Kill Ritual – Following the Path of the Serpent
By: Kenneth Gallant
I’ve always admired the determination of Steven Rice. The guy had revolving line-ups with Imajika, but it never stopped him from creating killer music. The band consistently put out strong albums and improved their core sound with each new release. After seven major releases, it was decided that Imagika had reached the end of its recording life and the project was officially put to rest in 2010. This didn’t stop Rice from moving forward though, and in record time a new band was formed.
They go by the name of Kill Ritual and this new project goes back to the roots of the Bay Area sound, but updates it with a melding of other musical influences thrown in for good measure. I was lucky enough to sit down and chat with Rice about the formation of the new band and also got his thoughts on a number of subjects all related to the frantic genre of thrash metal. I truly admire him for never forgetting his roots, so please read on…
Blistering.com: Hi Steven how goes it? First of all how is everyone in the band getting along?
Steven Rice: Things are fine. We’re pluggin’ along with some new recordings and new material for 2013.
Blistering.com: You have assembled some great players to be a part of this band, so can you tell me a bit about how Kill Ritual came into being?
Rice: The band started in 2010 with Wayne [De Vecchi, drums] and me spearheading the project once Imagika took a shit and folded. We just wanted to continue with some of the new material we had been working on and decided to get the word out that we were looking for people to make it happen. It just worked out that Danyael [Williams, bass] had been in Dark Angel and Roberto [Proietti, guitars] had been in Eldritch. So we figured it was a good place to start and would make things a little easier getting the band on the radar so to speak. Josh [Gibson, vocals] was the only guy that didn’t have a public track record behind him, but he’s a long time Bay Area pro so it was a good fit for what we wanted to do. Blistering.com: Now that your debut album is out, what are the touring plans for this release?
Rice: We plan on being a little more active now that the record is out and should be doing dates throughout 2013. We’re looking for tours to get on if possible so we’ll see how it goes. Maybe we’ll get a chance to hit Europe or maybe even Canada.
Blistering.com: What do you plan on doing differently from what was originally established in Imagika to what is going on with Kill Ritual?
Rice: The music will be different for sure, just because of the guys involved. Even though I write the majority of the music, it becomes a different animal by handing it off to Josh and the boys. Also we’ve decided to run the ship a little differently this time by involving pro management in Rock N Growl so that makes us seem a little more on the up-and-up. This band is definitely about having fun and not focusing on the negative.
Blistering.com: Vocalist Josh Gibson is a very versatile as a singer and I was impressed with his range. So how did you come about meeting him and getting him to join the band?
Rice: He applied for the gig like the rest of the guys. He’s a Bay Area native, but we travelled in different circles because he lives about a 1 ˝ hours away from me and was more a rock guy band-wise than metal here in the area. He did the metal thing early on, but ended up being in cover bands and what not and did everything from metal to R&B, so he is a well-rounded pro. He just wanted to get back to something a little heavier and hit us up. Once we realized his voice would work for the band, we decided it was going to make a point sound-wise because he’s not of the current norm metal singing that a lot of the cookie-cutter new wave thrash bands have. He’s more of a throwback to metal styling’s years ago and can actually sing when he needs too. Oh, and even in key without fake studio shit.
Blistering.com: Who came up with the concept for the video shot for “Old School Thrasher?”
Rice: We all did. Since we had basically zero for the budget we wanted something simple and direct just like the song and decided to go with the performance video concept. It came out real good for the cash and the guy that shot it [Mike Sloat] has done a lot of shit with Testament, Machine Head etc.
Blistering.com: Do you have a particular song on Serpentine Ritual that you are really proud of?
Rice: I dig the title track because of some of the solos. “Torn Down” is a fave as well because I think it has some great melodies. Also “Ambush” because it has some very cool riffs.
Blistering.com: I love the fact that Kill Ritual as a band embraces the Bay Area thrash sound to some degree, so can you share your thoughts about the current Thrash metal scene in America?
Rice: Some of it is good. Some of it is pretty generic. I mean, the guys in Exodus, Forbidden and Testament should be getting royalties from these bands and how badly they blatantly rip them off. I mean, right to the same riff and song arrangements. We have thrash roots of course because quite frankly, we’re all old enough to have actually lived through it the first time around, but we don’t really consider ourselves a true thrash band because of our other influences. We’ll leave that to originals. We are more like thrash and roll.
Blistering.com: What about the Big 4 shows that went on in Europe and in the States last year. What did you think of them?
Rice: Great and fantastic. It could be argued that Exodus or Overkill needed to be involved in my book, but what a great way to celebrate such influential music.
Blistering.com: Andy LaRocque (King Diamond) contributed a guest solo for “Coat of Blood,” so can you tell me how he got involved with that?
Rice: I’ve known Andy for years now because of his past work with Imagika and he actually played on the last Imagika CD on a instrumental called “God No More” so it was a given that I’d get him on the Kill Ritual CD too. He’s a solo whore! HA!
Blistering.com: I was a big fan of your previous band Imagika, and my favorite release was Worship, is their a release that you are totally proud of?
Rice: First off, thanks for being a fan. Much appreciated. My fave Imagika CD’s were Devils On Both Sides, And So It Burns and the last one, Portrait of A Hanged Man. Worship was good and I haven’t heard it in years. Maybe I’ll give it a listen one of these days. Every CD we put out had at least a couple tracks that I really enjoyed.
Blistering.com: Finally, where do you see Kill Ritual going in the next few years?
Rice: Hopefully making a couple more CD’s and expanding our touring activities before I need the walker with the tennis ball on the front! HA!
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