Nearly 14 years have passed since Swedish prog rockers Ritual last released their fourth album, The Hemulic Voluntary Band, so time is not of the essence to them!
This new EP is a tantalising glimpse of what could be the core of a new album comprising four songs full of theatrics, humour, vaudeville and the finest musicianship.
The folky first few bars of Chichikov Bogd are deceptive as the song goes into overdrive and into musical territory inhabited by the likes of Haken and the Von Hertzen Brothers. Layers of vocal harmonies and a driving rhythm make it a cracking song which rattles along at a stunning pace.
A strong Russian vibe starts Mr Tilly and His Gang that morphs into a mini melodrama with shades of fairground activities and psychedelia.
A frantic mandolin starts The Three Heads of the Well, which is full of fabulous Russian promise again, thanks to Patrik Lundström's folk nuanced voice, Fredrik Lindqvist's bouzouki, some tight instrumental interplay and rousing chorus, an echoing voice from within a well ending it all.
“Nobody cares for a mouse”, the first line of The Mice, is a revelation on this, the longest track. The vocal harmonies veer towards Queen in places, but the incredibly powerful melody line, including some driving guitar riffs from Lundström and sonorous basslines from Lindqvist makes it an irresistible slice of power rock.
Okay guys, you have my full attention now. I cannot wait to hear more of this fantastic story, but please don't leave it so long this time!
**** Alison Reijman
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