Dream Ritual, Trips Around the Sun (Self-Released, 2019)

If you've spent any time at all you’re probably fairly familiar with at least some of the common hardcore/punk adjacent musical avenues; there's shoegaze for the emotional pedal-heads, metal for the darker and more technically gifted, power pop just for funsies...etc. Further on the subject of trends, it’s difficult to escape the ever-present permeation of '90s nostalgia that has recently seeped into the nooks and crannies of the culture.

Why bring these two seemingly unrelated factoids side-by-side? The presence of the latter has begun to bring to light a glaring hole in the former: where are the grunge revival bands? With the rich variety of different styles, it only seems natural that some of those self-proclaimed "'90s kids" would latch on to one of the most pervasive cultural touchstones of that era.

Enter Dream Ritual, the Springfield, MO band that is here to deftly bridge that gap, and if that sounds like it may scratch an itch you didn't even know you had, then settle in (and I mean really settle in—this bitch is 28 mins long) for the new record, Trips Around the Sun.

Although decidedly less on-on-the-nose than their 2014 self-titled EP, this one takes a healthy dose of that soft-grunge sensibility and seasons it with a mix of radio-ready rock elements, psychedelic fuzz tones, and even a dash of pure '70s-esque jam to create a sound that can't quite be described as a modern reinvention, but is unique in and of itself.

There is undeniably a lot going on here, but despite being packed to the brim it doesn’t come off as bloated. Each song is a journey rather than a slog and it all culminates to become whatever the opposite of “terse” is.

There are some slight consistency issues, as longer works are prone to have. For example, what trusty steed did that western ditty in the middle ride in on? But overall the record is a marked advancement in sound over their previous release. All those minutes have to get filled somehow and Dream Ritual does it with psychedelic and wandering interludes and lush and fertile hooks. There’s even some tambourine for good measure. There are almost literally bells and whistles on this record. The fuzz is dialed in and more focused on supporting thematically rather than being the main attraction. All in all, it's a positive progression, moving away from being overly referential and reliant on their obvious '90s soft grunge influence and coming into their own as band with their own viewpoint.  

Photo: Shay Rainey

Trips Around the Sun will be out on March 22 and can be pre-ordered at this link. Follow Dream Ritual on their social media pages (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) to keep up with their shows, including the ones listed below.

Dream Ritual tour dates:
4/11 - St. Louis, MO @ The Sinkhole
4/12 - Cedar Falls, IA @ Octopus
4/13 - Chicago, IL @ DC Torium
4/14 - Tolono, IL @ Loose Cobra
4/15 - Cincinatti, OH @ The Hub
4/17 - Nashville, TN @ drkmttr
4/19 - Kansas City, MO @ The Rino


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