The latest album from the Polish heavy/power metal band Crystal Viper is the Lovecraft-inspired The Cult. Frontwoman Marta Gabriel fills us in on the album, their newest member, the pandemic and other topics.
Chad Bowar: How did your newest member, drummer Cederick Forsberg, come to join the band?
Marta Gabriel: When it was clear in 2019 that Golem was going to quit the band, I started to look for a new drummer, and one day I contacted a friend of mine who lives in Sweden, and asked him if he could recommend someone. He asked me why I haven’t spoke to Cederick Forsberg, especially as he knew that we know each other (I even recorded guest vocals for one of Cederick’s bands few years ago), so I told him that I haven’t, because I’m looking for a drummer, not a guitarist. And then my friend told me, that Cederick plays drums, and he is actually very good, because drums is his first instrument. 10 minutes later we were on the phone with Cederick, and one week later he came to Poland to play with us and hang out a little bit; and since then he plays in Crystal Viper.
Was there anything unique about the songwriting process for The Cult compared to previous Crystal Viper albums?
I would say songwriting process was the same as always, with one exception: I wasn’t working on the songs by myself. I was working on songs for The Cult with Cederick, and on the “Shred Version” of the album Eric Juris and Ced did and amazing job with guitar solos arrangements.
How was the recording process affected by the pandemic?
It’s the first time in the history of Crystal Viper that we recorded the album without seeing each other, without working together in the studio. We were in constant contact, we exchanged thousands of emails, messages and calls, then we were sending all the tracks between each other, but we haven’t met all together. Members of Crystal Viper live in three different countries, (Poland, Germany, and Sweden) and it is impossible to travel without the risk of being quarantined. For the same reason we couldn’t do new band photos, or film proper music videos with all band members.
How has the band’s sound evolved from Tales Of Fire And Ice?
I would say that The Cult has more classic heavy metal sound, and more classic sounding guitar riffs and melodies. For sure The Cult has more traditional atmosphere, and I believe fans of Iron Maiden, Judas Priest or Black Sabbath might find it interesting!
What inspired your lyrics this time around?
All the lyrics are inspired by the works of H.P. Lovecraft. He’s probably my favorite writer ever, and the impact his works had on pop culture is outstanding. I also dare to say, that fans of his works will like our album, we can say it’s one big tribute to his legacy. I remember when I started reading Lovecraft stories at the beginning of 2020, I felt like someone would give me an injection with the ideas for lyrics and music.
How did you decide on The Cult as the album title?
The lyrics of the title track, “The Cult”, were inspired by “The Call Of Cthulhu” story. However, as Lovecraft was writing about many different ancient and forgotten cults, we thought that this title will represent the content of the album really well. The title track is quite representative when it comes to the music that you will find on the new album, so we didn’t think too much about using it. It simply fits to both music and lyrics.
What led to to cover King Diamond’s “Welcome Home,” and what did having Andy La Rocque being a part of it mean to you?
We love recording cover songs, as it’s both our personal tribute to the bands and artists that inspire us, and showing our younger fans what are the roots of Crystal Viper, where it’s all coming from. I love King Diamond, his music had a huge impact on my songwriting, and “Welcome Home” is a great song! Andy is a friend of ours for many years, he actually co-produced one of our earlier albums. He’s one of the most talented and underrated guitarists I know, and an absolutely lovely person. It was huge honor for us when he agreed to join us in “Welcome Home.” I think it was an interesting experience for him as well, as he has been performing this song with King Diamond for more than three decades, and now he was asked to record new solo for a new version of this song, performed by someone else.
How did you come to sign with Listenable Records?
Our deal with AFM Records expired, and we decided to firstly finish the new album, and then find a new home. Joining a new label is like getting married, joining a new family. We received a bunch of offers, but we decided to proceed with Listenable Records, as they understand what Crystal Viper is all about, and they are very passionate about heavy metal.
What are your goals and expectations for the album? Will there be a bigger North American promo push for the album?
Marta: Our goals and expectations are always the same: to create music and then be able to play it live, and share it with people, it makes us happy! I would love to play some shows in North America, but it wasn’t possible so far, and as far as I know, there are no plans like that at the moment. Pandemic is one thing, but when you’re an underground band like us, it’s very expensive and very complicated to go to North America to play.
You have some summer festivals on your schedule. How confident are you that they will be able to take place?
I really don’t know, but to be honest I’m afraid that this year might be the same as 2020. I would love to play live finally, but the truth is no one knows what will happen.
What do you miss most about touring?
I miss touring itself, performing songs on stage, sharing our music with people. That’s what makes me feel that I’m alive.
How has the pandemic affected you personally?
It affected me in a way that I’m not able to travel, to meet with friends who live outside Poland, as well as my band mates. It’s not even possible to travel on Polish territory, because hotels are closed, so there is no place to stay for the night.
What are some of your non-musical interests and hobbies?
I love sport, especially lifting and swimming. I love to travel with my husband, to be close to the nature, far away from big cities. I like to read books, and to watch good movies.
Anything else you’d like to mention or promote?
Thank you for the interview and for your support! And follow us on social media, as we’re about to share some cool news very soon. We will have even more metal for you!
(interview published February 11, 2021)