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Review: Ritual - Widow

Label: Shadow Kingdom Records
Year released: 2008
Originally released in: 1983
Duration: 53:06
Tracks: 11
Genre: Heavy Metal

Rating: 4.25/5

Review online: October 1, 2008
Reviewed by: Michel Renaud
Readers Rating

Rated 3.83/5 (76.67%) (12 Votes)

Ritual - one of many bands sharing this moniker - is a NWOBHM band recently resurrected by Shadow Kingdom Records, the label having reissued this album and its successor Valley of the Kings with new artwork and bonus tracks.  The new cover art for Widow is definitely better than the old one, but for those who'd like the original, the booklet has both, so it's only a matter of turning the booklet upside down and bang, you're back 25 years. ;)  Lyrics are included in the booklet, but there's also an interview spanning several pages - a very nice touch.

I found that most of the underground NWOBHM bands can be split into two general categories: Rough, garage-like sound featuring singers with a rough voice, and the more polished melodic ones featuring singers with very clean vocals.  Ritual fall into the latter category.  The singer could hardly sing more "clean", exhibiting a powerful yet calm and melodic voice just riding the music's waves.  Musically the band is also pretty much on the melodic side of things, with a good number of acoustic passages, even throwing in a couple of rainfalls - yes, yes, you get some thunder as well.  The material here is slow to mid-paced, a little on the melancholic and Hard Rock-ish side at times (not that uncommon with NWOBHM bands) with some occasional faster, more rocking and upbeat moments.  As such Widow isn't exactly what I'd call headbanging material, but rather the kind of soothing/rocking metal that you listen to when you feel like relaxing a little.  Some of this stuff could be a good soundtrack for a trucker movie, as the beat and melancholic side have that "long haul cross-country drive" kind of feel. I'm definitely bringing this sucker along on my next road trip.  Unsurprisingly, considering the original release year, there's a strong 70s vibe - some of the guitar work especially has that very old school sound and style.

Ritual don't play the most energetic material coming from the NWOBHM era, but rather falls into a slew of artists from that era/wave who tip-toed on the fence between Heavy Metal and dark Heavy/Hard Rock.  I've heard quite a few of those, and Widow falls into the very good ones, balancing good playing and clean sound with the rough, blue collar-ish edge that one expects from a band part of "the wave."  Not only is the music good, but the atmosphere it conveys makes it worth the purchase price alone.  Good of SKR to resurrect these guys from the land of the out-of-print.  Recommended.

Other related information on the site
Review: Valley of the Kings (reviewed by Michel Renaud)
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