This band was formed in 2005 under the Meltdown monicker and changed its name in September of 2008. Late in 2007, the band made the move from Pittsburgh to Los Angeles and a flowering thrash metal revival scene. The group had issued a Live Demo 2005 featuring a cover of Metallica’s Seek And Destroy on some copies and Dean Ciocca on vocals followed by a 2006 disc called Executioner. A full-length demo called Executioner followed in the summer of 2007. Upon arriving in California, the band signed with Nuclear Blast, which reissued a rerecorded version of the demo in 2009. The label had also advised the group to change its name, which the group complied with in September of 2008 in order to avoid confusion with the many other Meltdowns out there. Andy Classen recorded this album in Germany. The band had already played shows with Rotting Christ after replacing Novembers Doom on the tour, but was soon booked on the road with Destruction and Krisiun. Pennsylvania thrashers Mantic Ritual lost singer and guitarist Dan Wetmore to his love of photography in late 2009. The band’s previous sound engineer Dave Watson (who joined Icarus Witch in 2011) was temporarily replacing him. Mantic Ritual parted ways with drummer Adam Haritan in August of 2010. The drummer didn’t have his heart in the band any longer.
MANTIC RITUAL – EXECUTIONER – NUCLEAR BLAST
Vio-lence, Megadeth, Metallica’s Kill ‘Em All and Death Angel circa 1987. Need to read more?
Mantic Ritual is a Los Angeles by way of Pittsburgh thrash metal band that has discovered and matched the burgeoning true thrash metal scene of southern California and joined the ranks of Fueled By Fire, Warbringer and Hexen to deliver. The band’s album comes out of nowhere, but when it hits there is nothing to do but to stage-dive and bang that head that doesn’t bang. No wonder Nukie Blast is shipping the album’s promo with a picture of grandpa James Hetfield. Good ol’ James sees a young and pre-wimp out version of himself in Mantic Ritual no doubt down to the standard issue 1983 leather jacket and bangs. Executioner bears no parody however (bar one – read on) and instead delivers serious thrash the authentic way. The guitars are deliberately thinned out in production, but the sound is great with the drums of Adam Haritan in particular sounding just spot on. How do these youngsters thrash to precision is a mystery, although sociology aside this is a darn good piece of metal that no real thrasher would want to miss. The album’s opener One By One (and indeed Death And Destruction) show a good degree of Iron Maiden influence, but the rest of the material is the work of a worthy contemporary of the best eras of the aforementioned thrash bands thus propelling Mantic Ritual to the upper echelons of the sub-genre. Incidentally, fans of European thrash metal are not ignored here either. Murdered By Death sure reminds one of Kreator and more specifically Extreme Aggression’s No Reason To Exist. Not to be missed, is the album’s last cut, Next Attack whose cloning of Metallica’s Seek & Destroy – a song the group has covered before - can only be a not so subtle joke. Dan Wetmore is not much different vocally than the olden days of Mortal Sin’s Mat Maurer.
This album was originally recorded and released under the band’s old monicker of Meltdown. In a way it is too bad that for thrash to be good these days bands have to stick to the tried and true formula of 25 years ago. Modern thrash being no contender and the more popular newer thrash bands being so-called and lame pop balladeers is the issue. On the other hand when done right like on Executioner this is great stuff full of power, solos and attitude and a great addition to the scene. Who wants to bet that flyers with the band’s name will soon be in the mail and that demo or rehearsal music of the band will on tape traders’ list around the same time? – Ali “The Metallian”
Sure it is manic thrash metal and could be termed ‘manic ritual,’ but the band is called MANTIC RITUAL and Ali “The Metallian” caught up with its drummer, the non-chalant Adam Haritan, somewhere in New York state where the youngish Nuclear Blast band is on tour with Krisiun and Destruction. So here is what the drummer had to say, after its official debut, landed Metallian’s coveted Album Of The month title. – 22.03.2009
METALLIAN: Adam, how is the first post-release tour going?
ADAM: The Executioner album was released on February 27th in Europe and didn’t get released until March 10th in America. This is our album release tour. It is a great way to promote its release and push it as much as possible. Hopefully a lot of people purchase it. We have been looking forward to this tour for a long time. Destruction and Krisiun are very well known and great bands. We thought it would be a great tour and so far it’s been nothing but fun.
It’s the third day only. Bands shake hands and say hello at the beginning.
METALLIAN: Any assholes on the tour so far?
