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Kill Ritual's Steve Rice: "Metal has changed immensely over the years and most of what is considered Metal I probably won’t give the time of day. I just do what I do and could care less about what else is out there…"

Interview with Steve Rice from Kill Ritual
by Lior "Steinmetal" Stein at 13 April 2020, 9:42 PM

When it comes to the changing of the guard, there have been bands that needed that to happen. Though this turn of events can may as well be disastrous, yet, when there is a strong leader at the helm, pulling the strings, that next choice or decision in line, will probably be for the better than the other way around. Kill Ritual's Steve Rice, is a strong willed person, and he went forward strong with a new vocalist and a new album, going independently this time. Steinmetal once again had a chance to talk to Steve about “The Opaque and the Divine”, Covid-19 and its damages, the new guy in town and more…

Hello Steve, it hasn’t been too long, last time I remember; I interviewed you for the release of the new Imagika album. How have you been doing, especially in these crazy Covid-19 times? All cooped up at home I presume?

Yeah it hasn’t been that long, but things have changed quite a fuckin’ bit! At home writing tons of new stuff!

Speaking of which, this pandemic has been eating its way into our daily lives, our routine, it touched everything. What is your input on this situation? Do you see any light at the end of the tunnel, in particular of what has been going on in the US?

This Covid crap is a damn joke and has destroyed so much already. If people don’t think this wasn’t a manufactured destruction of the world economy by the Chinese, they might want to read a few books on what their worldwide domination agenda is all about. The left wing media is nothing but, doom and gloom and loves eyeballs on their damn negative shit reporting. Scary shit and we all let it happen because it’s all about profit. It’s going to blow up in all their faces ultimately so let’s hope they’re enjoying the ride for the time being! And of course we’ll come out on the other side because far worse has happened in the world in the past and we all moved forward. I’m a positive person so I see this as a reset for people to be a little humbler.

One of the aspects of life is music, and this is what we are here for. With the Covid-19 relevant, every show, tour, festival is bound to be cancelled or postponed in the coming months. Without the ability to support your music live, how does Kill Ritual get by? What kind of means are you taking in order to show the fans that you are there?

Our jobs have always presented us with the fall back needed to play music, but now even that is a shit show so it’s going to be tough for all. Not just bands but the whole industry. I think there has been some pretty irresponsible action taken regarding this whole thing and based upon the number of Covid cases versus deaths versus the economic impact it’s made by grinding everything to a fuckin’ halt is ridiculous.

To be honest, after the release of the latest Imagika album, I expected to hear back from Kill Ritual for at least another year or two, however, you surprised me with the release of “The Opaque and the Divine”, once again released via the British Label Dissonance Productions. Listening to the end result, which I am sure that you did several times, if not more, what is your general take on it? Were there any regrets, or things that you could have changed, or improve, that you decided not to?

Just to clarify the new KR album is not on Dissonance. They decided not to release it. The new KR and Imagika were actually composed and recorded during the same time and I was working in tandem on both projects within maybe a month between both projects reaching completion.

Of course there’s always room for improvement as you reflect on things in hindsight, but I can sit down and listen to the songs and not feel like they were written like shit or weird arrangements or lacked focus. To me it’s always about could it sound better or maybe I should have added a solo, etc. But that’s just being an artist who is over thinking. As usual I’m always hopefully trying to move forward.

 “The Opaque and the Divine”, now that is a title for an album that makes you think, and hard to be exact. I can only assume that you had the spirit of literature at your side while coming up with this line? What can you tell about the ideas that led you to this rather challenging phrase?

It’s just a simple play on the idea of good and evil, white and black, dark and the light. It sounded good when I came up with it years ago and I actually thought of naming the band Opaque Divine back in the beginning, but thought it might be too Goth!

The album felt like a sort of a concept, with a variety of twists and turns, quite an energetic, but also emotive, piece of story. What can you share about themes behind the album, whether it is an actual concept or not?

The CD is actually a concept based loosely on the movie The Omen. When our old singer Dave left I was thinking maybe I should think about writing lyrics etc, because I always hear stuff in my head while composing so when Chalice came in the picture and he told me he’s not really a lyricist I just said fuck it and went with what I thought was going to work and it came together pretty quickly once I started running downhill on it. Plus, I wanted a darker approach this time and Dave was never going to be able to go there. Killed 2 birds with one stone.

I have always found Kill Ritual be somewhat more eclectic than Imagika, where you unleash your fury rather than here. Within “The Opaque and the Divine” the cross between Traditional to Power to Thrash to classic Rock, continues with excellence, letting out bursts of various emotions and convictions. How do you observe the progress Kill Ritual made musically on this album, in particular where “All Men Shall Fall” isn’t that far behind?

