If you are serious about heavy metal, then Katowice, Poland’s CRYSTAL VIPER needs no introduction. The band was founded by the singer guitarist Marta Gabriel and released their debut album in 2007. Since then, the band toured in more than 15 countries, played in tiny clubs and open-air festivals, and released 6 more studio albums of the 80’s metal sounds that still fresh today as then.
The band’s new album “The Cult” is full of epic melodies, great riffs, guitar harmonies, and ripping solos. The lyrics were inspired by the works of H.P. Lovecraft. Finally, the choice of cover songs recorded is included as bonus tracks will satisfy all the Metal purists.
The CD/DIGITAL version of the album includes KING DIAMOND cover “Welcome Home” (recorded with very special guest, KING DIAMOND’s guitarist Andy La Rocque) while the vinyl LP version, includes a cover of the NWOBHM heroes SATAN, entitled “Trial By Fire”.
The band is: Marta Gabriel (vocals, guitars), Andy Wave (guitars), Eric Juris (guitars), Blaze Grygiel (bass) and Cederick Forsberg (drums).
The bands previous albums are: The Curse of Crystal Viper (2007), Metal Nation (2009),Legends (2010), Crimen Excepta (2012), Possession (2013), Queen of the Witches (2017), Tales of Fire and Ice (2019),The Cult (2021). Live Album: Defenders of the Magic Circle: Live in Germany (2010) EPs: At the Edge of Time (2018)
Marta talks about the new album and plans for performing:
IMM: Hi Marta, thanks for your time. This album is heavy hitting as your previous albums and now on Listenable Records. There was a gap due to your health from 2013 to 2016 and released Queen of the Witches in February 2017. When did the band start to work on this album and the decision to sign to Listenable?
Marta: We started to work on songs for “The Cult” in the early 2020, so basically few months after the release of our previous album, “Tales Of Fire And Ice”. We managed to play only 8 shows to promote “Tales”. Then the pandemic begun, so all remaining shows got canceled. Instead of sitting and doing nothing, we decided to use that time the best we could, and we started to work on new songs. Our deal with AFM expired, so when we were working on those new songs, we were officially unsigned, when we were an indie band. When the album was completely finished, including artwork and everything else, we decided to present it to labels. We chose Listenable Records as they seem to understand what Crystal Viper is all about, and they are very passionate about heavy metal.
IMM: And how you chose the name for the band and your nick name “the witch” in a good way?
Marta: We chose the name Crystal Viper, because we wanted classic sounding name, with an adjective and noun, like Iron Maiden or Black Sabbath. I never used the nick name “The Witch”…? Maybe you mean “Leather Wych”, as I was nick named like that in the booklet of our very first album. It was an idea of our label, as they thought this will generate more interest, but not only I never liked that idea, but I also never used that nick name officially.
IMM: You’re the main song writer?
Marta. I think we can say so, because I composed the first six Crystal Viper albums completely alone. On the 7th album there are songs composed by me and by other members, and when it comes to the new album, “The Cult”, we have songs written by me and our new drummer, Cederick Forsberg.
IMM: For this album there are 12 songs. An extra song for the CD KING DIAMOND cover “Welcome Home” and LP cover of the NWOBHM heroes SATAN, entitled “Trial By Fire”. Why release them that way and why those songs to cover?
Marta: We love recording cover songs, as it’s both our personal tribute to the bands and artists that inspire us, and we show our younger fans what are the roots of Crystal Viper, where it’s all coming from. I love both bands, Satan and King Diamond, their music had a huge impact on my songwriting, and both songs „Welcome Home“ and “Trial By Fire” are great. I wanted to record them for years! We decided to put different cover songs on CD and LP to make these two formats different. There are many people who buy both CD and vinyl, so we want them to have something special for each format.
IMM: The first on song and video released is for “The Cult”. Explain the video and what the songs about?
