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Ritual - The Hemulic Voluntary Band CD (album) cover

THE HEMULIC VOLUNTARY BAND

Ritual

 

Crossover Prog

4.11 | 276 ratings

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skr5e
5 stars 5 stars

This album is MAGICAL. After giving it a few run throughs I've concluded that it's one of the most enjoyable and fun albums in my collection. An underlying theme of rustic, folkish wilderness adds the occasional tinge of mystery and encourages the listener to discover the landscape that Ritual creates through their music. The lineup:

Hemulic Voluntary Band - This song is obviously dripping in Gentle Giant influence (which is a good thing of course) but is original in its own right and is a great way to kick off the album. There's a certain festive charm to it that gives off the air of a medieval "traveling-troubadour" personality-- it's catchy, playful, and fun. 4.5/5

In the Wild - One of my favorites on Hemulic and a great follow up to the upbeat introduction. The Lundstrom's vocals are enthusiastic and energetic while the background piano contributes an air of mystery. A short instrumental flows seamlessly into an introspective piano solo that manages to be both beautiful and moving without making the all-too-common mistake of treading into cheesy territories. By this point the song transitions into a steadily building and powerful guitar solo, after which the two solo instruments (guitar and piano) converge to complete the song. 5/5

Late in November - The album begins to wind down a bit here with the mellow Late in November, which features acoustic guitar, flute, and a fiddle. This piece intends to musically capture the spirit of the seasonal change from autumn to winter and does so very well. Lundstrom's voice becomes poignant and delicate, and while it is a straight-forward folk piece, it's pleasant one nonetheless. 4.5/5

The Groke - The Groke by itself isn't a song I'd enjoy so much by itself, in fact if not for the context of the rest of the album it would be a 2/5 at most. The Groke marks what is nearly a 180 degree turnaround from where we started off--it's eerie piece about a tortured spirit (?) haunting people at night. I'm not sure if it's an accordion but it adds greatly along with the to the darker ambient of the piece. 4/5

Waiting By the Bridge - Unfortunately a low point in the album for me. I just cannot get into this song. It's well played and very bright and upbeat, but I find the chorus annoying. Rating the album as a whole is difficult because of this song. An unfortunate 2/5

A Dangerous Journey - This 26+ minute epic is extremely well made. Based around Tove Jannson's Moomintroll series of stories and comic books, A Dangerous Journey reminds me of the forgotten wonder and magic in simple folk tales. The epic lover in me demands that I give this track a 5+/5

With the exception of "Waiting by the Bridge", the songs on this album are well-composed as invididual songs, and as a whole the album as a whole thoughtfully constructed as it transitions from one song to another. It's still a solid 5 star album for me.

skr5e | 5/5 |

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