RITUAL - Bringing A Calculated Mess To Metalcore
December 14, 2015, 2 years ago
When we at BraveWords HQ ring up Matt Tobin, vocalist of new Ontario-based metalcore band Ritual, and try to explain to him the things we liked about the band's debut album, nothing really sounds too good. We like that it's not perfect; we like the sloppiness; we like that it's ugly. But these are compliments, we swear, and these are things that we think metalcore should be, and Ritual have nailed it with the album.
“That’s actually what we were going for,” says Tobin. “We wanted a raw, organic, calculated mess of a record. That’s what we were going for, so the fact that you hear that is awesome.”
Alright, bullet one dodged, so we continue to push our luck by saying that the album sounds like it's basically the opposite of the cleaned-up pretty-boy metalcore that's all over the place these days. So, we reiterate: it's ugly, it's nasty, and we’re basically one adjective away from saying it's the worst thing ever but still meaning that as a compliment. Basically, the album hits hard, and we're glad that it's not cleaned-up metalcore.
“If anything, our album is a counter-argument to that,” says Tobin, “but one that we’re not deliberately trying to make. There is a lot of polished production in metal these days. I was in a band for 10 years called Dead And Divine, and we were very much in the same vein as Ritual. The only problem with that other band was that was the sound I was constantly combating with, and the fact that everybody wanted everything perfect and they wanted it polished, and the production had to be perfect, everything had to have three harmonies on it. It wasn’t real. The songs were from the heart and soul, but the sound was completely prosthetic, and I really wanted to steer away from that.”
So as part of his post-Dead And Divine reaction, he hunkered down in his apartment and recorded the album with his new band over the course of three years. And Tobin says that the raw, sloppy feel on the album that we can't stop ballyhooing is a result of the recording process, which definitely valued feel over perfection.
“It was very much one or two, max three, takes of anything,” he says. “That’s where you might hear some of that, as you said, sloppiness. It was all about finding the beauty in the imperfection. If I didn’t play that guitar take good in two or three takes, I was stuck with whatever the best one was. Same with vocals. So there are some flat notes or sharp notes on there, but you know what? It’s real.”
And despite me saying the word “metalcore” about 20 times during our conversation, Tobin veers away from the label, and says that he really doesn't know where the band fits in to today's musical climate. I mean, I'll help him out: it's metalcore. But it's metalcore with soul and heart (he says his main musical influences come from '90s alt-rock), and it's a welcome respite from the eye-rolling screamed-verse-sung-chorus poster-boy manufactured metalcore that these ears hear far too often these days.
“We’re just a heavy rock band who scream stuff then we sing stuff, and we play our guitars and drums really loud,” says Tobin. “We’re just a rock band when it comes down to brass tax. There’s a lot of marketing and selling in the music world, but we’re really trying to steer clear of that and be as real and as honest as we can. As long as people can connect with us in some way, we can just rock out, and people rock out with us, and we can just have fun. Enjoy music for what it is.”