Friday, May 31, 2013

Blood Ceremony: " the Eldritch Dark"

This Canadian band got lost from me during the deluge of "Vest metal" or " Occult rock" bands that flooded me two summers ago, when bands sailed in on the currents behind the Devil's Blood, you know Christian Mistress, Royal Thunder, Huntress, Witch Mountain. Orange amps and a female singer was all it seemed to take to be occult if you had some cryptic lyrics which eluded to the devil.

Blood Ceremony was most hippie of them and reminded me of  the Decemberists' Hazards of Love album when I first heard them, it wasn't bad but didn't stand the test of time which speaks for it'self. There newest release however shows sizable growth and not just of their beards. They have certainly done their research and dug up Deep Purple and Uriah Heap albums for inspiration. The albums vintage production helps foster this setting and they have captured some incredible and extremely authentic organ sounds. "Witchwood" opens the album with a 70's rock boogie, very blues influenced. The only thing that forces you to suspend your disbelief is Alia O'brian's vocals , where voice sounds young and lacks power but doesn't do the songs a disservice and certainly keeps them from sounding like an attempt to recreate the sound of dinosaurs. Her ability as an organist and flutist supersedes her singing ability. Some of the melodies on the opener remind me a little of the song "Black Mass" by Electric Wizard.

They mellow slightly on "Goodbye Gemini"  where the flute leads in , then the song takes on a Devil's Blood like stomp, breaking up with the flute solos that shockingly don't over Jethro Tull things like you would assume them to. " Lord Summerisle" which features male vocals that harmonize with Alia make this song too much of a tribute to Emerson Lake and Palmer's "Lucky Man" which I see as one of the low points of 70's prog in it's Moody Blues leanings and this song makes similar tonal mistakes, but then a gain I'm not a hippie and I no longer smoke pot so maybe its just me .

The syncopation on the verses have a bluesy White Stripes like swagger, but actually do more for me than any thing I have heard by Jack White whose personality obscures any any interest I attempt to have in his music. The Title track opens with a very Deep Purple organ line , then goes into the first riff that would come come close to meeting a more modern definition of metal. This is broken up by flute solos and has more stoner groove to it to be any flavor of doom.

On songs like this her voice takes on a sharper tone and fits better in this register when it's youthfulness doesn't betray the picture the band is trying to paint. Once again this is balanced out as she pulls the bands weight when it comes to musical virtuosity as all the solos are pretty much handled by the flute or the organ, Not that band is comprised of slouches by any means when they veer into the more jammy sections of songs.

"Drawning Down the Room" shows she really needto focus on the more alto end of her range as the more sultry melodies to this one compliment the accompanying orchestration. The riff which comes in at the three minute mark after the organ  solo has more balls to it than the majority riffs whihc stay pretty close to cannibas inspired Seventies grooves. The instrumental "Faunus" is well played but not entirely needed.

"The Magician"  end the albums on a slightly darker note but nowhere near as dark as the Devil's Blood's swan song released earlier this , They do match the Devils Blood in the authenticity of the era which their are invoking though their chops aren't in the same zip code as the Devil's Blood, yet this album is a great improvement from their previous work and places Alia as the worthy heir to be crowned queen of occult rock as her bands postiions themselves to be a suitable replacement to the Devils Blood.


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