Rituals are a band that appears to have self-awareness in spades. They aren’t concerned with making a statement so much as letting you have a peek into their world. Once you look through the keyhole, however, you’re miniaturized and sucked into the sonic universe they have crafted. With their new EP Mesmerized, Rituals isn’t just playing their songs for you to hear, they’re letting you inside their heads.
It’s not all entirely an abstract concoction that they’re brewing. They summon a history of energetic would-be pop songs if the singer wasn’t drowning in a sea of reverberation. Their guitarists may as well have been kidnapped and drugged from a dance punk band. The drums keep things grounded in a way, reminding us that they could have a cleaner, more accessible sound, if they wanted. Thankfully, Rituals doesn’t seem to want that.
Luring you in with a dirty but calming ambient intro, “Delta Delta Delta” gives you a preview of things to come, and its not long before you get the picture. The first real track “Our Blood” makes a great impression and is a near perfect representation of what the band has to offer. You may find “July” as another stand-out track on this EP, where at times the bass and vocals seem to be blending together in a collaboration most often saved for the lead guitarists. Anxious but subdued picking on the guitars make it clear that you have a choice in how you approach the band. You could, for example, go the space cadet route, put on your headphones and just absorb the environment Rituals has laid out for you. But by the same notion its not a stretch of the imagination to picture show-goers to be having a bit of a freak out.
While the vocals add to the vibe of the band in a similar fashion to Comets on Fire or Dead Meadow, in terms of actual musicianship the singer seems to be the weakest link. However, it appears that Rituals knows this, and instead takes the vocals for what they are, just another instrument. He’s not there to dominate the stage or present an icon for fans to worship, hes simply contributing to the bands whirling and frantic sound. Even in their mostly incomprehensible form, the lyrics seem to have very personal and dark undertones, where I feel like if I knew what he was singing, I’d be clued into some very emotionally vulnerable verses. He chooses instead to veil himself behind the drone of the guitars and spacious atmosphere and I’d be lying if I said the band wasn’t better off for it.
Rituals present a fairly clear projection of their sonic vision, I can’t help but feel like a few improvements could be made. The atmospheric interludes would do well to find their way into their more structured songs to give them a bit more dynamics. Some songs seem to neither start nor end; rather, it feels like you simply walked in and out on them playing. More concise endings, and perhaps quiet bridge segments, would give more contrast to their energetic drones.
Whether you like to zone out or get down, this collection of songs invites you to do either. With the full EP up on their label’s Soundcloud (One Big Silence), anyone can get lost in the fuzzy world Rituals has created here. Its easy to get inebriated on their droning atmosphere alone, as they have concocted a brew that hits your psyche as hard as your gut.