Hailing from Italy, the Ritual origins date to 2002, but only in the last several years has the band stabilized enough to record and release their debut Beyond the Fragile Horizon. The Ritual self-defines their music as 'heavy melodic core.' Breaking this out some more the tunes here are definitely heavy, mixing classic heavy, thrash and some power metal in a aggressive package. The songs are also melodic; whether by chord structure or vocal arrangement, there's a melody, and more often than not a very good groove. As to the 'core' part, the verdict is out. If they mean the aggressiveness inherent hardcore (or more likely metalcore is what they're after) then, yeah, that's something. The vocals can also be harsh, but there's little of the grisly nails over stone singing here.
So then, Beyond the Fragile Horizon, to these ears, sound more like a hybrid of intense thrash and power metal in modern, but melodic, wrapper. Maybe melodic power thrash groove metal. I think I may be overthinking this. Confused? I wouldn't be overly concerned.
Certainly, Show Me What You Can Do offers many these elements, with a large focus on groove and intensity. Hysteria & Madness bursts from the gates with ferocious and deliberate fury of thrash and speed. Then a song like Jason on the River starts like power metal, but turns into this hook-laden, very catchy and melodic, romp. It's got radio airplay written all over it. Later, Shoot Me has a strong groove and clever hooks driven by a huge melodic undercurrent, even with a little harsher vocal points. Throughout the disc, as a bonus, is the fine guitar work of Marco Pastorino (Secret Sphere, Timesword).
For this, generally, non-fan of modern harsh metal, The Ritual certainly surprised me. Why? By simply putting melody and harmony back into the modern metal arrangement without sacrificing its intensity, they've added some much needed accessibility. Would I normally buy Beyond the Fragile Horizon? Likely not. But modern metal fans should check out The Ritual.
For this, generally, non-fan of modern harsh metal, The Ritual certainly surprised me. Why? By simply putting melody and harmony back into the modern metal arrangement without sacrificing its intensity, they've added some much needed accessibility. Modern metal fans should check out The Ritual.