Review Summary: If Orchid were to have a sassy child, you would be given Ritual Mess.
Ten years after the break up of the now legendary band Orchid, Jayson Green and Will Killingsworth have finally reunited to bring us the closest thing to an Orchid reunion that will likely ever happen. Featuring members of Ampere, Bucket Full of Teeth, Wolves, Vaccine, Violent Bull*** and Panthers, Ritual Mess is a band that should be talked about quite often. Unfortunately, spending three years shrouded in secrecy without releasing an ounce of material can certainly kill any form of hype for a band. With the release of their first 7", que the hype machine once more.
At a meager five minutes, you would be wrong to think there is not a lot of content on offer here. Featuring three songs, each clocking in under two minutes, Ritual Mess' self titled debut is very much an audio assault. Featuring guitar and bass work that is highly reminiscent of Will Killingsworths' prior band Orchid and current band Ampere, you are treated to the usual off minor chords, octaves and structure/timing complexities found from guitarists Will Killingsworth and James Clarke. On the drum kit, Andy Skelly displays his usual talent. Skelly's drum work is slightly toned down here compared to Ampere, sans the impressive Pig Island, but compliments the guitar work wonderfully by playing standard but impressive genre fare with great ease. There is a healthy dose of hardcore influence, as evident by album opener F+, added to the mix that tones down the violent sound found in the members other bands but it aids to the overall energetic vibe and longevity of the album. What you will find here is very much Gatefold era Orchid but due to the inclusion of new elements, the sound is far more mature than anything they ever released
With one listen to his recent outputs, you wouldn't be faulted for thinking vocalist Jayson Green had fallen a long way from his glory days. Seemingly becoming a Ron Jeremy look alike and hosting a weak and noticably aged voice since his more high pitched and shrill days in the 90's and 2000's, Ritual Mess finds him abandoning the poor vocals of his Violent Bull*** and Panther days and displaying a full return to form. Gnomes of Zurich opens with palm muted riffs and drum fills featuring spoken word before exploding into what is certainly a welcome return of the recognizable and ferocious Green. Often times in screamo, lyrics are damn near indecipherable. Unfortunately, things are no different here, which is a shame because the release doesn't include lyrics and Green is quite often very poetic in his writings to such a degree that his writing can generally be appreciated separate from the music. "We get lost sometimes..."
Not often found in screamo, the production and sound on this release is surprisingly solid. Of particular note are the drums. They don't sound distant and tin like with an over abundance of cymbals like the usual screamo affair. Each note is crystal clear and beautifully heard. Much like the drums, the vocals and guitars can be heard clear and you can differentiate the riffs with ease. While audible, the bass is unfortunately low in the mix. Despite that shortcoming, each aspect of the production brings the album together quite well. If you are a fan of Orchid, it is almost impossible to dislike Ritual Mess. The band features a more mature sound than any of the members prior offerings and the energetic and fun vibe is a welcome change. Featuring crisp production that gives each instrument room to breath, the constantly changing song structures allow for repeated listens in a row without becoming bored or tiresome. With a solid debut that harkens back to the glory days, whatever the future brings for Ritual Mess will be much anticipated.