Poland may be better known for its death metal exports these days, but this doesn't mean the extreme stuff is the only genre enjoying a resurgence over there. Crystal Viper play Dungeons and Dragons metal like their 80's influences, so if you ever dug screaming guitar harmonies, aggressive female vocals (Warlock?), and rapid fire tempos, this quintet are a band to watch. Speaking to Maximummetal about the spanking new album, tour plans, and how she'd decorate her own castle, Crystal Viper's own warrior princess Marta Gabriel gives us a rare glimpse into a band poised to slaughter Europe.

MM: Crystal Viper is such a kickass name. I wish I could have named my own band Crystal Viper. Do any of your fans already have Crystal Viper tattoos yet?
Marta Gabriel: Truly? I have no idea! But I promised to myself few years ago that I would tattoo something connected with Crystal Viper on my arm. Maybe one day I will find the courage and do it, hahaha! Who knows?

Why skeletons? They can't be killed and they will never die, just like the music we play
Your songs remind me of Doro, but less hard rock and more power metal. Who was responsible for establishing the Crystal Viper sound when the band was formed several years ago?
MG: I've always been the main composer in Crystal Viper, but of course our songs are also contributed to by Andy (Wave, guitar), Tom (Woryna, bass) and Golem (drums), so I would say that we are all responsible for the Crystal Viper sound. We all love to listen to old school heavy metal, we love Running Wild, Gamma Ray, Helloween, Attacker, Omen, Judas Priest...There's really a huge number of bands that influenced us all. I'm very happy that we all met each other; I mean we are very lucky that there are four people in a band that love the kind of music they listen to and play!

For the benefit of our readers unfamiliar with the band, how and when did the members of Crystal Viper unite to become, er, Crystal Viper?
MG: Crystal Viper has already been around for six years. Me and Bart Gabriel- our manager, producer and my husband - formed this band back then. Almost two years were spent looking for the right people until we finally met Andy. I will never forget the moment when he first started playing for us, he was so great! He is the first serious member of the band. A few weeks later we contacted Golem through our good friend who told us that Golem is a great drummer and had no band back then, so we simply contacted him and after one rehearsal he stayed with us. We recorded our first album with our previous bass player, but he had to leave the band so we've had to find his replacement immediately. Golem knew a good bassist he played with from a previous band some time ago. So we made a call, he came to meet with us, and we play together until now.

With you and your husband effectively running the band, how much input do the other members have on the musical side of things?
MG: As I mentioned a while ago, I'm the main composer in the band but Andy also wrote one song for our second album (2009's "Metal Nation") and there's also one song that we wrote together. We work with music this way; when I have one song ready, I mean when there are arranged vocals, guitars and basic drums, I'll give it to the other members. Sometimes they have some good ideas that we put into a song. When we have a song ready, we start to work with Bart as a producer.

Does Andy get to arrange his explosive guitar solos? Not surprisingly, when he let's loose, it makes me wanna stand up and shout. Is he a funny guy in real life?
MG: Yes! He is totally amazing in this case! I'm only composing the harmonic guitars melodies but Andy composes his guitar solos himself. Is he a funny guy? Without a doubt he is!

Right. You all live in the same city? What happens when someone's late for practice?
MG: We all live in the Silesian area, but only Golem and I live in the same city, Katowice. Andy lives something like 15 kilometers from us and Tom has to drive almost 40 kilometers for every rehearsal. What's also very funny is we rehearse in another city that we live in, so me and Golem also need to drive for a while to get to the rehearsal room. What about getting on time? Only Tom is sometimes late because of the distance, but usually me, Golem and Andy drive to our rehearsal room together using one car so we always get there at the same time, hahaha!

From the moment the band came to be, how has Crystal Viper remained on top of the business side of things aside from your husband being the manager?
MG: I can actually say that Bart is like a member of the band since the very beginning. We work together like a big machine, you know. As a band we need Bart to push the buttons, but he still needs to have a machine that he can drive. For us it's very important and we're glad we have such great management in Bart's person. I guess you would never have heard about Crystal Viper if there weren't Bart managing the band.

Your first album, "The Curse of Crystal Viper" was released to no small amount of acclaim a few years back. In fact, I think you mentioned in an interview she was bowled over by the response from reviewers. What kind of magic did you put on the new album, "Metal Nation," that makes it stand out from your debut?
MG: Thank you very much! It's really important for me to hear such encouraging words! What did we put into our second album? Well, it's easy. We worked on "Metal Nation" with the same energy, and we put our hearts into it 100%. There was no pressure, no fighting. Only composing songs, playing them, and at the end the recording session. There is only one difference between the first and second album, that you can hear - I was a better guitarist while composing songs for "Metal Nation" so the guitar arrangements are better than on "The Curse Of Crystal Viper." I'm really glad you like it.

