June 10, 2021

Ritual was a London based three-piece heavy rock band that existed between 1973 and 1995 with the band’s star shining brightest when part of the exciting NWOBHM movement when rock fought back and unleashed so many quality metal bands that it was, at times, difficult to keep up with them all. Some went on to greatness, some should have had greatness, some had very successful careers and are still very much active today whilst a few disappeared into obscurity. As we all know, the music business is very fickle and what factors choose the career paths the bands remains a mystery to us all and it is, very often, just so unfair. I mean, come on, Limelight should have been huge!

Anyway, Ritual released a couple of singles and then the debut, Widow, came out in 1983 by which time they were a well honed and tight rock band with 10-years experience under their collective belts. However, to show that some bands are ill-fated, the name of the band was missed off the album cover and so many actually thought that they were called Widow which led to great confusion. It also seems that this led to some believing they were part of the occult rock movement quite possibly because of Black Widow but, according to the guitarist and vocalist Re Bethe, they band was simply intended to make hard rock as played by the mighty duo of Deep Purple and Black Sabbath. Sadly, Ritual were a band out of time in that they were pre-NWOBHM and the movement was also waning by the time that Widow came out so they probably didn’t get the publicity that they and the fine rock album deserved. It would be 10-years before the bands second and last album, Valley Of The Kings, would be released. The band for the second album again featured Re Bethe on guitar and vocals with Phil Mason on bass but there seems to be conflicting information on who supplied the drums with the accompanying publicity stating that it was still Rex Duvall but other sources stating that it was John Gastor who sadly passed away in 2001. Despite the 10-year gap between albums it still feels that Valley Of The Kings immediately follows on from Widow being another superbly crafted heavy metal album. Re Bethe has a classic metal voice allied with superb skills as a guitarist and a man who knows that the value of a quality riff is exactly the same as a blistering solo. Indeed, the name of Bethe really should be talked about as a true master of the hard rock guitar with his riffs being artistic and memorable and his lead playing as good as you will hear. In many respects, his style reminds me of the brilliant Tony Bourge of Budgie fame as both seem to get far more out of a guitar than seems possible.

Valley Of The Kings sees the band in fine form with a set of truly memorable songs and thrilling delivery with Bethe switching from metal assault to acoustic delight in a heartbeat. If you love that still fresh, vibrant and immensely satisfying sound that NWOBHM delivered then this is another band you should be aware of as this is an excellent album that deserves to be played rather than hidden away in obscurity, please check it out as you will be most pleasantly surprised especially so as the guitarist is simply irresistible and truly possessing wonderful skills. Widow was re-released in 2018 and a limited run of 500 vinyl albums and now it is the turn of Valley Of The Kings so, again, if you want a copy then you need to move quickly.

Valley Of The Kings track list

  1. Naisha (5:16)
  2. Kiss Of The Nile (4:20)
  3. Come To The Ritual (5:22)
  4. Gypsy (3:28)
  5. The Enchanted Princess (2:41)
  6. Burning (4:24)
  7. Winds Of Fire (6:22)
  8. Lady Night (5:16)
  9. Morning Star (4:36)
  10. Possessed (4:04)
  11. Never Look Back (6:49)