same way.

The album’s artwork sends various messages no doubt, with the first being that this is an old school Heavy Metal album, yet, for me, along with the mentioned notion, it seems like a physical form of this virus that is taking its toll upon the world. What is your perspective towards this piece of work? What was the initial vision behind it?

Marta: That’s an interesting interpretation, but no, it has nothing to do with the ongoing pandemic. We had a very specific idea for the cover – first of all, as you already noticed, we wanted it to be a classic looking heavy metal art, like in the ‘80s. Except that we wanted it to refer to the concept and the atmosphere of the album, and we wanted to be sure that fans of H.P. Lovecraft will also know what it’s all about. Mario Lopez followed our vision, and we all think he did an excellent job.

Listening to “The Cult”, it is hard to escape the utter devotion and clear admiration for the old school ways of how Heavy Metal music should sound and echo in one’s ears. You guys have the right sound, memorable songwriting and the image that screams of the past. When it comes to the band’s development, such progress is adamant for every release. How do you find Crystal Viper’s going forward with its music on “The Cult”?

Marta: If you would analyze all our albums, you would notice that every single Crystal Viper album is a little bit different. We always move within the borders of traditional metal, but sometimes we’re getting closer to classic heavy metal, sometimes closer to power metal and hard rock, and so on. I would even say it’s already part of our style, and the truth is that we do not plan it. I write most of the songs, and it’s not like that, that I sit down and say “okay, now I need to write a power metal song”, or “now I’m doing thrash metal song”. It all comes out naturally, and it’s connected with inspirations and influences that come to me at the moment. When we were working on this album, we decided to return to the roots, to the core of what Crystal Viper is all about.

Going a little bit general, but since you are an old schooler in mind and practice, what do you think that is missing in the new generation of classic oriented Heavy Metal? Any particular acts that you have been following that you consider promising?

Marta: I try to not judge others, so I can’t really say what is missing. There are old bands I like, and young bands I like, and it doesn’t really matter for me how old a band is, and which generation they represent. When it comes to younger bands, I really like Idle Hands, who recently changed their name to Unto Others, Visigoth, Lady Beast and Ambush. Midnight Spell and Konquest are great well!

In matters of songwriting, what kind of impact was made with “The Cult” in contrast to your not too recent “Tales of Fire and Ice”? What element made it happen for the new record?

Marta: A couple of things. First of all, our line up got refreshed. Except that, when we were working on “The Cult”, we were actually unsigned, we were an indie band. Our deal with AFM expired right after “Tales”, but we decided to firstly record the album, and then decide what we will do next. So we kind of re-visited this vibe and these emotions from back in the day, when we were a young band. I think this energy is also present on the new album.

You recently recruited the multi-instrumentalist, Cederick Forsberg for the position of drummer. Now I know this guy’s projects, especially Blazon Stone and Rocka Rollas, he has quite the talent both for being a drummer, but also a songwriter. What is your appreciation of him? Did he contribute some of his experience to the songwriting of the album?

Marta: Yes, Cederick is an excellent musician and composer, and yes, he wrote 4 songs for „The Cult”. Except that he recorded few guitar tracks here and there, and he actually also mixed the album. So as you see, we use his talents as much as we can (laugh).

As a pure sucker for riffs, I was captivated by “Whispers From Beyond”. It massively shares directions of late 70s and 80s with its riffs, and it wasn’t too difficult for me to be taken by it. It has that groove but with a certain ease to it. What is your appreciation of this song?

Marta: Well, I like all the songs on the new album equally, they’re all very new and very fresh, so at this point I’m not able to say if I like some of them more or less. It might change after the tour though. And you’re right, not only this song, but most of the songs on „The Cult” are very riff-based.

If we should talk about memorability, there is “Sleeping Giants”, a sort of school of Metal to many bands out there of how to write a proper nostalgia in the present. Whether with its slow tempo chops and devouring chorus, haunting atmosphere, the works. What can you tell about this song’s creation process?

Marta: The main riff in „Sleeping Giant” is based on the same melody which you can hear in the intro piece, „Providence”. It’s based on a melody that I wrote many, many years ago, and now it got expanded to the size of a full song and an intro. I wouldn’t say it’s nostalgic, at least I didn’t have in mind anything nostalgic when I was working on it. I thought it’s a good melody, that inspired the making of the song which finally landed on the album.

As bonuses for this album you made tribute to two legends, Satan and King Diamond. I knew it that you would ace Satan, yet I wasn’t too sure about the King Diamond effort, at least at first. Nonetheless, after digesting it several times, lady, you nailed it and hard. You have the King in you. What can you tell about the experience to take on the KD vocals, with all the theatrics? How was it to share this special edition with the guitarist that enticed with its solos, Andy La Rocque?

Marta: Thank you! It was a challenge for me, because I totally love this song, and King Diamond sung it in such an amazing theatrical way - I wanted to keep this chilling atmosphere with my voice. To be honest, I had no idea what would happen when I started to sing it, so I tried new techniques, I was looking for the sounds of my voice that I haven’t used before. It’s also pretty amazing that King Diamond guitarist Andy La Rocque joined us for this song, and recorded a guitar solo, what makes it even more valuable and interesting. I’m very happy that he accepted our invitation!

If there is one hard task nowadays, it is to properly promote a new album, since it is not possible to play live anywhere, especially now with Europe being under yet another lockdown. Have your thoughts of methods to try to do that, to actually promote the release other than through the label?

Marta: Well, we do the best we can, but it’s quite hard for us, as members of Crystal Viper live in 3 different countries: in Poland, in Germany and in Sweden. We couldn’t do new band photos; we couldn’t film proper new music video… We try to stay active on our Social Media, but of course it’s not the same. We’re a heavy metal band, we want to play concerts, share that metal energy with the people. That’s where we belong, the stage!

With hopes that 2021 will shine upon us with its light, have you made plans for festivals and sorts or you are waiting until it is all over?

Marta: I lately learned new word. „Postponed”. Everything is postponed. Yes, our agency booked a tour for February, and booked several festival appearances, but no one knows when we will be able to play again. No one knows, and it’s quite frustrating. We’re full of energy, and ready to play.

Marta, I would like to thank you for your time for this interview, you have yourself a new fan, Crystal Viper made a strong addition to its discography I am sure and of course for the Metal scene. Cheers and be safe!

Marta: Thank you for this interview and for your support. I really hope that your readers will enjoy our new album, „The Cult”. We really enjoyed recording it, and some people say it’s our best album… So yeah, check it out!


 
 



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