High 5, with A Ritual Spirit

Formed from the ashes of a previous band, A Ritual Spirit debuted in the Edinburgh live scene in early 2011 after self-recording a four-track demo during 2010.

Shows around Scotland and Northern England followed, along with a three-track EP, before attention turned to writing, recording and touring an album.

Carnival Carnivorous was released in 2013 with debut single The Way I Died leading the way, followed by a video for second single Visceral Decay, all via the band’s own label Disposable Noise Records.

Subsequent UK tours and radio play followed, culminating in a headline slot at Wildfire Festival 2017. A semi-final exit at Metal2TheMasses Glasgow 2017 spurred them on to go one better and reach the final in 2018 – eventually going a step further and successfully winning their slot at Bloodstock Open Air Festival 2018 on Friday, 10 August.

Focus for the band – Oli Bowker (vocals/guitar), Steven Patterson (lead guitar), Martin Gray (bass/vocals) and Dave Cumming (drums) – has returned to writing.  Recent single …The Ever After is the band’s first release in over four years and A Ritual Spirit are at present preparing their second album, due for release in 2019.

AAA caught up with A Ritual Spirit frontman Oli for a chat.

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Favourite Film 

The Crow. I’ve still got a soft spot for it after all these years. I think it’s one that you had to watch as a kid to really appreciate – it wouldn’t have the same effect on me now if I watched it for the first time and there’s plenty of films I’ve seen since that I could choose here too but back in the 90s it opened me up to a whole new scene. The soundtrack alone is incredible and it’s a great story. Then there’s Brandon Lee’s death during filming which makes it all the more poignant.

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Favourite Single 

Pink Floyd – Comfortably Numb. What can I say, it’s a beautiful song with one of, if not, the greatest guitar solos of all time. Pink Floyd are an incredible band and Dave Gilmour’s guitar playing is pristine. Although the song is about a rock star being tranquillised in order to play a show, it seems to take on a deeper, more profound meaning, almost like the music becomes the tranquilliser and induces a state of comfortable numbness within the listener. We don’t like to talk about it but there’s an existential crisis going on in all of us, no matter how buried or hidden it might be, and for me at least, Comfortably Numb provides a brief moment of catharsis, plus the B-side (Hey You) is also a fantastic song!

This was a pretty difficult one as a lot of my favourite songs were never released as singles. I almost picked a Zeppelin album as my favourite but I’ve chosen something else there so I’ll mention them here instead because if they released singles Heartbreaker might just have made it to top spot.

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Favourite Album

A Perfect Circle – Mer de Noms. Maynard’s voice is hypnotic and I could have easily chosen Thirteenth Step (A Perfect Circle’s second album) or a Tool album here instead but Mer de Noms is about as perfect as music gets for me – it’s graceful, dark and powerful, heavy in parts and really soft in others, the instrumentation and production are flawless. As soon as I hear the drum fill before the guitars even kick in, it’s got me hooked. The band was the brainchild of Tool’s guitar tech Billy Howerdel and they are essentially a supergroup, which I know some folk frown upon, but as debut albums go it’s a tough one to top.

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Favourite Gig 

Rage Against The Machine – Reading Festival. Doing a top five for all these questions would have saved me a whole load of dilemmas but this one especially. Witnessing the raw power and energy of Rage as a teenager not long before they split up is a highlight in my life’s show-reel for sure. Would love to have seen them in a small 200 capacity venue earlier in their career but this was as close as I got. Even on a big outdoor festival stage in the middle of the afternoon they were phenomenal – totally blew me away! They were pioneers and broke the mould of what rock music could sound like. You can say that for other seminal bands, too, but their musicianship, stage presence, relentless political activism and particular brand of different elevates them to superiority in my eyes.

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Favourite Book 

Perfume – Patrick Suskind. Admittedly, I first read this because it was the subject of Nirvana’s Scentless Apprentice but it’s a captivating story, grotesque in parts but sublimely beautiful overall. It made me question my own psyche and physiological make-up, as well as humanity as a whole. The way our senses affect our emotions and desires as they weave and blend with our base instincts and learnt behaviours is fascinating. Perfume is a powerfully emotive book and probably the only film that came anywhere close to being how I imagined it as I read. The imagery is so strong that you can almost smell those dank streets of Paris in the 1700s and the exquisite perfumes Jean Baptiste-Grenuille creates.

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