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Interview conducted June 16 2007
Interview published June 24 2007

Over the past weekend, the task of my kind works were shared most enthusiastically when I was presented the opportunity to spend some quality time with the California's Cruz Del Sur Music recording artist - Crescent Shield. This band is comprised of some serious sonic talent and mettle character. They are fronted by the Legendmaker himself - Michael Grant, whose vocal range takes the listener inward, onward, and beyond. Then there are the superb guitar melodies, and creatively new even riffage enhanced by Dan Delucie; whose destiny never ends. Drummer Craig Anderson will get your engine started and fulfill your severed wishes; while the Raven Mad Maiden - Melanie Sisneros plucks the bass strings of your metal heart with a certain synergistic bit of madness. Altogether, it was so much fun to hang around and discuss the metal, music, and joy that this band brings to each other, and us all!

MettleAngel: Thank you Michael, Mel, Dan, And Craig for agreeing to do this in person interview. Michael, I know we have been playing phone tag trying to get together. I apologize for dissing you when you called initially, as I was interviewing Doro at the time.

  • Michael: Hey no need to apologize. I mean it's Doro - she's the Queen!

MettleAngel: Anyway thanks to Greg of Bible Of The Devil, and this Alehorn II Festival, we can all sit down and do the interview together. I really love when I can gather the whole band together for a honest discussion. After all, I am familiar with all of your other bands; and Mel we go back to when we first met at the first Classic Metal Fest in 2001. If you recall Dan, I actually met you when you toured with Destiny's End. You played Annies Club here in Cincinnati, and James Rivera was trying to confiscate my Judas Priest like leather jacket in the parking lot.

  • Dan: Yeah, I knew you looked familiar when I saw your picture at My Space. I thought to myself, "I know that guy from somewhere.". (Craig:) I just checked out the Metal Covenant site yesterday to view your writing, and get a overall feel. I did not know this site was based out of Sweden.

MettleAngel: Yes, and I represent the American side of the metal mileu. Now, one thing about Crescent Shield is the affinity you three (Michael, Dan & Mel) share for having played in New Eden. Mel was actually their bass player when we saw her at Classic Metal Fest in Kalamazoo (pointing to Wendy's shirt, depicting this very landmark event).

  • Mel: Yes, we all have our ties to working with New Eden. We all come from a small incestuous town near L..A. (Michael:) As I was recording demos with them, I met Denis Gulbey which acted like a launching pad for my vocal career. I actually left the band when they opted for James Rivera while working on the Through The Make Believe recording.

MettleAngel: I have that CD, I'd imagine that it's pretty rare now. I remember how Denis really promoted that. I read an interview with New Eden in an issue of Snakepit, which really sparked my interest. If only I had not sold my original Gothic Knights debut. Anyway, I digress,...so Michael, then you hooked up with Legend Maker - correct?

  • Michael: Yeah, one minute I was singing with New Eden, then I got a call at Kinkos, where I worked, telling me they chose James instead; so I can leave. Then Denis told me about this band from Columbia who needed a vocalist. I auditioned for Legend Maker. We changed the Spanish lyrics to English to placate the American audience.

MettleAngel: I have this CD as well, and it too, probably is now quite rare. I'm grateful that I bought this as this was the first time I got to hear your amazing vocal style and range. I so love your singing style with Onward - my favourite of all your bands. You also do an amazing job with Crescent Shield and Cypher Seer - your latest project.

  • Michael: Thank you man! Yeah, Toby Knapp heard me sing and then asked me to join Onward. Somehow, I always end up singing for bands in faraway places. Sadly, it becomes my one-off project, too often. I really want to stick with a project and not just be a vocalist for hire. This is why I joined Crescent Shield - all these guys are my friends - we have all known each other for quite awhile.

MettleAngel: I actually discovered Onward from a Century Media sampler and a Sentinel Steel sampler. Once I heard Evermoving I was hooked!

  • Michael: Yeah, Century Media used the promo bonus disc to promote their bands quite often. We had a double disc version with Reawaken - the second Onward CD.

I know, I definitely got that version immediately. However, most bands on this bonus disc, I was already familiar with, at the time. Was it your idea to cover Loudness' Clockwork Toy? I'm a huge Loudness fan, and I love Thunder In The East!

  • Michael: No, that was Tony's, but we are all Loudness fans too, and that was really fun to do.

MettleAngel: I've heard the Neverending Sun demos from the third Onward album, which was never released. It's such a shame, because you sing so well on it. Century Media really just should have marketed that.

  • Michael: Yeah, I wish that had been put out too.

MettleAngel: I heard that Toby did finally release it this spring, independently.

  • Michael: Yeah, but it's still just the demos and not professionally done. I had some good times in Onward, I still do miss it. The truth is I really have more fun in this band. Crescent Shield just does no feel like work to me. Onward was too much like business, not fun. Crescent Shield is more relaxed and personal. These dudes are not too much a pain in my ass. We all come from the same city. This is really a positive experience. All the other side projects were too limited, entirely.

