This is Lee Walker from Planet Mosh meeting up with Marta Gabriel of Crystal Viper.
LW – Thanks Marta, for taking the time out to discuss things Crystal Viper related for the Planetmosh readers.
Marta – It’s great to hear from you, Lee! Thank you for supporting Crystal Viper!
LW – For people out there just discovering Crystal Viper as a result of this interview, how did the band start?
Marta – Crystal Viper was born in 2003, here in Poland, as a result of my biggest dream – to create a real Heavy Metal band, which would record albums and would play live shows all around the world.
In 2007, we released our debut album, and right now, we are about to release our 4th one, entitled “Crimen Excepta”. In the meantime, we’ve taken part in many tribute albums, we released a couple of singles; played a lot of great live shows in Europe, and lately, recorded a song for a German horror movie…!! But, right now, we are here in 2012 with “Crimen Excepta”.
LW – What made you chose the name Crystal Viper for the band?
Marta -You know; we just wanted to have a classic heavy metal name, with a noun and an adjective in it? and to sound near to our metal heroes; Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Virgin Steele, Iron Maiden. Our name is also strongly connected to a fantasy story from our first album. But, on the other side, Crystal Viper sounds really cool!
LW – What is the female fronted metal scene like in Poland?
Marta – It’s hard to talk about a female fronted metal scene in Poland really, as the Metal scene in general is not that strong; at least, in my opinion! I mean, there are many underground acts, especially Black and Death Metal ones, but only a few bands that keep on releasing albums, or playing regularly. It’s maybe not so bad as a few years ago, but in comparison to our neighbor’s in Germany or the Czech Republic, it really doesn’t look good. When you want to go out, to see a good live show for example; there’s nowhere to go, unless you wanna see bands playing in a pub, without stage and lights, between tables, surrounded by cigarette smoke?
Even if some promoter takes a risk and organizes something, ticket sales are so small, that he will loose lots of money, and doesn’t want to organize further shows; so it’s getting worse and worse. Really good acts sell like 50-100 tickets for their live shows. It’s sad and kind of depressing here; most people prefer to stay at home and watch “YouTube”, than go out and watch bands!
LW – What bands/artists have influenced you over the years?
Marta – Oh, there’s many of them. My biggest inspiration is of course, Metal music. I love bands such as Virgin Steele, Judas Priest, Immortal, Venom, Bathory, Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath, Dio, Dissection, Nifelheim… The list is endless. But, I also like good soundtracks, classical music, opera; I have lots of Mike Oldfield’s albums. And, I’m influenced by books, old movies…, all sorts of stuff! For example, I love all these old movies from the “Hammer Films” company; they are a huge, huge inspiration.
LW – What made you decide to become a musician?
Marta – Truly? I don’t know. Probably I was born this way, because when I was a 6yr old, I saw an orchestra playing on TV, and told my parents that I wanted to be a musician.
One year later I became a pupil in music school, actually, in piano class. Now I also sing and I play guitar and bass.
Being an artist; a musician, you learn every day! You live and develop your skills throughout your whole life. It’s a beautiful and great thing, very inspiring. When a musician thinks that he has achieved everything, and there’s nothing more to learn, it means the end of his career? I don’t expect such a day in my life!
LW – What has been your most memorable experience to date?
Marta – Probably everything that surrounded writing and recording the first Crystal Viper album. It made me sure that making music is my way of life! Yet I also learned that composing, writing and recording music is not that easy, and you need to work very hard and develop your skill, all the time.
LW – You are about to release your latest album “Crimen Excepta” through AFM Records. How did this album come together?
Marta – We produced it in a bit of a different way than the previous ones; everything was actually produced like it was in the ’80s, really true. We used Flying V guitars, tube amps, of course, real drums; no samples, triggers or anything like that…. Also, no copying – everything that you hear on the album was actually sung or played.
In the ’80s, there were no false “plastic” parts in songs; everything was so real and true, and we wanted to record our album in the same, true way. “Crimen Excepta” was recorded in MP Studios here in Poland, as it’s our favourite and the most professional one in our area. The owner of the studio is a sound engineer there, and he’s a great guy as well! He’s also a big fan of classic metal, and I think that’s very important. From the very beginning, we’ve had the same producer, Bart Gabriel, who also manages the band, and in private is my husband. He also produced “Crimen Excepta”, and lately has produced new albums for bands such as Lonewolf, Jack Starr’s Burning Starr, Sacred Steel and Mortician.
