Throw Me a Frickin' Label Hack: Bulgaria's Claymore

Because every day another band records another song.  Because 83% of those songs are unlistenable and you can’t be bothered to sift through the dreck.  Because metal is about not giving a shit and waking your own personal storm.  Because music is universal, expression is boundless, and even indie labels (whatever that means these days) don’t know everything, Decibel brings you Throw Me a Frickin’ Label Hack. Claymore cover

This week, we welcome to the TMaFLH family a symphonic black/death curiosity from southeastern Europe called Claymore.  They're labeled, though, so maybe we simply mean Throw Me a Frickin' Broad Exposure.  They traffic in high-intensity, synth-graced heavy metal that calls to the mead hall in us all.  They've toiled with various lineups since 1999, producing several demos and a 2008 full-length called Prolonged Active Antagonism (which sounds like what my daughter deals with at the hands of her brother).

About a month ago, the band dropped their second album, Vengeance is Near, and again beckon icy battlefields strewn with blood-spattered lone survivors and the spectral projections of those less fortunate.  We asked guitarist Martin Manev about the band's history and the new record, to which he gave the responses you can read below.  Also, get a listen to Vengeance's 8th track, "Divine Pursuit", while you make Bulgaria your new one-stop synth-death shop.

Who is Claymore?  What are their contributions to Claymore (musically or conceptually), and what are their backgrounds and current jobs?  How does all that fit into Claymore?

At this point in the group are the following members: Tsvetelin Baltov - keyboards, Martin Manev – guitar, Kamen Manev - bass, Nikolai Nikolaev - drums and Emil Kehaiov – vocals. In our band each contributes what he could for musical creativity - no specific composer / songwriter, we are open to any ideas and everyone help in the songwriting.  Each of us works [another job except] Nicky, who is a student.  Tsvetelin works at the State Opera, Martin [works] in meat production, Kamen [is a] salesman in a music store and Emil Kehaiov has his own business in agriculture. Mixing musical differences is an alloy that is the music of Claymore - we are all very different in [our] musical tastes.

How did you choose the band name?

Well, in the beginning [was the computer] game Diablo, and [the claymore] was a powerful weapon to slash the enemies and sounded good.  Of course, I'm kidding.  Deeper symbolism is that it is a weapon that is a symbol of freedom for the Scots, but we Bulgarians gained our freedom recently after 50 years of communism, so for us it is an image association and freedom. To be strong, united and free from everything that is trying to enslave us.

What do you enjoy about pairing aggressive music with atmospheric and melodic elements?

Where [they are] intertwined, aggression with melody is the best combination. This is an expression of ourselves. Neither too harsh nor too soft. We have a strong influence from classical music and a different arrangement of the standard clichés, many reefs and various music solutions.

Claymore has been around since 1999, but this is only your 2nd full-length album.  Do you take a long time to write and arrange the music, or do band members have other things going on that keep them away from Claymore?

Both are true - long time there were no changes in the band, but between 2005-2013 made many rotations that [held up] the songwriting. Naturally money [was an issue] – we alone cover all costs for issuing albums as you know we are a poor country and wages are terrible. We walked this road alone without any help from anyone, the most difficult way.  It took us a long time.

How has the Claymore sound evolved over the past 14 years?

Over the years, we`ve experimented with sound and the number of people who participated in the group (one guitar, two guitars, female vocals, etc.). We think the changes are rather in the very arrangement of the songs, not the style of the band. Now we sound more literate than at the beginning, more mature. Otherwise, the style is the same after 14 years.

Do you play a lot of live shows?  When and where?

Unfortunately, in 2013 we had only one concert - the reason is the arrival of three new members (original drummer of the group was Kamen, who became the bassist) and have to rewrite everything from scratch. We played many festivals such as:."Trash till Death", "Heatework festival", "Heart Rock festival", "Chaos Fest", "Massacre Fest", "Legacy Open Air Fest", "Barock Fest", "Nightmare Fest", "Ost Festival","Sea Black Festival" where we played alongside well known international bands like Destruction (Germany), Dimmu Borgir (Norway), Mystic Circle (Germany), Napalm Death (UK), Sinister (Netherlands), Parricide (Poland), The Claymore (Germany), Lord Belial (Sweden), Graveworm (Italy), Apostasy (Sweden), Eastern Front (UK), Carnal (Poland), Acid Rain (Germany), Negura Bunget (Romania), Izegrim (Netherlands), Spoil Engine (Belgium), Gothic (Romania), Diary About My Nightmares (Germany), Disdained (Serbia), Cilice (Netherlands), Daemonicus (Sweden).  Small concerts are not mention at all - in our country for example or Romania.

What are your thoughts about the final product you have made with new album Vengeance is Near?  Any personal favorite moments or songs that stand out for you?

We thought we did well with the product, but it will be judged by the listeners, not us because we're [biased]. We do not have favorite songs they are like our children - we love them equally. We sincerely hope most listeners like them.

How did you get in touch with Red Rivet Records and decide to sign with them?

Accidentally - as a brand new product we are sending info for Vengeance is Near in many places and in different companies so that Red Rivet Records contacted us and offered us a good offer - and most importantly they loved our music!

What are Claymore's plans for the near future?

We will first do a dozen concerts in Bulgaria and then we do a European tour in several countries. We need to prepare our commercial products, to prepare editions of the new album, we requested participation in some festivals that are waiting approval, etc.  We've got a lot of work to do. We hope everything goes as planned.

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