MettleAngel: Yes, Mel mentioned earlier you were all from the same locale. It's like the Dublin Death Patrol band with Chuck Billy, Zetro Sousa, Willie Lange, etc.

  • Mel: Yeah, I just saw them play live. What a show - what talent!

MettleAngel: I dig the new CD, but it is lacking in certain parts, whether it's the obligatory Motorhead, Thin Lizzy, UFO covers - or the annoying Indian Chant at the end of the CD. Still I'd love to see them live and meet with them. At least on Lights Out, they say, "Lights out, lights out...lights out in Dublin..."; thereby putting a twist on an often times, over covered UFO classic. There are some killer thrash cuts like DDP For Life, Trail Of The Executioner, and Sid Vicious, which borrows heavy from Testament.

  • Mel: It was cool, because they are actually family members, brothers, cousins, etc.

MettleAngel: I know, and being from Dublin, California keeps them tight knit, and well-connected. Now Mel, are you still playing with Raven Mad? I still have not heard that material. I know you recorded two demos: Corvus Insanus & A Bit Of Madness. It figures, given your love for the Classics, and your exceptional knowledge of Antiquity and ancient languages, you would choose a befitting title in Latin.

  • Mel: No, Raven Mad is no more, but I play in a Megadeth tribute band called Hanger 18 with those guys - so we are still friends.

MettleAngel: You will have to get me some Raven Mad demos. I always thought that name was quite clever. I understand you worked with The Iron Maidens, as well?

  • Mel: Actually, I was one of the founding members. I was playing in an all female Maiden tribute band called Wrathchild with my friend Jenny.

MettleAngel: Didn't the girls from Phantom Blue also play in The Iron Maidens?

  • Mel: Yes, Linda McDonald and Josephine Soegijanty replaced the other members and we formed The Iron Maidens.

MettleAngel: They don't have you listed at http://www.metal-archives for this. You never recorded any CDs with them, why is this?

  • Mel: I left The Iron Maidens when the chance presented itself for me to join Sinergy.

MettleAngel: So Kim and Alexi invited you to join Sinergy and you just up and quit The Iron Maidens?

  • Mel: Yes, because I actually moved to Finland to live with the band. Finland was great. They have an awesome metal scene. They are like a one bar people. It was really a good experience for me.

MettleAngel: Sadly, you did not stick with Sinergy and returned home, right?

  • Mel: Yes it just did not work out...too much drama with Children Of Bodom.

MettleAngel: I know what you mean, we interviewed Janne Warman last year when we saw Children Of Bodom. The mere mention of Kimberly Goss was like a "Yoko Ono" affair.

  • Mel: Precisely! Still, I had a great time with Children Of Bodom especially Roope Latvala.

MettleAngel: Yeah, we hung out with him too. He was amazed how much I knew about Stone - quoting lyrics and waxing nostalgic.

  • Mel: Alexi and Roope treated me so well. It was just the wrong time for them. I could tell you lots of stories. Once I came back to California, Michael invited me into this band. We did not even have a name yet. (Michael:) I met Mel at a Destiny's End show. We became good friend and attended some birthday parites. I had known Craig, he came to Onward shows quite often. I'd say, "Oh no, it's you again!" We had fun at a Metal Blade Christmas party. We knew he would be perfect to play in this unnamed band. (Craig:) Yeah, we exchanged telephone numbers, I sent him some demos. He did the same. (Michael:) Yeah the band went from being a mere zygote, eventually to birth.

MettleAngel: Now from birth to truly being live! (Ha, Ha). Although, I though that on the original demo from 2002 you used a drum machine.

  • Michael: For two years, the band had no name, just a collection of songs. Dan left when Destiny's End was disbanding, and I quit Onward as it dissolved. I was down for awhile, but this was the perfect opportunity for this band to get serious. We all were not doing anything, so now Crescent Shield could really become a living and breathing thing. We were all fed up with the bullshit. We also knew Mel would fit right in. (Mel:) So when they asked, I was like, "Hell yeah, sign me up!".

MettleMaiden: So how did you finally decide on the name Crescent Shield?

  • Michael: Dan really liked the name. We had already written the song Red Crescent Moon and we wanted a name implying that theme. (Craig:) Although, in retrospect, when you think of it, Crescent Shield does not really provide one with a good battle defense; especially, if the warrior only has a crescent shaped shield to cover him.

MettleAngel: Yeah, a shield shaped like a moon crescent won't protect him from assault - unless he chooses to use it like a sycthe. That's funny, I thought the name held more of an astrological nature; a deeper more solicitous rendering. Don't astonomers call the waning of the moon in the fourth cycle the crescent moon shield? You know like the dark side of the moon; the shield shaded by the sun in the north quadrant?

