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Ritual - The Hemulic Voluntary Band CD (album) cover




Crossover Prog

4.11 | 276 ratings

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Special Collaborator
Eclectic Prog Team
5 stars Rarely does an album craft so magical a musical experience as Ritual's The Hemulic Voluntary Band. Various themes and melodies start to become unforgettable from the first listen. This enchanting voyage conjures up a number of moods, ranging from the nostalgia of "Late in November" to the eager anticipation of "Waiting by the Bridge," from the menacing fear that is "The Groke" to the fanatical delight of "The Hemulic Voluntary Band" and "Into the Wild." A microcosm of the album, the centerpiece is the 26-minute suite "A Dangerous Journey." Most of the lyrics are inspired by Tove Jansson's Moomin series, which involves fantastical creatures with various personalities and adventures. I have fallen in love with this heterogeneous musical treasure.

"The Hemulic Voluntary Band" Quirky and inviting, the opener fuses catchy melodies with complex instrumentation. The convoluted guitars and the thumping of the bass should immediately please the Gentle Giant fans among us. The quiet, bass-led passage is just what the doctor ordered amid the joyful clamor.

"In the Wild" Adventurous and melodically portentous, the second tune continues to engage the listener with complex yet satisfying instrumentation and vocals. Reinterpreting the music with piano only midway through provides a glorious respite that is at once calming and deceptive- a guitar shrieks and tosses the listener right back into the sonic tempest.

"Late In November" Harmonium and harmonica whine mournfully over acoustic guitar, leading into a peacefully sweet vocal melody wrapped around redolent lyrics that make use of alliteration and provide the listener with a glimpse into the mind of the nomadic Snufkin, who leaves his best friend Moomintroll every fall for warmer weather. The gorgeous harmonies are a warm breeze on a chilly autumn afternoon.

"The Groke" This brooding, overawing song has a wonderfully lumbering main theme and a heavy bass riff during the lofty refrain. The Groke is a large, ghostly creature that radiates a deathly chill, and although she seeks warmth and friendship, winds up extinguishing both, and is thus kept in perpetual cold and loneliness.

"Waiting by the Bridge" If ever there was a song to bring cheer and lift the spirits, it's this one: Ritual provides a happy-go-lucky tune with enthusiastic lyrics about meeting his old friend again- Moomintroll eagerly awaits the return of Snufkin, who is to return in the spring, and describes the fun they will have together. The bass stands out here, providing a hearty groove under the merry and jaunty singing.

"A Dangerous Journey" Weaving multiple passages and themes into a unified epic is in itself a dangerous journey, but like the discontented Susanna, Ritual finds success. Susanna had a strange adventure involving Hemulen, Thingumy and Bob, a volcano, Sniff, Snufkin, Wimsey, onion soup, a party in the valley with the Moomins, and one growing cat, and Ritual uses the breadth of their musical arsenal to depict each part of the expedition. Beginning with a beautiful acoustic theme led by harmonium, the piece eventually explores wistful folk, dazzling symphonic rock, easygoing jazz, and whatever comes in between. The result is a charming and fascinating suite flaunting simultaneously the eclecticism and consistency of Ritual and concluding a wonderful masterpiece of progressive rock music.

Epignosis | 5/5 |


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