With a new EP just released and a new studio album on the way we at Ice Vajal decided it was time to find out more about this Polish band that is holding the torch of true heavy metal high! Singer Marta Gabriel was kind enough to answer my questions...
Its taken Crystal Viper seven years to get to the stage you're at now and it seems like you'll only get bigger at the moment, especially after signing with AFM. I've not met one person yet with a negative thing to say about Crystal Viper which has got to be a good thing! Are you happy with the progress of the band? What is the secret to Crystal Viper's growling popularity?
Sure I'm happy about the progress, as well as I'm happy about all of those 7 years, that I'm playing in this band. You know, when you dream about something, and you work hard for all the time, you never give up and always follow the way that you decided to go through, and of course you believe in what you're doing, one day you just find out that your dreams started to come true. I think that this is the secret, to be true with yourself, and do what you truly love to do. I think that our fans feel that we don't pretend anything but we play and write music that we really love.
So the latest release is Defenders Of The Magic Circle which showcases the extraordinary live energy of the band. The quality seemed like a step up from the live tracks on The Last Axeman EP. What has the reaction been like to this release? Are you happy with it?
The sound and quality of Defenders Of The Magic Circle is much better in comparision with The Last Axeman because of one simple reason: it's professional recording, which was later mixed in the studio. The tracks from The Last Axeman CD had let's say 'bootleg' quality. You know, at the beginning we thought that The Last Axeman will be a single release, but Bart came out with an idea to put there as much material as possible, so also few bootleg tracks recorded at the Swordbrothers Festival in Germany landed there. I'm very happy with the release of Defenders Of The Magic Circle. This relase shows a true sound of Crystal Viper, I'm truly proud of it. What is most important: we didn't record any overdubs in the studio as a lot of bands used to do, everything that you can hear on this album you could hear one year ago while standing in front of the stage.
Marta, you've got one of the best voices I've heard in a while and it really shows on the live tracks. How do you keep your voice in such good shape?
Thank you! Well, for me it's easy since I don't smoke cigarettes and don't drink any strong alcohol. But the one, and the most really, really important thing is to have a good sleep the night before the show; being relaxed and not tired. Believe me, if a vocalist has a good sleep, he can move the mountains. It's also important not to eat any of food that makes your throat dry for a few days before the show. I also heard something like that it is good not to speak so much, but in my case it's impossible! Ask my husband, or guys from the band, haha! When I stop speaking, everyone thinks that I'm ill or I don't feel well, haha!
Is it your plan to release an EP with live and unreleased tracks after every album? Will you ever release a full live album or maybe a DVD?
In this moment we don't plan to record next live album, but I think it would be really cool to record one more show, but much longer. I'm sure we will do it in the future, but at the moment we don't think about it. Next studio album is the top priority release for us. What about unreleased tracks, well, we are a musicians, we write and record music that we want to share, not to keep it for ourselves. That's what Crystal Viper exists for; to spread the music to the world. If we have something good, sooner or later we release it. The DVD - we already have a lot of footage, so I think we will focus on a release of that kind right after the new album will be out.
What is your favourite song to play live? Which one gets the best reaction from the fans?
For me it's hard to say, as I love all of them! It's like asking a mother which of her kids is her favourite one. But if I had to choose it would be more than one song. I love to play live Man Of Stone, it's a song from our forthcoming new album. it's also cool to play Night Prowler and Gladiator - Die By The Blade, as I love to play songs that I can sing together with the crowd!
Do you have a show that sticks in your memory as the best gig you've played?
You know, for me every single show is very special, every single show is also different from another one, and I had great memories from all of them! It is fantastic when you see Metal fans in front of you, screaming and singing with you. That always makes your show very special!
Which bands would you most like to tour with?
It would be cool to tour with Iron Maiden, Accept, Doro, Virgin Steele, Gamma Ray, Girlschool, Judas Priest, Pokolgep and Ossian (great Hungarian bands!), to mention only a few...
You've covered a lot of songs throughout your discography. Any particular favourites? Which other songs would you like to cover? Will there be a cover song on the new album?
Yeah, there's a lot of cover songs that we recorded. My favourite ones are with no doubt Mr. Gold that we recorded for a tribute to Warlock, and Libertalia of Running Wild. I'm sure we will record more cover songs in the future, and as before, only songs of a bands that influenced Crystal Viper - it wouldn't make much sense in other case. And yes, there will be one cover song on the new album but it's a bit too early to speak about it.
