Moshing Metal Moon Majick
By Boris Lee
From the Author…
The things that can happen in a year. No matter how morbid some of our thinking patterns are, I doubt any of us would think we’d be essentially undergoing a global quarantine to slow the spread of a deadly virus at this time. That grim reality does not have to deter our hearts from staying passionate about what we do, creatively or otherwise. So we forge on. While reading the forthcoming article, hopefully you will be able to take a few minutes and leave the panic and pain behind.
Now without further delay, welcome to the latest installment of Symptom of the Metalverse!
One year ago to the day, I made my debut as a columnist for Metal Babe Mayhem. Since the publishing of my first article, Under a Mars Moon Bee Unstoppable Success, things have progressed with positive outcomes for me. I have conversed with Alison about what the opportunity with the column has presented me and I am grateful she took the chance on what I would bring to Metal Babe Mayhem. There was a point when my self-destructive fear of success nearly won out as I was going to stop writing about music, but Alison offered me my own column at that point, and rather than run away, I looked at how much she may see in me as a writer. That was arguably the greatest push of positive encouragement I could have ever needed, and I never knew I needed it.
Symptom of the Metalverse gave me a creative focal point, and from that, my other creative adventures have taken shape from the shadows I dwell within. My horror fiction has found an audience, and I culminated my forty-fifth year on this planet with a successful book signing. The rooting to the positive things I have surrounding my creative outlets over the past year can be found a year ago to the day, with the debut of my writing for Metal Babe Mayhem.
You would think in the last year I may have mastered my craft, or at least figured out what I’m doing. But that is not the case. I have found myself evolving, and defining my journalistic voice and coming to grips with this, anytime I make a plan creatively, it will end up being my winging it in the end. Maybe my best working conditions are sheltered with some uncertainty in what the outcome will be? Perhaps. Whatever the fumbling formula is, I have ended up a success from it. Thank you to everyone who reads the column. Thank you to all the amazing artists who put out content for me to write about. Without the music, there is no heartbeat to Symptom of the Metalverse, so thank you for choosing your creative paths. Thank you to all who have supported my writing by reading and sharing the articles. Most of all, thank you to the Metal Babe herself, Alison for taking a chance on me.
Support of the articles I write goes back to the first article published here on Metal Babe Mayhem, a year ago to the day. Ritual Moon flattered me by including me in their shoutouts on their debut release. That cassette tape sits on my mantle right alongside Boris’ mask, the center of my creative being. That debut album helped prove my theory on how talented Mars and Bee are as a unit and with recent release of their split cassette with Harlequin, and the addition of Rachel Solis on bass, Ritual Moon continue to cast metal music Majick.
Ritual Moon’s offerings to the metal masses on the split album are two solid spellcasters that showcase the ladies’ improvements as musicians over the year.
“L.M.S.Y.C.”… PG this song is not, but kick ass it is! A guttural offering of lip smacking gobbling, the song is a “Thrash Bash” bedtime barcarole with “Beastial” beat and riff. The song is a straight to the face, throat slamming metal jam. The seed of lyrical simplicity, moistened by a mosh maddening riff grows into a solid song to swallow that will bring you to full “Eargasm.”
By summoning the “Crimson Avenger,” Ritual Moon summoned their best metal monster to date. The song features Bee’s first guitar solo, a short shredding spotlight that puts the song on the summit for the ladies to match on future releases.
Since last year, Bee has come a long way as a vocalist, presenting a deeper Death Metal tone and more relaxed energy in her performance. Mars drumming is tighter that a year ago and though she remains true to her thrash beat, she feels more polished while keeping the same raw intensity she had on last years’ Ritual Moon release. The addition of Rachel to the fray gives the music its missing ingredient from last years’ release and solidifies the finalized musicianship presentation of the band.
Since the album is a split with Harlequin, it would not seem fitting to ignore the rest of the music on the album. With that, let’s add more first to the first of this first by taking a quick look at the Harlequin portion of the split album, thus reviewing my first new material of a new year writing for Metal Babe Mayhem.
Harlequin brings two screaming slasher slams to the split album with “3120” and “Syrebral Contortion.” Both tracks have a head spinning thrashing thrill vibe pumping through them. “Syrebral Contortion” presents a smooth, instrumental tempo change opening and closing the song with a haunting clean tone, which carries a horror tale touch to it.
Overall, the split album from Ritual Moon and Harlequin is a beautifully balanced metal beast. I give the album 4 out of 5 raised horns.
Another first for this first of the first is my first repeat interviewees, as Mars and Bee recently had a conversation with me to talk about the split album, and yet another first is my first new interviewee for the new year of my writing for Metal Babe Mayhem. Rachel Solis joined the chat to bring the Metal Maiden count to a Coven. With no further delay, let’s go “Back to the Future” via my conversation with Ritual Moon.
