A talk with

MARIA D.S. (Vocals)

Metal To Infinity

Questionnaire by STEFAN

Another band that have joined the Infernö Records roster is Rampart, a Bulgarian four piece heavy metal band. Their former album “Voice Of The Wilderness” was a really good one to me, there was a handful of potential reflected and I knew to hear from them again sooner or later. Apparently Rampart have confidence in their label due to, via Infernö Records the new album will be released very soon. Entitled “War Behest” will end up in my mailbox very soon and shall write down my thoughts on Rampart’s newest piece shortly after. Meanwhile, I’d like to have a conversation about what to expect from the new album and other things.  

Q: How things going on in Bulgaria at the moment? Hope all goes well at the fields of Metal! 

A: Metal greetings from Bulgaria! Life here is full of concerts and we try to keep the good music alive! In the capital Sofia the clubs are still working and you can catch the spirit of the Bulgarian underground scene. There are lots of young heavy and thrash metals bands playing their own music. Bulgarian metal festivals have already started in the beggining of June with Loud Fest with Slayer, Annihilator, Behemoth, Symphony X, W.A.S.P. and many more on the bill. There are lots of gigs around here and one of them is our new album premiere scheduled for 23rd June. Indeed all goes perfectly well at the fields of metal!


Q: Can you tell me something about the origins of the band – who can be regarded as founder of Rampart?

A: In 2006 I succeeded to attract the guitar player Yavor and the drummer Bobby to work with me although the fact that they wanted a male vocalist. In such a way the responsibility for finding a bass player and a second guitar player fell on me. I was singing in three metal bands before and I knew that the main problem is to find out serious musicians who would consider the band activities more important than the party.

At that time we had a few songs and the name Rampart was in the heads of the boys. Although the good start, the band felt more comfortable in the basement where we were rehearsing than on stage. The rehearsals always ended with a drink and self-satisfaction…

The unwillingness for serious work and for entering the studio forced me to make demo recordings secretly during rehearsals, just to succeed to release our first demo in 2008. The songs from this EP “Warriors” grew boring for me because of the continuous rehearsals...

The creative team: Yavor/Bobby is among the founders of the band. Today, after three official releases and having in mind the presentation of our new album “War Behest” I will leave you to determine by yourself who is the holder of the idea “Rampart” from the very beginning!


Q: Hard labour to found the right musician those days? Are all the members of the early days of Rampart still active these days or not? If some decided to left the core, why?

A: Our line up has always included people devoted to the metal and loyal to its ideas. Now we have new players in the team! The new members of Rampart are Vili Neshev on guitars, Svilen Ivanov on bass and Petar Svetlinov on drums. I am surrounded by people who make a lot for the metal…

The difficulties on the road of a heavy metal band should not turn to basis for personal attacks. I have always believed that the family of Rampart is open to everyone who contributed to our ideology. I expressed my opinion on the personal conflicts inside the band only in some Bulgarian media. I wanted time to show the efforts of the each band-member to create this music. Now, at the background of the past events, I can only say that the lack of initiative in combination with the pretentions for leadership by our guitar player Yavor were the reasons for the break up of the first line up of Rampart. The conflict was between him and me, the rest of the band did not choose side. The attempt of the band to go ahead collapsed because of the arrogant attitude of this person toward his colleagues. This disappointment leaded to the fact that at the moment the ex-members of Rampart are NOT active.

I have contacts and keep the relations with most of them and we collaborate for new music ideas but most of them now live in the USA, the UK and Poland, which prevents them to be in the front rows of our army.


Q: By the way, where’s’ the name comes from?

A: Rampart is bastion! We have the mission to be a bastion of the heavy metal in Bulgaria! And as far as I know we are succeeding to make it… Actually the name comes from the game “Heroes of Might and Magic”. Do you play strategies?

And besides all of this “Rampart” just sounds good….


