Interview: Claymorean (Part I)

Already a few weeks ago Aidan and I got the promo of the new Claymorean album Eulogy for the Gods. Since we are both very enthusiastic, it is no surprise that there is now also a big, two-part interview with this very nice band from Serbia on our Epic Metal Blog. Enjoy reading! (André)

It’s nice that you have time for us. How are you?

Vlad: Always a pleasure to have a chat with you and your crew, my friend. I’m OK, which is better than my average day in life haha. How are you?

I’m great – I just listened to your latest album [laughs].

Dejana: Very busy with work, trying hard to slow down and start practicing for the upcoming show(s). 

Goran: Tired and exhausted.

Uroš: Always good, no time to be bad [laughs], thanks for asking!

Marko: Hi! I am doing very well and I am glad to be in this Epic Metal Blog interview!

We are pleased about that too! Which album is the last one you listened to before this interview?

Vlad: It was actually Cirith Ungol‘s new EP. It’s pretty awesome! 

Dejana: HelloweenHelloween.

Uroš: HelloweenHelloween too.

Goran: Soundtrack from Transformers G1 animated series.

Marko: The last album I listened to is the new album of the French progressive death metal band Fractal Universe, an interesting album…

Are CDs and vinyls actually quite expensive in Serbia?

Vlad: Sadly they are. But what’s worse is that we don’t have a lot of choice and versatility on our market. Mostly the famous acts like Metallica or Maiden, so I look for my CD’s and vinyls on webstores. And I look for used stuff, because our salaries here are too low for a collector’s hobby. 

Dejana: Vlad is my main dealer, I usually let him surprise me, because I inherited a large music library from my late uncle, so I am bringing some old albums with me. [laughs]

Goran: I guess. I don’t buy that shit.

Uroš: To be honest it depends. Everything that is rare will cost, that’s for sure, so if you are looking for some rare LP and hope for some low price – you’ve got another thing coming.

Marko: Yes, they are, but real fanatics always find a way to collect them and increase their collection!

Let’s talk about your new album. How long did you work on Eulogy for the Gods? And to what extent did the pandemic influence your work?

Vlad: That’s a tough one. Well, the initial start was back in 2019 when Dejana had this vocal idea which she sang to me and I said “this could be a song for Mark Shelton”. The melody was quite emotional. But I had a problem with the lyrics, because nothing worked. Then the pandemic happened and during the same year we also had some private circumstances which were devastating. But there were some great moments too, like meeting Marko, our new drummer. Practically the real work on this album started when he recorded his drum parts in August last year. With several mishaps along the way we managed to record everything in the privacy of our homes, which was quite an endeavor. Of course, we had great help and advices from our audio engineer Boris, since we couldn’t record anything in his studio because of the pandemic. So, we were pretty happy with the outcome. It was also not cheap to do it [laughs].

Dejana: For some time, certainly. It seemed like an eternity at one point in time.

Uroš: It is a very interesting question. We could not see each other that often, but I think therefore we have developed over months a good and deep music connection and unified the way of thinking – musically speaking…

Marko: We worked on the new album for a very long time, over a year… and at certain moments we were without motivation and the strength needed for such a project as Eulogy for the Gods. The pandemic certainly had a very bad impact on it and we were totally emptied, but at one point we got the desire and ideas again and successfully completed the job and we are satisfied with the results!

Who came up with the album title?

Marko: There were several options, we thought about which one was the best but in the end our oldest member Vlad suggested Eulogy for the Gods which we all liked and so we came to the final title.

Vlad: I believe it was me who came up with it. One of the songs I struggled with had this working title, which we changed eventually. When I took the time to reread all the lyrics I wrote, I noticed a certain pattern, a unique thread that connected them all in a way. So, I thought to myself “hey, since we’re dealing with the thoughts of faith, religion and god(s), why don’t we treat it as an eulogy?” I put it to vote and we all agreed that would be a title. 

What distinguishes Eulogy for the Gods from the previous Claymorean albums?

Goran: It’s a much more straightforward heavy metal album.

Uroš: I think this album is more Claymorean and more organic in the sense that we all participated during the creative process. I think THE BOSS should be very happy [laughs].

Vlad: I’d say everything, from the technical point and the recording, to the post production as well. Also, I have this dark notion about this record, since it had been created in rather bleak circumstances. It’s very somber, but straightforward too. I believe we took a step back from the previous album, which was pretty raw in the first place. I think this is probably my least favorite album of Claymorean, maybe because of the surrounding circumstances. I’m still not attached to it as I have been with albums that preceeded. Maybe what I need are some live shows, to feel these songs the proper way. 

Dejana: Everything! I love that stripped down sound, heaviness, melodies… Very proud of it!

Marko: It differs in many ways, first of all, this is my first album as a band member and I am very happy about that. I am a big fan of the two previous albums, especially Sounds from a Dying World. Eulogy for the Gods is definitely different, I would say it goes more towards orthodox heavy metal with some epic moments. I am also glad that we recorded the drums as it used to be done in the old days, without any samples and other shit… All in all, I think we should leave those differences to the listeners, so let them judge for themselves!

There’s a great Virgin Steele cover on your new record. What do you like most about this band? And which album is the best by them?

