Ritual - Superb Birth

Year of Release: 1999
Label: Ritual AB
Catalog Number: n/a
Format: CD
Total Time: 49:23:00

Some bands do very well with their debut album yet have it very difficult in releasing a strong follow up. The Swedish band Ritual really hit it big when in 1995 they released their self-titled album filled with Yes influences. In the very same year in which Collage singer Robert Amirian sang backing vocals for Poland during the Eurovision song contest, Ritual singer Patrik Lundström did the same with the Swedish entry Blond. So without knowing it, two prog artists stood on the same stage during the same show! In the case of Lundström everyone thought he had hit the big time with his pop combo Blond, yet holding the new Superb Birth CD obviously means we have nothing to fear (but fear itself?).

The new album sounds harder, more direct, rougher than its predecessor does. The band admits that it has added too many "fringes" to their music in the past, which meant they sometimes missed the essence of the song. The way that Ritual works drastically changed in 1997. From then on the band started to concentrate on the nucleus of it all, whilst they started to love heavy metal and tried to introduce it into their music. "There is not one rehearsal without us playing some Iron Maiden music," admits keyboard player Jon Gamble.

Opening track "Dinosaur Spaceship" includes some Steve Howe slide guitar whilst the bass guitar is very prominent. On top of that, the band experiments strongly with drum sounds in order to give it a very contemporary sound. Which sort of places the band on the same wavelength as say Pearl Jam. Ritual in the year 2000 is still the same line-up as on their debut album so that probably explains why the new album sounds like a well-oiled machine. Also, on an acoustic level, Ritual sounds divine, such as in the contagious "Golden Angel." When you listen closely you will find that the solo escapades had to climb down in favour of a more collective sound in which the vocal capers of Lundström are the main highlight. The song "6/8" shows their love for Arabian atmospheres. It's these kind of Eastern elements, that make a song like "Sadly Unspoken" sound like an unreleased Led Zeppelin classic. In fact the best material can be found at the very end of this disc. "Did I Go Wrong" simply is a world hit! Especially, the strong chorus immediately gets into your head and due to the contemporary sound you get in the same league as Radiohead. The same applies to "Mothersong" where that John Bonham-like drumming obviously steers the band in yet another Zeppelin alley. To prove the strong vocal possibilities of Patrik Lundström we get "A Voice Of Divinity," a song in which only voice and piano can be heard. This fabulous album closes with "Do You Want To See The Sun," a hurricane of a song with once again the typical Ritual signature.

For those of you who want an exact replica of the first album, I'm afraid this won't be what you expect but if the word "progressive" means a completely new sound with every album then Superb Birth certainly is the train to take in the year 2000!

Re-released by Tempus Fugit (TF VO 15) and InsideOut/SPV (SPV 085-60832) in 2004

Dinosaur Spaceship (6:09) / Golden Angel (4:27) / Coming Home (4:09) / Really Something (3:49) / Lobby (4:48) / 6/8 (2:42) / Into The Heat (4:59) / Sadly Unspoken (3:53) / Did I Go Wrong (5:39) / Mothersong (3:52) / A Voice Of Divinity (3:35) / Do You Want To See The Sun (4:01)

Johan Nordgren - drums, percussion, and backing vocals
Patrik Lundstr?m - electric and acoustic guitars, lead vocals, and percussion
Fredrik Lindqvist - bass, acoustic guitar, bouzouki, hammered dulcimer, percussion, and backing vocals
Jon Gamble - hammond organ, fender rhodse, B?sendorfer grand piano, samplers, synthesizers, percussion, and backing vocals

Ritual (1995/2004)
Ritual (1996) (Japanese version)
Did I Go Wrong (1999) (ep)
Superb Birth (1999/2000/2004)
Think Like A Mountain (2003)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin SE

Added: January 1st 2000
Reviewer: John "Bobo" Bollenberg

Artist website: www.ritual.se
Hits: 940
Language: english


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