1. To begin with, I’d like to ask Vlad which idea did he have in mind back at 1994, when Claymore was born. How were the band’s early years?
Vlad: First of all, thank you very much for inviting us to do this interview for your webzine. Well, back in 1994 I was 17 and I wanted to have a heavy metal band that sounds like Iron Maiden and Manowar haha. Those earliest years were spent in lots of lineup changes, one gig and several rehearsals (including the one when our entire gear was stolen). Then I went on to play in some local punk bands and finally decided to revive Claymore in early 2000’s when I discovered the first digital audio workstations (Cakewalk in my case). In 2002 we already had a first demo material and in 2003 the demo (completely recorded in my room) became the first album hahah. We had some festival gigs and some individual shows, even ended up on some compilations. Great times really, because the entire metal scene in Serbia was huge at the time. We even had a material for our second album in 2004, but that didn’t happen.
2. From 2003 to 2012, the group found itself on a temporary hiatus. What exactly happened and when did you decide to return to the stages?
Vlad: Well, everyone from the band went on separate pathways, so I pretty much left alone. But in 2010 I started working with Boris Shurlan (our producer) in his studio and recorded one of my oldest songs (probably THE oldest one) “Crossroad of Forever”. And when I met Dejana in 2011 the idea of revitalizing Claymore as a band started to boil in my cauldron. Thus we ended up recording “Lament of Victory” in 2013 which basically consisted of the material composed in 2004.
3.In 2014, you decided to change your name from Claymore to Claymorean. Was there already another formation with the same name?
Dejana: Having hated my vocals on Lament of Victory, since that’s not remotely my singing style, I told Vlad we needed to change something. Also there were shitload of bands with the name Claymore, and that Japanese anime… It was only logical to make a step forward, change the name and style of music, but also the band members.
4. A year later you released Unbroken, your first album with Stormspell Records. How did they contact the band and how has your experience been like so far?
Dejana: Danny, the label manager of Stormspell, contacted us through email and offered a deal after we launched “We Fight Like Lions” as a first single.
Vlad: We’re truly satisfied with Stormspell, mostly because we can write music whenever we have inspiration to do so and not because of contractual obligations. Also, Danny digs true metal and he’s not a poser, so that suits us well hahaha.
5. I was surprised to discover your country of origin, since I do not know other Serbian bands. I would like you to explain to me how the metal scene has been in your native country, as well as which bands from there you would recommend us to listen to.
Dejana: Even I’m surprised to see a Serbian metal band popping up so frequently in various metal webzines. We practically have no scene, because there is no huge interest in metal with the audiences here, except if you’re Sabaton or Iron Maiden. Also, there aren’t many clubs or venues you can play metal in, and the numbers are keep getting lower. Media that deals in metal are but a few and mostly underground. And the so called scene is mostly concentrated in big cities, so the bands from the provinces, like ours, can hardly be noticed here. Of course, there are individuals here who are true beacons for metal bands and they are relentlessly working on promoting Serbian metal scene by organizing festivals and gigs, printing magazines and fanzines, administrating websites and webzines and even releasing the albums through independent labels. We have loads of excellent bands: Armageddon, Deadly Mosh, Nemesis, Infest, The Stone, Zloslut, Numenor, Void Inn, Jenner, Aurium, Superhammer, Oathbringer, Forever Storm, Obscured, Rain Delay, Nadimač, Alitor, Centurion, Quasarborn, Alogia, Melissa, Trigger, Grimm, Dead Joker, Khargash, Kuga, Thundersteel and many others…
6. Who handles the lyric writing and which themes or authors do you usually get inspired by?
Vlad: Unfortunately, I am the one responsible for all our lyrics haha… Themes I write about are usually based in fantasy realms, mostly derrived from the books, movies or tv shows, but sometimes it just happens to be someone’s idea for a single verse or a title and that is often the needed spark for me to write a song. I can never write good lyrics like my heroes Mark Shelton, David DeFeis, Byron Roberts or King Diamond.
7. Dejana’s fierce voice, which can sound ragged or melodic whenever needed, exudes personality. What other vocalists have influenced your style? Our audience will be interested to know your opinion about the woman’s role within the metal scene.
Dejana: I started singing because of David Coverdale who was my greatest inspiration. As I matured as a musician I discovered Jorn Lande, Niklas Stalvind, Ida Haukland, Jutta Weinhold, Marta Gabriel, but more than anyone else Marco Hietala and Blackie Lawless. As for your question about women’s role in metal and rock music in general I think that it’s totally irrelevant what gender you are if you are a talented musician. I am glad seeing more and more women on stage kicking asses all over the world.
8. How would you say Eulogy for the Gods differs from your previous recording, Sounds from a Dying World? Do you see your newest release as a concept album?
