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"...a couple of weeks ago Space God Ritual - from Portland, Oregon - released their fourth grand work 'Tentagram'...what did these honoured gentlemen research during that period? I believe that Brendan has the answers."

Interview with Space God Ritual.
"Today, as Iím writing these words, is the Day of Oceanologists in Russia. Meanwhile, Christians here celebrate Easter tonight as well. And as you know Walpurgis Night is celebrated today too Ė itís midnight between 30th of April and 1st of May. But I do not celebrate any of these nice things, because a couple of weeks ago Space God Ritual - from Portland, Oregon - released their fourth grand work 'Tentagram'. So, this night is a special night and I bet that the stars are in the right places and so onÖ You knowÖ Space God Ritual are the duo of Brendan Butler, who plays all instruments in this project, and Alexander Olaff who sings in a vocal manner that some will love and some will hate, but it works well with this Traditional Doom and thatís the only thing that I care about. Just two years separate the third Space God Ritual album, 'From Void to Ocean', and the new 'Tentagram', so what did these honoured gentlemen research during that period? I believe that Brendan has the answers."

Space God Ritual instrumentalist Brendan Butler.

Hi Brendan! Space God Ritual's fourth album 'Tentagram' was released a few weeks ago, and once again it is a self-released record. Did you give up and stop searching for labels?

We are still definitely interested in label support but because we are not a live entity at the moment I'm sure many labels are not interested in us. For the time being we are releasing our music on our own label; Morose Music.

Is it expensive to release the album in DIY manner? And how did you distribute your previous records?

Itís not as expensive as a major label album of course but it can seem like a lot seeing how it comes out of my own pocket. Since the stuido is already done and paid for though, the only real cost comes from having the cdís pressed and mastering costs, if we choose to out source for that. The nice thing about DIY is that it be as expensive or inexpensive as we want. As for getting the music out there, we generally send out the album to various bloggers and online radios and they help us out quite a bit.

Vocals: Alexander Olaff.

The album has great artwork! Who is its author? How did you work through it?

I did it and thank you! Originally we had artist Ze Burnay scheduled to do our artwork. He had done the art for our previous album, From Void to Ocean, but had to back out on this album due to scheduling conflicts. I had done album art for my friends' bands and decided I would give it a shot. Instead of trying to create anything really elaborate I just went for something that would convey the mood of the album. I think I was successful with that.

For which bands have you done artwork?

Most recently I did artwork for Portlandís Chronoclops. I also did Boozelordís cover for their album Legion of the Tankard and then the first two Space God Ritual albums: Rílyeh Beckons and Eldritch Tales.

The band did two albums during 2013, then recorded the third one 'From Void to Ocean' in 2014, and there are two years between that and 'Tentagram'. How did you spend these years?

We spent that time demoing and recording the next album! We had been planning on putting out a release every year, but the workload on "Tentagram" was particularly larger than usual. Not only were the songs more complex, but I recorded all the instruments and mastered the album myself. So, all in all, it was very time consuming.

Space God Ritual Ė 'Tentagram':

Where did you record these songs, and how did the recording sessions go?

We recorded this album at our own studio called The Bookhouse. We created the Bookhouse to be a recording studio and a library, it has a great atmosphere for creative endeavors and we record all our music there. The sessions this time around were considerably more fragmented because of schedule conflicts and family matters (Olaff became a father and my wife had my second child during the time of recording). These things aside, recording was more difficult simply because I was doing more; I was recording the drums and guitars and bass and so on.

This time you turned away from the legacy of Lovecraft and based the album concept on a short story by Alexander. So I'd like to ask you share some details about that.

We had decided we had wanted to do a concept album a while ago and decided this was the project to do it! So we took Olaff's story, broke it down into its greater parts and made songs out of it. We were originally going to release the actual short story with the album but ran out of time to get it properly edited and formatted for release. We hope to release it in the future at some point.

Is Olaffís story already published or does it only exist in Space God Ritual's arrangements?

As of now the story remains locked away in cyber space. We are eventually going to release it as a book edition with a free download included. I happen to know that there will eventually be a continuation to the Tentagram story in the next couple years, so we may release both the short story and the continuation together.

Can you reveal the main plot of the story?

Well it has a lot of different aspects to it. The over arching theme is that of power and prestige taking advantage of the young and the innocent. I think this theme is seen every day in the real world and we wanted to comment on it. But the story itself is about a cult of University professors helbent on reviving a monster they can control, so they can in turn use it to control the world. To summon the monster they need a virgin to sacrifice. They find the girl and take her to the place of sacrifice, but she manages to escape through the portal they summon. She goes in, the monster comes out. The monster devours the planet's inhabitants out of rage and the virgin ends up on an alien planet where she is worshiped. Thereís also a sub plot where a few of earth's survivors end up on a space craft looking for a new home.

Why did you turn away from Lovecraft's mythology: aren't you afraid of angering the Old Bloody Gods?

We decided, instead of recording an album with blatant H.P Lovecraft references, lets make our own story with the atmosphere of an H.P Lovecraft story. I think "Tentagram" feels very Lovecraftian without having blatant Cthulhu or Yog-Sothoth references; which is what we were aiming for. As for the wrath of the Gods, we aim to appease them with an album full of Lovecraftian horror the next time around! Hopefully they'll forgive us!

Do you have some favorite methods of playing which help you to effectively transfer the mood of horror stories? And what is your general goal - to create a horror atmosphere, or to do catchy rocking Doom stuff?

