Boguslaw Balcerak is the super talented guitarist of newcomers Crylord. Blessed with not only formidable technique but an ear for writing a winning song, the debut “Blood Of The Prophets” is one of the surprise releases of the year and a contender for debut of the year and a release we heartily recommend. We caught up with Boguslaw to discuss the album and his history in depth.
Your debut release Crylord – Blood Of The Prophets hit the streets in October. It’s an exceptional slice of metal. Please tell us how the band came together as you have some other very talented musicians with you.
It was not easy because in Poland it is hard to find good musicians in this genre. As for the rhythm section I asked my musical friends : Kamil Wyzinski (bass and sound engineering) and Marcin Kwasny on drums. These guys provide a good rhythm section and they have great musical feeling. At the end I met Lukasz Dybalski who is a keyboardist and he just played my arrangements for this album.
The album is home to 3 fine vocalists in Carsten Schulz, Mark Boals and Goran Edman. How did you get these 3 vocalists involved and what sort of freedom did they have with the material?
I arranged melodic lines for each song and backing vocals. Of course, singers sometimes get swept away by emotions and sang them more in their own way, but it was so good that I decided not to be exactly as I wanted. Each of them has added something unique and it was good.
Especially Göran sometimes strongly modulate melodies, sometimes even like soul style. He never sings the same way twice, if a fragment is repeated he recorded it again, and always in different way. He made his own and amazing versions of choirs.
I think you did a nice job of picking songs to suit each vocalist’s strengths. Was this intentional or something that just worked out?
Their vocal skills are so high that I’m sure that each of them can sing no matter which song on the album, but obviously I thought about it who is to sing which song and reported to a concrete proposal.
When did you begin writing the music that appears on ‘Blood Of The Prophets’ and over what timescale was the music completed?
Music was written in 2008 and then it was the beginning of recordings.
Changing the recording studio and long mixing was the reasons why the album was ready until spring of 2011.
Can you remember what the first track you wrote was?
The first composition on the album was “Blind Dance” which is an instrumental song. It was the time when I was just dreaming about great vocalist and composing instrumental music.
Whilst there are elements of other bands, there is a very definite original voice within the material as well. It’s an exciting sounding record, full of energy and vigour; I guess it must be a relief to finally get something out to the public?
I’m glad you think so. It is hard to do something original in neo-classical music, because it seems that everything has already been done by someone else. If the material is fresh is to say that it can appeal to people. It is important to me because for years I wanted to record my own music. I did not think, however, that it would be possible to record an album with such good singers.
Often I meet with the opinion that “Blood of the Prophets” is not revealing. Probably its true but it appears a lot of albums worse than “Blood of the Prophets” have better reviews, and nobody there, no negative comments that it’s not revealing, though it is.
Your guitar work is exceptional, a superb technique yet with a strong dose of emotion in your play. Can you tell us who your influences are and what you believe you have taken from their style and added to your own ideas to make your own voice?
I think the emotions are not only in the solo parts but also in the vocal lines and in the whole music.
Of course, Malmsteen as the biggest inspiration for me is still the most important. It’s a beautiful example of emotional music. There is no sense, however, to be another clone of Malmsteen. My playing is contaminated with Malmsteen’s style, but was expanded with a lot of elements such as: string skipping, more arpeggios, tapping, picking with the wide gauge of fingers, chromatic scales etc..
For years however I have been interested in guitar technique not only Malmsteen’s. Since many years I am inspired by albums from Shrapnel Records and Lion Music. Also there are newer virtuosos as George Bellas, Rusty Cooley and Francesco Fareri, from whom I’m still learning techniques, but in conjunction with my own feeling. At these times the level of guitar playing throughout the world is very high, and never can you say that you can play everything.
There are a few various styles on the album and there is a very strong flow to the music. Do you have any personal tracks or performances and if so why?
It’s hard to say which of the songs I like most. Sometimes it is “The Healing Hands”, sometimes “Grave of Love” or “Bard’s Tale” but also “The Heretic” is very personal for me.
What guitar/amp/effects equipment did you use and is anything modded in any way?
Amp: Marshall 800, Messa Boogie Stiletto,
Guitar: Fender Stratocaster Standard, Ibanez RG2550 Prestige (),
All used without additional effects when recording
What are you looking for in your guitar sound and are you totally happy with the final sound on record?
I’m still looking for strong sound in riffs and crystal Fender sound in the solo parts. Of course I have a few comments about sound on the album but it’s not time here for that;)
Another great guitarist Andy LaRocque mastered the album. How did this come about and what did Andy bring to the sound?
Because of recording instruments at many sessions, and several studios the effect was such that each song had a different sound and different equalization. Andy LaRocque proved to be invaluable here.
Andy is my guitar idol since the time of my elementary school, even before I heard Yngwie. I’ve watched his production of music for some time now, so finally I ask him for mastering the album. I’m happy that he found time to master the album, despite the flood of work he already had.
People might raise an eyebrow when they hear of a Polish metal band as its not a genre the country is really know for, so is Crylord the only band playing this form of music in your homeland or is there a sizeable scene for metal?
In Poland metal music is limited to very brutal like death, thrash metal or soft pop rock that is played at radio stations. Bands in the centre are missing, that is hard rock, classic metal, etc.. It is regarded as the relic and something funny. I do not know any other neo-classical metal band in Poland except Pathfinder which is truly brilliant power / symphonic band from Poznan .
The promo video for “Warriors Moon” has just been released as well, a nice effort with Carsten Schulz on vocals, how did the video shoot go?
We wondered together with Carsten which track could be the best for promoting this album. After a deep analysis, we decided that “Warrior’s Moon” would be the best choice as it’s a song with a fairly compact form. I also wanted it to be not too long a song so that people do not switch off during playback 😉 What can be interesting is that this song was instrumental in the original. It was Carsten who found the potential for the vocal lines.
Can we expect any live appearances from Crylord in the future?
In fact, it’s hard to say is it possible to play concerts at this time. Certainly Carsten is the vocalist who could be involved. It all depends on how the CD will be accepted. If not at this time it may be the next album we’ll play something together.
Outside of Crylord what do you like to do for fun? Listen to? Etc..
In fact, I do not have much free time now since the birth of my daughter Liliana. Now she is 16 months old and there are many responsibilities associated with it.
Additionally work takes time and effort. I spend my every free time to work on myself as a guitarist and composing new songs and arrangements. If I have a moment for myself I like to read books and meet with friends.
What are your plans for the rest of 2011 and beyond?
This year I intend to finish the composition and arrangement of the material on the second album. In the next 2012 if everything goes fine we will start the hard work with recording.
Boguslaw, may we thank you again for this interview and even more so for the excellent music on ‘Blood Of The Prophets’, we wish you all the best for the future.
I also thank you for the interview, analysis and review of “Blood of the Prophets”