Crystal Viper’s Marta Gabriel Talks About Passion For Metal, Songwriting, And Epic New Album – Tales of Fire and Ice


Crystal Viper‘s new album, Tales of Fire and Ice features powerhouse melodic metal compositions, buttressed by stories of both real and mythological provenance.

There is an almost unrestrained enthusiasm that shines forth when Marta Gabriel talks about music, even over a Skype call.

Gabriel is the energetic, brilliantly gifted emotional and creative force behind Poland-based melodica metal quintet Crystal Viper. Her strong, powerful, compelling stage presence, combined with her superlatively trained voice, and affinity for melodically engaging musical compositions, married with her extraordinarily well-crafted and intelligent lyrics – no mean feat for someone for English is not her primary language – are on full display on the band’s sixth studio album, Tales of Fire and Ice.

Released on Nov. 22 through AFN Records, the record is a tour de force that will undoubtedly continue to impress upon metal fans that Gabriel and Crystal Viper are profoundly significant forces within the metal scene. It is only a matter of time before Marta Gabriel breaks out of its European beachhead for success in markets such as North America, the Far East and South America, alongside band members Andy Wave and Eric Juris (guitarists), bassist Blaze J. Grygiel and drummer Tomek Danczak.

The dedication to her craft, and her unwavering passion for metal music and building connections with metal fans is why Gabriel continues to reinforce the importance of creating full albums as her primary form of creative expression.

“It’s like making a complete piece of art; to have something that is musical, but also to have something that is visual, to have a physical album in your hands is important. I am also a big fan of music and I keep on buying albums. I keep on buying vinyl and so on. As a fan, it’s a really cool thing to own an album by a band or musician I really admire. And I will keep doing that,” she said.

“And as a musician I will keep making albums because I know there are people out there who want to have a real album to look at, to read the booklet inside and all the lyrics. I even know people who like the smell of albums, especially vinyl.”

This love and appreciation for music as a form of art and expression came at an early age, when a precocious six year old Marta saw a television program featuring a symphony orchestra. Music became her driving ambition from that moment on.

“I was a musician way before I started in bands and making albums. I became a musician when I was six years old when I told my parents I wanted to be a musician, that I wanted to play instruments. And I have been involved in music since then. First, I was playing piano and after that I started to sing. I was so lucky because my parents saw how excited I was by that symphony orchestra on TV that they sent me to music school, where I started learning piano,” she explained.

“When I started to sing, I began to sing in metal bands. By that time, I was really into metal and it was mostly because of the band Virgin Steele. The main guy in that band, David DeFais, is also a pianist. He played keyboards and he is a great singer and the music of Virgin Steele was always kind of special to me, and I think it may be because piano was my first instrument and the first instrument that I started to use to write music. Even after all these years, Virgin Steele is still the most important band for me when I talk about what inspired me at the beginning.

“After singing in other bands, Crystal Viper was born [in 2003] I was still playing piano but didn’t play guitar at that time. But, to be able to compose songs and to show my bandmates the riffs that I had in my head, I started to play guitar, because I had to. I wanted to be able to compose music more for guitar. Although even right now, most of the Crystal Viper songs that I work on, I start by playing on piano first. After that I also started playing bass guitar. So, for all these years, I became a better musician and a better composer. I learned a lot from other musicians that I was working with, so I am more experienced as a musician now. I think it’s natural, when you are a musician, to keep learning for your whole life.”

Although classically trained, and someone who listens to pop and other genres, Gabriel said metal music has always been the best vehicle for her to share her experiences and emotions. It’s also the best way for her to tell the sorts of stories that she wants to convey to her audience.

“Every time I start to write, it’s a different process. Sometimes it’s like I kind of create a story in my head. And then I sit at my piano and try to compose a soundtrack for that story. I know it sounds weird, but I hear a melody in my head and then I start to play this melody and then I hear other instruments and sometimes I even hear the entire arrangement, including drums and vocals and everything. My husband calls it musical schizophrenia, but it’s working for me so far,” she said with a hearty laugh.

