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Kill Ritual

After the release of their seventh full-length album, 'Portrait Of A Hanged Man', U.S. metallers threw in the towel in 2010. Singer Norman Skinner founded his own Skinner, together with Imagika colleagues Elena Repetto (bass) and Robert Kolowitz (guitar), and came up with the strong 'The Enemy Within' EP. The other two ex-Imagika members, guitarist Steve Rice and drummer Wayne De Vecchi, stroke back shortly thereafter with a new band, Kill Ritual, in which we also find ex-Eldritch guitarist Roberto Proietti and bassist Danyael Williams (ex-Dark Angel), and the yet unknown vocalist Josh Gibson. Their debut 'The Serpentine Ritual', which was released at the end of October last year, is a strong and varied album, that will apply to different generations of thrash and power metal fans, and is definitely one of the best thrash releases of 2012. Yours truly spoke with guitarist Steve Rice about Kill Ritual's founding, the album and future plans.

By: Nima | Archive under speed / thrash metal

First of all, welcome back to the metal front with your new band Kill Ritual and the release of your debut album 'The Serpentine Ritual'. The album has been released now for some time and the reactions are quite good so far. Are you satisfied with the result looking back at it and how the album is being received?
First off thanks, great to be back. The response to the CD so far has been pretty solid. Lots of positive and maybe a couple here and there negative reviews, so we feel pretty good about the reaction to the CD.

If I'm not mistaking, the album was already finished a few months before its actual release, but you were waiting for a record deal to release it. Eventually you signed with Scarlet Records in the summer. Were there any other parties that showed interest in the band?
You are correct. It took actually about a year from the recordings to the release to get the CD out. We had a couple other labels interested, but Scarlet ended up being the best choice because of their distribution which we thought was import for our debut.

Kill Ritual is not just another new band, but one with musicians with a rich musical history. Please tell a bit about the creation of the band in order to introduce the new force to our readers…
The band was formed in 2010 after the demise of Imagika by Wayne DeVecchi (drums) and myself to kind of continue on with the material we had been working on in the last stages of Imagika. We got the word out that we were looking for members and the other guys got in touch and it just so happened that they were in previous well known bands so it was a good indication we were going to have a strong line-up. It all happened pretty quickly and we were writing and recording our debut within a few months. So currently the band consist of myself , Wayne, Josh Gibson-vocals, Roberto Proietti-guitar (ex Eldritch) and Danyael Williams-bass (ex Dark Angel).

What did you have in mind for the musician direction of the band after you and Wayne started Kill Ritual? I mean, in my opinion, the music definitely has a lot of interfaces with Imagika and has the same Bay Area attitude with the modern touch…
Well we definitely knew it was going to have thrash roots and of course some elements of Imagika since we were both involved, but we also were going to play whatever we felt made for good songs, so if that meant adding different elements of rock and metal we were going to let it happen. With Josh involved and his background in Hard Rock and Rock it was going to give us a little different approach so we just rolled with it. I like to call our style Thrash and Roll.

The only “unknown” musician in the band is your singer Josh, who has done a great job on the album by the way. But how did you come up with Josh? I mean, did you also have other singers in mind with the same musical history as the rest of the band?
He applied for the job just the like the rest of the guys. I wasn't very familiar with him even though he is a Bay Area guy because he lives about two hours from me so we traveled in different circles. He's been in a few decent local bands and a lot of cover band stuff. He's done everything from metal to R&B so he's a well rounded pro. We had some pretty solid guys audition for the gig and actually a couple good European responses and some known guys, but Josh just had something about his voice that I thought would help separate use from the legions of other bands out there right now that all sound the same.

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Thanks to Josh's voice the music also has a great reference towards the traditional heavy metal, which in my opinion distinguishes the band from the many colleagues in the same genre. Your opinion please?
You hit it right on the head. The thing that we wanted was a voice that could be both commercial and heavy with a nod to the past and also the future. Most of the newer thrash bands that are out there sound so similar or are total rip offs of the past that it becomes almost comical. Josh has the kind of vocal style where you'll love it or hate it, but you'll fuckin' recognize it!

Speaking of the heavy/power metal influences, how much was Roberto involved in the songwriting? Because to be honest, when I saw the line-up I had expected the music to sound a bit more power metal, and also slightly more progressive oriented, but the main ingredient in Kill Ritual is definitely thrash.
Josh, Wayne and I write all the music. Roberto has a demanding schedule because of his job and didn't have time to contribute. We're always open to others bringing in ideas so we'll see how that works in the future.

What can you tell about the subjects your lyrics deal with? A song like 'Old School Thrasher' of course speaks for itself, but listening to some of the songs you deal with a lot of anger and social issue. At least, that's my interpretation.
Yeah Josh likes every track to have its own life or identity if you will so he'll touch on a lot of subject matter. Sex, greed, war, politics, history or whatever works for a song. I like to write music the same way so that every song has a little different style or feel or influences.

By the way, 'Old School Thrasher' is definitely a great song and it's not so strange that you have chosen this one to be the first single. However, this is also one of the more straightforward songs on the album, while Kill Ritual is way more than straightforward thrash and maybe it doesn't fully represent the band has to offer. Your opinion please?
Well we picked this song for the exact reasons you mentioned because it was definitely the most accessible track on the CD. It had a great vibe to it and it spoke to who we are at this stage, but it definitely is not indicative of the band's music top to bottom. It just a fun song and we liked the positive vibe it gave off.

You have recorded the album with none other than the mighty Andy LaRoque! What makes you choose for Andy?
Andy and I have been friends from the Imagika days when we worked together on a couple CDs. So when it came to have someone mix the Kill Ritual CD it was pretty simple to go with Andy again.

How big was Andy's influence on the album in general and the recording process? In my opinion he has provided a more “international” sound for the band, rather than a U.S. or Bay Area sound, if you know what I mean.
Well to be fair he handled the mix and mastering so he wasn't involved in the actual recording aspect of the CD. I engineered the CD in my home studio. I find it sometimes hard to be 100% objective of the sound of the final product so that's where having an outside ear like Andy's pays off. Plus he has a great studio with top notch gear so I knew I would get a great product out of it.

As far as I could see there aren't any shows planned to support the album yet. Are there any plans to get the Ritual on the road? Maybe overseas even?
Sure we'd love to get the band overseas given the opportunity, but that hasn't happened as of yet. We'll do some shows and tours through out 2013 mainly in the US. This is a real band and as long as we're not committing financial suicide we'll be out there playing live to support our releases.

Speaking of gigs, although the musicians in Kill Ritual are no rookies in the scene and you have a great label like Scarlet behind you, it seems more and more difficult for new bands to get on the road for a longer time. Are you guys dealing with this problem as well? How difficult (or easy) is it for a band like Kill Ritual to get gigs?
This is pretty true for the saturated market and the economy and lack of CD sales which go hand in hand with gigs and touring. Agents won't put you on decent tours unless you have an aggressive label (meaning one that forks over the cash) and some sales that at least cause a blip on the market so it it's tough now matter what your history or linage is.

Well, I guess the last question for now is what can we expect from Kill Ritual next?
We are already half way through recording our new CD which will be completed in May. We'll also be hitting the live circuit a little more now that we have CD out to support. We'll be around a little while longer unless by the time this comes out we're all dead because of the Mayan doomsday calendar which just so happens to be on the cover of our new CD! HA!

Alright then Steve, I guess we can wrap it up for this time. Unless of course there is anything left that you'd like to mention.
On the behalf of KR I just like to say thanx for helping us spread the word and cheers to all those out there that have given us a listen and chance. Rock!

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