Mancunian Metal anyone? OK, there’s more to Ritual King than mere Metal, but “Mancunian Heavy Psyche Stoner Rock with Retro Doom Metal Moments” isn’t a very punchy, attention-grabbing way to open a review is it? But the broadened description fits the bill and if you like your Heavy Rock/Metal to be a place where the riff is king, then the riff is Ritual King! In the finest historical British tradition, Ritual King hook you into every song with a killer riff which allows every track to grow and be manipulated by this relatively new band, hitting you with another riff and then another as each track progresses. For a debut this album has a real air of experience about it.
There’s a good chunk of Graveyard (especially on tracks like ‘No Compromise’) about their sound, but coupled with an Orange Goblin type heaviness and approach at times, it all works really well. This approach means Ritual King have the tools to draw in the Stoner/Doom crowd along with the more current Heavy Retro/Psyche fans. The clean-sung vocals are twinned a lot of the time for extra impact, but singularly they bring a touch of Fireball Ministry into songs like ‘Headspace’ and ‘Dead Roads’ in amongst a Vintage Caravan vibe, with that VC feel carrying into ‘602’ and ‘Black Hills’ which also have welcome hints of Terra Firma about them. I say all this to anyone who might see a label attached to Ritual King and maybe dismiss them, because there is a lot of depth to this bands sound, especially for a 3 piece.
Despite being a riff machine, Ritual King use smooth time-changes to bring a continuous groove to each track that slightly belies the more complex arrangements that they actually have, with powerful, intricate bass and excellent lead guitar work also getting the space to shine through. They make it all sound so effortless, and that’s the key really, this album is laid-back, dynamic and energetic all at the same time, which highlights different moods to the music on different listens. Most importantly however, this is a great Heavy Rock/Metal album, whatever label you want to pin on it, brimming with confidence and displaying a maturity that no debut should dare to have.
(8.5/10 Andy Barker)