No doubt about it, Crystal Viper is one of the most active new European heavy metal bands of the current decade! And they are also one of the best metal bands around at the moment. Having already played major festivals like the Czech "Masters of Rock" (in 2006) and this year's "Battle Field Metal Festival" in Spain, Crystal Viper are about to conquer Greece in March 2009 apperaring at the famous "Up the Hammers" bash and Germany (at the "Keep It True" in April 2010). The band, coming from Poland, has already three albums under their belt: "The Curse of Crystal Viper", "The last Axeman" and the most recent "Metal Nation". But how did it all begin, I ask frontlady Marta Gabriel? "We started in 2003, doing demos, recording reherasals and so on", she answers. "We had many, many line up changes before recording our debut album, as most of the guys were not serious enough for us to work with them any longer. You know, we exactly knew that we wanted to form a real band, which records albums and plays serious live shows. And most of them wanted to play in a local pub for a beer, to have something to do after working hours. The first official line up was established a few months before recording "The Curse of Crystal Viper", and we have almost had the same line up until now. We are deadly serious in what we do, and everyone in the band understands that."
The mentioned first album "The Curse of Crystal Viper" got fantastic feedback from press and fans alike, German Rock Hard magazine gave it 8 of 10 points, Heavy! magazine thought it was worth 10 out of 12 with Metal Maidens even awarding it 10 out of 10. Quite an achievement for a young band, I would say. Marta agrees but keeps quite cool: "Yeah, it's always nice to read such ultra positive reviews. Actually, I don't remember any review being worse than 8/10 or 4/5, we got many 'album of the month' awards. The only negative voices we heard were from a few extreme metal fans, who don't accept anything melodic at all. You know, you can not make everyone happy with your music. But still, there were no bad reviews of any of our releases so far." If you look closely at the credits of the "Curse of Crystal Viper" album, you will recognize that Marta still called herself "Leather Wych" at the time. Why? "Well", she reflects, "The 'Leather Wych' nickname was connected with the story behind the lyrics, "The Curse of Crystal Viper" was a concept album. Some people still call me 'Leather Wych', others just call me Marta. Both names are fine to me, actually."
"The Curse of Crystal Viper" was quickly followed by "The Last Axeman" in 2008. It was originally planned as a mini-album but soon developed into a full-blown longplayer with an assortment of really cool cover songs (e.g. "Atlantis" from Angel Witch", "Out there Survivors" form Mirage and "Flaming Metal Systems" from the mighty Manilla Road). Although the album is kind of a compilation it does have a really nice flow to it, very consistent. Why does Marta think that is? "We wanted this album to sound like a Crystal Viper release, and even if there are many cover songs on there, all of them sound like us. "The Last Axeman" was a very special and limited release, we wanted to make a CD single, but we realized that we really had a lot of tracks that our fans would have loved to listen to and own. So we added a few songs, and later on even more songs, and finally the release was around 70 minutes long. Not that bad for a CD single, right?"
On "Blood and Gasoline" the band even joined up with David DeFeis and Josh Block of Virgin Steele, as Marta explains: "We wanted to record an exclusive cover song for our CD single of "The Last Axeman", something from a band that was really important to us. We decided to do a Virgin Steele cover song, because they were one of the very first heavy metal bands I started to listen to. Bart and David DeFeis have been friends for a long time, and one day he said: 'Alright, you will record this song together with the Virgin Steele guys.' It was like a dream come true for me! The funny thing is that fans started to call this special line up Crystal Steele. We were even more happy after David had placed another version of this special duet song on the re-release of his "The Marriage Of Heaven And Hell" album, it was something really incredible. Thank you David!" The vinyl edition of "The Last Axeman" does feature yet another surprise, namely a version of the title track sung in Polish. A very unusal choice, wasn't it? But then again, in the 80's, Polish bands like KAT or Turbo recorded several albums in their native tongue. Marta thinks that would not be an option for her band: "No. Crystal Viper is not big enough over here to record an entire album in Polish. It would probably make more sense doing an album in Spanish for example, as we are much more known out there. Actually, the problem is that we would need a separate label for this, separate budget and so on. But I don't think that sales would be good enough to cover all these costs, as most Polish fans don't support artists by buying original releases, as they prefer illegal downloads. From what I know, our download album was downloaded more than 15,000 times, can you imagine ...? But, of course we respect our die-hard fans from our homeland, and we recorded this special Polish version of 'The Last Axeman' for them."
Crystal Viper's third longplayer "Metal Nation" has been released in early 2009. The band has further progressed musically and sonically as well. The sound of the album (including yet another cool cover, this time the classic "Agents of Steel") is really great. It surely helped that no other than Andy La Roque of King Diamond fame was responsible for mixing and mastering the ten songs." Marta thinks the same: "It was again Bart's idea. Except being a great guitarist and composer, Andy La Rocque is one of the best mixing/mastering engineers around, he worked with such acts as Hammerfall, Evergrey, Falconer, and of course he is responsible for some of the King Diamond releases. We wanted our album to sound perfect, and that's why we decided to work with him. Bart and Andy met a couple of times, and they have been in touch for many years from what I know. And yeah, Andy is definitely a cool and down to earth guy."
