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Ritual: Superb Birth

Sweden's Ritual is one of those progressive-rock bands that never repeats itself. After hearing 2003's Think Like A Mountain and remaining rather indifferent to its organic Faith No More vibe, I listened to a reissue of the band's 1995 self-titled debut and was pleasantly surprised by its melodic diversity and overall catchiness. Sonic chunks of Gentle Giant, Jethro Tull and Yes abound amid modern soundscapes. Now comes a reissue of Ritual's second album, 2000's self-released Superb Birth.

Upon initial release, Superb Birth went nowhere, thanks to poor distribution. That's unfortunate, because the album continues to reveal Ritual's tendencies to experiment and resist pigeonholing. In addition to including such live favorites as the snazzy opener "Do You Want to See the Sun," the acoustic, Zeppelin-influenced "Sadly Unspoken" and the funky, cacophonous "Dinosaur Spaceship," Superb Birth also prominently features a string section on the manic, minor-key song "6/8," which somehow manages to incorporate a lap steel guitar, too. Spacey guitars waft in and out of "Into the Heat," and Patrik Lundström's sometimes warm-sometimes cloying vocals take on pleasant Nick D'Virgilio/Spock's Beard tones on the melancholic "Did I Go Wrong" and the rocker "Coming Home." Other times, though, they veer toward borderline Shannon Hoon territory, as on "Really Something."

Superb Birth may not be quite as good as Ritual's debut — there's nothing here you can really do a jig to — but it's more accessible and appealing than Think Like A Mountain. That said, after listening to the band's first two discs, I did go back and revisit Think Like A Mountain. It's actually better than I remembered.

Track Listing:
1) So You Want to See the Sun (4:01)
2) Lobby (4:49)
3) Sadly Unspoken (3:55)
4) Did I Go Wrong (5:38)
5) 6/8 (2:44)
6) Coming Home (4;09)
7) Into the Heat (4:59)
8) Really Something (3:49)
9) Mothersong (3:52)
10) Golden Angel (4:27)
11) Dinosaur Spaceship (6:09)
12) A Voice of Divinity (3:34)
Total Time: 53:06

Added: July 23rd 2004
Reviewer: Michael Popke
Related Link: Official Ritual Web Site
Hits: 3070
Language: english

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