Boris Lee: Mars, Bee, you are used to this madness with me by now. Rachel, welcome to your first dose of Symptom of the Metalverse and thank you all for joining me. Mars and Bee, when originally forming Ritual Moon and releasing the debut self-titled album, you proved your ability to stand strong as a two-piece. What prompted bringing in Rachel? What changed in the creation process by having Rachel playing bass in the band?
Mars: Although Belen was recording guitar and bass tracks, we needed a bass player for live shows, so we contacted Rachel to fill in on a couple. After we jammed with her, we all just vibed perfectly so we just asked her to be a permanent member. Her style so far has helped us form our sound, and I can’t wait to see what we make next.
Bee: I knew Rachel was a badass bass player, and I was excited when she said she was down to jam with us. I’m glad we added her because we needed the low end for live shows. I enjoyed playing live as a two-piece because it was easy, but we agreed that the low end was necessary.
BL: Rachel, Mars and Bee, how did the three of you come together and create the follow up music to Ritual Moon’s debut?
Mars: Belen and I had written the two new tracks around the time we started jamming with Rachel. So she just helped to finish them up. But we have also been working on new stuff with her. So far we have a couple new songs in the works we haven’t released yet that I am excited to finish.
Bee: Mars summed it up.
Rachel: Belen hit me up and asked me if I was down to jam with them, and since I was already a fan I was down!
BL: Rachel, what differs in your creative approach to playing bass with Ritual Moon than with Harlequin or your other projects?
Rachel: With Ritual Moon Belen and Mars do most of the writing, they already have the full picture of what they would like for it to sound like and I write my parts after.
BL: Bee, since our last chat, you have added a mini-you to this world. Congratulations on the birth of your daughter. Have you played your music for her yet? How much has preparing for motherhood affected your creative life, if at all?
Bee: Thank you! Aside from hearing the songs from the womb, yes she has watched me practice the songs recently while practicing at home. Preparing for motherhood happened at an interesting time for me because I had shows booked and played shows until I was seven months pregnant, and I got to record music with three bands until eight and a half months of pregnancy. It didn’t deter me from continuing my involvement with music and it worked out pretty well. Now that I’m past the preparation phase and actually dealing with the baby, it’s allowed me to take a break and focus on song writing and planning next moves with the band.
BL: It sounds like you have your schedule full and time management well handled! You probably run on two hours of scattered sleep per day with a mini-you to raise and your creative life. Mars and Bee, what was different for you both recording the new songs, “Crimson Avenger” and “L.M.S.Y.C.”, then the music released last on the debut last year? (Besides the obvious Rachel being in the band.)
Mars: Well, I feel these songs had more brewing time before we hit the studio, so I felt a little more excited to show off this time around. We had practiced them nonstop so recording was smoother this time around for me personally.
Bee: Once again, we recorded with Allen at Birdcage Studios, which was the same spot for the first demo. The experience was the same, seeing as Allen is a cool dude and allows us to have a smooth experience. In terms of executing the songs, I felt a bit more prepared this time around and excited to be recording these songs since they differed from our first release. “Crimson Avenger” features my first ever guitar solo, and I was excited to hear it being documented. Hopefully, I can look back at it and see some improvement from this!
BL: Rachel, who is your truest musical influence? When did you first learn to play bass and was the bass your first instrument of choice?
Rachel: To be honest I don’t think I can just name one. I really love a lot of different music. I learned how to play bass in high school when I was accidentally enrolled in the color-guard team. I was about to quit when the band director asked me if I wanted to play bass and I agreed. After that, I started playing bass and trombone for marching and jazz bands throughout high school. Bass wasn’t my first instrument of choice I always wanted to play guitar.
BL: That’s an interesting bit of musical background about you Rachel. It surprised me last year when Mars mentioned her dancing skills and how that equated to her comfort in drumming and you’re background in high school band music reminded me of that. Mars, as the drummer for Ritual Moon, what is your foundation for beating the skins? How much of your drumming is reactionary to Bee and Rachel versus keeping time?
Mars: Usually I come up with my accents according to the riffs Belen plays. We usually jam out and give each other ideas for our instruments. I’ll give her a riff idea and she gives me ideas for beats.
BL: Like Charlie does for Scott in Anthrax! When you can switch roles in a creative cacophony and give each other that flair (Whoooooo!!!!), it definitely makes for a better understanding of the song creatively. Everyone, does a chipmunks fart stink in the forest if no other Disney critter is around to smell it?
Ritual Moon: It still stinks, keep the faith.
BL: Everyone, if you could cover a song from a non-metal group, what song would you choose and how would that song fit into the Ritual Moon death metal march?