  • Dan: I had not heard that, but yeah that is the reason for the band. (laughing)... If anyone else asks from now on, I'll use that - it sounds better!

MettleAngel: No seriously, when you look at the cover art, the warrior stands aside the moon, almost creating a crescent pose between his long, flowing hair and upturned hand which flicks the cards of fate from his weary fingers. I thought this was intentional; especially, given the title - "The Last Of My Kind".

  • Mel: I guess our artist understood this too, but we were not thinking like this. Still, you have to admit the cover art is killer!

MettleAngel: Oh yes indeed! I just wish your tour shirts were not black and white, and had more of an orange, burnt sienna, and brownish hue to them like the CD cover depicts.

  • Mel: Cruz Del Sur - our record label - printed these shirts for us. I think they still look cool.

MettleAngel: They do, I just get tired of the drab black and white designs. Now Michael, the album has some great lyrics, well written, and very truly expressed. I know that you provide a brief synopsis for each song on you website, and even allow free sample streaming. The album is not a concept though, correct?

  • Michael: No, every song stands on its own. So many songs were written at different times.

MettleAngel: That is what I thought. You begin the CD with tracks like Above Mere Mortals and Slaves To The Metal Horde praising metal, then half way through, you question religion and man's nature - so I assumed each cut was individualized and more personal.

  • Michael: With Crescent Shield, I have an opportunity to sing about metal and give it my own signature voice aesthetic. This is something I want to sing and hear for myself. I am not a blues, jazz, or pop singer. I want to sing passionately on my own, and not be a voice for hire. I love Metal!

MettleAngel: I agree, and with Crescent Shield you have truly achieved this. Although, on your new project Cypher Seer, I love your rant on the Act Of Desparation track. I can totally realate to your frustration,even if critics find it inappropriate. I've noticed that so many journalist tend to compare your vocal style to James Rivera. I hear certain references to James, but I think you have a unique rage and range.

  • Michael: This has been an ongoing annoyance for six, almost seven years now. Why does every review compare me to James. To be honest, I'm sick of it! Please stop comparing me to James Rivera, people! I am not trying to be like him. I don't have his shatterglass scream. Cypher Seer uses keyboards unlike Distant Thunder. Get over it!

MettleAngel: Oh I know, James has sung for so many acts outside Helstar, Seven Witches and Destiny's End. Dan and Craig have both toured with him. He now also sings for new Vicious Rumors & Killing Machine, he even sang briefly for Flotsam. He definitely has his own unique style; something easily recognizable over the last two decades. He also has a very individualized personality. Unfortunately, as a journalist myself - everything is subjective. People want to know that band A sounds like band B, and which vocal styles a singer emulates. Don't worry Michael, when I review Cypher Seer, I promise that there will be no James Rivera references! I apologize for never reviewing the Crescent Shield CD. I actually purchased it from The End, before my promo ever arrived. Unfortunately, that was the same month when we were robbed in Cleveland and my father died. It took a while to play the CD and divorce myself from this pejorative association. That is why I am so truly grateful to interview you all here and now. I will say, I am quite pleased with the overall recording. Dan, did you carry over with some unrecorded Destiny's End material for the Crescent Shield demos?

  • Dan: I had certain songs in mind, like two I think...

I must admit I do hear some Destiny's End in the mix, but that is because of you guitar style Dan. This is to be viewed as a compliment!

  • Dan: Thanks man.

MettleAngel: And Michael, you actually recorded a song which later became a Destiny's End song on their debut, right?

  • Michael: Yes, when I was in New Eden I wrote what would later become Under Destructions Thumb.

MettleAngel: So everything has come full circle and now everyone has truly found their niche. I'm glad this has finally reached it's fruition. Dan, have you begun writing new material for the next album?

  • Dan: Yes, I have like three songs about halfway done.

MettleAngel: Cool, I can't wait to hear the next release and see you play live tonight. Mel, besides Hanger 18, you also play in an AC/DC cover band right?

  • Mel: Yes, it's an all female AC/DC tribute band called Whole Lotta Rosies. Did you notice on the Alehorn billboard tonight, they mispelt the band's name? We are listed as Crecent Shield.

MettleMaiden: Yeah, I got a picture of that, and it's Widow Valkyrie, with no separation.

  • Mel: This reminds me of a gig I played with Hangar 18 in an actual airport hangar. The billboard read Hanger 18 - you'd think they would know the difference and how to spell!

MettleAngel: No doubt, they just left you hanging around, feelind wired; twisting your metal... ha ha...Anyway, Michael, Dan, Mel, Craig. Thank you so much for your time. Michael I'll let you know when I review Cypher Seer. Mel hook me up with some Raven Mad tracks, Dan - Happy Father's Day!

  • All: Same to you Michael!

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