Claudio, first of all, thank you very much for your time.
Claudio „The Reaper“ Livera: Hi André! For me it is a pleasure to do this interview with you! At the moment, I’m very busy recording new albums with many bands (Crystal Skull, Sacro Ordine Dei Cavalieri Di Parsifal, Animal House and a new secret project).
That sounds promising! What was the last record you listened to?
I’m listening to a lot of different material right now. I pass by my latest purchased records, such as Eurynomos – From the Valleys Of Hades, Lonewolf – Division Hades, Iron Angel – Emerald Eyes and the Canadian Smoulder – Dream Quest Ends. Or I listen to historical bands like Running Wild, Blind Guardian, Kreator, Sodom, Crimson Glory. These days, I’m also starting to appreciate Folk Metal, a completely new genre for me, but very tied to fantasy.
Are you a passionate vinyl collector?
Of course!!! I have been collecting vinyls (about 1600 pieces) and CDs (about 1800 pieces) since I was 17! The life of the collector (laughs) is a hard one, today there are many reissues of great records and bands that remained hidden in the past. Plus there are always lots of interesting new releases. For the past few years, I have had to slow down and focus only on my absolute favourite bands Manilla Road, Blind Guardian and Running Wild. However, I am always looking for the missing pieces from my collection even if they start to have too high prices.
What are your favourite Epic Metal albums of all time?
André, this is a very difficult question!!!
That’s definitely true…
It is difficult to choose an absolute favourite. There have been – and still are – some incredible Epic Metal bands! Just think of bands like Manilla Road, Cirith Ungol, Brocas Helm, Omen, Warlord, DoomSword, Heavy Load, Manowar, Ironsword, Atlantean Kodex, Berserk, Cauldron Born, Domine, Medieval Steel etc. I can mention two absolute must-have records, in my opinion. Open The Gates by Manilla Road and Cirith Ungol King Of The Dead.
That’s true, everyone should own those two. Can you tell our readers something about the founding history of Crystal Skull? Are there any plans to create a complete line-up?
The Crystal Skull idea was born in 2006/2007. At that time, I was playing in Black Raven (Heavy Metal) and in Violent Assault (Black/Thrash Metal), but I felt the need to do something even more epic and powerful. I have always been a great lover of German Power Speed Metal and fantasy literature, I wanted to create something that represented my passions. And I think I did it with the first chapter.
No doubt about it…
At the beginning, the project was to form a real band, I have been looking for members for this band for about two years. However, the events and the lack of lovers of this kind in my area have caused me to completely change my path. Today, I want to continue writing records with this system – but if there are musicians interested in joining my project, they can contact me! I would be very happy to create a real band and to be able to do concerts in the future.
I cross my fingers for you… In my opinion, Ancient Tales is a wonderful energetic underground Epic Heavy Metal record which sounds quite unique. What do you think about your Crystal Skull debut? Which tracks do you like the most?
I agree with you André, I did not expect to reach this level of composition over time. My love for German Power/Speed Metal and Epic Metal of bands like Manilla Road, Omen and Cirith Ungol, led me to create a particular and uncommon sound. I myself was very surprised with the result of the first record, Ancient Tales was a win on a bet on my music and I am very happy with the result. There will be a little evolution in the next album and I hope to win again (laughs). Regarding my favourite song, it’s hard to choose, I can tell you that I am very attached to „Stormaxe“ (one of the first songs written by me for Crystal Skull) and „The Last King“ (a perfect mix between Epic and Speed Metal).
How important are lyrics for you? I think they add a lot to the atmosphere of an Epic Metal record.
The lyrics are very important, with the Crystal Skull I have created a real universe full of adventures, travels, battles and magic. This story will continue on the next discs because it is my goal to be able to publish at least three chapters of this story. I am satisfied that the record sounds very epic and evocative, this came to me very natural and was instinctive because this is in my personal nature and in my way of living every day.
At which festival would you like to perform in the future?
My dream would be to play one day at festivals like Up The Hammers Festival, Keep It True and Headbangers Open Air! At this time, I have not received any proposals or requests, but if I did, I would be happy to play and bring Crystal Skull music on stage!
That would be great, Claudio! Are there any young Italian Epic Metal bands who our readers should check out?
In Italy there are many great Epic Metal bands, see groups like Domine, DoomSword, Holy Martyr, Wotan, Rosae Crucis, Dark Quarterer, Battle Ram, Martiria, Sangreal, Great Master, Wolfsinger etc.! I advise all Epic Metal Blog readers to take a closer look at the Italian bands of today and yesterday. Unfortunately, there are very talented newcomer bands and large groups with little support.
Last question: What is the most important lesson that you have learned from the current crisis?
Unfortunately, this historical period is putting us all to the test, but at this moment, we must be good at fighting and not giving in to the darkness of evil. We all have to fight and fight against both this physical and psychological evil. We must rise and be reborn. Only by behaving like this, we will be able to return to life, to concerts, to parties and to the community.
Damn right! Claudio, thanks a lot. I wish you all the best for the future! Hopefully we’ll see Crystal Skull soon on a German concert stage.