Q: Two years after existence, a first EP has been unleashed by the title of “Warriors”. Could this work fulfil all of your wishes and what was the feedback from the press and media afterwards?

A: We recorded “Warriors” with promotional aim. Noone from my bandmates wanted to record in studio in 2008. I was seeing that 6-7 songs were ready enough to be presented. And to lift up the self-confidence of the boys I organized the release of this first demo “Warriors”. The recording is made in studio but it is played live without any corrections and with no mastering! I love this record! It is so raw and aggressive. The demo had good feedback from the metal press in Europe. But the most important thing is that it fullfilled its tasks: the band stopped to be afraid from the studio afterwards, lots of people heard about Rampart and thanks to this MCD we signed a contract to Inferno Records!


Q: One year later on, French label offered Rampart a deal – a debut full-length album came out entitled “Voice Of The Wilderness”, I penned down my thoughts, actually nothing but promising words for a very good work like this. The review was posted HEREdid you like the discussion and most important, are you agree with it?

A: Yeah, I like your review. It is in my top 10 reviews of “Voice of the Wilderness”. In reference to the vocals I can say that the comparison is quite accurate – Kai Hansen is my favorite singer. I do not think that as a whole the style of the band is old-fashioned – you know that now the new wave of heavy metal is spreading its wings not only all over Europe. In my opinion we have a clear own face and style both in our first and in our sophomore album (especially here). I have to say that I agree with your review. Thanks!


Q: How well did the album scored by the International Metal press/media?

A: Indeed “Voice Of The Wilderness” has a very good feedback from the metal community – from the metal media and the fans. It received nearly 8 from 10 points. We are a band with clear personal style. We did not become a sensation, as it was for example the debut of Hammerfall, but according to our label we are one of his strong titles as sales. Our debut was a great step ahead for us and… I hope for heavy metal as well. I also expect support from the metal circles for our new album “War Behest” and I am proud with every fan who likes our music.


Q: To be honest, I didn’t know the fact of a second EP you’ve released entitled “A Tale To Cold”. Which label has released it or was it an independent one?

A: The first release of the EP “A Tale To Cold” in tape format was in 2011 by our label Inferno Records. It was devoted to all metal maniacs who still remember the times when we were collecting hundreds of tapes.  

On 20th June 2012 our EP was released in CD format with bonus tracks (again by Inferno Records). Besides the three tracks from the cassette-single it includes a Helloween cover “Just A Little Sigh”, a French version of the track “A Tale To Cold” named “Dans Un Reve” and a professional video of the song “Metal Spell”. So “A Tale to Cold” is special from each point of view to the fans. 

This EP is devoted to a very brave Metal Queen who fought with cancer for two years and passed away in February, 2011 - Beatrice Lasne-Pinneteau (R.I.P.). Its concept focuses on the storms in a human soul, the injustice in our world and unites these feelings with the new beginning in the life of Rampart.


Q: Did you already got the opportunity to build up a strong live reputation? Name a few bands you’ve shared the stage with so far.

A: Now we have mainly headliner’s performances which frequently long for more than 2 hours. In the frames of our country our reputation is at such a level that the promoters do not dare to invite us for a support act…

The previous year we played with Triaxis in London. This year we are sharing the stage with bands like Witchburner, Lonewolf, Elvenpath and many more great acts at the German Taunus Metal Open Air. We are also playing with Wizard and Elvenstorm at the French Rising Fest II.  Of course, I prefer you to see us and to listen to our music live to be able to judge it!


Q: Now we’re talking about live performances – festivals coming on strong and like to know if Rampart will participate on one or another feast on Metal – the word is on you.

A: This summer we are participating in three metal festivals in different cities of our country. We also plan gigs in Greece and Belgium. As I already mentioned we have a slot at Taunus Metal Open Air in Germany on 7th July and we will be playing on 30th September at Rising Fest II in Dijon, France.


Q: Very important fact to mention is that Rampart has a new album out and all honour is on you to do an official announcement.

