One of the most interesting bands of the Belgian scene, Rituals of The Dead Hand, agreed to exchange a few words with us, elaborating on the past, present and future of the band. 

Hello guys and welcome to Metal Invader. Thanks for making the time! First of all, is everybody alright, considering the harsh times we’re living in?

Isangrim: All well here. A few people in our close surroundings experienced some minor health inconveniences, but all in all nothing really serious. We consider us very lucky and are fully aware of the fact that this battle is still raging on. But if we all use our common sense and keep the idiocy to a minimum, normal life will return to us.

Rituals of The Dead Hand and your debut almost instantly caught my interest. To begin with knowing you better, I know that the band was formed as a comeback to the extreme metal past you’ve had with Gorath. Why did you think you had this urge?

Lykaios: Blood is thicker than water. Hemelbestormer is an instrumental post-doom band and as a death-black metal guy I was always open for something more extreme. With vocals. When Isangrim asked me if we could do some death metal, “Blood Oath” was written quickly. It was just the two of us. Later Beleth joined on bass for live shows, but today he is considered a full member.

It’s not difficult for someone to find out that you’ve been a part of various bands and projects; how do you achieve balance between all these bands? Is there a secret?

Lykaios: Only Hemelbestormer is heavily active. Rituals of the dead Hand, Wolven and another black metal band (whose name is not important) only do studio albums. When I start writing music for one of the bands, I can quickly finish it. Most of the music and ideas are already made in my head. I just need to pick up the guitar and make a decent home pre-production.  Wolven’s second album has been written, recorded, mastered, art made, labels found… During the Covid lockdown. All of it. A new time record. Once an album is finished I can fully focus on another band. No need to start something new when something else isn’t finished. I wouldn’t mind if it takes years, but often it all goes smoothly. But the keyword is focus.

In “Blood Oath” you went for swampy Doom Black – Death kind of compositions; Was the transition from Hemelbestormer’s Post Metal easy? Did it feel like a natural flow of things?

Isangrim: Well, like Lykaios already stated, he has a background in black/death metal, so I think the transition from Hemelbestormer to Rituals of The Dead hand was actually easier for him than the other way around. Since he is our main composer, he was sailing some very familiar waters when writing “Blood Oath”. My previous bands were more doom oriented, but I’m a big black/death metalfan as well. When we are driving to Heelbestormer rehearsals or shows, we’re almost constantly listening to both classic and newer bands, sometimes very much to the dismay of the other two, and it was actually me who proposed doing something like this just for the fun of it. Three months later “Blood Oath” was fully written and ready to be recorded.

I consider “Blood Oath” a concept album, bearing in mind that you follow the Buckriders mythos; what led you into choosing such a different yet peculiar theme?

Isangrim: When we were discussing the lyrical direction of the record, it was quickly obvious that we didn’t want to move into the typical “Hail Satan” territories. I’ve always admired bands who put something of their own culture or heritage into their music. Solstafir embraces its Icelandic roots, Winterfylleth breaths English history and Rotting Christ incorporates Greek myths and folklore. It adds authenticity, in my eyes, and I wanted to do something like that. The Buckriders or “Bokkenrijders” is not a typical Belgian phenomenon, they were also active in The Netherlands and Germany, but a lot of stories center around towns and villages very close to our homes. The “Bonderkuil”, the title of the opening track and the place where many alleged Buckriders were executed, is actually located a measly fifteen miles from my house. This connection plus the fact that the Buckrider mythos is really dark, bloody and mysterious made it the right subject for this band. Our lyrics focus mainly on the folklore aspect instead of the actual history. The Buckriders are depicted as a brutal, vile and violent gang of robbers who sold their soul to the devil and rode by night on the backs of flying goats, but the historical facts are far less spectacular. In reality, there were some smaller groups of petty criminals, mostly peasants and crafstmen, who, mostly driven by extreme poverty, stole from the rich to feed their own families. Although very interesting, this perspective is of course far less fitting for black and death metal.

It’s been almost two years since your debut’s release. Recently you posted on your Facebook page that soon enough you’ll deliver a new album. Care to share with us some info about it? What’s different this time? What should we expect?

Isangrim: Our second album is completely written and already partly recorded. Musically it is a logical follow up to “Blood Oath” with some more funeral doom aspects to it. Expect crushing and devastating stuff! Lyrically, we dove once more into the Buckrider mythos and explored it a little deeper. We more or less revisit the same stories, but this time we try to look through the eyes of the riders themselves.

When should we be able to listen and obtain your second release?

Isangrim: Most of the album is recorded as we speak with the final parts planned for  the beginning of August. There isn’t a specific release date yet, that’s up to the label, so I can’t really tell anything else on this matter. When there’s more info, we’ll update our pages, so keep your eyes peeled!

You’ve also stated that Rituals of The Dead Hand will no longer perform live. Why is that? Do you think you’ll reconsider at some future point?

Lykaios: After several years of increasing sleeping problems I felt like a wreck. It all became too much and I needed to find a more relax life. Cutting stressful situations was one of them. The Covid lockdown was a salvation. At the moment it’s better, but it’s far from solved. Working on it. However, I do feel like playing again with Rituals of the dead Hand, but must think very carefully about this. Don’t want to make things worse again.

Besides the new album, are there any plans for the future? What will be your next step?

Isangrim: There’s no master plan for this band and our main focus is to enjoy ourselves. We’ll probably do some more shows in the future, but for the moment there are no specific dates or events for fairly obvious reasons. Maybe we’ll do a video for one of the new songs. There are some ideas for this, but again, nothing really specific or concrete.

 Alright, that’s all from me for the time being. Thanks for answering everything! Would you like to send a message to our readers?

Isangrim: Live your life and make it count. The riders will come for you in 2021!