Being active for over seventeen years with seven albums under their belt, Crystal Viper is one of the leading metal acts in their home country Poland, with a strong following all around the globe. The heavy metal band lead by singer and guitarist Marta Gabriel is ready to unleash their eighth studio record “The Cult” on January 29. We discuss the album inspired by some of the greatest works by the famous American sci-fi/horror writer H. P. Lovecraft, the power of dreams and more with Marta herself. Read it below.
MG: Marta, thank you for your time! How are you doing? Ready for the big day on January 29?
Marta: I’m doing well, thank you! I can’t wait for “The Cult” to be released, I’m super excited!
MG: There’s always been this element of mystery, fantasy and magic in your lyrics. This time, all of the lyrics on your new album “The Cult” were inspired by the works of American sci-fi/horror writer H. P. Lovecraft. There are several themes reoccurring in his works. Is there any special theme or element from his works that is really close to your heart?
Marta: In general, I love the entire world that he created, and I like the connections between his stories! I remember when I started to read Lovecraft, I just couldn’t stop. If I didn’t have time to finish a story because there was something to do, I was doing that with the audiobook with this story in my headphones. I love to read, I can say that reading is one of my hobbies, but it was for the first time in my life that I have sunk so much into someone’s literature, that I literally couldn’t stop myself from reading.
MG: Lovecraft’s universe is one of the most complex ones in literature. The entire Cthulhu Mythos universe, grimoire Necronomicon… how long did it take to do a research for the songs? Is it just you or also other band members that are Lovecraftian fans?
Marta: I haven’t done any research, I simply kept on reading, and getting inspired by the stories in real time. It was like someone would give me an injection with ideas for songs, lyrics, and music. When I was reading at night, I was even dreaming about those stories afterwards, so in the morning I was waking up ready to record music. I know that Blaze, our bass player, is a huge Lovecraft fan, as far as I know he even keeps on playing RPG games based on Lovecraft stories.
MG: For those who aren’t all that familiar with Lovecraft’s work, which of his stories are you covering on “The Cult”? What stories should your fans read for the full listening experience?
Marta: I was actually mixing some stories, so some of the songs were inspired by two or more stories at the same time. Here are the stories that inspired the songs and lyrics on our new album: “The Call Of Cthulhu”, “The Whisperer In Darkness”, “The Statement of Randolph Carter”, “Dagon”, “Through the Gates of the Silver Key”, “At The Mountains of Madness”, “The Thing On The Doorstep”, “The Dreams in the Witch House”, “The Colour Out Of Space”, and “The Beast in the Cave”.
MG: The seventh track is dedicated to Asenath Waite, the character that is one of only few prominent female characters within Lovecraft’s universe. She’s such a deep, complex character, from her abilities and knowledge to marriage with Edward, both of their tragic endings, possession and this gender-swapping situation. What spoke to you most about her?
Marta: “The Thing On The Doorstep” is a fantastic story in general. After I finished reading this one, a song started to appear in my head, I started singing quietly „I can’t see her, but she’s there…“ and that was it, I had another song. It wasn’t like that I wanted to write about her because she was a woman, because the thing that got me into her was the character she was in general. That unexpected ending, and that twist when we can see who she really was are brilliant! Lovecraft was a genius when it comes to creating personalities for his characters.
MG: Speaking of Asenath, I’ve read that specifically “The Thing On the Doorstep”, where Asenath is the main character, but also many other stories were inspired by Lovecraft’s dreams or more like nightmares. You’ve already indicated this… Do you also take dreams as an inspiration for lyrics, for example?
Marta: Of course! My dreams are a huge part when it comes to creating music. When I was working on “The Cult” I was dreaming about stories that I was reading before, and they had a huge impact on what I was writing afterwards. That was also great, because thanks to these dreams I felt like I was a part of the Lovecraft’s world – many of the characters he created were dreaming about weird things.
MG: This is your eight full-length album. How do you keep going, where do you get inspiration, fresh ideas after all these years?
Marta: Some ideas were totally new, but I revisited some old ones as well, and gave them new life. Most important thing – when I create music – is to stay inspired, to stay connected with this “creative flow”, because if I lose it, I am not able to compose at all.
MG: Going back to your previous album “Tales Of Fire And Ice”, I think you toned down the keyboards on “The Cult” and focused more on the guitar work. There are many guitar solos on the album and you can clearly hear that there are three guitarists in the band. Do you have a favourite solo you like to play at home? It doesn’t have to be your own song.
Marta: You can hear keyboards in just one song on “The Cult”, in the intro, entitled “Providence”, and I actually used an analogue Korg synthesizer to record it. We had some songs with keyboards in the past, (lot of church organs on the “Crimen Excepta” album for example), but you are right, keyboards were huge part of the sound on our previous album, while the new album is very riff-based. Regarding favourite guitar solo, well, don’t laugh, but I think it would be the Top Gun theme! From our own songs, most probably this one from the title track from our new album, “The Cult”. It has this cool ‘70s vibe!
MG: Since I mentioned “Tales Of Fire And Ice”… you guys changed the cover artwork after some of the fans expressed their discontent. Many bands would not give a damn but you acted immediately. Was it the fact that it is your goal number one to always please your fans or did you, as a band, had also doubts about the cover?
Marta: When we published the first cover art, our fans didn’t like it. And we didn’t want this kind of situation to happen that someone would buy the CD or vinyl, would love the music but would hate the cover art. We wanted to give our fans an entire, nice looking and good sounding piece of art. Crystal Viper exists because we have great fans, they support us very much. Changing the cover art was our way of saying “thank you for your support, we want to give you the best we can”.
MG: Final question, also connected to Lovecraft… Funnily enough, he used to have a phobia of the dark as a boy until his grandfather helped him to conquer his fears. Does Marta Gabriel also have some phobias?
Marta: When I was a kid I was afraid of staying alone in a dark room, I was also afraid of a monster in the wardrobe, but I think they’re the common things when you are a child. I have no phobias right now, at least I’m not aware of any.
MG: Thank you, Marta, and all to best for the release!
Marta: Thank you very much for the interview, and for supporting Crystal Viper. We are Metal Nation!