Sunday 2 June 2013

Blood Ceremony -The Eldritch Dark - Review

Blood Ceremony
The Eldritch Dark

Rise Above / Metal Blade
May 27 2013

The songs:

Goodbye Gemini
Lord Summerisle
Ballad Of The Weird Sisters
Eldritch Dark
Drawing Down The Moon
The Magician

The band:

Alia O'Brien - vocals, flute, organ
Lucas Gadke - bass guitar, vocals
Sean Kennedy - guitars
Michael Carrillo - drums

One can easily think that the whole 70's occult retro revival would be oversaturated by now with the first wave of bandwagon jumpers taking over. It might be so but there are some true pioneers out there such as Jex Thoth, Jess And The Ancient Ones, The Devil's Blood(sadly they are no more) and Sabbath Assembly. Thankfully there some newer bands carries on the torch and one of them are Canada's Blood Ceremony. Just like the bands already mentioned this Toronto-based band is fronted by an exquisite woman with a set of pipes that can make the walls of Jericho crumble. Alia O'Brien is one of the best singers I have heard in a long time. Not only a great singer, she gives Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull a run for the money with some deft flute-work.

What sets this lot apart from the other top bands within the genre is their heavier approach to the music. No need to worry all you purists out there, Blood Ceremony rely on frequent use of the Hammond organ, courtesy of the ever talented Miss O'Brien, occult themes and a 70's sounding song structure. At the same time they have lifted the guitar up front a lot more than their contemporaries giving a more heavy sound. The guitarist, Sean Kennedy, is duelling nicely with Alia's flute a lot creating some awesome tunes which at the same time brings out the trippy and psychedelic side of the band. Absolutely stunning!

Built around a nice chugging riff Witchwood starts this séance before going all-out psychedelic while still maintaining the heaviness of the opening riff. I don't know how they pull it off but it is amazing. Goodbye Gemini gives the impression of being a slow beautiful number but explode in to a faster Tull-esque ode. Sean is pulling off some very nice solos all while Alia's flute invokes images of Pan. Backed by Lucas Gadke's heavy thumping bass and Michael Carrillo's spot-on drumming Blood Ceremony simply can't go wrong. Lord Summerisle is soft-sounding and invocative with Lucas handling the lead vocals and an acoustic guitar and the flute mainly being used. Just sit back and close your eyes and you'll be somewhere else in a heartbeat. Ballad Of The Weird Sisters starts with a guitar-line and a violin taking centre stage drawing from Southern Rock and folkish music almost until the rest of the band joins in and Blood Ceremony have time travelled to medieval times keeping their penchant for the connotative extremely vibrant.

Holy shit the title track, Eldritch Dark, is a riff-fest built on stuff Tony Iommi would be proud of. It's heavy, rocking and evil with Michael pound the life out of his drums while the rest of Blood Ceremony throws off any shackles that might have tried to hold them back and they tear it up. Fantastic, simply fantastic folks! Drawing Down The Moon follows along the same way although it starts a little slower. The organ is used heavily and it sounds amazing. The only instrumental track follows, Faunus, where Sean plays a blistering solo and the whole vibe of the song is akin to Jethro Tull. Last up is The Magician and it definitely lives up to it's name. Highly evocative, seductive even and evil the band takes us on a trip indeed and they excel as they do on the entire album.

If you desire occult heavy 70's-inspired rock of the highest order don't look any further because it doesn't get any better than this. Blood Ceremony's brand new release The Dark Eldritch has raised the bar incredibly high for themselves as well as for all the other bands within this genre. The musicianship is impeccable and they have managed elegantly to steer away from technical twiddling by letting the songs to the talking. And of course the organic, full production helps as well. This is fantastic stuff that you shouldn't miss out on regardless your musical preferences because this band deserves so much more.

Håkan Nyman

Thanks to Alfred at Suburban and Rise Above Records for sending ourselves a promo to review. As you can tell we very much appreciate it.

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