The superb cover artwork of "Metal Nation" features a marching army of skeletons as well as a number entitled "Zombie Lust (Flesh Eaters)". Very nice! Is the song dedicated to a certain horror flick? The 'Leather Wych' explains: "It was inspired by the whole series of Romero's "Living Dead", but it's not connected with any specific movie. We are huge fans of horror movies from the '70's and '80s! Another song on the new album, '1428', deals with the story of Freddy Krueger, so it was inspired by another great series, "Nightmare On Elm Street". '1428' is the number of the house where Freddy was burned by the parents of the kids he killed."
I have already briefly mentioned that "Metal Nation" shows signs of musical progression without the band turning their backs on traditional metal ethics. Take a number like "Her Crimson Tears" for example, some kind of a metal ballad. A new direction for Crystal Viper? "No, I wouldn't say it's a new direction or something. I just composed this song some time ago, and it was good enough to be placed on the album. I wasn't thinking 'yeah, we need to put a ballad on the album'. You know, it's also cool to show that we are not just about playing fast songs. Response for 'Her Crimson Tears' was very good so far, so I guess it was a good idea. And this song has total 'metal' lyrics, just check them out ..." So what would be the best metal ballads ever in Marta's book? "There are many", she reflects, "I would probably choose 'Heart of Steel' and 'Courage' from Manowar, '1916' from Motörhead and 'Best Days of my Life' from Heavens Gate."
Matthias Mader (Iron Pages)
CD version: Karthago Records, Germany
Vinyl version: High Roller Records, Germany
Release date: February 2009
Style: Traditional / True Heavy Metal
FACTS ABOUT THE NEW ALBUM:
-Brand new studio album of the Polish female fronted Heavy Metal sensation, featuring Marta Gabriel: vocalist with 4-octave voice range
-Massive True Heavy Metal for fans of CHASTAIN, GAMMA RAY, GRAVE DIGGER, ACCEPT and JUDAS PRIEST.
-Mixed and mastered by the Grammy nominated Andy La Rocque (KING DIAMOND), at the Sonic Train Studios (HAMMERFALL, KING DIAMOND, EVERGREY etc.). -Album feat. special guests: Frank Knight (X-WILD), Manni Schmidt (GRAVE DIGGER) and Lars Ramcke (STORMWARRIOR)
-Front cover painted by the legedary Chris Moyen (BEHERIT, BLASPHEMY, TRIVIUM).
-Produced by Bart Gabriel (SABBAT, HIRAX, KAT, METALUCIFER etc. - also editor in chief of the famous HARD ROCKER magazine).
-Album incl. cover version of the AGENT STEEL classic song "Agents Of Steel", high speed power metal monsters like "Metal Nation" or "Legions Of Truth", and potential radio ballad "Her Crimson Tears" (featuring Frank Knight).
FACTS ABOUT THE BAND:
-Band that shared the stage with acts such as: CRADLE OF FILTH, DORO, ANVIL, HAMMERFALL, BLITZKRIEG, SACRED STEEL and others, and appeared on several summer festivals
-Band known from: A Tribute To WARLOCK, A Tribute To ANGEL WITCH, A Tribute To CIRITH UNGOL, A Tribute To MANILLA ROAD and A Tribute To WASP compilations
-Special duet version of the legendary VIRGIN STEELE band and CRYSTAL VIPER, in new version of the classic VS song "Blood And Gasoline", placed on the last CRYSTAL VIPER CD/LP single "The Last Axeman", and on the re-release of the classic VS album "The Marriage Of Heaven And Hell".
-Almost 65 000 visitors on band's myspace profile within less than one year after launching, what makes almost 5000 visitors every month
-Endorsement deal with ALPHARD SOUND TECHNOLOGY ETP (VIRGIN STEELE, PAUL DI'ANNO, HALLOWEEN etc.)
-Official CRYSTAL VIPER fanclubs in Poland, Usa and Holland
NEXT LIVE SHOWS:
23.01.2009 - Battle Field Metal Festival, Spain (headling show)
06.03.2009 - Up The Hammers Festival, Greece
16.04.2009 - Progresja Club, Warsaw, Poland (special guest of BLAZE BAYLEY)
April 2010 - Keep It True Festival, Germany
BAND IS AVAILABLE FOR SUMMER FESTIVALS 2009 !!!
CRYSTAL VIPER ONLINE: www.crystalviper.com
SONIC TRAIN STUDIOS: www.sonictrainstudios.com
MANAGEMENT & BOOKING: HARD ROCKER
c/o Bart Gabriel, Skr Poczt 1306, 40-001 Katowice 1, Poland
email@example.com . www.myspace.com/bartgabriel
KARTHAGO RECORDS | www.karthagorecords.de
c/o Stefan Riermaier, Feichtetstr. 41
D-82343, Possenhofen, Germany
HIGH ROLLER RECORDS | www.high-roller-records.de
c/o Steffen Boehm, Marienthaler Str. 78
D-08060, Zwickau, Germany