Published Oct 29, 2015Ritual's self-titled debut is an earnest homage to the sounds of the neo-metalcore wave of the late '00s, and has its moments, occasionally employing techniques reminiscent of bands like Underoath, who juggled technical guitar work with melodic hooks. Unfortunately, the greater part of this band's attempts at being aggressive come off too ham-fisted and hokey, all comically exaggerated lyricism and certain tiresome clichés.
The album is strongest at the very beginning with "Pisces," which sets off at a lively bounce and transitions between verses and shifts rhythms seamlessly. The song manages to momentarily dip into clean vocal sections without interrupting the flow of the song, but the same can't be said for the immediate follow-up, "Gag Order," in which the obtuseness of Matt Tobin's clean vocal breaks brings the momentum previously built up to a screeching halt. This happens again in "Hot Pink," where clean vocals are substituted for repeated dips into instants of slurring spoken word.
Instrumentally, the weighty and consistently busy riffs keep the songs lively and relatively engaging over the course of the album, but it's not enough to counter-balance the vocals. With their debut, Ritual have put together a set of songs that are not lacking in effort, but could greatly benefit from some more nuance and dynamism. Hopefully, more experience will bring both. (Distort/Fontana)