Uroš: I would say “The House Of Atreus Act I“, but I am not a hardcore fan of the band, but I did my homework back at the high school days [laughs].

Marko: Oh yeah, thanks! We are all big fans of that band, that’s why we decided to cover their song. I just love their style and the way they do it, great musicians who know how to create a good atmosphere through their music. Best album? Oh, it is a very difficult choice… My personal favorites are The Marriage of Heaven and Hell I and II of course, Invictus and maybe Guardians of the Flame… but my favorites are constantly changing, over and over [laughs]! Let’s say it’s currently Invictus.

Goran: I don’t like them. Just a couple of songs. Invictus.

Vlad: With this Virgin Steele cover we pretty much finished the circle that’s started on the Unbroken album, with that Manilla Road cover. We wanted to cover all our favorite bands and songs, since we’re all metal fans first and foremost. What I like about Virgin Steele is their uniqueness. Many consider them as poor man’s Manowar. And while I can understand the similarities, the differences are way too huge to overlook and only a person who has scratched the surface can still hear those similarities. David’s vocal style and lyrical abilities are one of the best ever. And while I do enjoy the simplicity and savagery of Manowar, I equally enjoy the nobility and grandeur of Virgin Steele. I especially like all their albums from 90’s era, but if I have to choose one, it would always be Invictus

Dejana: When Vlad heard me for the first time he approached to me sometime later and said YOU ARE THE FEMALE VERSION OF DAVID DEFEIS… so it was time to show that in this bombastic cover. What I like the most about Virgin Steele is David’s voice, he’s expressive, he has so much singing on each track and it’s never enough! Great inspiration. Can’t decide on favorite album though.

Is there a song that you would definitely like to cover in the future?

Vlad: Oh, yes, plenty. But we made a deal not to do any studio covers for some time. Although it can change [laughs]. 

Uroš: Please let’s make more Claymorean music without any additional covers or anyone outside the band. I don’t mean any disrespect to anyone, it is just my point of view.

Dejana: “Twilight Sun“ by Gods Tower or “Schattentor“ by Human Fortress – my top two to-do covers.

Marko: There are many songs we would like to cover, by many many bands and that is why we need a lot of time to decide which is the right option, we love and listen to many of them, but at the moment if I had to choose it would be something from King Diamond!

How did the contact with Cederick Forsberg, who composed the wonderful “Blood of the Dragon”, come about?

Marko: I don’t know many details because the contact with Cederick was made before I became a member of the band, but I know that he is an amazing musician and man! The song he wrote fits so well into our new album and we are very happy to be collaborating!

Dejana: Vlad’s project Spiral Castle and our dear friend Matt DeVries are to blame for!

Vlad: Actually Ced and I became Facebook friends while working on an entirely different project, called Spiral Castle. Soon we started chatting about this and that, and one day he said something like “hey, I have this song which I cannot use for any of my bands, would you like to give it a try?” So, he sent me a demo and since we weren’t writing any of our stuff at the time, we went into the studio and recorded it. I mean, Dejana recorded her vocals, since Ced’s playing was so perfect I didn’t want to spoil it with my playing. Though the album version is played by us, except for the solo guitar, that’s still Ced. 

Could you point out a favourite track? 

Goran: There are 2 or 3 bangers.

Dejana: Mmmm, “Battle in the Sky“, “Spirit of Merciless Time“, “Hunter of the Damned“ and “Mystical Realm“. Or all of them are the best…

Uroš: “Spirit of Merciless Time“ or “In the Tombs of Atuan“ – you choose [laughs].

Marko: Another very difficult question for me [laughs]. I’ve listened to all the songs so many times that I don’t even know which one is my favorite anymore, but when we finished with the song called “Lords of Light” I was very satisfied and I liked it very much. It was the only one I liked so much on the first listen and of course that it is dedicated to the legend, Mark Shelton.

Vlad: Huh, would you believe me if I told you that I don’t know? It’s still fresh to me. It changes depending on the mood I’m in. Let’s say currently I love “Mystical Realm“. It’s a slow-paced epic song, pretty resembling of viking Bathory era, but with a touch of Balkan folklore. 

I think Dejana gives her best vocal performance on a Claymorean album. Do you agree? And did you actually put more work into recording the vocals this time?

Goran: Yes, she did an outstanding job.

Marko: I am a big fan of female vocals in a metal band and I can say that Betsa did a great job, we have had many positive reactions to her vocals. She tried to be as phenomenal as she is and she succeeded in that. I would say yes, this time we really did our best to make the vocals as good as possible.

Uroš: I wasn’t in the “studio” during the recording sessions but I know one thing. Dejana is a very talented singer who puts a lot of effort into what she does. However the curve of her skills went dramatically up compared to the previous albums. With each new album her voice is just stronger and sounds way more controlled, trained and matured. She is really one of a kind as a human being and as a singer as well.

Vlad: Yep, I wholeheartedly agree with you. She killed with her performance. Even though we were constantly on the edge of divorce while recording [laughs]. She wanted to give her best, I thought her best isn’t what she thinks, and so we actually made something out of this struggle together [laughs]. But she was right with her attitude and approach to the songs. I couldn’t be happier. 

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