The album art has these skeleton warriors. I can't see how it relates to the term "Metal Nations" but it still looks good. Who conceptualized and executed the album art?
MG: Behind this biggest skeleton, you can see a whole army of them. It's the Metal Army, the "Metal Nation." Why skeletons? They can't be killed and they will never die, just like the music we play. They are a symbol for what's eternal and everlasting. What about finding the appropriate cover art? When all the songs and lyrics were ready, we started to look for a cover that would fit the title track "Metal Nation." Bart contacted Chris Moyen, who painted this art. We saw the finished product and loved it at first sight!

Crystal Viper plays metal in the vein of the 80's classics. Will the band's sound ever evolve in the coming years?
MG: No. The songs for our third album are now ready and they are a mixture of "The Curse Of Crystal Viper" and "Metal Nation." We're still defending the same stronghold by album number three.

With the band's momentum growing steadily since album number one came out, how long will it take before the whole world falls under the hammer of Crystal Viper? Have you ever played in Russia?
MG: We've never been there, as we've never played in America either. I hope to burn the stages in those parts of world, but it's not that easy. Next year we'll be playing a lot of shows here in Europe, but I of course hope to travel to more countries that are hungry for heavy metal!

What's the best part about traveling for a gig?
MG: While traveling for a gig there's always a kind of euphoria. The adrenaline is racing and we are all very excited. It always gives us more strength for playing and enjoying the forthcoming show. Of course there is always a lot of totally stupid and funny situations during the traveling. I believe I could write a book about this...

And on the flipside of that, what's the worst part of traveling for a gig?
MG: Without a doubt it's going back home! Hahahahaha!

Crystal Viper, from the songs to its attitude, is a band that's in its element live. At what point during a show do you just sink into a rhythm with the rest of the band and it's just one long rush?
MG: There is no rush. We know what's needed before we enter the stage and we know that the fans expect a real heavy metal show. We try to prepare the best we can and we give 100% of ourselves from the first minute on!

Crystal Viper has something like a million tributes and compilations under its belt. Are there new tributes and compilations on the horizon for you guys?
MG: After recording the two latest cover songs for tribute albums—I mean for Running Wild and Virgin Steele—we decide to take a break for a while. We decided to stop a little with these kind of recordings, but for me it's funny, because I'm sure that we won't say no to another great proposal for a tribute song for a band that we really, really love.

Care to recommend a few 'cult' bands from the 80's who influenced Crystal Viper in their own special way? Consider this a service to the younger generation of metalheads today who're discovering the music through death metal and the melodic, aggressive styles (i.e. metalcore) that predominate today.
MG: There's a huge of list of bands, but I'll try to mention only those most important for us. So... are you ready? Here we go! Virgin Steele, Running Wild, Gamma Ray, Warlock, Judas Priest, Crossfire, Black Sabbath, Scorpions, King Diamond, old Zed Yago, Phantom Blue, Manowar, Dio, Warlord, Heavens' Gate, Bathory, Omen... Oh man... there's so many of them that it's hard for me to decide which of them to mention and which of them to pass over, hahahahaha!

Does anyone who gives Crystal Viper a bad review deserve to get their heads lopped off with an axe?
MG: I think such cases should be handled by us a little more delicately. I mean like throwing the offending review writer to the dragon's cave for its supper! But seriously, as far as I know we didn't receive any bad review, but of course it's impossible to read each of them. You know, we play heavy metal, write music that we love to play and listen to, but not everyone is able to love it, it's normal. Even I do not like every kind of music and there are some bands that I don't like to listen. We are only people, each of us have our own opinions and tastes. But of course I'm glad that we have such a big number of fans from all over the world and most reviews are really good.

If you had the money, would you like to live in a castle? I think the dungeon would make a great recording studio. What will you put in the master's (or should be mistress'?) bedroom?
MG: Can you read my thoughts? Hahaha! I mean, this is a great question because a few days ago I travelled with some good friends from my second band, Born Again, to see a very old castle. I was joking to them that it was my own castle and we all started joking about the kind of great parties we could organize there! So yes, I would love to live in an old castle or palace, but my bedroom would be full of CD's and posters on the walls! Not you usual mistress' bedroom, I guess. Hahahaha!

What would be the ultimate piece of Crystal Viper merchandise? Could it be a viper made of, well, crystal? You know, as furniture?
MG: Wow, on this very moment you've just given me a great idea! Perhaps figures of band members made of crystal glass? Maybe we should think about this seriously, hahaha!

Thanks for this magical interview Crystal Viper. Speaking of magic, if you had magical powers, what would you use it for? Perhaps multiply copies of your new album so you can sell more of them?
MG: I would use it to make heavy metal the most popular and known genre of music on earth! I'd also bring some great musicians who died young back to life. Long live Heavy Metal!

--by Miguel Blardony

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