ADAM: No, that’s funny because a lot of people warned us that Schmier, the singer and bassist for Destruction, is a very stern and strict guy and you have to get on his good side. The first day when we pulled up in Long Island for the first show he was very nice to us, he shook hands and introduced the whole band to us. No assholes yet! Hopefully it stays that way. It’s one big friendly community on the tour bus (laughs).
METALLIAN: It’s one tour bus?
ADAM: Yes, we are sharing. This is our first ‘tour bus’ tour and it’s pretty exciting for us. We know not to get used to it just because things won’t get handed to us like this all the time, but it’s working great for us on this tour but after this we will be heading back to the van.
METALLIAN: Wasn’t there supposed to be a third band with Rotting Christ on the previous tour you completed?
ADAM: Originally, it was supposed to be Rotting Christ, November’s Doom and Epicurean. November’s Doom had to drop off and that’s when we got the call to take their place. Many people never knew we were on the tour and they were in for a pleasant surprised when we showed up, but it was still a great time and we had a lot of fun on that tour.
METALLIAN: Just how serious are you guys? Not musically, because Executioner is Metallian’s Album Of The Month, yet there have been so many bands in recent years that played the classic thrash style but were not all that serious. You guys look the part and sound the part but you look the part a bit too much, like you guys were born in 1970 and were 16 in or around 1985.
ADAM: We are very serious when it comes to music. We love playing music. We love creating music and we love entertaining people. When it comes to thrash metal, the term thrash means nothing to us; its just another label that people like to use to simplify their lives and to make things a little easier. We know in today’s world everything is labeled and everything is put into different compartments, but we are doing what we love and we love playing music. Our goal as a band is to express that creativity in a positive way to the world and try to reach out to as many people as possible and not alienate people from our music. You are right. There is a huge thrash revival going on right now and I agree as well, it’s almost like a cartoon version of the past. People love to dress the part and they love to name drop as many underground thrash bands as possible. They like to call out who is the poser and who is not the poser. We never wanted to get into that. We just want to be ourselves when it comes to the music and put an honest effort into it.
What fun is there pretending to be someone you are not? If this whole thrash wave dies down we hope to pursue and get through it as a good heavy metal band that writes good music and has a good time. We are serious about music but labels mean nothing.
METALLIAN: Nevertheless, you sound very classic thrash. Your first and last songs on the album have some Iron Maiden influences. Granted, your albums starts off a little melodic, but the band sounds classic thrash and you look the part.
ADAM: When we started the band we were listening to old Metallica, Mercyful Fate, Diamond Head and just wanted to create a band that has the characteristics of those bands such as simplicity, catchiness and aggression and that’s what we are trying to do in our band. We are trying to play fast and passionate attitude driven music and, of course, it sounds thrash metal. I guess we look thrash metal. I don’t really know what thrash metal really is these days. We are just trying to wear comfortable clothes that fit us and we like our hair kind of long, I guess, because it’s natural that way. We sound thrash but we don’t necessarily make it a goal to write a good thrash metal song. We are just trying to create a good metal tune that a lot of people can enjoy regardless of what sub-genre they are really into.
When we were touring with Rotting Christ we were the only thrash band on there playing with a Greek black metal band, but a lot people really got into us because they could sense that classic heavy metal style in us. We are just trying to keep it raw and bring back that organic natural feeling to heavy metal.
METALLIAN: How old are you?
ADAM: I just turned 23.
METALLIAN: As a 23 year old how come you are not listening to something trendy or something from VH-1 or MTV?
ADAM: I appreciate all kinds of music. I am not into one certain style because you can find good things in all different styles of music. I mean I love The Beatles and they are the kings of pop, but I am not into the modern commercial music. I don’t think it sounds like real music anymore. It’s very washed up and over-produced. It’s very sterile. There is no natural feeling in the music these days. In the past it was completely different with a more analog sound; more organic and rawer and I just naturally took a liking towards that.
I can’t tell you what exactly sparked that interest. Even when I was a young kid I was listening to Motley Crüe and AC/DC and all these older hard rock bands like Aerosmith. I just naturally took a liking to the past. Personally, my favourite style of music is ‘50s and ‘60s rock n’ roll. That’s very very old school. I just love simple catchy music and I think it comes out in our song writing.
METALLIAN: Where does this liking for older music come from?
ADAM: It might come from my dad only because he raised our family on early hard rock and classic metal bands like those I mentioned before. Then I got into punk rock, early punk rock, like Ramones, Misfits and GBH. I have been into older music my whole life. I don’t why. The music was a lot more real back then and it doesn’t have that natural feeling that it used to.
