Interview: Marcin Puszka (Shadow Warrior)

A few weeks ago, I wrote a review about Shadow Warrior’s amazing debut album Cyberblade which is, in my opinion, one of the best traditional metal albums of this year. Of course, I wanted to talk with this young, talented band from Lublin. Fortunately, guitar player Marcin Puszka was available for our blog – and, spoiler alert, there’ll be a second part in the future. Enjoy reading!

Hi Marcin, how are you doing?

Hi man, thanks, I’m fine. We’re talking right before Christmas, so let’s say that it’s Christmas fever all around and I’m trying to not get lost, haha!

I think there are still some readers who don’t know Shadow Warrior yet. Tell us a bit about the history of your band, please. 

Yeah, I guess so! Well, the band was formed in 2019 in the beautiful city of Lublin, east side of Poland. All the honours should go to our drummer, who rang me many times with the proposal of forming a new band. Finally, I said »yes« and we met at the first rehearsal in January 2019. Since that time, we have released 3 singles, 1 EP and finally a full album. We’re playing together with 2 strong labels – Ossuary Records and the Japanese label Spiritual Beast.

How would you define the style of your band?

Pure, raw, classic heavy metal – I think this is the only right answer. You have to know that our band is a monolith of the guys who are really in big love with heavy metal, with this classic 80’s bands like Maiden, Priest, Accept, Saxon or Angel Witch. They were giving no shit in these days and this truth was a big and great road sign for us. 

Why did you choose Japan as a main topic in your lyrics? And: Have you ever been there?

No, but I really wish! Japanese themes are my fault. Since I remember, I was quite fascinated by the Japanese culture, I don’t even know why. Maybe because it was a way different than anything which I’ve ever seen in Europe? Anyway, when the band was formed and we started to create our first songs, I was looking for some good themes which could fit into the dynamic, raw, heavy metal music. And I got back into the Samurais legends, Ako vendetta, or Kamikaze fighters. Maybe this themes were quite well-known and obvious, but I felt that it would be really good for the first songs. Everyone in the band reacted really enthusiastic on this proposal and we decided to move forward with that, creating a Samurai warrior character on the front covers of our releases – you know, the blood red rising sun and the Shadow of the Samurai were really cool ideas and we felt that people should like it. And we weren’t wrong, according to all those amazing things which happened next. 

Yeah, I like it, too, of course! In my opinion, Cyberblade is a stunning debut. When did you write the first songs for this record?

Thank you for that opinion. Honestly, we started to write the songs right after the recording session of the Return of the Shadow Warrior EP. After the good feedback on the debut EP we had a lot of power for creating new songs. I remember that the first song which we made for Cyberblade was »Iron Hawk Rising«. It was not an easy period for us, as we departed with our first guitarist, Peter, and started to work with another one, Łukasz. We weren’t 100% sure about our abilities without Peter, who had a lot of good ideas and wrote great riffs for our EP. But after the creation of »Iron Hawk Rising«, we knew that there are still a lot of power and good ideas in us and the flame is still burning! So after that, we slightly get into »Squadrons of Steel« and other bangers like »Demolition Hammer« or »I Am The Thunder« (see video below, BB). Fun fact: »Squadrons of Steel« is an old song of our bassist, Karol – we were performing that song back in 2008, when we were playing in a squad named Snakebite. We never played any single gig, but some songs were pretty good, so Karol decided to refresh one of them. It was a good decision I guess.

For sure! What’s your favourite track on Cyberblade? I love »Flight of the Steel Samurai« with its slightly epic touch.

Yeah, »Flight of the Steel Samurai« is also one of my favs. I remember when I was sitting in my bedroom with an acoustic guitar in my hand and played the chords which were joint together one by one, like solid bricks – probably after 10 minutes the song was ready.

That was fast work…

When I presented this stuff on rehearsal, almost everyone in the band fell in love at first sight. It’s a kind of magic that the thing which started as a straight song from the bedroom became a favourite track for fans around the world – really an amazing feeling, you have to believe me. I also really like the title track, »Cyberblade«, I remember when we were working on it together with Karol in his flat and again everything was done pretty quick and in a natural way. I’m also happy about the lyrics which hold these two songs together and lead the »Cyberblade« story to its end.

By the way: Do you like epic metal?

You are asking the guy, who grew up listening to an old, worn tape of Hail to England, haha! Yes, epic metal is a really important part of my musical education. I still love Manowar, but also Manilla Road or Cirith Ungol. When Visigoth and Eternal Champion debuted, I was amazed to see how this flame of true, epic metal is still burning! Also this year shows that there is still a lot of room for great epic metal – the records of Megaton Sword or Meurtrières are pure gold!

Please tell us about the feedback you’ve received after releasing Cyberblade.

