Ritual

Ritual

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Released in Europe by Musea in 2000 and reissued worldwide by InsideOut four years later, this is Ritual's debut album -- and the word "debut" has rarely sounded so meaningless. This is already a full-fledged, mature, and technically impressive band, playing and singing with a lot of passion. The Scandinavian folk/medieval current that would all but disappear by the third album underpins every single song here, the violin of guest Lotta Hasselquist adding an even stronger folk flavor to four key tracks. If the music already presents the hard-rocking progressive rock tendency that will award the group a contract with InsideOut, it is nevertheless much lighter and funnier. Tracks like "Wingspread," "Solitary Man," and "Big Black Secret" are heavy-pounding numbers, but the spirit of the album resides more in "power folk" songs like "The Way of Things," "Life Has Just Begun," "Dependence Day," and the delightful "Seasong for the Moominpappa," the first in a series of Ritual songs based on author Tove Jansson's character. "The Way of Things" and "Life Has Just Begun" are typical King Arthur-related songs and would be rather quaint if it weren't for their catchy melodies, clever arrangements, and Patrik Lundström's fabulous singing -- one of the best power singers of the early 2000s. "Dependence Day" is the album's highlight: concise, catchy despite its dense arrangements, uplifting. "A Little More Like Me" features weaker lyrics, but has a distinct Gentle Giant flavor prog rock fans will appreciate. Highly recommended.

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