METALLIAN: You recently changed the band’s name. What is Mantic Ritual and where did the name come from?
ADAM: We had been Meltdown for about three years and were aware that other bands, as well as companies, were using that name. It’s a common name. When we got signed and things started progressing and our album was about to come out we were advised by our label and management to change our name in order to avoid confusion with these other bands as well as to prevent any possible legal issues. We thought it would be a good idea to change it before our first album is released because if we would have done it after it would have been a big mess, I think. In September of 2008 we decided to change it to Mantic Ritual. Our singer Dan came up with the name and we all really liked it and it has stuck with us. We thought it was pretty creative. I personally like it because it doesn’t necessarily throw us into a certain category or genre. It’s more subjective and it’s just a pretty catchy name, I think.
METALLIAN: How does the album released with Nuclear Blast differ from the same album with the same songs you released on your own?
ADAM: We self-released that album in 2007. The new album can be attributed much to our producer Andy Classen who is well known in the metal community. It’s an honour to work with him. We also added one unreleased original track entitled By The Cemetery so the fans that have the other demo would be surprised to hear this new track and hopefully people still buy this album even if they have the old one.
METALLIAN: Is the recording completely different?
ADAM: The whole thing is re-recorded and the song order is the same except that we added By The Cemetery. Everything is brand new, more polished, tighter and sounds much better.
METALLIAN: How did this whole Nuclear Blast thing come about?
ADAM: When we recorded our demo in 2007 we mailed out press kits to bunch of labels and Nuclear Blast was one of the ones we sent one to and they happened to contact us rather quickly. They expressed interest in our band. They couldn’t come out and see us live. We were living in Hollywood at the time so we had our Whisky A Go Go live show videotaped and mailed it over to Germany. Apparently, they really liked it because within a few months we signed with them. We did it the traditional way, press kits mailed out and hope for the best. We got the best!
METALLIAN: Was there any other interest?
ADAM: We had a few other labels contact us, but nothing as serious as Nuclear Blast and once they contacted us we had our sights set on them and really hoped that they would end up taking us on.
METALLIAN: Were your initial contact and A&R all in Germany and not in the USA?
ADAM: Yes. We only started talking to the US branch months after we were in contact with Germany. And we don’t even speak a word of German (laughs).
METALLIAN: You were very close georgraphically to the Nuclear Blast US office…
ADAM: Yes. When we did get signed to Nuclear Blast we visited the US branch and became good friends. We are talking to both right now and they are both helping us out and promoting us in their own way. It’s great to have that kind of exposure and different distribution.
METALLIAN: How about the Los Angeles thrash revival? Did the band target the city because you noticed there is a good reception for your sound or did you notice a thrash revival later?
ADAM: Actually when we were a band in Pittsburgh for the first two or three years we had no idea that other bands were playing this kind of style as well. Through myspace and Internet we started seeing a resurgence on the west coast and mainly in L.A. All these bands getting better exposure than us, there being so many fans out there, et cetra made us want to be a part of that. In the summer of 2006 we started talking to these band and got a few shows out in California just for two weeks. We played a few shows. We drove out there played and came home. We started saying. ‘we really need to be out there in order to take our band to the next level.’ In Pittsburgh we hit a brick wall and couldn’t rise to that next step so in fall of 2007 when our Executioner demo was released we packed our bags and moved to L.A. and settled down there. We found really odd shitty jobs and just tried to work really hard in order to benefit the band. We played a bunch of shows, met a bunch of new fans, got signed out of it and flew to Germany to record an album. A year later we moved back to Pittsburgh because that’s when we started touring. It made sense financially to be back in Pittsburgh at the time.
Still, right now, the LA thrash scene is booming. It just seems like there is a new thrash band every day with many fans. It’s a huge fad right now over there. We wanted to be a part of that and I think it definitely worked out for the best.
METALLIAN: Are you living back in Pittsburgh now?
ADAM: Yes, we are proud to be there and live there.
METALLIAN: Is there any scene or is it as bad as you first left?
ADAM: It’s the same as it always was. It’s not geared towards metal. It’s more a DIY punk scene; that kind of attitude. But it was great for us, we have a lot of fans in Pittsburgh but the exposure wasn’t there and the contacts weren’t there and we just felt being in Los Angeles would really benefit us and it definitely did. We have no regrets.
METALLIAN: Did you deliberately thin out your guitar sound on the album to sound a little more authentic and retro?
