Sonic Ritual are a relatively new outfit from the lovely city of Stockholm. Originally founded in late 2007, the band has gone through a few line-up changes before settling down in the present shape, as guitarist Linnéa explains: "The band started like most bands; an idea you get when you're out getting drunk with friends. Me, Henke and guitar player Johan Wallin wanted to form something in between Hawkwind and Motörhead. Christoffer joined on bass and we had a lead singer for a brief period before both he and Johan dropped out. The three of us recorded a demo called "Rat eyed Ghoul" that we released on limited edition cassette in August 2008, but the band really got going for real when our drummer Viktor joined in the first doomed days of 2009. Since then we've been playing live a lot and released a 7" named "Take the Edge off" on Black Juju. There's also a 12", with the demo tape songs, on the way, in addition to this split album on High Roller Records that we're really excited about."
The band themselves describes their music as "Heavy Metal Punk". Quite a strange term ... However, Linnéa finds simple words for this: "The term 'Heavy Metal Punk' is exactly what it says: heavy metal meets punk. This band consists of four music junkies, straight up nerds, and we want this band to be the perfect mix of everything we love about both metal and punk. We like punky metal and heavy punk, down and dirty, doomy and raw, fast and aggressive, horny and dark. This band is for people who can't choose between Discharge and Trouble. People who think that Motörhead is the best punk band ever, and that Amebix is the ultimate metal band." I could not have said it any better!
Close-Up, possibly the second-largest Metal magazine in Sweden after Sweden Rock, was totally blown away by Sonic Ritual's first single "Take the Edge off": "The catchy drive of the title track is impressing and brings a rougher Motörhead to mind. Production-wise, the band nailed it - dirty and uncouth without losing track of the nuances. (...) The five minute long beast "Vulture Cvlt" offers some high quality doomy Black Sabbath-groove." Linnéa has no problem at all with this description: "Most people say we sound like a mix of Sabbath and Motörhead, and they're both definitely big influences. Other bands worth mentioning are Trouble, Pentagram, Discharge, Venom, Iron Maiden, Darkthrone, Hellhammer, Anti Cimex, WASP, Poison Idea, Amebix, Voivod, Electric Wizard, Black Flag and Judas Priest. Just to name a few."
Making up the other side of the mentioned split album released on High Roller Records are Sanctuary in Blasphemy, a band Sonic Ritual are closely associated with: "We're good friends with Sanctuary in Blasphemy, and we've loved the band for years. They're one of the most well-kept secrets in the Stockholm underground. Like us, they're not part of a particular scene where all bands sound the same, but doing their own thing instead. We did a small tour with them in Scandinavia earlier this year and they're one of few bands (along with Darkthrone, for example) that we can relate to on a musical and personal level. No pretention, no bullshit, just anti-everything. They're an unholy trinity of chaos, substance abuse and soul-stripping music." I reckon that can be taken as a compliment!
While following my local ice hockey team Eisbären Berlin (former SC Dynamo) through Europe, I once visited the lovely city of Stockholm (Eisbären playing Djurgarden IF) and found it a most rocking place. Linnéa can only support my impression of her hometown: "Sure, there are a handful of good record stores and venues, both big and small. And since Stockholm has a good musical heritage, I think the climate always will be in favour of new bands. But even if we got to shows all the time, and three of us work professionally in the music industry, we're not part of a specific clique. Sadly, Stockholm is still pretty divided when it comes to punks and metal heads. Not like Oslo, for example. Having that said, our metal punk cult grows, and this is indeed the year of the Ritual."
Sanctuary In Blasphemy. What a strange name to begin with! Me personally, I immediately thought of a fierce Black Metal band in full corpsepaint when I saw their monicker for the first time. This is far from the truth however, as drummer Jens does not fail to stress: "We are not a Black Metal band. We all agree that Sludge is a good word to describe our music. Kyuss and Dystopia are some of my biggest musical influences, at least when it comes to writing music for Sanctuary In Blasphemy."
Jens continues by explaining the origins of the band: "Sanctuary In Blasphemy origins from the Crust Punk Hardcore scene of Stockholm 2001. After changing the line up in 2002, founding members Anton (guitar, vocals) and Micke (bass) joined with the drummer Jens to form a power trio. In 2003 and 2004 the band entered Acetone studio in Stockholm twice to record with the help of producer Micke Borg. The outcome was two demos with a dirty edge. Years of playing live passed and in 2007 Sanctuary In Blasphemy recorded ten songs. In search of a label to get the recording released years passed and we continued making a good number of live shows. Finally, six of these songs will now be released on High Roller Records with Sonic Ritual on a split LP. This will be Sanctuary In Blasphemy's first release and we're extremely proud of it! Enjoy."
Sonic Ritual and Sanctuary In Blasphemy have quite recently toured their home country together (and sharing a beer or two, I am quite sure). Jens confirms: "Yes, we are and have become good friends of theirs and when they offered us the opportunity to release this split LP we immediately said yes. We made a short 5-date tour during Easter time this spring of 2009."
Although already in existence for a good seven years, the split album with Sonic Ritual is Sanctuary In Blasphemy's first-ever release: "We've written approximately 30 songs so far. The following will end up on the split with Sonic Ritual: 'Integrity of Evil', 'A Lament for a Dying Soul', 'Wanderer in Darkness', 'Downwards', 'The Witch' and 'Rise'. Personally, I would say that 'Wanderer in Darkness' is my favourite … so far."
Matthias Mader (Iron Pages)