The feedback is amazing and we’re really happy to see all that summaries and reviews saying that Cyberblade is one of the best heavy metal albums of this year. Being among all these amazing releases is a great honor for us and even sometimes it is hard to believe that, 2 years ago, the band even didn’t exist! In this place, I want to say a big »Thank You« to all the people who support the band and spread the word. Shadow Warrior is still working really hard to deliver you the greatest piece of steel!

I want to say a big »Thank You« to all the people who support the band and spread the word. Shadow Warrior is still working really hard to deliver you the greatest piece of steel!

We look forward to more stuff, Marcin!

Do you read a lot of reviews about Shadow Warrior? And what was the weirdest thing you’ve read in an article?

Yes, we try to have the finger on the pulse, so usually we’re reading the reviews – sometimes also because of curiosity, I guess. If I have to be honest, I haven’t spotted anything which I can call »weird« in any review because I respect other people’s way of thinking. Anyway, after a couple of reviews I know that our album is addressed only to true, old school metal fanatics who are deeply in love with that genre. Fans of progressive rock or death metal will definitely have a problem to understand our way and our credo.

How popular is traditional metal in Poland these days? Is there a vivid underground scene? 

It’s hard to say how big its popularity is because we are still talking about very deep underground. But yes, definitely we can say that there is a vivid underground traditional metal scene in Poland and, in my opinion, it’s growing stronger day by day. We are trying to keep together, with our brothers from Axe Crazy, Roadhog, Hellhaim, Divine Weep or Aquilla, for example. But there are way more great bands here, like Okrutnik, Gallower, Rascal or Ballbreaker. All those bands are very good and stand for quality in the Polish classic metal scene. But we also have to say that there are a lot of other initiatives who make this scene vivid. We have two very strong and popular classic metal magazines like Heavy Metal Pages and Metal UP! supporting the young bands, we also have a very creative agency, Helicon Metal Promotions, which is still organizing a lot of gigs and festivals in the traditional metal way. Oh, and our label, Ossuary Records is also is doing pretty well! So as you see, there is a really serious movement here!

But yes, definitely we can say that there is a vivid underground traditional metal scene in Poland and, in my opinion, it’s growing stronger day by day.

Marcin Puszka

Okay, that’s good to hear! What’s your favourite festival? Where would you like to play with Shadow Warrior in the future?

For me Keep It True Festival, Up The Hammers and Trveheim have always absolutely amazing line-ups – probably I’m not too original, but well, the organizers of these festivals have worked really hard to leave their mark on the map. Of course, it would be great, if Shadow Warrior could be a part of it someday, but we also know that there is a lot of hard work for us to do to make it happen. Anyway, we are doing everything to keep the flame and we are still improving constantly.

2020 is a disaster, no doubt about it. But there were some great releases: What’s your favourite album this year?

Not an easy question, man! There were some really amazing albums this year and it is hard to pick just one. Wytch Hazel’s III: Pentecost was a very strong one, I also love High Tides – Distant Skies by Night and Aeromantics by The Night Flight Orchestra – I was even surprised that I loved this album so much, as it’s nearer to pop rock or traditional rock than hard’n’heavy. I also love Blood Hails Steel – Steel Hails Fire by Megaton Sword – they blew me away, I wasn’t ready for that punch, haha!

Neither was I, haha!

I have to confess that, apart from rock music, I am also a synthwave fan and in this regard my heart belongs to Nina’s Synthian – it’s a really nice way to get rest from all that heavy guitar and double kick stuff. Probably, I forgot about many other stunning releases from 2020, but let’s say that this is some of my favs.

Last question: Iron Maiden or Judas Priest?

For many it would be a hard question, but not for me this time! Maiden for life!

I really appreciate this answer, haha!

It was my first real music love and it still goes on. If I’m counting correctly, it’s 23 years added together, so it’s a significant part of my life. Maiden was with me through all my teenager’s life, helped me survive almost every life-shit and this band is a really important part of me. So even if I really like Judas Priest and it is also one of my favourite bands, Iron Maiden is the most important one. I had enough luck to meet Bruce Dickinson, Steve Harris and Nicko McBrain, and they made a very big impression on me – they are really nice guys, really humble, a very untypical kind of rock stars. Well, I could talk for an hour over Maiden, so maybe next time we should do an interview only about Maiden stuff, what do you think?

Great idea, it’s noted. Will be a great pleasure, for sure.

Okay, thanks for your questions and unstoppable support. Cheers to all who read this interview. Make sure to visit Shadow Warrior’s social media and Bandcamp site and if you like it, grab some goodies for you! Merry Xmas and Happy New Year, maniacs!

Marcin, many thanks for your time. Stay safe! And, of course, Up the Irons.

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