Interview with Marta Gabriel, Crystal Viper/Born Again (January 2010)



Crystal Viper is one of the most active new European heavy metal bands. It was formed by vocalist Marta Gabriel (professional musician, 1st grade) and her husband Bart Gabriel (producer and music journalist). The band, coming from Poland, has already three albums: "The Curse of Crystal Viper" (2007), "The Last Axeman" (2008) and the most recent "Metal Nation" (2009). Crystal Viper is also 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. The band shared the stage with acts such as: Cradle of Filth, Doro, Anvil, Hammerfall, Blitzkrieg, Sacred Steel, Manowar and others.


In 2009, together with Martin Albrecht (ex-Stormwitch, Mystic Prophecy and Valley's Eve), Bjoern Daigger (ex-Majesty, R:I:P) and Golem (Crystal Viper, ex-Darzamat), Marta Gabriel formed a new power metal band named Born Again. Their first single titled "Neverending Fire" was recorded in November 2009, and currently the band is working on the debut studio album.


This strong resurrection, also known now as the New Wave of Traditional Heavy Metal (NWOTHM) is spreading around the world. There are at least two good things to look forward to in this New Year - Crystal Viper and Born Again!

1. Hello Marta and a Happy New Year full of good metal music! What are your expectations from 2010?


Marta: Hi Maria! Thank you for the wishes, I also wish you all the best for the New Year! What are my expectations? I would like to play shows in the countries in which we didn't yet play, you know, for metalheads that are hungry for our music. I also believe to play for people that have never heard us before, it's always important to win new fans...!


2. Can you introduce Crystal Viper to the readers of Power of Metal?


Marta: Sure! If you are looking for a kick ass melodic heavy metal straight from the deepest parts of hell, you are very lucky - here we are!
3. How would you describe your music?


Marta: Well, we play traditional heavy metal that has very strong roots in the 80's. We are strongly inspired by 80's heavy metal bands such as Running Wild, Gamma Ray, Stormwitch, Warlock, Black Sabbath, and Virgin Steele and so on. Of course we are not trying to copy any of those bands, we have our own style, and what's the most important for us while writing songs, is the melody. I mean if there's no good melody, there's no good song.


4. You personally what brought you to this kind of music? Has it been sometimes an obstacle in your life?


Marta: What brought me into it? It's simple: I've always loved everything that was connected with music. From my youngest years there was music in my life, as I started to play piano in music school, and there was a lot of different music in my home. Later, as a teenager I started to dream about a band, and I joined a local one. It took for me few years until Crystal Viper was born, a real band that I've always dreamed about. What about Crystal Viper being any kind of obstacles, I can answer you in one way - I've simply put everything at the stake. It means that there has never been anything more important for me than my band was and still is. Few times I had to leave my job, missed some exams because of recording session or a show to play. But it's not a problem for me, as I mentioned before, music makes my life worth living, and while standing on stage I really enjoy my life. What is also great thing for me, my husband - as a manager and producer - is also a part of it, so I've never had to divide my life into two parts, family life and music life. I think I'm very lucky because of that.


5. Have you ever thought about some experiments with music genres besides heavy metal?


Marta: Maybe I wouldn't call it as experiments, but I'm working with some projects that are totally different to heavy metal. I'm composing and recording some orchestrations for bands as intros for their albums or for live shows; I'm also doing soundtracks for a commercials and so on. So it isn't like that there is only heavy metal for me in this world, I don't restrict myself to only one genre. Of course I totally love heavy metal, but being a musician, it's impossible to live with only one genre around you.


6. How do you keep your voice so powerful? Would you reveal the secret?


Marta: Thank you! Well, there are a lot of things; I mean some "do's and don'ts". First of all I don't smoke cigarettes, and I don't drink strong alcohols, and what's most important, I don't drink any alcohols in one week before the show or recording session. I also try to not make longer breaks between rehearsals than 4 days, rehearsing regularly is quite important. There is also a special diet for a one week time before shows and recording sessions. Also very important before singing are physical and warming-up exercises, to warm your body up before singing, especially the neck muscles.