Mars: I would probably want to cover a Spice Girls song, and it would fit because…. girl power!
Bee: Shit, anything from the Runaways or Motörhead would be fun! I wouldn’t even make it a death metal version; I’d pay tribute in rock n roll.
Rachel: Vuela Vuela by Magneto, because why not?
BL: As a writer, there are certain ritualistic behaviors I undergo to become Boris Lee, the horror fiction author versus Boris Lee the journalist who isn’t really Boris, but actually me. (Riddle me this… what the fuck did he say?) What is the ritual for Ritual Moon to find creative Majick? What gets your heart, head and soul lined up to create something you feel will be a success?
Mars: I think personally it’s just the energy I feel with the girls, when we get together to jam out it’s effortless, like we already somehow know what sound we want to make without even saying it. It’s hard to explain, but it’s why I love playing with this band so much.
Bee: It’s a state of mind for me. No matter where I am, I have to bring myself to a state of mind and dive in. Once we start jamming, that only deepens the state of mind. Jamming itself is part of the ritual.
BL: Everyone, since still in the early stages of performing together, what established headline band would Ritual Moon be a good opening band fit for on a tour, and why?
Mars: Aghhh, I wish we could open for the OG Venom lineup, in the eighties. We’d need a time machine for that though.
Bee: I’m going to say Witchaven because I love them! And because they’re cool dudes and I think we’d be a good addition to the set.
Rachel: I would want to tour with Disturbed because I’m down with the sickness. Haha! But honestly, any great opportunity we get from any band to tour would be awesome.
BL: When I’m not writing or figuring out a way to avoid success, I find myself in the gym or cooking. When not writing music, what other creative endeavors or hobbies are you passionate about?
Mars: My other passion is my daytime job as a hairstylist. If I’m not playing music, I’m cutting hair in the salon. And whatever time I have left, I usually spend with my dogs. Can my dogs be my hobby? Lol.
Belen: If I’m not writing music, I’m helping with managing the bands I’m in and working on updating social media and music platforms, things of that sort. I like the management side of being in a band and it requires some level of creativity. I also want to start drawing again.
Rachel: I enjoy listening to new music, reading and playing guitar.
BL: What makes for good music creation? How much of it is talent versus chemistry versus having the same idea in your mind for what you want to achieve, versus maybe even just pure luck?
Mars: I guess you try to find the perfect balance of all of those components. You can’t force it.
Belen: I think all of those are factors that give way to good music. Chemistry will tell how long the good music will last. With luck, you can produce good music, but there’s no telling for how long for. With talent, you can produce good music, but you also need to jam with like-minded people. If you jam with like-minded people, the people will also need a level of skill to play (or talent, if you will) to get their ideas across.
Rachel: In my experience, I’ve always thought chemistry is important to create good music.
BL: Over the last year, what have you all learned about creating music and the music business to make you better musicians today?
Belen: I have learned the importance of dealing with other people and their agendas, the importance of knowing each other’s roles in a band. By knowing each other’s roles, then you are more understanding of what standards to hold them to and what to expect out of them. Some people are leaders, and some people are followers. You can’t expect a follower to be a leader and vice versa. This has helped me be a better musician in terms of functioning more efficiently within a band.
BL: Do you ladies feel that music still breaches cultural boundaries, or is music being used more than a political platform than a common ground for connection amongst people?
Belen: I think with this digital age, music is definitely breaching cultural boundaries even more so since everyone has access to anything at the tips of their fingers. For that same reason of accessibility, bands that take political stances are motivated to keep that up since it’s easy to share things online and worldwide.
Rachel: It really depends on the artist, there are some amazing artists that do both.
Thank you, ladies. It has been my pleasure to spend the same day this year talking with you about Ritual Moon as the last year. It would be Majick to do it three years straight. May- Bee, we will cross paths again under that Mars moon and mosh onto more unstoppable success next revolution around the sun. To check out more on Ritual Moon and Harlequin, click the links below.
Though the last year did not produce my first time realizing where I went wrong in life, it produced the first time I realized when I did something right in life. Reaching out to Alison to write for Metal Babe Mayhem would that time. Let’s see what Moshing Metal Moon Majick we can cast in the year to come. May you all find your horns raised, heads banging, and hearts beating to the drum of music that makes feel good. Be that metal, rock, rap, pop, disco, or… country. Since the drama of life will never take a curtain call, get lost in some good music for a spell.
To learn more about Symptom of the Metalverse author, Boris Lee, you can checkout his website and blog by clicking the links below. Lee’s book, The Shadows of Insanity, is nominated for Best Thriller of 2020. A link to vote for his book can be found on his website. To purchase a copy of Lee’s book, click the link below. Follow Boris Lee on Facebook and Instagram.
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