Ritual King by Ritual King

Release date: February 21, 2020
Label: Ripple Music

”So, fly away”, sings Jordan Leppitt, the first words expressed in the opening ‘Valleys’ on Manchester’s Ritual King’s self-titled debut album, is a good pre-cursor on which begins a seven-track journey for a musical elevation of 42 minutes of head nodding, drift inducing escapism. Along with Jordan on vocals and guitar is bassist Dan Godwin and Gareth Hodges on drums and backing vocals. They have whipped up an album of impressive bluesy, stoner rock, with slight retro–rock tinged grooves, but the refreshingly crisp, punchy production has modern day stamped over it and allows all-of the many guitar intricacies, mighty riffs, and soaring solos to be given space driven forward by a proper thick, robust heavy rhythm section.

To help give an indication of roughly where this fits into the greater scheme of things, then think somewhere in-between Elder’s progressive explorations and Elephant Tree’s sweeping melodic harmonies is a start, but they avoid sounding like either. All the songs are between five and seven minutes-ish long which allows the band to build vast landscapes of huge riffage, hummable guitar hooks, and timely tempo changes while clean vocal melodic crooning are added to supplement the whole catchy shebang.

The opening ‘Valleys’ sets the tone with aplomb. The 3D dimensional lush of gorgeous fuzzy guitar inter-wined with dexterous guitar picking and long-drawn out vocal melodies is driven by the rhythm sections thrusting surge. The band add colourful variation across the album using many changing guitar sounds and styles. ‘No comprise’ includes Jordan’s acoustic guitar finger picking and a lofty guitar solo towards the end while the rock-solid rhythm section is always busy themselves for keeping it pumped-up for head grooving enticement.

And if there is a song fittingly titled then that award goes to ‘Headspace’, boasting a riff which rises above with a self-knowing greatness and worms its way into your, er, head space. The closing ‘Black Hills’ is a fine send-off in the same sense ‘Valleys’ was an excellent statement of intent album opener. While there will be tracks which will prove to be your favourites, the quality rarely dips. ‘Restrain’ might not achieve the greatness it possibly intended to be, but this is a minor quibble for an album which achieves maximum listening pleasure by listening to it in its entirety.

Ritual King have produced a debut which has great depth, enjoyable, and bridges superbly both melody and power. They are another example why the rock underground scene is currently bubbling under with an array of talent and promise.

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