“Sometimes inspiration comes at very unexpected moments. For example, I will go and do some shopping or some other errands that I need to do, and I take out my phone to record an idea that just came into my head at that same moment. And then when I get home I go into the studio and record that idea. So, every time it’s different. Sometimes I have a song ready with melodies and everything and all I have to do is write lyrics for that song. It all depends on what I am working on at the time.”

Tales of Fire and Ice is true to its word as a title, as Crystal Viper’s latest opus is filled with just that – stories that are fanciful, others that are grounded in real life tales of terror and mystery.

Crystal Viper founder, frontwoman and primary songwriter Marta Gabriel.

“There are songs about myths and songs about legends but there are also some historical facts in many of the songs. And those topics are some that I always wanted to us for music. I always like the kind of mystery stories and finally it became the right time to use a lot of the ones that I had for some time. Bright Lights is basically a song, to put it a simple way, about aliens. It’s just as you hear it, about seeing bright lights in the sky and they are taking you to their ship and you don’t know if it’s a dream or its reality. Under Ice is about a real story, but there is also a second meaning; the lyrics are about not being shallow and superficial but to look for deeper meaning in all spheres of life, to not judge things by what you see on very first sight, but to look deep until you find the real truth,” she explained.

Still Alive is a song about the Bermuda Triangle, but is another song that has a second meaning. It’s kind of a hidden message where yes, it’s about the dangers and mystery of the Bermuda Triangle, but it’s also a song about not giving up. You are surrounded by rain and storms, you are lost, but you are still alive, and you are not giving up.”

One of the most intriguing songs on the album is a true to life tale about one of the most mysterious events to ever happen in 20th Century Russia {although to be accurate it was back in the days of the Soviet Union.)

It concerns the mysterious deaths of nine young hikers in the frozen wasteland of a place now called the Dyatlov Pass in the Ural Mountains, a number of whom seemed to have torn their way out of their tents, fleeing the campsite with minimal clothing on in sub-zero temperatures. The incident happened in 1959, but was never solved, and has been the subject of a number of books, articles and documentaries.

“I actually heard the story for the first time from my husband. We sit around sometimes drinking coffee and talking about some things that we read or heard somewhere. And after that, If I get interested in something then I search for information about that subject. And it was exactly like that with the story of the Dyatlov Pass and Tomorrow Never Comes. And, actually it’s pretty interesting that the Russian government re-opened the case at the beginning of this year, so the investigation is right now going on there. I am pretty curious to see if they find something, if they do find something at all, because nobody really knows what happened up there.”

Another stand-out track is a cover of the 1987 Dokken hit, Dream Warriors.

“There are a million songs we could cover, actually the list is really long with hundreds of songs I really would like to cover. But Dokken’s Dream Warriors is a song that I wanted to cover for a long time because I really like the song, and I am a Dokken fan. When we finally had an occasion to record a cover, because if fit the feel of Tales of Fire and Ice, we felt it was the right moment to choose this song as a cover because it will match the other songs on the album,” said Gabriel.

“With recording favourite cover songs, it’s pretty cool if you’re a musician because you can take the songs you’re singing under the shower, and then go into a studio and play it and record it with your bandmates and even play it live afterwards.”

Thus far, over the band’s 16-year career, Crystal Viper has yet to tour outside of continental Europe. Already, dates throughout that continent are filling up, including a number of key festivals. Gabriel said the band’s management and agents are trying to get gigs in North America.

“We have never been to Canada or the United States, and I really want to come to Canada because I know you have a pretty good metal scene there,” she said.

For more information on possible touring dates, the band and Tales of Fire and Ice, visit the band’s various social media accounts or www.crystalviper.com.

  • Jim Barber is a veteran award-winning journalist and author based in Napanee, ON, who has been writing about music and musicians for nearly three decades. Besides his journalistic endeavours, he now works as a communications and marketing specialist. Contact him at jimbarberwritingservices@gmail.com.

 

The post Crystal Viper’s Marta Gabriel Talks About Passion For Metal, Songwriting, And Epic New Album – Tales of Fire and Ice appeared first on Music Life Magazine.

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