Manchester band Ritual King open a portal in the stoner psych/blues space on their sophomore full album release The Infinite Mirror.

Release date: November 17, 2023 | Ripple Music | Linktree | Facebook | Instagram | Bandcamp

I’m gonna fasten the seatbelt for you while this trio lead you on an odyssey with The Infinite Mirror. Discernible elements at the core of Ritual King‘s works, like their signature riffs and deliberate vocal placement, are only a few of the components guiding the trio’s voyage on new planes. At three years since the previous release of their self-titled debut, the three-piece stretch beyond their stoner bluesy rock roots with this sonic experience.

The album feels like a graduation for the band. In some ways, it is — The Infinite Mirror marks the fourth release for the Manchester, UK, band, formed in 2016. The group cultivate a calculated and coarse old school sound transcending the level of their previous works. This album gives a nod of approval and respect to the band’s past works, but comes from an elevated space. The band makes blues and psychedelic speak to each other in new ways on this release. It demands your attention and dissection. Ritual King are painting a mural here, and they’re not afraid to mix the colors and free-hand some of it.

Opening track “Flow State” welcomes you gently. The folky intro took me off-guard, a pleasant surprise, but still. The dopey riff makes your face melt in reverse, and then you’re straight-up levitating. Jordan Leppitt’s voice glides honey-thick but maintains its bluesy stupor. The three parts of Ritual King open the door to the rest of the album with this invitation to join a “Flow State.” Dan Godwin on bass, Gareth Hodges on drums and backing vocals, and Leppitt on lead vocals and guitar are bringing you along for the ride. The Infinite Mirror probes the inner sanctums of the mind in a hypnotic manner. The finale of the opening track summons you to join an altered state with the trio for the entirety of the voyage.

The album’s single “Landmass” that dropped in September mirrors elements from the band’s sophomore 2018 EP, Earthrise. Ritual King know the core of their sound. The band rework morsels of the past in pleasantly unexpected ways with this album, often switching planes entirely within a song. I wonder if recording sessions are as erratic in nature as the songs with their unpredictability.

In retrospect, “Landmass” as the choice for the single is obvious. This track starts on familiar ground with moderate vocal presence, a mellow and dependable riff, and a gritty slant. Leppitt’s lead and Hodges’ backing vocals are more involved on “Landmass” than any other track on the album. Leppitt’s voice comes through stronger, seasoned and mature. The mix quality honestly sounds perfect on this album in comparison to previous works from Ritual King. The trio tease the album’s exploratory theme halfway into the song. The intro comes in smoothly and grows like a fire.

Hodges’ and Godwin’s intensity builds to an all-out, unrelenting rage. It starts fading, and the energy returns to its melting point where Leppitt’s voice resides. The rollercoaster of a journey is unending with this album, and the frenzied ending of “Landmass” follows suit. Ritual King often destroy, build, destroy with song structure, like in this song. For me, the progression of this track mimics the duality of humans and the mind. This song feels like a retreat to habitual tendencies and the searching for the meaning of existence.

I love what Ritual King delivers with this album on all fronts: content, song structure, variety, range in sound, and mix quality. The dedication this trio puts into each song is what brings the experience of The Infinite Mirror to life. It’s clear this is not the group’s first go-around. The band’s aura is matured, and rich with experimental elements that will definitely have me keeping tabs on what’s to come. This certainly isn’t their final form.

Artist image courtesy of Ripple Music
Album cover art by Ryan T Hancock

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