Ritual - Ritual

Year of Release: 2004
Label: Tempus Fugit
Catalog Number: TF VO 13
Format: CD
Total Time: 60:55:00

Sweden's Ritual aren't any one thing, incorporating styles and moods as seems fit. It's on the one hand abstract and not easy to get into, and on the other catchy, when it comes to choruses of many pieces. The amalgam of references would be a mix of fellow Swedes The Flower Kings and A.C.T., and a dash or two of Queen. The first's epic scope, that latter two's sense of the theatrical, though it's mostly the first two. There are the "straight" rock numbers like the practically breathless "Wingspread," which opens the album, and "You Can Never Tell," the latter with a trilling flute, an acoustic guitar rhythm, and violin that bring in a bit of a Celtic-country-bluegrass feel to the piece. But there's also the quirky "The Way Of Things," a tale of a knight that goes missing one night. Not quite medieval in style, but certainly in theme. The character reappears, though more by inference than name, in "Life Has Just Begun." "Big Black Secret" is epic with big sound of keyboards and percussion (the piece opens with a classical piano phrase). Here I thought of It Bites, and of "mainstream" bands edging towards being a little arty - the rogue track thrown in for those who listen beyond the singles? of course, this self-titled debut is full of those kind of nuggets. "Seasong For The Moominpappa" is another that the term quirky fits, but in one of those "how to you describe this" kind of way. Several of the tracks are based on the works of Tove Jansson ("Typhoons Decide," a neat little metaphor for the chaos of life, based on "The Fillyjonk Who Believed In Disasters;" "A Little More Like Me," based on "The Hemulen Who Loved Silence;" and "Seasong?," based on "Moominpapa At Sea").

Vocalist Patrick Lundstrom has strong voice, and like what he does here even more than with Kaipa, the resurgent band featuring TFK's Roine Stolt. Maybe it's just that music seems a little more direct, even as they could be listed as another point of reference. Though keyboards (Jon Gamble) are very much an element, for the most part, it's guitars (Lundstr?m) and drums (Johan Nordgren) that are core to the band's sound. And whereas most of the tracks have a sense of urgency about them, even in their quieter moments, the final track, "Power Place," seems very atmospheric, somewhat ironic to the title, but very much keeping with the song's theme. That power place is about tapping the power within, power in a spiritual sense? coming from a quiet reflection.

Ritual contains a lot the elements about music that I really like, but it hasn't really grabbed me in a way that many other albums have. I'm not sure why that is, because there's nothing that I don't like about it. It's very well done, the energies are in the right place, and is solid, but? I'm not sure what it is, but I'm only liking it very much, not loving it. But, I think that's a strength in a way, that there isn't that rushing thrill of hearing something new (even though this is a re-issue) only to find your opinion mellows over time and that the album isn't quite the winner you initially thought. Rather instead, starting from a more reasonable and studied post of view, the more you listen, the more you appreciate so that over time the album works it's magic. And it will do that, I'm sure, because it is such a solid album with a mix of styles and textures and yet all of a piece. In the end, it makes it an album you'll come back to.

Which doesn't mean, by the way, that album that bowls you over right away, leading to hyperbolic thoughts, won't continue to impress over time, just that that euphoria isn't always a good thing.

Wingspread / The Way Of Things / Typhoons Decide / A Little More Like Me Solitary Man / Life Has Just Begun / Dependence Day / Seasong For The Moominpappa / You Can Never Tell / Big Black Secret / Power Place

Patrick Lundstr?m - vocals, electric and acoustic guitars
Jon Gamble - keyboards, harmonica, vocals
Fredrik Lindqvist - bass, mandola, mandolin, hammered dulcimer, recorders, vocals
Johan Nordgren - drums, percussion, mallets, jews-harp, vocals

Ritual (1995/2004)
Ritual (1996) (Japanese version)
Did I Go Wrong (ep) (1999)
Superb Birth (1999/2000)
Think Like A Mountain (2003)
Ritual Live (2006)
The Hemulic Voluntary Band (2007)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin SE

Added: January 31st 2005
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website: www.ritual.se
Hits: 954
Language: english


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