A: Our new album “War Behest” was released by Inferno records on 20th June 2012. We dared to call it “metal opera” (Just have in mind bands like Savatage, no operatic vocals here…). This conceptual piece of music consists of 10 compositions and presents an anti-utopia of War as clash of interest. This is a story about the restrictions of man and the decisions he could take on his way to perfection.

Displaying more complex, richer, song structures and multitude of tempo changes, the music still retains a strong dose of melody, complimented by strong guitar solos. Somehow the lyrics also could be applied as a metaphor of the band's history thus far. The libretto is published in the booklet of the release and its poetic expression is in the lyrics of the album.

“War Behest” cover artwork is created by the Bulgarian artist Dimitar Nikolov (Keep It True Festival, Ross the Boss, Sentinel Beast, Steelwing and many more).

The summer program of RAMPART includes participation in festivals and self-dependent concerts. During this period we will prepare a wide-scale dramatic performance and a show for smaller stage of the metal opera ‘War Behest’. According to the reactions of the fans we expect to be able to present such a show in its complete form till the end of the year.


Q: On my way, I’d like to know about what to expect from this brand new effort.

A: We are keeping the framework of the classic heavy metal but at the same time we aim to achieve contemporary sound. In this direction our concept lyrics required more complex musicianship. This made the rhythms diverse and the melodies complicated. So you can find a little bit progressive metal and do not expect the album to grip you at first listening. Our ideas are multilayered. The people who will buy this album have my word that their investment will be repaid back thru returnable revelations.


Q: Something has changed in relation to the previously released pieces?

A: As I already mentioned now there is a progressive slant. The music is more complicated and somehow – 3D… Our message is anti-utopia. It contributes to such a feeling of art, that after some consultations with friends, we ventured to call our new album “metal opera”! You can start listening to it from the choruses, but after that you will reach higher levels.


Q: Now that you have a few albums created – which one do you prefer and why?

A: You make me enter the cliché to recommend you our new album “War Behest” :) 

We are still in euphoria from this project (we may continue it someday) but we do not have releases enough to be able to choose amongst them. The merits of each release of ours in a chronological order are: rawness, precision, vitality and thoroughness.


Q: Again, you have chosen to work along with Fab from Infernö Records. The mutual trust appears to be large, right?

A: Inferno Records noticed us, got in contact with me and suggested to help us with the promotion of our first released effort “Warriors”. Fab believed in us although we had not presented our potential enough. This faith, as well as the freedom to make music convinced us to choose Inferno Records among the not numerous proposals for our releases.

Today I can say that Fab will always be amongst my friends. The mutual trust indeed is large! Fab did so much for my band. He was patient. And even when the band exploded in 2011 somehow he motivated me to go ahead. Inferno Records help their bands because of their music and support them in a way that even the very big labels would not!


Q: Who wrote the songs and feel free to tell something more concerning the lyrical contents?

A: The new guitar player Vili Neshev wrote the songs and indeed he made the compositions outstanding. Each member of the band contributed to its arrangements.

I already mentioned that “War Behest” is a conceptual album. At the moment the issues of war and conflict are the main inspirations for my lyrics. In the real nature of conflict there are no losers and winners. The opposition is a result of our free will.

I entered a world of metaphors and if you want to know the story behind the album, here it is:

The Army of the Perfect Warriors
Made of steel and darkness the swords in their hands are as harps of death. The thunder of their arms is like a storm. Every man who heard it knows that this is like the symphony of the Apocalypse. Their perfect battle skills turn them to surgeons and painters of the fights. Their leader is covered in silver mist and mystery. No living man has ever seen him to fight. Some warriors have seen him amongst mountains of fallen enemies after battles. He possesses the magic of the fight.

Devoted to aggression they live to shed blood. Attack is their only tactics. Nothing could stop them!

