Ritual Mass – Chat

Ritual Mass might be a new band, but they are a pretty crushing death metal band and here is a short chat I had with guitar player Phil Trona

Ritual Mass might be a new band, but they are a pretty crushing death metal band and here is a short chat I had with guitar player Phil Trona

Where were you born and where did you grow up?


PT: Born in Pittsburgh, PA but grew up south of the city in a town called Canonsburg.

What sort of kid were you growing up?


PT: Spent most of my time skateboarding and playing music.

Were you into music at a young age and when did the metal bug hit you? Also, when did the underground metal bug hit you?


PT: I got into punk around age 12-13.  Didn’t really get into metal until my late teens.  I got more involved with underground music in general after high school and as I got into my 20’s.

Since you play the guitar, what are some of your favourite guitar players? Did you ever take lessons or did you learn all on your own?


PT: As far as guitar players that influence me to play punk/metal I would say that my main influences are Bones [Discharge], Terrance Hobbs [Suffocation] and Jeff Hanneman [Slayer] just to name a few but there are a ton.  As far as musicians that inspire me to be a better guitar player in general and are constant reminders of smart song writing (regardless of genre): Townes Van Zandt and Robert Smith [The Cure].


Is Ritual Mass your first band, or have you been in other bands?


PT: We have all been in several other bands over the years.  Neal [bass/vocals] and I played in a band called Pray For Teeth, Rick [guitar] played in Heartless and No Time, and Dave [drums] played in Drug Lust and currently plays in Edhochuli.

How did Ritual Mass form and did you go through many members before coming to the current line-up?


PT: For the most part our line-up has stayed the same.  Neal and I talked about playing death metal for years but just never really found the right fit with other musicians until we started this band.

How did you come up with the band name?


PT: It was something that came up around the lyrical content of the demo.

How long was the band together before you put out a demo in 2017?


PT: A year or so. At the time, there were only 3 of us and we only got together to practice occasionally because we were all kind of busy at the time.  We played our first show a few weeks after we put out our demo.

How was the response to the demo and looking back are you happy with it? Did you send it to any labels?


PT: The response to the demo was good as I recall.  We had a small write up in the demo section of Decibel.  Looking back on it, there are certain things I would change.  That said, for what it was at the time, it was a lot of fun.  We dubbed the tapes ourselves and I screen printed all of the j-cards and shells and only sold them at shows.  We really just wanted it to be as primitive as possible, sonically and aesthetically. I don’t think we sent it out to any labels.

So now we come to your latest release, “Abhorred in the Eyes of God”. How did you come up with this title? Where was it recorded at and how did the songs for it come together?


PT: ‘Abhorred in the Eyes of God’ is a lyric from one of the tracks on the EP.  We recorded it at a friend’s studio.  Rick [guitar] recorded it and we sent it to Greg at Earhammer for mixing/mastering.  Our friend Keith Caves did all of the artwork.  The songs came together pretty organically as I remember.

Now have you sent this latest release to any labels? If so, what has the feedback been like?


PT: I sent it out to a couple of labels just to put out some feelers before we really had any plans for what we wanted to do with it.  Ultimately, the 12” was released by Steel & Bone Productions, which is my partner Vicky’s label.  We did it this way because we wanted total control over the release.  Caligari Records ended up approaching us for the tape version.  We are currently writing for an LP.

How is the scene out there in Pittsburgh, PA these days?


PT: Pre-Covid, more bands were starting to come through Pittsburgh and shows were well attended.  Unfortunately, like many cities, we are now seeing a lot of our local venues closing.  Steel & Bone was also putting on all of the best underground metal shows here and had the second edition of a day-long fest planned with a ton of great bands like Necrot, Fetid, Kommand, Mortal Wound, etc.

Do you guys get to play live a lot and if so what are some bands you have played with?


PT: We don’t really play a ton of shows.  We had a short run of dates lined up with Kommand and Mortal Wound last May but unfortunately, they had to be postponed due to Covid. My personal favourite show we’ve played was with Immolation, Derketa and Funerus.

For someone who has never heard the band, what would you say you sound like?


PT: Punk adjacent death metal.

Phil, horns up for the interview, any last words to say to wrap this up?


PT: Thanks for the interview, Chris!

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