Interview mit Marta Gabriel von Crystal Viper

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CRYSTAL VIPER just released their eighth album „The Cult“ in early 2021, but are now back with new material with „The Last Axeman“. With eight tracks, this EP is more like a mini-album: live tracks, cover songs, a re-recording of the title track and a new, exclusive track can all be found on the disc. We spoke to singer, guitarist and songwriter Marta Gabriel about the making and compilation of „The Last Axeman“, the impact of the pandemic on the band and future prospects.

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Crystal Viper BandfotoHi Marta! The release of „The Last Axeman“ was just released. What is the idea behind releasing an EP or a mini-album now?
We wanted to celebrate 15th anniversary of our debut album with refreshed version of “The Last Axeman”, but in the meantime we also took part in the #RockOutSessions action during which we recorded 4 songs live in studio, and we joined the official DIAMOND HEAD tribute album with a cover version of “It’s Electric” – so we had 6 songs ready. Instead of splitting them, we decided to add one more new song, and one more cover song, to add more value to this release, and make this super long EP. The main idea behind this release was the anniversary, but we also simply didn’t want to sit down and do nothing, when almost all our live shows were cancelled.

You have recorded „The Cult“ remotely because of the pandemic. How did it turn out with „The Last Axeman“, were you able to meet again in the studio and record together?
Well, we recorded the “live in studio” part of the album all together, so yeah, we met in the studio. The other 4 songs were recorded remotely, the same way like we recorded “The Cult”.

You have re-recorded the title track „The Last Axeman“. Why did you choose this song in particular, what makes it so special for you?
“The Last Axeman” is the very first song that I composed for CRYSTAL VIPER, so it’s a perfect song to celebrate the 15th anniversary. It also seems it’s one of the favourite songs of our fans, so we thought it deserves to be recorded again, with a bit updated production and arrangement.

With „In The Haunted Chapel“ there is also a new song, a very traditional CRYSTAL VIPER track. Did you record it especially for the mini-album or is it already an older one?
„In The Haunted Chapel“ is a brand new song, that I composed especially for this release. It would fit to „The Cult“ album perfectly, because lyrically it’s inspired by a H.P. Lovecraft story, „The Haunter Of The Dark“ – so it’s like a bridge between the album, and the EP. Also, the style of the song has a very similar atmosphere to those you can hear on our latest album.

You covered „Ulitsa Roz“ by Aria. Why did you choose a song of this band, what does this band mean to you?
We love recording cover songs, and we recorded many, many of them. It basically is like a tradition in our case. We keep on recording cover songs of our favourite artists, to show our fans where it’s all coming from, what are the roots of CRYSTAL VIPER, but it’s also a tribute to bands who inspired us. In the past we recorded cover songs of bands and artists such as KING DIAMOND, EXCITER, RIOT, AGENT STEEL or MANILLA ROAD, now for this EP we recorded cover song of ARIA. They’re a great band, especially their early albums are awesome.

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I was a little surprised that you sing in Russian, but it sounds really good. Do you speak Russian yourself?
No I don’t, I learned the song phonetically, and then friends who speak Russian helped me with details.

When we last talked about your solo album „Metal Queens,“ you sang a song in Spanish and said you wanted to start learning the language. How’s that going? :-)
Well it’s not going that well (laughs). I mean I still want to learn Spanish, but I honestly had no chance to focus on that yet.

You also covered „It’s Electric“ by Diamond Head, a real classic. Why did you choose this song, why does it fit so well to CRYSTAL VIPER?
We were invited to join the official DIAMOND HEAD tribute album that is coming out later this year, so we thought it would be cool to include this song on „The Last Axeman” album as well. I’m a big, big fan of DIAMOND HEAD, they’re one of my absolutely favorite bands. I actually sometimes warmed up before live shows singing their songs. I’m very happy we had a chance to record it.

You have already released the Rock Out Sessions with for song from “The Cult” on Youtube. So are the four tracks on the mini-album now something like an encore for fans who also like to have the songs in the shelf?
I wouldn’t call it an encore, we know that many people still prefer the traditional physical medium like vinyl or CD – not everyone listens to music from YouTube. I think it’s a decent recording, so we didn’t want to keep it as “YouTube material only”.


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You could still play a few live concerts in 2021. How did it feel to finally be able to play „The Cult“ songs live and how do you see the prospects for the live music scene in 2022?
We played only 3 shows last year, that’s crazy and frustrating. We will play few shows later this year, not as many as we would like to, but it’s better than nothing. The situation in 2022 is still very complicated – many postponed shows, many cancelled ones, and the huge, huge inflation and much higher costs of everything make it all even worse. I hope 2023 will be better for all of us.

Cederick Forsberg has unfortunately left the band in November 2021. How is the search for a successor going and how would you handle possible live gigs in the meantime?
Well it’s too early to talk about that officially, but of course we’re not giving up yet, and we will play the previously scheduled shows.

Are there already plans for the sequel to „The Cult“? Since you always make and work a lot of music, I can’t imagine that there is nothing to say about it yet.
Not really, I mean we just released this super long EP, so it would be way too early to start working on the new album. But you are right, I’m always working on some music related projects, so it’s not different this time. I just recorded guest vocals for 2 great bands, and I have another project in mind. So let’s see how that goes, keep on checking our pages!

Crystal Viper BandfotoLet’s conclude with our traditional brainstorming. What comes to your mind first when you read the following words?

Current favourite album: Maiden’s “Somewhere In Time”. I know it’s not current, but you wanted me to say the first thing that comes to my mind (laugh). I absolutely love this album!

Politics: Sad, scary, and unbelievable. Politicians fight for money and own profit, and in the meantime hundreds of thousands of people die, lose members of their families or their homes. And politicians in most cases do not care.

Winter: Not my favourite season for sure, I prefer the Summer.

Eurovision Song Contest: I have mixed feelings. From one side it’s cool as it is, or at least it should be a celebration of music, but from the other side it hasn’t much to do with talent for many, many years.

Best Movie-/Series-/Book-Universe: There are many, but I’m currently sucked into Locke & Key series on Netflix.

Something that makes every bad day better: Playing music, definitely!

CRYSTAL VIPER in ten years: No idea. I hope we will still keep on recording music, and we will keep on playing live shows and sharing it with people.

Thank you once again for your time, Marta! The last words are all yours.
Thank you for your support, check our new EP “The Last Axeman”, and check our new album “The Cult” as it’s still hot, and be safe everyone. Long live heavy metal!


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