The cozy resto-bar, The Pioneer, rests in a quiet, suburban village along the Lakeshore Rd that winds along Saint-Laurent.  In the day, the surrounding area is infested with families, young out for play and couples on dates.

  At night is when the freaks came to play on the chilly, Thursday night in October.  With bands like Offset, who play with noise, chaos and combinations like jazz and metal. Venomenon, who bring back classic thrash and 80’s hardcore punk, and then Ritual Master, a Doom metal band, neck deep in the horror.  Finally a revival of Downtown’s reputable Hardcore scene in the west island hosted by Shanks Events & Entertainment.

 I managed to have the pleasure of being able to have a quick chat with Ritual Master on their experience playing as a band.


Ritual master is made up of Gabriel Tulli on bass and vocals, Alexander Stanar on guitar, David McCorkell on drums and Ethan Desjardins on synth and keyboards.  These gentle combine the heavy, bubblingly low and growling vocals of sludge metal with  the synth creating and eerie organ effect bringing out aspects of Horror Doom.

Band History:

David: Way back when, about two and a half years ago, right around the time I started drumming, Gabe and I got together in my basement and conceptualized the idea for all this madness.  We were jamming and jamming and throwing all these ideas left and right, thinking about what kind of insanity we wanted to invoke in to somebodies mind.

Gabe: Originally, it was just Dave and I.  I had this kooky idea that we should be a two man band, basically vocals, distorted bass and drums. What could go wrong, well, we jammed, we jammed, some more and realized that as a two man band it just didn’t work. We realized the songs needed more to them. With just two people it felt hollow, in enough time Ethan joined.

Ethan: I actually just started playing piano for like a year and a half leading up to this show, I played when I was younger then picked it back up again really quickly to play for the band.

& how long have you been singing for that cover?

Ethan: …Like a couple months. This was my first real show actually singing in front of people.

Congratulations, mate, you nailed it!

Gabe:  By pure chance, through a mutual friend I met Jonah, I met Alex and then eventually got him on board.

Alex: I’ve been playing guitar for 8 years and it was mostly just a solo, hobby kind of thing. I never thought I’d be in a band, and then Gabe told me he had this project, and he’d show me lyrics and sick shit. I thought he was doing his own thing then he asked me to join. We had our first jam two summers ago playing Hammer Smashed Face and that went well. Ethan and I have an interesting history together, actually.

Ethan: I was working in this decrepit hole called Subway, dying just a little day by day. One day I saw Alex come in, and I think I just saw about an eight of his King Diamond shirt and I look at him and I say, “Damn, is that a King Diamond shirt?”, and we just hit it off.  Then I  used to run in to him now and then with Tyler Addey-Jib from Offset. Then one day, Gabriel tells me we have a guitar player. So I go down to meet him and it turns out to be this fucking guy!

What defines your band?

{the mic is directed immediately to David whose hand is already reaching..}

David: Our band is a royal mess.  Not quite, well we have very many influences. From the early styles of metal to the later extreme genres that developed in the 90’s, and also horror movies that we music somehow.

Ethan: My role as the keyboard player is really bringing that influence and aesthetic of horror movies out, with the church organs that bring out that last little spooky vibe. It’s like the cherry on top.  The one thing I wanted this band to sound like was fucking dark. Dark gripping, broodting, you know, menacing. At the same time, something that doesn’t sound like a wall of noise. I want people to be able to actually tell our songs apart. Not get lost in this whole wall of sound.

Gabriel: We couldn’t help, but be just a little silly, though.

Alex:  Well, we are serious…

{The statement was immediately followed by disagreeing grunt and guffaws}

David: We’re serious enough,

Gabriel: We’re serious enough, but not to the point of obscenity. We’re serious enough, but we like to laugh. I’m sure you’ve seen at our set, that we definitely like to laugh.

What bands have influenced each one of you?

Alex: Obviously, there’s doom. A lot of people have told us that there’s also a Sabbath vibe. I definitely take inspiration from Sabbath, but tuned in B, more brutal you’d say. Sabbath, Electric Wizard, Candlemass.

David:  Many, many things, have inspired me. Atmospheric music, especially. Music with a lot of distortion and dark themes.

Ethan: For me, Type O Negative is definitely a big one. Some of our influences starting out was Black Sabbath, but not not just the straight up doom, but also incorporating Death metal, like Death, Cannibal Corpse, Obituary, Decide, those are the big ones, Darkthrone, Mayhem.  One of my big influences definitely, that I’ve shoved down everyone’s throat, is Type O Negative.  We have the very same line-up that they had and it just speaks to me.

Gabriel: Well, it’s hard not to repeat what everyone’s just said, but yes, as far as influences. Like Doom, I’m influenced by bands like Black Sabbath, like Candlemass.  I do like taking influences from other genres definitely like death Metal, Cannibal Corpse when they had Chris Barnes. That’s when they were truly disgusting.  As far as me personally, anything that’s dark or is some kind of terrified mood inspires me to write music.  As far as influences for vocals, there’s Blaine Cook from the Accused, David Vincent of Morbid Angel, and just too many to name.

