It's been a long time getting here. Over five years, in fact, since their last album—the criminally underrated Heligoland—but Massive Attack are back with the Ritual Spirit EP, still emotional, brooding yet undeniably funky. They're back touring, back with Tricky, and a new album is said to be on the way later in 2016 (hopefully featuring a Run The Jewels collaboration after they were confirmed to be in the studio together) and they don't appear to have lost any steps, sounding just as urgent and revolutionary as they did in 1991. Starting off as a threesome, Mushroom left after Mezzanine and Daddy G abruptly left at the turn of the century only to return a couple of years later after making up with 3D.
Massive Attack's history is a messy one of conflicting personalities and artistic direction, but throughout all the turmoil, the music has remained consistently exceptional. They've worked with some of the most remarkable artists in music such as David Bowie on a remix of "Nature Boy", Damon Albarn, Mos Def, Sinead O'Connor and Madonna, and are pivotal to the evolution of music in the UK in a way few achieve. Even in the long periods between albums and tours, Massive Attack have still been able to maintain a grip on culture thanks to the use of their music in films and TV shows.
The long-running and immensely popular medical show House used "Teardrop" as its opening theme and the BBC's Luther makes brilliant use of the eerie "Paradise Circus" over its opening credits, and that's without mentioning the fact that The Matrix, Snatch and The Insider have all prominently used Massive Attack tracks at one time or another. One of the most influential and pioneering groups in UK music—in case you've forgotten—they're back, and the world is far more exciting for it. Here's why you should care about their return.