LW – How do you think it compares to your previous releases such as “The Curse Of Crystal Viper”, “Metal Nation” and “Legends”?
Marta – For sure, it’s darker, heavier, and more mysterious. “Crimen Excepta” is really more brutal, because of its lyrical themes! It tells the story of holy inquisition! I mixed historical facts with fiction, and wrote a story; it’s like a movie.
For the first time with us, the story was written first, and it really influenced me as a composer! This is why I feel the music is different, full of real emotions and drama. While composing songs, I wanted to express ‘my’ real feelings, to “draw” a story with notes and melodies. “Crimen Excepta” shows a new face to Crystal Viper; we will of course always stay within a Classic Metal framework, but we don’t want to record the same album again and again.
LW – Can you give the Planetmosh readers a quick overview of the album?
Marta – “Crimen Excepta”, as I said, is a little bit like a movie, where the story is not told with pictures, but with music. It’s a story about a witch named Sarah, and her adopted son William, who becomes an Inquisitor…
It’s a pretty weird story, I would say, but it was very much inspired by books and movies such as “The Name Of The Rose” or even “Malleus Malleficarum”. I mixed historical facts with fiction, and there is actually a deeper meaning hidden behind this story, which can be interpreted as a story about intolerance and human cruelty as well!
LW – What are your favourite songs from it?
Marta – The title track, “Crimen Excepta”, without a doubt! I think it is the best song I’ve ever written. But other favorites are “Witch’s Mark”, the first single, “Fire Be My Gates” and “The Spell Of Death”… Actually, the list could go on and on; I like all these songs very much, that’s why all of them are on the album.
LW – I noticed that you have got guest appearances from both Hell’s David Bower and Peter from Vader. How did these collaborations come about?
Marta – Recording cover songs from our favourite bands and inviting special guests to help with them on the albums is already kind of a tradition with this band. Our goal is to show our younger fans where the roots of our music are, where we take our inspirations from, whilst, of course, also having some fun with the recording. Of course, we are fans of all the bands that we cover, so we have a real chance to show respect to the bands that inspire us, or have had influence on us.
And it was the same in this case! We are huge fans Hell and Vader, and as we knew each other, we invited David and Peter to take part in our songs. It was great to have Peter with us in the recording studio, and David; well, everyone knows he is an amazing singer and performer, so I can’t imagine any other person to sing the part of William in “Crimen Excepta”. David and Peter – horns up!
LW – Why did you decide to cover the Vader song “Tyrani Piekiel”?
Marta – Well, when we were thinking about bonus tracks for the limited editions of the album, we decided to choose something unusual, something that people really don’t expect. We don’t know of any other Heavy Metal band that has recorded a real Death Metal song, and it looks like we were first…!
I’m a huge fan of Death and Black Metal. I really like Vader and “Tyrani Piekiel” is my favourite Vader song, so it was great fun having Peter sing it with me. You need to know also that we recorded one more cover song during this recording session, and again, it’s quite unusual! We covered “Night Of The Demon” from nwobhm heroes Demon, and this song has finished up on the limited vinyl edition of “Crimen Excepta”.
LW – If you had to pick one song to sum up Crystal Viper right now what would it be?
Marta – I would probably choose “Crimen Excepta” or “Witch’s Mark”. Both songs sum up Crystal Viper perfectly. Atmosphere, attitude, sound, everything!
LW – Besides the album release what do you have planned for the rest of 2012?
Marta – Well, we plan to do a video, and play as many live shows as possible. It would be fantastic to play in the UK. It’s weird that we’ve never played in the land of nwobhm, so I can’t wait!
LW – Are there any bands out there you would recommend keeping an eye on right now ?
Marta – Of course! There are many, many great bands and new albums, coming out all the time! My personal favourites are Arch/Matheos, Demonaz, and new albums from Vader, Lonewolf and Cannibal Corpse.
LW – Are there any messages that you would like to pass on to your fans?
Marta – Yes! Please keep on buying original albums; keep on going to live shows… The future of the Metal scene is in your hands!