Defenders... includes the song The Wolf And The Witch that was previously only available on 7" vinyl. It seems that more and more bands are going back to vinyl these days, why do you think this is?
Probably you are right and it's something cool in my opinion as there is no better format for real music like heavy metal than vinyl!
Stronghold: Under Siege was written for a tabletop battle game, right? How did this unusual pairing happen? Any wargamers or role-playing enthusiasts in the ranks of Crystal Viper?
Well, we've always wanted to do something like that. Bart and his friend, Michael - who actually works for this game company - were talking about something like that for a long time. One day Michael showed us a new project of a fantasy game and asked if we could write a song with lyrics connected with a game. I told Bart that I'd already written a perfect song for this game, only lyrics were missing. So Bart wrote the lyrics based on the game concept and one month later the song and video clip were ready. There is also one quite funny story behind Stronghold - Under Siege. A group of friends met at night to play the Stronghold game, and they of course had this CD with a song, as it was added to the box with a game. They were playing this game for like 3 hours, still listening to this one song, round and round, as they thought they have to! It's true! But as far as I know, the Stronghold maniacs also like this song because its atmosphere fits to the game.
The preview song on Defenders... was brilliant so I can't wait for the new album! How is it progressing? Any idea of the title yet?
Yes, but right now everything what is connected with the new album is a dark secret, protected by witches, devils and demons! If I say a word, they will put a spell on me! Haha...
Any plans for a big tour when the new full-length is released? Any countries you'd particularly like to play? I know there's a growing legion in the UK who would love to see you invade our shores!
We've never played in UK before and of course I'd love to! There are some plans about touring and we will surely play in every place that is hungry for classic, pure heavy metal.
Marta, you and Golem are also part of the Börn Again project with Björn Daigger and Martin Albrecht. Does this ever clash with Crystal Viper or do the two bands co-exist quite nicely? Any news on when the debut album from Börn Again will be released?
In Börn Again we have also Alex Guth on the board, he's a great guitarist. Now we are focused on writing material for our debut album. We plan to record it this year. It will be a killer release! Both bands, Crystal Viper and Börn Again, have their own - different - way of working. The time schedules are usually managed by Bart, so there is no problem with being in 2 bands at the same time. What else, I'm very happy because of the fact that I'm part of two bands, that play different styles of metal but it's still music that I love!
Metal Nation featured artwork by the fantastic Chris Moyens who is better known for his black and death metal album covers. Why did you choose that particular artwork? Will you use his art again?
I love this cover art. Chris Moyen is a great artist and his style fits perfecty to our style of playing. Metal Nation cover is really great, but I think that The Wolf And The Witch artwork is awesome and currently it's my favoutrite one. I'm sure we will cooperate with Chis more than those 2 times in the future, you can be sure about it.
What are your most positive and negative experiences with Crystal Viper?
You know, I used to say that what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. I think that we, as human beings, should try to learn something from the negative experiences, even if they are painful or simply stupid. Since Crystal Viper exists there were many not very pleasant situations, but from the other side we've learnt a lot from them and have never repeated them. The most positive experiences? Well, there are so many of them, for example I feel really happy while playing a show and seeing that people are really enjoying it, I love to meet our fans. I still remember the day we were signed by our first label, Karthago Records, I still remember - as a very big moment for me - putting our sigs on the AFM contract... You know, when something with your band works out it always gives you a lot of positive energy and strength to continue.
Is it ever difficult to juggle your personal lives and music career, especially for you, Marta, and Bart, who are husband and wife as well as singer and manager?
It's totally opposite! Being a couple while working as a musician and manager / producer makes a lot of things easier and faster. We really lead a musical life, and we truly love it! I'm not sure if I even should name it as 'working', because it doesn't matter if it's early hour in the morning, or a middle of the night, we still are surrounded by music. It really gives a sense to our lives and makes us happy. But what is the most important for me, is that I share my passion, which is music, with a person that I love. No need to ask for more.
Thanks so much for answering these questions for Ice Vajal! I Wish you every success with your future releases and shows. Hope to catch you live very soon! Any final words?
Thank you so much for a nice talk! Hope to play one day in UK! YOU ARE THE METAL NATION!