RITUAL - The Hemulic Voluntary Band

Ritual - The Hemulic Voluntary Band

6 songs
53:04 minutes
***** ***


Proudly displaying their Scandinavian origin by painting themselves as a Moomin orchestra on the cover, Swedish prog rockers Ritual borrow from the third most popular Finnich literature item (right after the Kalevala which inspired already many death metal bands, and Mika Waltari after whom a band was named). Moomins are trolls that feature in the children’s stories from Tove Jansson, a Finnish author who wrote in Swedish.

Vocalist Patrik Lundström is also a member of Kaipa, and therefore it doesn’t come as a surprise that Ritual sound a lot like that Scandinavian prog legend, and parellels to the Flower Kings (who again share members with Kaipa) also come to mind. But Ritual have a stronger folk element on their fourth studio album since their inception in the mid-Nineties. With instruments like mandolin, recorder and bouzouki (and not bazooka as I misread at first), Ritual come sometimes very close to the prog folk spirit of Gentle Giant, which is mostly obvious on the ballad Late In November. Other tracks, like the dynamic, complex opener The Hemulic Voluntary Band, reveal the band’s Swedish origins. The first five songs have normal running times between four and six minutes, and are very good actually. But the highlight of the album is the twenty-six minutes long final track A Dangerous Journey that starts with an acoustic part that takes nearly ten minutes before electric instruments provide power, and it’s also that song that shows the band from their heaviest side. It sounds like a naturally long song, and summarises all the different facets of the band in one track that makes up half of the album.

The Hemulic Voluntary Band doesn’t reinvent progressive rock, but due to its strong folk elements and its warm production, it feels more alive than the latest releases from the more seasoned Kaipa and Flower Kings, making this an interesting addition to any well sorted prog collection.

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