I have zero issues with band reuniting. That being said, reunion is not my preference. And when a beloved and influential band that could easily reunite and cash in declines to do so and instead opts to make something new; I applaud and cry tears of hardcore joy.
Ritual Mess is the new band with three ex members of Orchid (and two members of Ampere). Orchid, in case your Wikipedia button is broken, is the band most widely credited for the creation of that once maligned genre, screamo. It’s not a distinction that any of the members are likely to embrace. As Orchid did at the time, Ritual Mess positions itself more in the tradition of Gravity Records than contemporary notions of Emo and, god save us, scramz. But regardless of how they see themselves, Ritual Mess, having three original members and therefor being more legitimate than most versions of The Temptations, could have just called themselves “Orchid” and watched that sweet, sweet reunion pour in until they were Uncle Scrooging about, doing the backstroke in their lucre. Instead they opted for a much more difficult—but presumably more spiritually/artistically rewarding—task of creating a NEW BAND. And good for them.
When I asked Jayson Green for a quote about the record he emailed me, “I don’t really have a quote. I think it's a good record. I like it. Also no one should ever care about what a musician says about anything, especially his own band. I guess that could be a quote.”
Left to my own devices, I’m going to say that the music on Ritual Mess’s new full length, Vile Art, is for sure similar to Orchid. Ritual Mess, however, rather than slowing down with age (they really don’t), gives the songs a bit of air, the rhythm section more attention in the production. There’s a cohesiveness that reads as forward movement rather than civil war reenactment. Jayson Green’s lyrics are still raging and political but now are less about The Spectacle and Marxism and more about really, really loving his wife, inevitable (?) compromise of ideals, and hypocrisy in the so-awful-and-sad-I-cried “Formal Apology.” This being hardcore, traitors and liars are still featured prominently, god bless.
I don’t imagine the members of Ritual Mess would want me to keep harping on about their legacy in the great American Tradition of 90s through Aughts Emotional Hardcore Music and All Its Permutations but, the world is a vampire that is super interested in sub-genres. And I am just a vessel for its thirst. I am hoping that, fond as I am of the new Ritual Mess album, the current critical reappraisal of screamo and the concurrent dickriding that accompanies it will reflect well upon them. They deserve the ride. Or dicks. I’m not real clear on the actual mechanics of dickriding. Anyway, Ritual Mess is a new band made up of old dudes (still younger than me damn them to hell) and is great! They were kind enough to let Noisey stream a song off of Vile Art, "Prison Too." Listen here and buy the album (and the brand spanking new re-issue to vinyl of the Orchid comp “Totality”) out on September 1 on Clean Plate!
Zachary Lipez is a writer living in Brooklyn. He's on Twitter - @ZacharyLipez.