7. Does “Metal Nation” means something special to you? What is the main intension? Did this album receive a good feedback from the metal media?


Marta: It means a lot, as it is next album that I put into it my whole heart, and a year of my life. It is fantastic feeling to keep in hand an album that you are very proud of. The feedback was really good, we are really very happy because of that, and it makes us sure that everything we do, have a sense, good reviews give us a kind of new motivation to work.


8. You released an 7" single, called "The wolf and the witch". What was its main idea? And why an 7" single?


Marta: Each of our releases was released on CD and on a vinyl formats. I think that there doesn't exist better "music carriers" for classic heavy metal than vinyl is. Also big covers arts look fantastic, much better that one inside small CD box. I believe I don't need to say about its great sound!


9. Would you describe the process of writing music and composing songs?


Marta: At the beginning the main melody is born in my head, then I have to record it quickly to not forget - please don't ask me about places, where I have to do it sometimes, haha! Later I take my guitar or sit in front of my piano and arrange song, write the drum lines and so on. When the song is ready, I give it to the guys from the band, as an mp3 and, written in notes. At the end, we play teh son on teh rehearsal, to check everything. When we are ready, and the song is good, we start to work on it with a producer.

10. Where do you find inspiration?


Marta: It is hard to say, because generally it simply comes, sometimes in most unexpected moments.


11. What are the lyrics about? General topics?


Marta: Now we can talk about inspiration. For our first album all the lyrics were written by Bart, he did kind of heroic fantasy story in the Robert E. Howard style. For the "Metal Nation" album both of us wrote lyrics, which are connected with history, holy inquisition, fights of gladiators, and so on. One of my hobbies is collecting and watching horror movies, so there are also few stories like that hidden in our lyrics. For the new single and the forthcoming album we will use some original Polish myths and fairytales.


12. Would you tell me more about the concert life of Crystal Viper? Any show or festival which will always remain in your memories?


Marta: I will probably surprised you a little bit, because I will never forget my very first show with Crystal Viper. That was something like trying our strengths as a band, to find out if people like our music... Every single show is really great, especially when our fans enjoying it. Believe me Maria, there's nothing better than smiling faces, and fists in the air. Do you know where musicians take the adrenaline from? From the people that are screaming and asking for more!


13. What about the individual member’s musical past? What did you do prior to CRYSTAL VIPER and what brought you together?


Marta: Before Crystal Viper I played in two bands, but that wasn't anything serious, but with the second band I recorded two demo tapes and played some shows in local clubs. For Andy Crystal Viper is the first real band. Golem played in few bands, like Darzamat, Dragon, Adrenalina, Tom also played with Golem in Adrenalina from what I know.


14. Will you also present your new band project Born Again? Future plans?


Marta: Born Again is am international band, with me on vocals, Golem on Drums, Martin Albrecht on bass guitar - a former musician of Stormwitch, Rough and Mystic Prophecy, and Bjoern Daigger who played in few bands including Majesty and Metalforce. We already recorded first single and first video clip for "Neverending Fire". Now we are working on our debut album, it looks like it will be finished this year.


15. How would you describe the Polish metal scene? Bands to look out for?


Marta: Well, Polish metal scene is quite strong, but rather the extreme one. I'm sure everyone knows bands such as Behemoth and Vader. Regarding traditional heavy metal, well, from what I know we are one of the few bands that keep on recording albums and so on. But I could recommend some classic 80s bands from here, like Turbo, Kat or Tsa.


16. Have you got any dates planned? Upcoming releases? What’s in store for Crystal Viper in 2010?


Marta: In the first half of 2010 we will be touring a lot: The Tour And The Witch is being booked, and we will hit the stages in Poland, Germany, Greece, Czech Republic and of course Bulgaria - next dates are being negotiated all the time. We will also release our live album, and we are going to record the third full length studio album, but we haven't decided yet if we will release it this or next year.


Thank you to have answered these questions! We wish you a good luck! Anything to say, here’s the spot:


Marta: Thank you for your support and for the interview. All the best for you and your readers! HORNS UP!

Interviewed by Maria D. S.

Crystal Viper - Metal Nation

Album available on Karthago Records.