Review Summary: The old ways remain.Everything old is new again. While it's increasingly more difficult to come up with anything revolutionary or novel in rock music these days, many young musicians happen to be fascinated by vintage sounds, blazing the new trend whose chief principle implies that the more old-school your style gets, the better. Toronto's Blood Ceremony are among the most notable purveyors of this philosophy.
While most classic doom revival bands' inclination seems to be to put their heads down, grow their hair long, and follow in the footsteps of Black Sabbath, Toronto's Blood Ceremony are taking a different approach. Tapping into the more pastoral proto-metal sound of Jethro Tull, the band takes listeners on a sprawling and psychedelic journey on its third album, The Eldritch Dark. With a quasi-mystical combination of frantic flute, searing guitars, and brooding organ, Blood Ceremony pay tribute to the English prog bands that helped to shape heavy metal during its more elemental and formative years.
The spooky, deeply magical wonder that is The Eldritch Dark is Toronto, ON-based Blood Ceremony's third full-length record, and unquestionably their finest to date. Fusing the rich, sumptuous tones of the best doom metal with smoky, sanguine occult rock, Blood Ceremony begin with a solid aesthetic and add just enough flourishes to transform it into something wholly unique. Frontwoman Alia O'Brien's sweet, enveloping voice draws the listener in like how a bright will-o'-the-wisp entices a lost soul into a fog-drenched grove — entirely seduced, you only realize you're trapped once the fairies and daemons seize you.
BLOOD CEREMONY open for Kylesa at Lee’s Palace on Tuesday (June 11). See lilsting. Rating: NNNN The problem with Toronto pagan rockers Blood Ceremony's first two albums - apart from their being near-impossible to procure on LP without shelling out for pricey UK mail orders - was that they sounded cheap. The 2008 self-titled debut and 2011 follow-up, Living With The Ancients, were pale evocations of what the band was capable of conjuring onstage.
As Aldous Huxley once wrote, "The charm of history and its enigmatic lesson consist in the fact that, from age to age, nothing changes and yet everything is completely different." Though our dystopian visionary surely meant to slyly reference far more sinister puppet masters with his damning and oh-so-quotable bon mot, the unruly hellions pulling rock’n’roll’s nylon strings are less inclined to read between the lines. They prefer to go back to basics but slap a few fresh coats of paint on there to keep things sparkling. The song remains the same, and on The Eldritch Dark, Blood Ceremony follows that axiom with near-religious fervor.
It’s a sad fact that many have gone into orgasmic overload over the retro/occult rock of Ghost (and its come-to-the-Sabbath shtick) when really bands like Canada’s Blood Ceremony (and the sadly defunct the Devil’s Blood) deserve the most attention for awaking genuinely diabolic spirits. Blood Ceremony’s third full-length, The Eldritch Dark, is a magnificently bewitching ritual of archaic folk, vintage hard rock, and sinister psychedelia. The band’s previous albums, 2008’s Blood Ceremony and 2011’s Living With the Ancients, both showcased its spellbinding (black) magic, and The Eldritch Dark tells similarly dark tales of covens, sorcery, fiendish Victorian pacts, and deals with the Devil.