MARTA GABRIEL – Metal Queens (2021)

MARTA GABRIEL (CRYSTAL VIPER) - Metal Queens (2021) full

MARTA GABRIEL is the founder and front woman of classic metal act CRYSTAL VIPER (eight studio albums under their belt) while she’s also a seasoned session musician.
Now MARTA announced the release of “Metal Queens” – her debut solo album, which is a collection of cover songs and a tribute to the female heavy metal / hard rock singers of the ‘80s. “It’s a celebration and tribute to some of my favorite female vocalists, and a solid piece of heavy metal that fans might enjoy even if they don’t know original versions of those songs”, says Gabriel.
We have a great selection here ranging from songs by Lee Aaron and Rock Goddess to Warlock and Wendy O’ Williams.
Apart from the excellent performances – there’s many guests here – and the polished production, what we really like here is that “Metal Queens” sounds like one big piece, not just a random collection of covers.
This is good, very good female fronted hard rock / melodic metal.

Marta Gabriel not only pulls this off but has earned my respect as a vocalist beyond what I have heard from her prior to this release. Her band Crystal Viper is a solid outfit, but I am seriously impressed with her vocals on “Metal Queens” because “I can” compare it to the originals and she nails it throughout this album.

The album features Marta Gabriel on vocals and bass guitar, Eric Juris from CRYSTAL VIPER on guitars, and Cederick Forsberg from CRYSTAL VIPER and BLAZON STONE on drums. Except that she invited three special guests: we will hear TITAN FORCE singer Harry Conklin in the CHASTAIN cover “Light In The Dark“, RIOT V singer Todd Michael Hall in the BLACKLACE cover “Call Of The Wild“, while the RAVEN bassist John Gallagher plays bass in the remake of the ROCK GODDESS classic, “My Angel“.

Up first is the speedy “Max Overload” from Belgium’s Acid (one of the first heavy bands with a female vocalist). Good, upbeat way to start the album, not as gritty as the orignal but more melodic, and I like it this way.
Next, the song that birthed this album’s title and a subtext for lady’s at the mic, ever since, Canuck darling, Lee Aaron’s “Metal Queen”: a stomping, mid-tempo call & response sing-along. Tepid, by today’s standards, guess we were all hard (up?) for a long haired chick in armor, back in the Eighties.

Unfortunately, far fewer know of the two albums by New York’s Blacklace, which mixed early Pat Benatar with fledgling, East Coast attempts at NWOBHM. Here, their rapid “Call Of The Wild” includes high pitched Todd Michael Hall (Riot V) to the mix.
Leather Leone fronted Chastain during the namesake guitarist’s best platters, so sort of a surprise that Marta selected “Light In The Dark” (off 1990’s For Those Who Dare), a rather late entry in the Chastain canon. Conklin climbs aboard this slow to boil, mid-paced number.

There’s a commercial, easier hard rock sound to Zed Yago’s “Rebel Ladies”, which was probably chosen as much for the title/thematic concept than anything else. Bouncy, tambourine enhanced “My Angel” enlivens things once more. A fellow UK presence accompanies the Rock Goddess contribution, none other than John (Raven) Gallagher, although he only plays bass, keeping his usual zany repertoire of vocal effects under wraps.

The final third of the disc features some of the most infamous, as well as unsung/unknown artists, beginning with “Count Your Blessings” courtesy of Malteze. The shouted, title chorus is from the LA-based act’s one and only full-length issued in 1990, with more balls than most of the hard rock from the Sunset Strip. This a great find and Marta sounds great.

If there’s a musical bio pic that needs to be made, Wendy O’ Williams (ex-Plasmatics) should be at the top of the list: outrageous, uncompromising and surely misunderstood, she endured a lot in her short time on the planet. “Going Wild” might as well be her theme songs, a mix of cheap sexuality and infectious groove.
Sticking with the West Coast, we have Hellion’s “Bad Attitude”. The band was managed by another strong woman, Wendy Dio, but even her magic fingers couldn’t turn them into gold. Ann Boleyn is better known for starting New Renaissance Records, which not only housed the Hellion catalog, but many late 80s bands.

“Reencarnacion” is plucked from Spanish band Santa debut (no, not the overweight, red-fur, present-bearing elf). Truthfully, it’s one of the faster cuts herein.
Rounding off the running order (albeit a CD-only bonus) is Warlock. No “metal queen” offering could be complete without Doro Pesch, who has embodied the terms for the last 35+ years. Rather than opt for a known chestnut she chose the relative obscurity of “Mr. Gold”. OK, as the lead-off to True As Steel, it’s not a “rarity,” but certainly not a concert staple either. Much like it started, the collection ends with a (head) bang and skyward thrusting fist.

Honestly, from the first song, this is a take no prisoners approach by Garbriel and it shows that she’s got more balls than a lot of the male singers in the industry. There simply isn’t a bad song on this album. And if you’re already familiar with these songs chances are that you’ll love Marta’s versions of these great tracks.
Covering singers like Doro Pesch, Lee Aaron, Wendy O. Williams or Ann Boleyn isn’t an easy task, and yet she manages to take this diverse field of singers and make their songs her own on this great tribute album.
HIGHLY Recommended


01 – Max Overload (Acid)
02 – Metal Queen (Lee Aaron)
03 – Call Of The Wild (Blacklace)
04 – Light In The Dark (Chastain)
05 – Rebel Ladies (Zed Yago)
06 – My Angel (Rock Goddess)
07 – Count Your Blessings (Malteze)
08 – Goin’ Wild (Wendy O’ Williams)
09 – Bad Attitude (Hellion)
10 – Reencarnacion (Santa)
11 – Mr Gold (Warlock)


Pre Order:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.