The Army of the Craftsmen

They forge weapons for ages. Every sword is a masterpiece. Their will for great deeds leads them. When necessary their faith for victory is unbreakable. Every warrior is good in his own field. Their leader is in golden armour. He displays his army strategically in battle. His belief in the common will has mystic forms. Under his leadership the warriors appear as if from the ground. They are silent. Every stroke with the weapon is full of respect.

Devoted to construction they are feeding with their own will. The offensive is their only tactics. Together they can stand up as a wall. Nothing could stop them!

The Battle

The fate sets the Army of the Perfect against the Army of the Craftsmen. These are two irresistible forces: the perfect killing machines against the perfect weapons. Thirst for destruction against the will to contemplate...

The longest day in the universe has come. Hurricane of the orchestra of Death breaks the air but as if the enemy is irresistible. The swords bend under the height of the bones. Blood drowns the battle. The mist of the silver general falls over the Army of the Craftsmen. The bright sun of the golden knight grows dim. 

The Army of the Perfect is initiated to the battle. Its faith is the most important thing for these warriors. They vindicate it to the end – it is their only chance. Their feeling of supremacy and excellence will never die. Even Death could not stop them!

A wall of craftsmen is like pieces of a wound. The anguish is burning in their breasts. The blood of their general – golden knight is so much that his armour turns to rust… Alone amidst the few survivors the silver knight is unable to kill them and to save them from the pain. The Perfect remain only a memory. The hurricane turns to morning mist. A few warriors saw the new day. They refuse to accept defeat and it seems that everything is a dead lock…

The Army of the Craftsmen in union calls the silver general to become their leader. A new age forecast brilliant future and never-ending power. Faith in success again is a common feature!

Initiated to victory their fate leads them to new glory. Success is their only fortune. New perfection is their common goal.


Q: Do you want to mention other important people who have contributed to the new album?

A: Besides Vladimir Bochev (Valdemar) who wrote the song “Fire Circle” and also is the sound engineer of the new album, I need to mention our guest musician Sofia Vancheva who recorded the violins in the same song. She also participated in Rampart’s first album “Voice Of The Wilderness”.

Other people who contributed to the new album are Thord Klarstrom from the band Gallow’s End who mastered it, the artist Dimitar Nikolov who created its artwork, the author of our logo and our ideologist Rock Thrashler and the photographer Nelly Tomova.

Q: May I conclude that the entire band are ultimately satisfied with the new CD? Can you specify two bands you want to compare with – I know, that’s a tough one but give it a try anyway.

A: I can say that at the moment we are ultimately satisfied with the new CD. The wealth and the free handling with the music ways and means of the early heavy metal bands are indeed inspiring. I could compare Rampart with the early Helloween (quite early...). When Thord Klarstom from the Swedish 7th Gate studio received the new album for mastering he asked me to point out a contemporary recording to which quality we should endeavour... I do not think that we are very similar as music but I immediately told him – Fireforce :)


Q: Since day one of existence up until now – what were the biggest disappointments the band has experienced?

A: The reasons for the break up of the first line up of Rampart turned into a great disappointment both for me and for the ex-members of the band. This was a betrayal from laziness and haughtiness. With the current line up we did not face any dissapointments. We work at accelerated rates and we do not have time for dissapointments.


Q: Every band has its own ultimate goals to achieve – what are those of Rampart?

A: We play metal for the sake of it! We aim to be the bastion of metal in Bulgaria. Our dreams spread wings from Sofia to Wacken on the wide catenary’s parallel. We also aim to put Bulgaria on the metal map. We want to break the spell upon the Bulgarian bands to disappear after their first successful recording. Most of our modest goals are already over the horizon.


Q: I sincerely hope that all of your plans and ambitions are realized – as for me and by now, glad to have you here on Metal To Infinity webzine and loads of success with the new album. To finish the interview, the word’s on you… cheers!

A: Thanks for your support! We hope to be able to play in Belgium on 29th September 2012 with our labelmates Elvenstorm! Wait for us and stay tuned!