A number of Gear Factor guests are well versed in styles outside their genre, but Imperial Triumphant singer-guitarist Zachary Ezrin is the only one to share a Russian folk song, while also explaining how he turned a classical piece into a metal track.

But first, Ezrin takes us back to his beginnings. “The first riff I ever heard that made me think 'Oh my god I’ve got to pick up guitar' was [from a] cassette tape in the late ‘90s that had Jimi Hendrix’s ‘Foxy Lady’ on it. It was so heavy and so brutal, especially for the ‘60s. It was immediately like, I need to go out and get a guitar and learn everything about it and that’s what I did at seven years old.”

As his guitar interests grew, Ezrin gravitated toward black metal, with Immortal being the band that would become his favorite of all time. He burns off a bit of "Battles in the North," explaining, "It’s like so fast and really they’re just haulin’ ass. It has that kind of classic blues one-four kind of vibe where he’s building tension.”

During his teenage years, Zachary was learning quite a bit and experimenting with his playing. "I was into learning classical songs and then reinterpreting them into heavy metal pieces. For example, I watched [Stanley] Kubrick’s Barry Lyndon and learned Handel’s tune from that,” says the guitarist, who reinterprets "Sarabande HWV 437" with his own stamp.

Metal wasn't always what helped Ezrin pay the bills. “In my 20s I was doing a lot of gypsy jazz gigs and swing gigs," the musician explains. It was there he learned an old Russian folk song that translates to "Moscow Nights." "I just loved that turnaround. It’s very kind of compelling and a bit melancholy vibe.”

In the Imperial Triumphant catalog, he pulls out "The Filth," notable for it's "string-skipping" bit that Ezrin says evolved into "this kind of bendy, disgusting nightmare.” He finishes out this edition of Gear Factor showing off a piece from "Excelsior," his favorite riff from the band's latest album, Alphaville.

Speaking of Alphaville, and the excellent "Excelsior," it's currently available via Century Media. Be sure to pick up the record here and watch the Imperial Triumphant edition of Gear Factor below.

Imperial Triumphant's Zachary Ezrin Plays His Favorite Riffs

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