Briton Rites is Howie Bentley's very own baby! A lot of people will know him from Cauldron Born, a band he also formed quite a while ago. Briton Rites, however, is a bona fide Doom Metal outfit. It happens that Phil Swanson of Hour Of 13 fame is responsible for the vocals on “For Mircalla”. However, Howie Bentley (bass, guitars) himself is singing on "Karnstein Castle", clocking in at 13 minutes it is the longest and most epic song on the album. Bentley's voice is suited very well for Briton Rites's kind of music and he is already thinking about doing even more singing on the forthcoming album of his band (five rough demo versions of brand new songs already exist). "Vampire Hunter 1600" is an another epic 10-minute Doom monster on “For Mircalla”. Howie Bentley's songwriting comes very naturally though, he is not biased towards long and epic songs: “I don't plan them any certain way. That is just the way they came out.”
I personally think that it is really extremely difficult to write a really
memorable three-minute Doom song like "Paranoid" or "Burning a Sinner"
(or even the accessible "Music" for example) … Howie Bentley knows his Doom history: “Black Sabbath said they threw 'Paranoid' together in the studio at the last minute. Like I said, I try not to have any preconceptions about how the songs have to be. This is underground Metal, not Pop or Country music. If someone offered me a bunch of money to write some formulaic pop tune, then I would have a curfew, but what is the point with Doom Metal? It isn't going to get played on a real radio show. This way I can write exactly what I want to. My influences as far as traditional Doom are Black Sabbath, Witchfinder General and Trouble (to an extent). Candlemass is somewhat of an influence on my other band, Cauldron Born.” If you tend to wonder, yes, Howie's other band is also still alive and well: “Cauldron Born is still going. We are wrapping up an EP titled 'Sword and Sorcery Heavy Metal'. The EP will be released on Iron On Iron Records (Greece) later this year.”
Regarding Briton Rites, musically I would classify the band as old school Doom Metal similar to British bands Witchfinder General, Witchfynde, Widow/Ritual and Pagan Altar (apart from the singing). Howie reckons this is quite a fair assumption: “I think that is probably pretty accurate. Whatever early Black Sabbath and Witchfinder General is, that is what I think of Briton Rites as being.”
The limited vinyl edition of “For Mircalla” does include rare 2008 demo versions of the songs “Carmilla” and "A Meeting in the Woods". Howie gives us more details: “Those are just slightly different versions. We had a different drummer on the demo. Allen Hall played drums on that recording. He is one of my close friends that I grew up with in Kentucky. We have known each other since we were seven years old.”
Lyrically Briton Rites are dealing with occult/Satanic themes much in the way of classic Hammer horror movies, quite visual so to say … But that is exactly Howie Bentley's intention: “Yes. I am very direct with my lyrics. I hate it when bands write a bunch of meandering gibberish for lyrics - keeping them vague and open to interpretation so that the 'everyman' might find something in it that is a reflection of himself. My lyrics are intended to evoke powerful occult and demonic
imagery and allow the listener to access that weird inner world.”