Serbian epic power metal band Claymorean released their new album Sounds From A Dying World on 12th July. We bring you an interview with Claymorean’s mastermind, Vladimir Garčević-Vlad Invictus.
Hi! Thank you for your time!
Vlad Invictus: Greetings to the readers of Antichrist Magazine and to you, Ivona! Thanks for this wonderful opportunity!
The band was formed back in 1994 as Claymore. In 2003 you split up and reformed in 2012 when you changed band name to Claymorean. Why did you change band name?
Vlad Invictus: Well, yeah, I guess that stands in our official biography, but the band really started to breathe from 2003 to 2004 as Claymore and then nothing happened until 2012, when I reformed the band with the new members. After the show on Serbian Metal Fest in 2014 we decided to call it a day for Claymore and in July 2014 we changed the name to Claymorean, because there were (and still are) loads of Claymore’s out there. Even some Japanese cartoon from what I heard. So, it was only logical to do that. We didn’t want to be confused with all these bands, so we added the „AN“ at the end, practically because we’re bunch of lazy asses to come up with something original in the name department, hahaha.
Over the years you did not change only the band name. Your style changed from typical heavy metal, over sympho metal to epic power metal. As Claymorean you released two albums by now: “Unbroken” and “Sounds From A Dying World”. “Sounds From A Dying World” supposed to be released in March 2017 but it was postponed. Why?
Vlad Invictus: We felt that our band needed to change its direction, because back in the days of old we pretty much followed the beaten path of European sympho-power metal (Stratovarius, Rhapsody, Nightwish, etc). Since the new line up was more into a straightforward traditional metal sound (Manilla Road, Iron Maiden, Manowar, Running Wild, etc) and myself being a huge fan of it from my early age, it was natural to follow our hearts and not doing some popular trendy shit. This new album was finished in December 2016 and it was supposed to be released 5 times so far. As I say 6th time’s a charm, and we finally made it! On July 12th 2017 „Sounds from a Dying World“ was officially released to the metal masses! The reasons for all those delays were noone’s fault really. Some personal shit’s been going on and more of those „vis maior“ kinda things, so we’re glad the album finally made it through.
So far, I heard only few new songs (some on the concert, some on Youtube). If I compare what I have heard by now with “Unbroken”, I might notice now you have only female vocal. Dejana changed her singing style a lot. Does she have any formal music education?
Vlad Invictus: Yeah, we always had two vocalists on our previous albums, female and male. Don’t know why we did that… Maybe I was never truly satisfied with the singers I worked with in this band… Up until now. Dejana sang very well on „Unbroken“ (just listen to the songs like „The Everchosen“, „Ironhide“, „Dreamer on a Path of Light“ or „We Fight like Lions“), but this time she fuckin’ NAILED IT!!! I always knew she had it within herself, that powerful range, the tone, the color, but I’m a bit of an asshole when it comes to listening to other people’s ideas, hahahaha. During the demo recordings of this new album, I decided to involve everyone into the writing process and it turned out great. I stopped being an asshole… For a while. Dejana indeed had some formal education in music, she played the violin and she trained her voice from her early age, but mostly hard rock style. She developed into a full metal monster!
Vocal range is wide on new album, was that a hard challenge for Dejana?
Vlad Invictus: I have to be honest. It’s a piece of cake for her. She can hit the highest notes with such ease and confidence. I’m overly happy with having her as our lead and only vocalist.
As I can conclude listening avaliable songs, there are no big choruses and keys at this album. Any other changes?
Vlad Invictus: It’s all, more or less, stripped down to the primal. We wanted to make a record which can be played live without the need of having the backing tracks and a million people doing backing vocals on stage. The sound on the album is unpolished and raw, at least that’s how it sounds to my ears and that’s what we intended to do from the start. Our producer, Boris Shurlan, did a magnificent job with recording, mixing and mastering. I can freely say that this is the first record I’m truly satisfied with.
Who is signing art cover?
Vlad Invictus: That’s another change. We used to work with Dushan Markovic (Jag Panzer, Death Dealer, A Sound of Thunder, Thor, Seven Kingdoms, Resistance, etc). He is and will always be our friend. The guy’s an amazing artist. But this time we needed something different. So I called Tanya DeVries, with whom I worked earlier on my black metal project „Sorrow’s Grave“. She did an outstanding job with the cover art and the booklet design on our new album. The colors and the tone on the artwork are telling the story and when you’re listening to our music gazing into her art, you feel the instant connection between those two. It takes you back to a more simpler times (did anyone say the 80’s?). I’ve always been a huge admirer of epic fantasy novels, movies and comic books from the 70’s and 80’s, so her work really captures that essence. We’re lucky to have her on our team.
You have 4 albums behind, two as Claymore and two as Claymorean. New one, “Sounds From A Dying World” is released for Stormspell Records. They also released your previous album “Unbroken” (2015). It seems you are satisfied with the cooperation. What is the most important when you are signing record deal?
