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Live

Ritual

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Album Review

Recorded while the band was on a European tour, sharing the bill with compadres Anekdoten, this two-CD Live set sums up Ritual's career to this point and shows that the group is the stage powerhouse the studio albums hinted at. A modern-day Scandinavian harder-rocking version of Gentle Giant, the group displays impressive chops, presenting the crowd with an array of instruments, all the musicians moonlighting on at least two each in addition to their main roles. Expect flute and mandolin in the acoustic numbers and occasional violin on solid rockers (like "Typhoons Decide," a highlight). Patrik Lundström's voice inhabits the group's sound, a strange blend of progressive hard rock and Scandinavian folk. All of the band's key tracks from Ritual, Superb Birth, and Think Like a Mountain are there, including the hard-hitters "What Are You Waiting For" (manic vocal delivery from Lundström) and "Big Black Secret," longest numbers like "Solitary Man" and "Mother You've Been Gone for Much Too Long" (actually going on a bit too long), and acoustic favorites. As for the latter, the "Acoustic Medley" will surprise more than a few listeners, as the guys make downright Gentle Giants of themselves. This nine-minute tour de force revisits five of the more folk-tinged songs from the group's debut album, which also represent the more "Giant" side of the band — vocal counterpoint, interlocking guitar patterns, etc. When Lundström taunts the crowd with a "Sing it!" in the middle of a particularly dense four-way canon, one can only laugh out loud at the joke! This is an excellent place to start with this superior group playing progressive rock that is much more fun than you might be expecting. ~ François Couture, Rovi

Live, Ritual
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