David: Music is an endless ocean of possibilities. Remember what Phil Ansemlo (of Pantera) said, “remember to take inspiration from 20 of your favourite bands and not just 3”.

Alex: I’m going to drop a big plot-twist here, originally before joining the band, I never really listened to doom. I come from the grindcore and death metal realm.

Ethan: Which is why actually we have a grindcore side project brewing as a trio (David, Ethan and Alex).  Yeah, we’re still trying to get Gabe in. He’s in sometimes, he’s not other times.

Alex: Yeah, we’ll find out. I came in to the band knowing next to nothing about doom really because I never really listened to it. So I just got in to it, they showed me all these bands. At first I was skeptical but it ended up working out.

Ethan: We kind doom very flexible and we mold it to our own sound.

David: It is also very sludge, so you can mix everything up.

Ethan:And you can’t forget that big horror movie influence.

So what are your biggest horror movie influences?

Ethan: If “Axe Wielding Maniac” didn’t give it away, we fucking love slasher movies.  Like I collect all the obscure slasher movies on VHS, DVD, BLU-RAY all that garbage.

David: Most things from the 70’s and 80’s. We eat that up, we’ve been eating that up ever since High School.

Ethan: All those classic like groundhouse series, synth-y movies like Zombie II.

Best, First and Worst gigs?

Ethan:  We’ve actually had pretty good luck with gigs so far, this is our 5th gig.  I usually count the first one we played on David’s birthday. We played our very first show, I like to call it Ritual Master, Live in David’s Basement.  It was a little show we played with Offset and Nordmadr, RIP, but after that we played with a band called Dismemberment from Ohio. We opened, so we took it. That was our first real show, and it went really well.  We played Pirhana bar in July and we were a lot more comfortable with what we were doing. Our very first show playing in front of people we don’t fucking know, we were a little nervous.  We loosened up a lot more and got more comfortable with what we were doing.

David: The first few shows were easily the sloppiest and to shake off a lot of nerves and tension, but I feel were getting tighter and tighter every time. As long as you stay true to it, and keep that rock n roll deep inside of you
{Echoes of “Deep inside of you” from the fellow band mates}

You can unleash the wrath inside of you upon this feeble world.

Gabe: For me personally, vocally I would say this is the best I have ever performed.  I used to be in another band, and I also used to try to sing and growl.  Back then I was a young kid, I had no idea what I was doing. As a result, at the end I’d sound [taking on a raspy, crack-ho-type voice to represent the after-effects of not growling properly] something like this. I was doing yelling, old-school death metal vocals and my voice is fine.  I am so pleased with how I did.  As far as bass playing goes, I thought I was pretty okay as far the Mayfair show went and the two Pirhana gigs. For tonight, if people noticed what the hell I was playing, “is Gabe drunk or something?”, no I wasn’t totally happy with how I did on bass.

Ethan: The last show, I actually did do some growling and screaming.  Leading up to it we were practicing and my voice was fucking toasted after.  Now I growled, sang and did backing vocals, and I didn’t end up sounding like crap.

Gabe: I mean, it’s a number of things.  You got to drink a lot of water, onstage and off. Another very important aspect, and I remember when I was practicing vocals, there was no mention of it. You have to warm up your voice, absolutely. Even if it’s something like humming scales for a number of minutes. Of course, a good fucking PA and a sound engineer who knows what the fuck they’re doing.

Best & Hardest thing about being in the Band?

Ethan: Making time for it.

Alex: We all have fucked up schedules. That’s just a fact, it’s really hard to find time, we maybe jam once a week.

Ethan: But at the same time it’s totally worthwhile to invest our time in to it. To get that feedback from people, and get out there and play.  It is not easy to do it, I’m fucking pleased with myself.

Gabe: I’d hate to repeat, but it’s true. The fucking scheduling conflicts, its hell but we try to manage it. Of course being in a band, you’re going to be dealing with a lot of different personalities. Some days, it’s all fun and games, you’re all proud of each other.  Other days, you’re at each other’s throats. The point is, like any good relationship, you talk it out and keep abuse out.

Ethan: And keep it sexy.

Gabe: One of the hardest things about being in the band is trying to explain something to Alex and Ethan, but david here insists on banging his drums like the Neanderthal he is.

Ethan: I mean sometimes he has to warm up, come on.

Gabe: We still love him, though.

{Ethans faint objection can be heard here in the background}

David: Yes, I do do that. It’s quite obnoxious.  Doing this is a labour of love, if you care about the rock n roll.  You get to release all of the most negative energy inside of you.

Thanks to all the killer bands who tore up the stage, and Ritual Master for having a chat with me in the back of Pioneer’s parking lot!

Words by Grace Karam

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