NORMAN SKINNER III (NIVIANE): “We Felt Our First Release Was A Bit Too Polished And Wanted A Heavier Sound For The Next Release”

Niviane Band Pic

Dark and Melodic Power Metal That’s Sure to Raise Some Eyebrows

Niviane isn’t a band I would have sought out on my own. There are just so many bands out there to check out. Hell, I’m not even sure how to pronounce their name. If it wasn’t for Pure Steel Records sending me an advance of their upcoming album The Ruthless Divine [review], I would have missed out on a great Heavy Metal release. What appealed to me most about the album was that the music was dark and the vocals were melodic. The Ruthless Divine drew me in at first listen and it’s been on repeat quite a few times since. I contacted vocalist Norman Skinner III to find out more details about the album and what’s on the horizon for Niviane.

Metal Express Radio: If I knew absolutely nothing about Niviane, how would you describe the band’s music to me?

We are a Heavy Power Metal band that blends both the US & European styles together. Our music is very driving featuring powerful vocals and dual lead guitar.

MER: Niviane’s second full length album The Ruthless Divine is set to be released on October 30, 2020 through Pure Steel Records. As of the submission of these questions (40 days prior to the release date) there has been no promotional singles released. Why?

NS: Our label stated that the delay was due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The 1st single “Fires In The Sky” will be released on October 2nd followed by a music video shortly thereafter to help support the release.

MER: What songs do you plan to release as singles and/or videos? 

NS: As mentioned the first single will be “Fires In The Sky” on October 2nd, followed by a music video for the same track. Additional single/videos are already planned for “Psychomanteum” & “Forgotten Centurion,” but no set release dates for those as of yet.

MER: Is The Ruthless Divine a concept album or a collection of songs that draw from similar themes?

NS: It is a collection of songs. Some sharing similar themes.

MER: Zach Ohren produced The Rutheless Divine, while JK Northrup produced your 2017 debut album The Druid King. Northrup is a melodic guy while Ohren is a metal guy. Should fans expect a heavier album?

NS: Absolutely! This album is definitely heavier than The Druid King. We felt our first release was a bit too polished and wanted a heavier sound for the next release so we sought alternate engineers\producers and Zach was the right man for the job.

MER: The Ruthless Divine is being released by Pure Steel Records. Did they find you or did you find them?

NS: I had already recently worked with Pure Steel as they released my side band Hellscream’s last release Hate Machine. I was impressed with their professionalism and communication so I asked if they would be interested in the new Niviane. They heard the album and wanted it so we worked out the details and here we are.

MER: Artist Dusan Markovic designed both of Niviane’s intricate album covers. How did the band decide on him?

NS: When we were looking for an artist to do our album cover for The Druid King I made a wide internet search of artist portfolios, and Dusan was one of five artists we chose. The band members each voted and he won in a unanimous vote. After completing the artwork for The Druid King we were very impressed and chose to stick with him for album #2 as well.

MER: Longtime drummer Noe Luna left the band due to Covid-19 lockdown issues. You recently announced that Isaiah AR was taking his place. Who plays drums on the upcoming album?

NS: Noe recorded all the drums on the upcoming album. His name and image are all listed and portrayed on The Ruthless Divine so there shouldn’t be any confusion once the album is released.

MER: How did Isaiah AR get involved with the band?

NS: When the decision was made to move on without Noe, the band scrambled to think of musicians we knew that could step in and take our music to the next level. Guitarist Mark Miner contacted Isaiah who was very interested in jamming with the band and helping out temporarily. The chemistry was excellent and the entire band decided to offer him a full-time position which he accepted. No official auditions with drummers were needed. We really lucked out.

MER: Who came up with band name and what inspired it?

NS: The band was named by Claudeous Creamer of Possessed during the band’s inception. This is prior to my joining the in 2015. For those that are unaware, Claudeous was one of the band’s founding members and had taken the name from a song his former band Serpent & Seraph had released titled “Tears of Niviane.”

MER: Niviane took part in a streaming concert event called CyberFest on August 22, 2020. How did that go and are you planning similar events in the future?

NS: It was a very small localized streaming event. It turned out well, but we are not planning to do any more of them anytime in the near future.

MER: Niviane has opened for the following bands. Where there any moments or interactions that stand out for you with:

Vicious Rumors – I had previously known members of Vicious Rumors for many years. My band Imagika had performed on many occasions with them in the past. We are all friends so always many great interactions.

Testament – I had previously performed with Testament prior to Niviane and can say they are always very gracious with their time when they have it. We spoke with them here and there and they were always very cool and engaging with us. Definitely looking forward to potentially sharing the stage with them more in the future.

Warrant – We had zero interaction with them. Never saw them outside of the bus or dressing room.

Primal Fear – These guys were very cool. They took the time to chat about gear and say hi and shake hands. After I finished our set I remember Ralph Scheepers giving me a thumbs up. As a vocalist that was huge for me personally.

MER: I read on Niviane’s Facebook page that you are already working on material for your third full-length album. Where are you in the process?

NS: We have more than enough material for a third album. Currently we are simply picking a song and working out the transitions and having everyone put their own input. Once that is done, we move on to the next until we have 11-12 tracks ready to record. It shouldn’t be too long before we are back in the studio again.

MER: You are listed as the vocalist for several bands. Of the following bands, which one’s are still active? Are they working on anything?

Imagika – Imagika disbanded in 2010 after 7 albums. It wasn’t until 2019 that we reformed and released our 8th album Only Dark Hearts Survive. Guitarist Steven Rice is currently finishing guitar tracking for a handful of new songs that I am eager to hear and begin writing to. Fans have a 9th album to look forward to.

Hellscream – Hellscream is a side recording project which features all members of Cage/The Three Tremors and myself on vocals. We have released 2 albums so far in 2013 & 2019. As of this time no further recordings are planned.

Elemantis – Elemantis is a very special recording project I have been working on for many years. Writing & tracking is underway for the debut album Call of The Kindred. This project is a collaboration between myself and many guest musicians\singers. Stay tuned…

Skinner – Skinner is my solo band. So in some ways it will always be active. My 2nd full-length album is being recorded right now. Drums and rhythm guitars are completed and bass is about to begin. The new album is titled The Dark Design. Fans of mine can expect this album to be my next release after Niviane’s The Ruthless Divine. A new music video and single will precede the release.

MER: Is there anything else you’d like to discuss that I didn’t cover?

NS: I just want to thank all of my friends & fans for their ongoing support. The band and I are extremely proud of The Ruthless Divine and are very much looking forward to hearing what you all think of it. Lots more music to come!

Niviane is:

Norman Skinner III – Vocals
Gary Tarplee – Guitar
Rick Stallkamp – Bass
Mark Miner – Guitar
Aaron Robitch – Keyboards
Noe Luna / Isiah AR – Drums

Band Links:

Official Website
Buy The Album


  • George Dionne

    George was a contributor here at Metal Express Radio, reviewing albums and conducting interviews, out of Massachusetts, USA. George has contributed to numerous music related websites and blogs, and even managed his own from 2004-2009. George's first assignment was covering a live show by the mighty GWAR. By contrast his later assignments featured Judas Priest, Van Halen, and Bon Jovi. George was also the front man for the South Eastern Massachusetts cover band Sound Tower from 2009-2015.  Sound Tower played 300+ shows across MA and had two original songs on the Cape Cod radio station PIXY 103. George enjoys a good whiskey, scotch, and/or bourbon and fights crime in his spare time.

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