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Ritual - 2002 - "Nothing Strange"

(61 min, 'R')

TRACK LIST:                             

1.  My Little Victim 4:24
2.  Little Gods & Bastards 6:02
3.  Mirrors 6:57
4.  The Pop Song 4:29
5.  Second Thought 4:57
6.  Ava G 5:19
7.  Blues for Scheherezade 6:04
8.  Sarcasm 5:52
9.  Yesterdayhead 6:14
10. Face Down at the Apocalypse 4:41

All tracks: by Ritual.
Produced by Ritual.


Mike Day - lead vocals
Jon Tompkins - guitar; backing vocals
George Radai - bass; backing vocals
Ken Rosser - acoustic guitar
Hampton Flannigan - drums
Michele DiSisto - drums
Mark Segal - percussion 

Prolusion. "Nothing Strange" is thus far the only full-length album by RITUAL, though all the members are experienced musicians. Don't confuse them with the Swedish band of the same name, as these men are from California. (It would be interesting to know if they have heard of each other. Unlikely.)

Analysis. Considering the high degree of originality of most of the material, "Nothing Strange" is a good album, at least overall. However, the last two tracks are so banal and uninteresting that I've lost my vigor while listening to them. So I fear the review will be pretty uninspired, although I understand that it's improper to be led by emotions. All ten of the tracks present are songs, and the first four are vocal heavy, with very few independently developing instrumental arrangements. Although Mike Day quite successfully avoids Hard Rock singing standards, the music remains just Hard Rock, bright, melodic, but very simple. Only Mirrors has some great, i.e. progressive, moments. It should have been placed on the fourth position, near Second Thought, as there is much in common between these. Then the overall picture would've been much more coherent. Ava G, Blues for Scheherezade and Sarcasm, following one another are excellent if not brilliant. The guest musicians, especially an acoustic guitar player and a percussionist, shine throughout, weaving a really intricate web and eliciting unbelievably beautiful sounds from their instruments. It is a bit hard to describe the music, because it is so varied and constantly shifting. Not just from song to song, but within each of these songs there can be elements of soaring beauty, which segue into amazing Middle Eastern patterns. In fact, there is something magical about the music on these three. As the curtain falls, we get two boring, excessively traditional Blues Rock songs, though it would have worked somewhat better if they were separated from each other and placed among the other tracks. In 2004 the band released a single Good War (6:30). Once again, it's just a nice American Hard Rock, but nothing more.

Conclusion. Traditions and novelties, ordinary and excellent songs adjoin on this album, so it left me with rather ambivalent feelings. As mentioned, this is a rather good effort, but only three tracks (five at best), are worthy from a progressive standpoint.

VM: March 5, 2005

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