It took nearly 10 years, but Ricky Hoover (ex-Suffokate) has returned to heavy metal, and he's done so mounting a blasphemous, blackened steed of epic death metal in the Las Vegas based Ov Sulfur.
Set to release their debut album The Burden ov Faith on March 24 through Century Media Records, Hoover, alongside guitarist and vocalist Chase Wilson, bassist Ding and drummer Leviathvn have birthed a sound that draws parallels to Dimmu Borgir, Behemoth, and Cradle of Filth while also tipping the hat to modern day metalcore and deathcore.
"I'd say with this album we were not afraid to push in as many ways as we could," Hoover shared in a candid sit-down with Metal Injection. "We wanted to not really have any boundaries. So many times people want to just put artists and bands and everything in these little boxes and they have to stay in these little boxes. And we wanted to get away from that."
With guests ranging from Slaughter To Prevail vocalist Alex Terrible to Taylor Barber (Left To Suffer), Kyle Medina (Bodysnatcher), Howard Jones (Light The Torch, ex-Killswitch Engage) and Lindsay Schoolcraft (ex-Cradle of Filth), The Burden of Faith is a vicious and emotionally impactful collection that serves as a fitting return for Hoover, who stepped away from life as a musician in 2012.
"So it was 2012 when I officially left the old band and music and decided to pursue a career in barbering," Hoover recalled. "It was the end of 2012, essentially, I think, because we just did a pretty gnarly European tour after doing a Russian tour. Crazy. I was just kind of tired and sick of it all, I guess. With my old band, we toured nonstop for a long time until we did the second album, and then we took a little bit of time off, a little bit. And that's kind of when a lot of stuff fell apart.
"I had not been really enjoying it for a little bit of time either. I was not in a good place mentally. I was like very suicidal. I just was not enjoying life at that moment and I decided for my personal betterment to walk away from it because it had become a toxic relationship of sorts, you know what I mean?"
Then came COVID-19, necessitating a need for Hoover, a self-described creative, to find an outlet for his energies.
"I never in a million years planned on doing music again," he admits. "As far as I was concerned, it was done for me. And then COVID happened. And in Vegas, where I live now, we weren't allowed to do haircuts anymore. So I was literally just going crazy. I couldn't do anything. I couldn't create anything artistically, because I'm kind of a creative, so I just wanted to do it for fun and I didn't realize that it would kind of turn into this, which is pretty crazy."
Ov Sulfur, on paper and practice, rails against organized religion from the jump in both presentation and through the pulpit of Hoover's cutting and visceral lyrics. Hoover, for his part, is not shy about voicing his thoughts on the subject.
"Yeah, it's pretty funny because in Suffokate, 'Not the Fallen' is very much an anti-religious song. I mean, I had a song called 'Holiness is Next to Filthiness,'" the front-man recalls, railing against internet trolls who feel his lyrics are disingenuous. "I get a kick out of it, but the one that kind of irks me is that people are like 'oh, he's talking about religion like a 16 year old boy.' No I'm not. I've read your Bible, I've read your books more than you have. I know a lot more than you do and trust me, I have way more than a 16-year-old's education when it comes to theology.
"I think what happens is basically any time you allow something to have power – and religion has immense power, has for a long time – power can corrupt even the holiest person. And you know, self preservation and all that stuff is going to become the priority. You couple that with a Bronze Age belief system, which religion is, and I mean, they used to believe that if you spit on a wound it would heal it.
"That's another Bronze Age belief. And the funny thing is the people from all the different religions like to say each one's different and this and that and it's like, no, they're not. They're honestly the same like, 'oh, my religion doesn't teach hate!' Yeah, it does. 'My religion teaches acceptance.' No, it doesn't. Because you don't believe anybody else should believe in any other God."
From the fire and brimstone laden opener "Stained in Rot," to the deeply personal "Earthen," which was inspired by his 16-year-old nephew who tragically died of cancer, Hoover pulls no punches when it comes to his disdain for the false gods and folly of blind belief at the heart of The Burden of Faith.
"There're so many disgusting, awful stories in The Bible," Hoover exclaims. "There's so many things in The Bible that, even people who are [religious], they can't associate with, like how much women were worth in The Bible or the tale of Lot and his two daughters or just incest and pedophilia and rape and just the terrible things. Their argument for that is like, 'well, no, that's just all the bad stuff.' You're picking and choosing. The Bible is the most filthy piece of literature ever written.
"Like I said, I've read The Bible, I've read parts of the Quran, I've read some of the Torah. It's interesting to me, right? But I don't try to push my shit on people. I just present it and if they want to (listen) they can and if they don't, they don't. And whether you're a religionist or atheist or whatever, as long as you're a good person, it shouldn't matter."
The Burden ov Faith is available worldwide March 24. Pre-orders are available here.