Here at the Send Me Your Ears studio today, we’ve been listening to the latest single from Van Nuys, US band, MAL. Ritual was released on December 21, 2022, and is by far the longest song we’ve ever reviewed!

Standing at just shy of 14 minutes, Ritual is a soundscape which will take you on an unforgettable journey. From the brief moment of speech at the very end of the recording, we’re given the impression that perhaps this track was recorded live and if that’s the case, we’d have loved to have been in the room when that happened. Clearly, a band that feeds off of each other’s creativity and maintains eye contact whilst performing. A classy slow burn which will appeal to fans of psychedelia or prog rock.

Ritual is a rock musical journey for those who practice enhancing their awareness through psychedelics. It feels a little like an instrumental version of Riders On The Storm by the Doors, but with a more ominous and dark feel.

Ritual starts with a reversed bass effect with plenty of fuzz on the five-string guitar. There are some distant toms and the feel of the sound lets you know that you’re in for a long journey. The repeated bass line is relentless and a guitar used for sound effects slowly builds the sound.

Very subtle additions continue as the track progresses. The guitar becomes huge sounding with plenty of stereo and fuzz. As the track builds to a guitar solo, the note choices are disturbingly and deliberately discordant, making great use of tritones to make the listener feel on edge. This feels like a track which would sit perfectly in a sci-fi horror movie.

The rise and fall within the track is a slow burn but done to perfection. At one point, the fuzz disappears from the bass, leaving it with a lovely picked metallic sound, another time, the track drops back to almost nothing but ride cymbal.

11 minutes into the track and we’re still gripped. A massive crescendo gives us the payoff we’ve all been waiting for. This is a truly satisfying track that it’s hard to say anything other than we’re disappointed we’ll never hear it for the first time again.

The bass ends the track as it started and we like that full circle feel it gives. Percussion right at the end feels like a clock ticking as time passes you by. How easily we lost 14 minutes to this highly inventive and intriguing track.

Ideas from our ears

An EQ cut around 100Hz and another around 170Hz followed by a high shelf boost at around 9kHz would balance out the overall tones in the track, allowing brighter aspects such as the snare wires and cymbals to come through a little clearer. A light compressor/limiter and around 7dB of make-up gain would give the track more warmth and presence as well as raising the overall volume. As always, these are just some ideas from our ears.

Final thoughts

If you’re the kind of listener who likes a 3 chord, 3-minute song with some cheesy words and predictability, scroll on by. If you’re a fan of psychedelia or prog rock and you have 14 minutes to be taken on a musical journey you’ll never forget, then this is the track for you.