Going it alone can be tough, especially when you’re a band. Writing, recording, and performing music is an onerous enough task when you have partners around you, let alone when all the decisions fall on your shoulders. There certainly are benefits, like not fighting over creative directions and figuring out how to split revenue, but there’s also no one there to dilute the pressure and expectations that come with consistently putting out music. It takes a special kind of musician and a special kind of band to pull off the one-man band routine but Malice Divine is exactly that type of outfit.
Since forming Malice Divine in 2019, Ric Galvez has put out two killer records as the only permanent member of the group. This year’s Everlasting Ascendancy continued the hot streak that Malice Divine started on with 2021’s self-titled debut. Both albums are killer mixes of influences across the extreme metal spectrum, including elements of death, black, and thrash metal. I recently caught up with Galvez to talk about what makes Malice Divine one of Canada’s most exciting extreme exports.
First off, how did Malice Divine get started? What made you want to start this type of band? Being a one-man project, was it daunting to get this started on your own?
Ric: Malice Divine was officially founded in the summer of 2019 right after I was fired from my previous band. However, I had been working on original material of my own for a solo project for quite a while before my firing. I’ve always had a vision of creating music that was a combination of black metal, death metal, and thrash metal that had a large emphasis on melody, virtuosity, and catchiness. I also wanted an outlet where I can discuss personal matters and personal interests through the lyrical content. Was it daunting to get this project started on my own? Maybe a little at first when I was just getting started with the songwriting process for the first album, but once I had built up some momentum it was a much more enjoyable and exciting process than a daunting one.
What got you into extreme metal in the first place and who are some of your influences?
Ric: Being exposed to extreme metal by an old friend when I was in the eighth grade was what got me into it. I have been hooked on extreme metal ever since. Some of my influences include Dissection, Watain, Bathory, Death, Behemoth, Kreator, Skeletonwtich, Destroyer 666, Revocation, Obscura, just to name a few.
Being that the band is just you, what kind of benefits and challenges does that present you? Have you ever considered expanding out to more members?
Ric: The band is just me as far as the songwriting process. I have hired a session drummer for both of my albums, but overall I have no interest in expanding out to have more members, at least as far as the songwriting process is concerned. I like songwriting on my own way too much. Having other people participate in the songwriting process would only dilute my vision. With that said, I would love to have live members so I can perform these songs live. Their role will strictly only be as live performers. I just need to find the right people first.
How do you write the music for the band? Has the process changed as time has gone on?
Ric: The songwriting process always starts with the riffs. I’ll write some riffs and I’ll record them on my phone or my computer, and from there I will piece together riffs and any classical guitar arrangements until I have a song structure that I’m happy with. From there I will write the drums and the bass parts. This will result in a solid foundation for me to write guitar solos, vocal patterns, and lyrics over. The process hasn’t changed as time has gone on.
I really dig the lyrical content of your two albums. You definitely seem to put a lot of time into thinking of lyrics that are a little deeper than a lot of other releases. How do you come up with them and what do you use for inspiration?
Ric: I use my personal interests outside of music as my source of inspiration for my lyrics. Spirituality, manifestation, psychology, the paranormal, are things that I am highly interested in. It makes for some very interesting lyrical content! I also come at it from an angle that relates to my thoughts and feelings, with an underlying theme of empowerment, determination, overcoming obstacles, etc. My lyrics come from a very personal place!
How was the recording process for the first album? Was it a challenge to get your first record recorded and what did you learn that you took to future recordings?
Ric: The recording process of the first album was very fun, with the exception of the pandemic getting in the way. I tracked the rhythm guitars for the first album in January and February of 2020, and because of the pandemic, recording wasn’t able to continue until June of that year. It was a challenge at times, but it wasn’t anything outside of my capabilities. I learned that I am very well capable of recording an entire full-length album of material. It gave me even more confidence when it came around to recording the second album.
Was the writing/recording process different for Everlasting Ascendancy? Did you feel like it was easier with a record already under your belt? How happy were you with the final product?
Ric: The writing process was pretty similar for Everlasting Ascendancy. The main difference with the songwriting process this time around was that I only had six brand new songs to write because I had two left over. These two songs are from a very long time ago, and I always wanted them to eventually be on an album. Those two songs are “Silenced Judgement” and “Illusions Of Fragmentation.” That, as well as the fact that I wrote the other songs during the pandemic, made for a songwriting process that was shorter than the writing process of the first album. It was easier to record in some ways in the sense that I’ve improved as a musician since recording the first album, but at times it was more challenging because some of the material is more technically challenging and physically demanding than a lot of the material on the first album.
I wanted to ask about the lyrical/musical inspiration behind a few of the songs on that latest record. What’s the story behind that opener, “Silenced Judgement?”
Ric: The story behind “Silenced Judgement” is proving all the people who have judged me and have criticized my musicianship. For example, my ex bandmates who fired me back in 2019, as well as the toxic comments section of Banger TV’s Shredders of Metal competition that I was a part of. It essentially is a big “fuck you” to everyone who has put me down in some way throughout my life.
How about the origin of “At One With Infinity?”
Ric: The lyrical inspiration behind “At One With Infinity” is the owning of the fact that you as an individual are connected to infinite possibilities for yourself and your life. “Infinity” in the song represents whatever you want to become and whatever you want to achieve. It’s similar lyrically to “Quantum Manifestation” from the first album, but done in a more aggressive way. Regardless of what people say, you can accomplish whatever you set your mind to!
How about the story behind the title track? I thought that was a killer closer!
Ric: The title track is essentially an assertion to myself and to the whole world that no matter what happens to me in life, no matter what comes my way, I will end up coming out on top and I will always stay strong and in control of my destiny.
Both albums have killer artwork that are each their own unique thing but that very much feel related. Who did them and what kind of direction did you give them?
Ric: Eka Saputra of Pzychopart did the album artwork for both Malice Divine albums. Essentially I showed Eka some album covers that I really like to give him a general direction of what I want the artwork to go in. I did this for both albums. I showed him album covers from bands such as Dissection, Absu, Uada, Darkthrone, Emperor, Revocation, and Necrophobic. From there I let him have free reign as to what to create, and I absolutely love what he created! Both pieces of artwork fit the music perfectly.
Being independent, what benefits does that present you and what challenges go along with that? It has to be more freeing to do what you want but also more challenging resources-wise.
Ric: The benefits of being independent are that I get to keep all the return on investment that the music generates, as well as being able to work on my own timeline. It is quite freeing but like you said it is also more challenging resources-wise. I am the only person that contributes financially to everything regarding Malice Divine. In the future, I would like to work with a record label, but it would need to be a label that can provide me with all the necessary resources to take Malice Divine to the next level.
Lastly, what’s next for Malice Divine? What are your goals for the future of the band?
Ric: Right now, I am focused on promoting the new album as much as possible. From here my goals include putting together a live line-up so I can start performing live with Malice Divine, as well as to start writing the third album!
Photo at top: Everlasting Ascendancy album cover.