Yeah you hit it on the head. Imagika is always going to be a melodic thrash band because that is what is right for the guys involved and Norm’s sing style. Aggressive and sounding like the Bay Area. With KR it’s always more about me. Not saying I don’t consider all involved, but I write what I want and if it’s got progressive, rock, thrash, doom, whatever elements I’ll use it. And why the hell not? If it works cool. The difference between the last CD "All Men…" and this one is the fact that I wrote the last one with Dave in mind, but on the Opaque I wrote for me and not a voice. I knew I’d find the right guy to pull it off and we did so I’m glad I went with my instincts.

In order to come up with something different, or an enhancement of an early process, some of the music aspects are constantly worked on. Which elements in Kill Ritual’s music would you say that were provided focus in comparison to others?

KR to me is always evolving. I’m not afraid to use cellos and flute and keyboards and synths etc. To get what I want. It’s a damn metal band and in some ways heavier than Imagika, but also way more progressive. I like the twist and turns. It is well suited to what I want to hear. Simple some sometimes complex others, but with hooks and melody.

For the purpose of divergent soloing efforts, you invited three guitarists to join in the fun. I have to admit that I felt fortunate listening to such mind melting solo captions within the songs of the album. How did you pick the guitarists, even Andy La Rocque? What made you choose them and not others, as there are so many great shredders out there?

Well that fucker Andy was always hanging around mixing and recording shit so I told him to whip out one of his old guitars and play some stuff if he could get his old fingers up to speed! HA! Andy was obvious since he was working the final production. Chris from Ion Vein played bass on our last tour as a bassist, but is a guitarist by trade so it was a no brainer he did us proud. Joey was a great choice because he’s actually in another band with Chalice and played guitar on the US tour for Sanctuary we did so we got to know him and he’s great so I’m like let’s get his ass on a tune. We actually ask Lenny from Sanctuary to play something, but he never got around to it. He wanted to be paid in Coors Beer and I’m like fuck that! HA! I enjoyed the hell out having some other guys involved, because it made me step up my game and provided some more colour guitar wise

What do you think makes “The Opaque and the Divine” a distinct face in the crowd, talking mainly about the Metal market? Would you say that it pushes a listener close to the limit, challenging his thought patterns?

That’s pretty hard to do. We are not reinventing the wheel by any means and are not trying to. Hopefully we have some tunes that work for the fans that are catchy and speak to the influences we carry and also were we can still move forward in a pretty traditional format. Metal has changed immensely over the years and most of what is considered Metal I probably won’t give the time of day. I just do what I do and could care less about what else is out there or what is the new shit at the moment or the latest upcoming bands or whose wearing what stupid mask, etc.

“The Opaque and the Divine” presents a new voice for Kill Ritual, Brian Betterton, also known as Chalice Blood. First time for me to listen to his voice and it nailed me. Where did you find this guy? How do you see his voice fitting the changing mood going on within Kill Ritual’s music, especially on this album?

Brian came to us through a mutual business partner when we started the search and he had the right style for what I was composing which was darker by nature than "All Men…". I heard the dude's voice and was like yeah I can make this work for KR so I took the leap of faith and contacted him and had him out to my studio for a week to lay down the vocals for the new album. He came in and after the first tune I was sold and knew it would work. The material has gotten darker recently so he has the range and style needed to pull it off. Classic Metal. Drinks like a pussy though…HA!

With the recruitment of a new vocalist, and with the rather constructive form of the album, how did the songwriting process go?

Since all the music was composed and recorded and I had finished all the lyrics by the time Chalice came out to Cali it was just a matter of going track by track and trying our best to nail it.

Certainly one of the album’s most powerful songs, which is, both heavy and emotive, is the finisher, “A Child To Die For Again”. I believe that you have reached a level where you made the nearly perfect power ballad. What is your appreciation of this song? What is the source that influenced you while writing this song?

The song is about the fall of Lucifer and the rise of Jesus in his second coming. It’s just plain and simple religious theatrics. I’m an Atheist, but this fairy tale shit in the bible has always intrigued me with its power and what it holds over people for their everyday lives and how they treat each other. You’re seeing it now. The compassion on one side, but also the utter greed on the other with assholes hoarding and only thing of themselves plus all the lizards that were well aware of this happening and profiting in the market by selling shit early.

Which one of the eight tracks do you prefer? The one song that you find yourself connected to from the first note? I know it is a hard question, yet it always comes to mind

Probably "World Gone Mad" or "Praise The Dead". Both songs are prophetic for what is happening now.

What do you think are the main challenges coming in for Kill Ritual, other than the Covid-19 virus issue? Do you see the band moving forward onto the next album in the same manner as after your previous?

Well this shit will end and we have plans to tour Europe in Oct. so I think moving forward is the only direction to go right? As for a new CD that is already being worked on and we’ll have a new EP out before the tour so there is no shortage of music from our camp!

Steve, many thanks for taking the time for this interview. I truly hope that this pandemic will be over soon and you will be able to support this great album. Many thanks and cheers :)

Of Course and thank you! We will be ready to go!


 



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