The audience that Ritual King are clearly trying to appeal to are those whose festival itinerary is topped each year by Ramblin’ Man, and whose Download highlights are likely to consist of The Answer and The Temperance Movement. Yep, what we’ve got here is yet another throwback band, but where most of their contemporaries at least have the advantage of a harder or more rock ‘n’ roll influence, or a powerhouse vocalist, Ritual King just coast along on the bare minimum, with new EP Elixir feeling like all the blues-rock dregs assembled together for a truly disappointing listen.
Even so, Ritual King still deserve some credit – they may not have the time for anything outside of a six foot radius of Led Zeppelin, but the musicianship on Elixir isn’t bad. The tried-and-true blues-rock that stands as the trio’s bread and butter isn’t exactly difficult to get right, but on a very basic level, the fat riffs and grooves that weave their way through these five tracks are at least a passable approximation of the classic sound they so clearly idolise.
But then again, they might be a bit too tried-and-true, because Elixir grows stale in a hurry and hardly lets up. There’s barely any real sizzle or fire to these tracks, more stagnant and lukewarm than anything else. And in a market as clustered as revival rock has become, it feels as though Ritual King would struggle to elbow their way into even the minor leagues, given just how drab and forgettable this all is; it really does go in one ear and right back out the other. Unorthodox Satisfaction probably serves the best with more of a propulsive rollick, but other than that, nothing here sticks; the most memorable thing about tracks like Devil’s Chokehold and ISD are their titles.
But at the end of the day, there’s bound to be an audience for this sort of thing, and in that environment, Ritual King are likely to please. But if you’re the sort of person actively seeking out dull, run-of-the-mill fodder like this, your expectations need to be set a little higher. And with bands like The Answer, Rival Sons and The Temperance Movement doing this sort of thing so much better, Ritual King are hurtling towards obsolescence at an alarming rate.
For fans of: The Answer, Tax The Heat, Scorpion Child
Words by Luke Nuttall
‘Elixir’ by Ritual King is released on 4th December.