Think Like A Mountain

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Ritual's third album came out in 2003 and marked a turning point for the band. Since 2000's Superb Birth, lead singer Patrik Lundström had raised his international profile thanks to his association with Kaipa's comeback. The group's signing to InsideOut Music also meant more money for the recording sessions, and it shows. Think Like a Mountain is very much in your face, drums leaping and guitars shredding. The music also bends toward the InsideOut sound, dropping the more complex elements of Ritual's music to focus on shorter, more accessible rock anthems. It means that the music loses part of its Scandinavian prog atmosphere and comes closer to, say, Spock's Beard, but Ritual manages to make the transformation convincing. The first tracks of the album can be a bit worrying, especially the opener, "What Are You Waiting For," a lame attempt at rock radio airplay. But things soon pick up: "Once the Tree Would Bloom" presents a witty folk side to the band, while "Mother You:ve Been Gone for Much Too Long" showcases the emotional grasp of Lundström's voice. The title track sounds lifted from Anekdoten's third album and provides a highlight, while "Moomin Took My Head" evokes Gentle Giant by way of Spock's Beard (the mighty Beard's influence can also be heard in the Beatlesque melody of "Breathing"). And "Infinite Justice" turns out to be the best song of the set, blending a heavy King Crimson riff with the melancholy of Landberk. In the end, Think Like a Mountain appears to be a transitional record, the kind that hints at various directions. One has to pick up the pieces of Ritual's identity among these 12 tracks, but the album is surprisingly strong nonetheless, the songs quickly digging their way into your skull. A must-have for fans of melodic prog rock.

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