Marta: This is the very first time in the Crystal Viper history that we haven’t seen each other for almost a year. We haven’t met in the recording studio, we were working on this album without seeing each other. Members of Crystal Viper live in 3 different countries, Poland, Germany, and Sweden, and it was (and still is) impossible to travel, without the risk of being quarantined. In the result we couldn’t do new band photos, or film proper music video, with all band members, and that’s why we decided to produce a lyric video. Regarding “The Cult” song… All the lyrics on the new album are inspired by the works of H.P. Lovecraft. The lyrics of the title track, “The Cult”, are inspired by “The Call Of Cthulhu” story. In the lyric video you can see the animation based on the cover art of the album.
IMM: Describe what the album cover?
Marta: It’s a painting created by Mario Lopez. We had a very specific idea for the cover, we wanted it to be a classic looking heavy metal art, like in the ‘80s. 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. You can even see members of the band on this painting if you will look closely. One more reason the get this album on the vinyl format, it looks even better when it’s big!
IMM: What are the next songs to be released and videos?
Marta: Few days ago we released the “Asenath Waite” lyric video, and since we’re very close to the actual release date, I don’t know if we will do any other videos or singles before the album premiere. For sure we will want to do proper music video as soon as it will be possible.
IMM: For 2021 and/or 2022 for live performances are on hold or being rescheduled for all different size venues. Are any shows confirmed for headline and support at Europe?
Marta: We have this tour with RAVEN and WOLF, as well as several festival appearances being confirmed, but we don’t know if or when they will happen. No one knows.
IMM: How young were when started to learn to play guitar and when you started to perform?
Marta: I was 7 years old when I started playing piano and started performing on stage as a pianist. Later, when I was in high school, I started performing as a rock and metal singer with local bands. I started playing guitar pretty late. In Crystal Viper I was the only composer, and as it was too difficult for me to explain with my piano guitar riffs to other band members, I decided to learn playing guitar, to make my life easier. So I was learning playing guitar while composing my own songs, and it was exactly the same with the bass guitar.
IMM: Discuss some of the songs such as “Whispers From Beyond” and Asnath Waite. I would close my eyes and through a dart for a choice to release as second single and video.
Marta: Asenath Waite is one of very few main female characters from the Lovecraft stories. Asenath Waite was described in “The Thing On The Doorstep” story, she’s a woman with some supernatural powers. It’s a great story! “Whispers From Beyond” was inspired by “The Whisperer In Darkness” story. In the refrains I sing about the army of shadows, they are the creatures that are showing up at night.
IMM: I will add four more what they are about. The title track, “Down In The Crypt”, “Lost In The Dark” and “Forgotten Land”?
Marta: I composed “The Cult” song after I finished reading “The Call Of Cthulhu” story. I wrote the lyrics for “Down In The Crypt” right after I read “The Statement Of Randolph Carter” story, it’s a kind of a testimony of a person, whose friend entered an old tomb. I sing it in first person, I stand by the tomb, and I wait. I’m calling my friend, and he is not coming back. In “Lost In The Dark” I’m facing the monster from “The Beast In The Cave”, and in “Forgoten Land” I’m taking the listeners to “The Mountains Of Madness”.
IMM: For the covers of King Diamond “Welcome Home” with King, did he send his vocals over or came to the studio? Why that song to record? And Satan’s “Trial By Fire to record?
Marta King Diamond haven’t recorded vocals for our version of “Welcome Home”, all vocals are recorded by me. But we have Andy La Rocque on board, his guitarist, who recorded a guest guitar solo. We decided to record this one because it’s my favorite song from King Diamond, and I wanted to record it since I can remember, but the time was never right. When we choose cover songs for the album we always try to choose songs that fit to the rest of the material on the album, and now it fitted perfectly to the concept of our new album, which has a lots of horror and chilling elements. “Trial By Fire” is my absolute number one from Satan, and I love this band, I’m glad we recorded these two songs!
IMM: As I said the album is heavy energy and when US fans of heavy metal hear your music. My bet they will like it and head bang to the music. And if it works for the band to come North America with options of music cruises such as the Monsters Of Rock cruise you should inquire.
Marta: We actually never played outside of Europe, and I really hope that we will visit America very soon! I hope your readers will like our new album as much as we do. Metallic regards to our American fans and supporters! We are Metal Nation!