Let your soul be ground by the brutal riffs! A talk with L.A’s black thrash outfit Ritual Moon.
Hail Ritual Moon! Black thrash rules! At first, could you tell why do you want to play black thrash metal and why did you form an all-female band?
Belen (vocals/guitar): Cheers, thank you! Black thrash is a huge influence of mine as well as Mars’ (drummer). We strive to mix our influences together, so I like to describe us as a sonic ceremony, conjuring sounds to the taste of black metal, death metal, doom, and thrash. Mars and I didn’t think we would actually turn this into a full-on band, since we started as a side project and we would just free jam different shit. As we started writing more and solidifying songs, we said fuck it let’s just make this into a legit band haha! We did have some male bass players that were interested, but I’m glad we stuck to bringing Rachel in because a band of females creating and playing heavy shit together is just different, energy-wise.
Mars (drums): Ritual Moon was a side project at first for me and Belen, at the time we were actually playing in a power/heavy metal band called Sirenhex, since me and Belen had other influences like doom, death, black, and thrash metal we started jamming on the side to kind of make something different. Over time we just sort of called our style black thrash, but you will always hear a mix of everything in our music.
Badass performing in all of your releases so far! How did you come across the extreme metal and how did you become a part of it? How did you find your ways of playing your parts?
Belen: Thank you very much. I started listening to extreme metal in middle school after digging into metal and rock in elementary school. I picked up the guitar when I was around 12 years old, but I didn’t consistently play it until Ritual Moon started in 2018. I had joined – and still play in – my first band in 2011, which is Psycotic Scum. It’s an all-female crossover band. The experience there led me to gain confidence in playing guitar again and writing heavier shit.
Rachel (bass): Through my dad’s side of the family, I had an aunt who would give me a cassette, cd or vinyl when I would go visit her in Mexico. Also my friends growing up always showed me heavier music. I started playing bass in my high school jazz band, I never thought I’d actually play in bands after.
Mars: I’ve been into metal since middle school, started out by playing a video game called GTA Vice City. The game is set in the 80s and the soundtrack had bands like Iron Maiden, Megadeth, and Motley Crue, and I instantly fell in love with the sound! I started researching the genre and I’ve been a metal head ever since! Naturally just going to metal gigs you start to involve yourself in the scene, so when I decided to start playing drums and start a band it was easy to find local girls in the scene with similar taste to start jamming with.
From your music I can hear some influences come from Motorhead, Venom and even a sense of Sodom. But have you been inspired by any certain female bands/musicians?
Belen: I have been inspired by Mythic, for sure. Other female musicians that I’ve had the honor to play with or call my friends have also inspired me to keep going.
Rachel: of course there are so many talented musicians! For me all the members in Derketa and Castrator, Victoria Villarreal from Syrebris, Leslie Medina and Kimberly Orellana from Insentient, Amanda Kologie from Cultus Profano and so many more.
Mars: Personally I’m inspired by female musicians ALOT, shit that’s why I always wanted a female band. My all time favorite all female influence are The Runaways. Joan Jett was a BIG idol to me I loved her attitude and it made me wanna go out and be myself without giving a fuck what people thought! And I know these females aren’t in the metal scene, but they are honorable mentions in the Mexican American culture and as my top influences since I was a kid, Selena Quintanilla and Gloria Trevi!
Does your demo cover art have certain meaning? What does it mean?
Belen: Having the self-awareness to distinguish the polarities of nature and of being human
From your previous interviews, you mentioned that you prefer controlling your works as much as possible, yet you also wish to play on a big stage. What does the DIY approach mean to you? If it is possible, were you willing to get a deal with a big, renowned record label (such as Napalm, Season of Mist or even Nuclear Blast and Metal Blade)?
Belen: It would be pretty badass to be on big labels such as the ones you mentioned, especially because of the band rosters that they have. As it stands, we choose to do the music distribution ourselves since we are able to, and personally, I like to hand-write letters to our supporters when they order merch/music. Everything is more personable when doing it yourself. Also, we want the freedom to choose the quantities and style of what we release. We will just have to see what labels – big or small – can offer us and evaluate it then.
Mars: What Belen said haha! Honestly as long as we can reach our goals AND stay DIY we will do it, but you never know what the future brings.
A kind of stupid but funny question: Have you gals got a certain persona/identity/image when you are performing? (It could be fantasy, such as witch, warrior, beast etc. But from your band name and your gig photos, I guess you might fall into the witch category. Fast, cruel witches haha!)
Belen: For me, I try to just center myself and focus on what I’m doing and playing. I want to have fun with it. Also, mentally, I try to center myself so that I feel empowered in what I’m doing. To me, playing live or just playing music in general can be seen as a ritual.
Mars: Honestly I’m all energy when I’m playing the drums, I unleash everything I feel inside that I can’t really do anywhere else, I guess I kind of feel like some sort of beast haha!
Generally speaking, since the underground extreme metal is masculine, female musicians normally find themselves in these two positions: standing out from the ocean which is helpful to get more attention (for example, utilize the feminine traits on appearance but still skillful enough), or fitting in the masculine convention of this subculture (for example, pretend to be a boy). Regard to your own representation, which one, or neither are you? Why? Do you think are there any other possibilities beyond these polarized options in the future?
Belen: we are not super girly or feminine on stage, but we don’t purposely act boyish either. We do have traits of being tomboys because that’s just how the 3 of us grew up. I think we are more in the middle. Other possibilities beyond these polarized options… I think that would just be considered as “neither”. You’re neither feminine or masculine. I think there will only be those 3 options: feminine, masculine, neither.
Mars: Yeah I feel we are middle ground, I still like glitter and unicorns but I’m not scared to get my hands dirty neither haha
In the year of 2020, does extreme metal subculture need feminism or not? Why?
Belen: I don’t think the subculture needs it because I think it already exists there. Women take pride in what they do, naturally. I don’t call myself a feminist, but I know that as females, we have no problem with showing our values, talents, and our identities.
Mars: Yeah I don’t want females to be in a “feminist” genre, we can do the same shit guys do and we know it, but we play on the same playground, so why put labels on it? Let’s all just be nice to each other and support each other!
What can we expect from your next release?
Belen: Our next release will be our first full album, which will come out in the Fall of 2020. Limited amounts of different formats, including CD’s, tapes, shirts, and possibly vinyl. We will also have another release, which has yet to be announced.
Thanks Ritual Moon! Any final words for readers and the gals who want to live a metal life?
Belen: Be your own god/goddess. Enjoy what you do and do what you enjoy.
Mars: BE YOURSELF AND LOVE YOURSELF! Always stay true and don’t let anything stray you away from what makes you truly happy, we’re born to lose but we live to win!
For those who care to find more about us, we are on Bandcamp, Spotify, iTunes, Apple Music, Youtube, Facebook, and Instagram.