ADAM: No. We played through Marshalls and Andy Classen had JCM 800 or 900, I believe, and that’s the sound we play through. It's our natural tone that came through on the album. I think the bands today play with so many effects and it doesn’t sound natural anymore.
METALLIAN: Perhaps it was subconscious but listening to your music one gets a bit of throwback to fun and simpler ways.
ADAM: We hardly use any effects on our instruments at all and I think the fact that the drums are so simple too - it doesn’t drown out the guitar - it makes the guitars cut through a little more whereas nowadays in metal drums are a top priority in music and everyone just double basses million miles per minute. It just muddies up everything. We just keep it simple and I think it allows the guitar to cut through a little more. We are happy how our sound turned out and it is great to release an album that retains that classic natural feeling of the ‘80s.
METALLIAN: Is the song Next Attack an inside joke where the band is trying to sound like Metallica’s Seek And Destroy?
ADAM: (Laughingly) Not at all. We wrote that song four years ago when were just starting this band. Most of the songs were written four years ago, people don’t realize that. It wasn’t a blatant rip-off, but I guess the influence is there and it might sound like it but I think it definitely sounds like our own song. The solos are amazing, the middle part’s insane and the I love the intro. I think it’s a very well-written song, but we had no intent to rip off.
METALLIAN: Isn’t Seek And Destroy a song you have covered in the past?
ADAM: Yes. We have covered it, but not in ages, as with a couple of other Metallica tunes.
METALLIAN: Do you agree with what I am talking about?
ADAM: Yes. Looking back at it, in retrospect, I can see that it has that groove, that rock n’ roll four four beat. The riff is similar to Metallica’s. The middle section has the sped-up galloping part. How many songs can you base on others? I mean everything’s been done before, I believe, and why not work with what’s worked well in the past?
METALLIAN: Let me ask the classic question, typically bands release a second album that sucks compared to the first one and then deny the inferior quality. How is your second album going to retain the feel of the current one?
ADAM: We are currently writing for the second album and I definitely love the development and progression that is going on. It’s a bit more serious than Executioner, a little bit more going on, the lyrics have more meaning but, like Executioner, it’s going to be very simple and catchy and we are just going to make sure we stick with that formula because that’s the kind of music we love. We feel that’s the kind of music people enjoy. It’s not going to be another Executioner. That was our first album. The songs were written a few years ago and since then we have developed our sound but we still are playing classic heavy metal and keeping it as raw and as natural as possible.
METALLIAN: Hopefully the next album will not analogous to Exodus’ Bonded By Blood and Pleasures Of The Flesh.
ADAM: No. I haven’t listened to Pleasures Of The Flesh in the longest time and I don’t even remember what it sounds like.
METALLIAN: That’s the point, no one remembers it but everyone knows Bonded By Blood.
ADAM: I mean we are going to be honest with ourselves and we are going to play the music that we want to play while also trying to appeal to people. We will do what we want with it and we are not going to be afraid to draw influences from other styles or put things that people might think is odd. We are not trying to follow someone else’s rules and we will do what has worked in the past five years.
METALLIAN: Let’s move to another line of questioning, Adam, but remain in the past. Have you been in any other bands before?
ADAM: I have been in music all my life. I have been in numerous bands before joining this band at eighteen. I was in a death metal band but when I found out that these guys were playing old thrash I thought I got to be in this band so I called them up and said I will do anything to be in your band.
Right now I am in another band with Ben, our bassist, where we play ‘50s and ‘60s rock n’ roll on the side for fun and extra money.
METALLIAN: What’s the name of that band?
ADAM: The Galaxies. We play local bars and parties in the Pittsburgh area. It’s fun and a great way to get away from all the seriousness.
METALLIAN: Were you always a drummer in those bands?
ADAM: No, in The Galaxies I play guitar, I sing and I play keyboards. In the bands in the past I have played guitar, bass and drummed.
METALLIAN: Everything except the Saxophone?
ADAM: We actually have a Saxophone player in The Galaxies. I don’t play any wind instruments.
METALLIAN: Can you give me a couple of names from the past bands?
ADAM: I was in a Ramones tribute band called Commando. My death metal band was called Tunturi.
METALLIAN: What does that name mean?
ADAM: It’s funny. We didn’t have a name when we started out and there was this exercise machine in my basement, a rowing machine, and the brand was Tunturi. It sounded very vague and black metal-ly but it’s a name of an exercise company!
Also in the band are singer and guitarist Dan Wetmore, guitarist Jeff Potts and bassist Ben Mottsman.