I, for one, like to create riffs that sound strange and go places a listener won't expect. I think having interesting riffs like that really hook the listener in and in Heavy Metal, good riffs are king! Another thing we do to convey an atmosphere is use lots of reverb. We treat reverb like another instrument. With the right amount you can drench a song in mystery and horror. It just needs to be used respectfully, or your song will sound like a mess. As for goals, we try to treat every song as an individual. We don't try to make every song a doom epic or a rock song. We try to have a good mix to convey different stories and moods.

I guess that Space God Ritual is more about melodies and atmosphere than circling riffs: how does the process of composing usually happen once you outline the concept of the album? Do you have a special song which makes you really proud of it?

Itís really just a process of layering. I come up with the riffs for each song and create a basic track. Then I layer on the rest of the components. Right from the start I know the mood for each song and I try to capture that mood with the other instruments I use. In a lot of ways its trial and error, finding out what works and what doesnít. Iím really proud of how The Gate turned out. It was a challenging song to play and write and even mix. It was a departure from what we usually do and I think it turned out to be one of the best on the album.

Alexander has a quite specific manner of singing Ė some people like it, some do not - and I think that he's improved it on the new album. How did you get the idea that such vocals would suit Space God Ritual music?

When Alexander first joined the band he had a bunch of singing samples he had done over one of the songs from Eldritch Tales. He sang a deeper style like Reverend Bizarre and another was more rock and roll style and then he had this Bobby Leibling sort of nasal singing, which Iíve always liked. So we went with that. I think it works very well with the music and I canít imagine anyone else singing the songs he has done. Heís very versatile and can also go into a very dramatic, theatrical style which he showcases a lot on ďTentagram.Ē

Space God Ritual Ė 'Lunacy!':

Alexander sings in falsetto, the album is a conceptual one, and this artwork... I would like to ask you about influences: about Doom bands who formed your vision of Doom metal - and about King Diamond.

Alexander doesít really sing in a falsetto, his voice is very mid ranged, but we are both inspired by King Diamond for sure. I donít think Iíll ever play as well as any of them ha ha but we love their sense of atmosphere and their ability to craft a story with instruments alone, let alone with The King's voice and lyrics. As for other bands that inspire us, itís mainly old rock and roll bands and early doom stuff. We like: Frank Zappa, Nektar, Black Sabbath, Pentagram, Trouble, Candlemass, Manilla Road, Cirith Ungol... you know...The Good Stuff!

Portland is famous for its strong metal scene, including the Doom scene. How would you explain this phenomenon from a scientific point of view?

A scientific view? Hmmmm... Portlandís a weird town. Thatís as scientific as I get ha ha. In all seriousness, the Portland scene has a close sense of camaraderie. A lot of people have played in each others' bands and have helped each other get shows and it seems to me to be a very communal type of scene. Truth be told, we donít get out much, so weíre kind of outsiders looking in. But thatís what I saw when I was in other bands in the past.

Full-length discography.

You have four albums, and that's a good number - how would you describe Space God Ritual's development from the first album, 'R'lyeh Beckons', to 'Tentagram'?

Before "R'lyeh Beckons" I had very little experience recording music. I think that inexperience definitely showed with "R'lyeh Beckons." Thankfully, the more I recorded the better I became at producing and mixing songs. My capabilities with all the instruments I play grew as well. By the time "Tentagram" came about, I more or less knew what I was doing. As a result I think "Tentagram" is by far our best produced album.

Time passes, but miserable and poor-minded film directors avoid making a proper movie based on one of the immortal stories of Lovecraft. What kind of movies quench your thirst for deep cinematographic experience?

I like all kinds of movies, but my favorite genre will always be science fiction and horror. I particularly love horror films from the 50's through the 70's. Films like The House on Haunted Hill, Night of the Living Dead and Psycho will always be my favorite kinds of horror films. As for films based off of H.P Lovecraft's work, I'm glad there aren't too many. I think the things written in his stories are better left to the imagination rather than depicted by some CGI rendering that would probably look horrible. That's my opinion anyway.

Do you know anything about Booze Lords?

I have heard stories about these miscreants. Some say they never eat, only drink Pabst Blue Ribbon. Others say they lead a cult of degenerates seeking to end sobriety forever. I don't know if any of that is true or not. Who knows, they might be recording new music.

How do you see Space God Ritual's prospects today? What would you like to achieve, and what do you need for that?

Space God Ritual grows from album to album. Every time we release music we gain new listeners and fans and that's what we've wanted all along: For people to hear music they can escape into for a time. This year we are preparing for a live show; we've wanted to play live for a long time and this year we plan on making it happen.

What's the most memorable recognition you ever received? And do your relatives support you in these unholy Space God Ritual sessions?

Well we have a lot of cool fans. A lot of people interested and dedicated in what we do. Which is really cool. So those folks are always remembered for sure. We have one guy in particular who send us messages all the time, asking how things are going and telling what tracks he likes and so on, that kind of recognition is really flattering. A while ago we were included in a Metal Hammer compilation which was also really cool. So thereíre a few examples.

Well, I see that my list of questions is over... So thank you for the interview and good luck Brendan! Hmm, did we forget anything?

Thank you very much! And remember to read your daily dose of H.P Lovecraft! Click HERE to discuss this interview on the doom-metal forum.

Visit the Space God Ritual bandpage.

Interviewed on 2016-05-04 by Comrade Aleks Evdokimov.
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