An Interview With Robert Ritual Of Ritual
California black metal band Ritual released three albums and several demos in the '90s before finally disbanding in 1998. Ritual has now come back together to record a new full length. Three demo tracks from the album are currently playing on the band's MySpace page. Ritual's bassist Robert spoke with me about the band's history and what they've got in store for the future.
xFiruath: Can you give me a little history on the band? What’s the current line-up and how did you guys end up forming a band together?
Robert: Ritual formed in 1994 and is considered by many to be the first true U.S black metal band along with Crimson Moon, Black Funeral, and Grand Belial's Key. We released two demos and three full-lengths through Wild Rags Records which were received well by fans and critics. We started the band in protest to the thug death metal that was happening in the L.A scene at the time. We were mostly hated until after the band disbanded in ‘98 and now the records are considered cult or kvlt. My introduction to metal started by going to record stores and asking the clerks what were the most evil, fastest bands. I was nine and they were nervous selling me Slayer, Possessed, and Dark Angel records but did anyway.
xFiruath: How would you describe the sound of Ritual to someone who hadn’t heard the band before?
Robert: Criminal black metal which is music that is dangerous for the casual listener and may encourage destructive behavioral patterns. It should put the listener in a trance the way tribal musick is used during Shamanic Rituals to gain a gnosis or enlightenment from the dark energies that surround us.
xFiruath: I understand that a re-issue of a previous album is in the works? How far along is that and when can we expect to see it?
Robert: Yes it should be released before the end of the year as too many people within black metal talk and don't release enough material. We are driven to create sonic magickal experiences and will not stop until total consciousness is achieved through a listening session.
xFiruath: What’s going on with Ritual as far as new material goes?
Robert: Three demo-form new songs are posted and will be shopped to labels to see if we can secure something for our nearly finished full length. Most labels are cheap these days and offer less than minimum wage type deals. We won't accept such a deal and will release our art ourselves than starve to be underground.
xFiruath: Do you have any live show plans in the near future?
Robert: Yes and it may be the only chance you get to see the band live so if you are a fan be sure to make it out for these few shows.
xFiruath: I’ve heard that, in true black metal fashion, you guys were caught vandalizing a church. Is that true or a just a rumor?
Robert: It is true and I was involved. It happened in ‘95 after the release of the debut and no doubt attracted attention. Annoyingly a synagogue claimed to have been vandalized a week earlier, though no proof or police report was filed, and it caused the news media to say anti-Christian and racist statements were used which is false. I spent close to one year in jail and faced seven. I had two attempts on my life while incarcerated and would rather forget the whole ordeal.
xFiruath: There have been quite a few stir-ups in the black metal scene lately, with the announcement about a Varg Vikernes movie, Varg getting released from prison, and the entire Gorgoroth lawsuit debacle. How do you feel about the state of black metal today or just metal in general?
Robert: Burzum no doubt brought black metal into mainstream attention through the arsons and murder. The music of Burzum exists in a different time and place and that is what people should focus on. Of course hipster nerds are fascinated by this story and will make more books and movies until no one cares. It's unfortunate that bands like Dimmu Borgir, Cradle of Filth, Behemoth take pictures in Santa hats for Revolver magazine and Satyr gives fashion advice on how to look sophisticated yet dark. Then you have bands killing pigeons with slingshots for stage blood and that is considered totally extreme. I guess they have never seen a GG Allin video!
xFiruath: What albums or bands are you currently listening to that you’d recommend to our readers?
Robert: I listen to Burzum, Tangerine Dream, Christian Death, Beherit, Laibach, Death In June, Skinny Puppy, and Dead Can Dance for inspiration.
xFiruath: Anything else that you’d like to discuss, either about Ritual or anything else at all?
Robert: Yes Metal Sanaz is annoying and a publicity whore. I've never seen her at any shows before she hosted this program. Also this whole teen thrash revival sucks. They are the Beavis and Buttheads of the Metal scene. Real fans don't contemplate downloading a CD they buy it! Expect a new full length within the year. Thanks for the interview!
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