Dejana: I think this record is by far more mature than the previous ones and that we matured as musicians and composers. We started to pay attention to those little details in each song. The arrangements were also something we took care of. For me this is our best album to date. Is it a concept album? Yes and no. It has the same dark note that binds all these songs together, but no, there’s no concept or linear story behind the songs.
Vlad: I guess the first 5 songs from Unbroken are the only concept theme we’ve done so far, but I would agree with Dejana on this, because we were in some of our darkest moments when we wrote this album and the main thread that connects these songs, or a main theme is humanity, with all our flaws and virtues. Humankind versus Gods, if you like, haha.
9. On June 26, the videoclip for your song Hunter of the Damned was premiered for the first time, during the tenth episode of Keep It True TV on YouTube, directed by the famous underground festival from Germany. I think your band is a strong candidate to play there. In which festivals would you love to be present at someday?
Vlad: Oh, Keep It True and Up The Hammers immediately! But also all these underground festivals that are oriented towards the more traditional heavy metal sound. I wouldn’t complain to be on Wacken or Hellfest too haha.
10. The cover of your recent album, made by Igor “Jimmy” Stanić, is intriguing. What is the meaning behind it? I’ve seen that Igor is also a guitarist in Superhammer, where Dejana also sings.
Dejana: Jimmy calls it “Sigil of Death” and it represents a circle of life and death, but more death haha. It’s very metal with all these skulls, sword (Claymore) and gore. Like an excerpt from some R. E. Howard’s novel, a strange symbol at the altar of the unknown deity. I was recently asked to join Superhammer as their new vocalist and I’m super excited to start working on the new material with Jimmy and Tzeetzah.
11. On Eulogy for the Gods, we can hear a great Virgin Steele cover, as well as a song dedicated to the memory of the legendary Mark Shelton. Would you say that your sound is closer to the American brand of power metal, rather than the European?
Vlad: Thank you for the kind words. Hm, I never considered that, since we’re practically from the Badlands haha. I grew up on both styles, so there’s a bit of everything in it I’d say. Look, it’s important that I clarify our views on the music we make. We simply write songs from the perspective of a fan, because we are first and foremost the fans of heavy metal. And since we love so many bands, from the earliest days of metal and NWOBHM, to the European power metal and USPM, and finally to this movement known as NWOTHM, you can clearly hear most of it in our music. We don’t follow trends, nor we make music on demand. We make the kind of music we love to listen to. We don’t wanna be ashamed or embarassed of our songs and albums someday.
12. I really enjoyed you collaboration with Cedrick Forsberg, Blood of the Dragon, which you already released as a single in 2019. How did it happen? If I’m not mistaken, you have also provided support vocals on his recent LP with Blazon Stone.
Vlad: Ced and I met working on a Spiral Castle project (together with the members of Sorrow’s Grave, Twisted Tower Dire, While Heaven Wept, Vanlade). We known each other’s bands and music practically since our beginnings at Stormspell and he said to me one day “Look dude, I have this song I wrote aeons ago and it stood still among my treasure chest containing 1.694.361 other songs. Do you want it or you prefer walking the plank?”. Naturally, I took the song, since his pirate ship and crew looked quite menacing and serious. He also thought song would fit Claymorean more than
(Storyteller haha) Blazon Stone or Rocka Rollas. When we accepted his generous offer it also helped us get some inspiration for our other songs, because we had a writer’s blockage at the time.
Dejana: We were honored to be considered to sing as a part of the Pirate Choir on new Blazon Stone record. When we heard the music and choruses we were blown away, but recently we heard the entire album and it’s one of the best in Ced’s vast catalog of music. Some songs lingered for days in my head and I sang them all the time everywhere I went haha.
13. Last but not least, did you expect the great reception that Eulogy for the Gods is having? What are you working on right now?
Dejana: I never expected this in a million years. We never had this kind of reception for anything we did in the past. The most magical thing about it is that music itself is doing what it’s supposed to do. No fancy promotion, loads of money given to managers or PR’s. Only music that speaks to the listeners. And they seem to like it a lot. For the first time in my career I can’t brag about some things that are happening behind the curtains, but soon you’ll know.
Vlad: Considering how long and painful the process of recording this album was and the number of personal misfortunes and tragedies that struck combined with the global pandemic and complete isolation, I truly despised these songs. Maybe because of the dark circumstances they were composed in, or the fact that I listened to these recordings in preproduction for hundreds of times, I had no faith in this album. I truly believed it was gonna sunk in the deepest darkest corners of the underground torrent websites. For better or for worse, I was wrong. Actually, we’re still nobodies, but now we’re nobodies with a good record.
Thank you so much for your time! It’s been great to get to know you better!
Vlad & Dejana: Thank you once again for this opportunity and for the support you’ve given us. It was a real pleasure answering your questions.