Vlad Invictus: I’m honored to work with the Stormspell owner Iordan. He’s a great guy, deeply in love with the 80’s metal music. I think we cooperate really well because we share the similar taste regarding the pop culture of the 80’s. From my point of view I won’t be changing labels any time soon, as I’m satisfied with the way thing work between us. The most important thing when dealing with the label is to know you have an honest relationship, without some unrealistic plans or promises when it comes to our band. And, I gotta say, Stormspell is making the finest CD’s I ever encountered. Visually they look stunning! Check out some of their releases.
Recently you played as support band to Ross The Boss in Belgrade. Would you lake to share your impresssions from that concert with our readers?
Vlad Invictus: I have to admit Ross has been one of my all time favorite guitarists since I heard Manowar back in 1987. Just to meet him in person (as well as the other guys in his band) was a mindblowing thing for me. Hell, he even played on my amp, so now I can’t sell it. I won’t sell it! The gig itself was our premiere with this line up. We had a blast! Playing our songs in front of these metal legends was a thing of dreams. Of course, we aren’t that familiar to the local audience, so I think I saw 7 or 8 people really digging our music. I would be happy if there was only one person, so overall we were extremely satisfied with our first show as Claymorean.
On that concert you played mostly songs from “Unbroken” and you also promoted few new songs as I could hear. Unfortunatelly, the sound was not good enough, but it seems feedback was good. What did you expect from that show?
Vlad Invictus: Actually, we only played 2 songs from „Unbroken“. The rest were all from the new album. Personally I hoped that each band member feels good and remains healthy before and during the show. Unfortunately, Dejana was having some issues with the allergies, which didn’t affect her performance that much. She told me afterwards that she had some trouble with her voice, but she acted like a true professional and no one on the stage or in front of it noticed any of it. It was one of the top 10 experiences in my life, regarding our music career.
After all those changes, can you say you have finally found yourselves? Is this the sound we can expect from Claymorean in the future?
Vlad Invictus: It definitely is! I think we’re onto something good.
You are coming from Lazarevac, Belgrade municiplaity best known for coal mining. In global, Belgrade has no adequate metal clubs, so how is the situation in Lazarevac?
Vlad Invictus: Well, it’s much much worse in Lazarevac. I don’t wanna go into ugly details, but I can say that these are the darkest times for the underground rock music in general.
Back in the end of 90ties… It seems metal scene in Serbia was the strongest in that period. Bands such as Alogia, Psychoparadox, Bloodbath, Alister, Amon Din and many others were playing in overcrowded venues. Today, bands in Serbia are happy if 50 metalheads come to listen them. What changed?
Vlad Invictus: Claymore was a part of that scene back in the early 2000’s. It was something special. Many great shows at the time. I remember Alogia’s show in Belgrade’s SKC. It was sold out! Nowhere to move. It was fantastic. We had gigs in Belgrade and Lazarevac. I remember the smallest audience we played was 200 people, which is a full house nowadays. I don’t think these new generations of metalheads are the only ones to be blamed. It’s true, these kids have all the commodities we never had when we were their age, and I’m strictly talking about music. You can now afford a cheap but a good instrument. You can now record in a studio you create with all these great new software and hardware. You now have a high speed internet and numerous websites where you can download the album for free. You now have the option to buy a CD for a price that’s 3 times lower than it was when I was a kid. You now have all these famous and semi-famous metal bands coming to Serbia and playing for an affordable price. So, now you have all this, but you don’t have the crowd. How did it happen? Well, the system fucked us all up with these godawful reality shows and terrible music that’s been spinning daily on TV, clubs, coffee shops, squares, even in kindergartens and schools. Most kids here are instructed by our very own government and media that it’s cool to be pumped up with plastic, to wear tons of gold on you, to be some „badass“ quasi or a real criminal, to post naked pics all over internet, to beat up those who are weak, to cheat, to lie, to be stripped of all those things that make us humans. It’s a sad situation. And in it, those kids who are raised differently than the most are usually the ones who are into rock and metal music, who would rather be a failed original than a sucessful clone. They are coping with the system, knowing that they (we) are a minority and often seem to be disconnected from the metal scene too, because most bands here still haven’t sanitized their vanities and personal jealousies and grudges.
How would you rate metal scene in Serbia today?
Vlad Invictus: Musically – A+! In all other aspects – 0!
I have to notice that three band members share family name. Advantages and disadvantages being in a “family” band?
Vlad Invictus: Yeah, hahahaha. Well, since 2014 Dejana is married to me, so we share the surname, and the 3rd Garcevic in Claymorean is my brother Goran (bass guitar), who is the longest band member (not counting myself). We also look on our guitarist Urosh as a family member, even if he’s not Garcevic. There are really no disadvanatages. Everything works like a charm.
I won’t bother you anymore, one more question: any promotional activities?
Vlad Invictus: So far there haven’t been any. Our label isn’t exactly known for doing that stuff and we are too lazy and (or) dumb to know how these things work. I remember being ripped off by some UK promotional company 4 years ago. The only promotion we get is from certain webzines and freelancers who’ll do it for free, just because they like our music. Other than that we regularly post stuff on our Facebook, Bandcamp, Soundcloud or YouTube, so you can check us out there.
Thank you so much for your time. All the best. Take care!