Toronto based band Blood Ceremony bring us their third album The Eldritch Dark, an album which while we’re on the subject has absolutely captivated my soul. The bastard child of Fairport Convention and Black Sabbath, Blood Ceremony offer a delectable mixture of 70’s prog/classic rock infused with folky roots and a heavy doom groove. These guys were seriously born in the wrong generation because their sound comes straight out of the late 60’s/early 70’s. Headed by the mind-blowingly talented Alia O’Brien, who performs on vocals, flute and the organ, O’Brien’s enchanting vocal flair compliments the musical style perfectly and gives everything an authentic edge, while her insane skills as a flautist conjures up the energy of a young female Ian Anderson. This is the album which should have been the soundtrack to The Wicker Man remake, had it been decently remade in the first place, and not starred Nicolas Cage or featured that ridiculous bee episode.
While Blood Ceremony’s 2008 self-titled debut relied greatly on doomy Black Sabbath riffs, as did the 2011 release Living with the Ancients (to a lesser extent), The Eldritch Dark embodies a much more diverse musical playing field; giving in more freely to the folk rock and blues elements evident in their earlier efforts, while still managing to retain the right amount of heaviness. The occult references are still there, as are the heavy grooves, but this album feels a lot more free spirited and playful than previous albums. This is a band confident in their ability and able to show off their artistic flair rather than sticking to type, thus allowing for the music to really shine. The Eldritch Dark also, for me at least, demonstrates a more cohesive effort, from a band who have always shown talent, but now have the experience and self-assurance to really let themselves go and show everyone what they are really capable of. On that note I would definitely say this is the strongest release from the band so far and one which shows signs the band are progressing in their career, strengthening their sound and accomplishing a much more polished result.
The album begins with the strong opener Witchwood kicking in with a classic rock intro before delving right into a chugging riff seasoned with intricate guitar melodies. Extremely hypnotic the track meanders along until it completely catches you off guard with a frenzied flute solo, reminiscent of Jethro Tull , before slapping you with the double twist of duelling flute and guitar, consequently setting up the tone and the energy of the album perfectly. The hippy/drippy psychedelic rock, flute laden Goodbye Gemini , starts with the enchanting opening line ‘will you follow me to another world?’ and proves to be the impeccable choice of follow on track , all before taking things down a notch into the dreamy acoustic duet Lord Summerisle a fitting tribute to Christopher Lee’s iconic character in The Wicker Man. Ballad of Weird Sisters could be taken from a Fairport Convention album, and demonstrates Blood Ceremony with their folk rock roots at their most unadulterated, albeit at on the more heavy end of the scale. Title track Eldritch Dark is perhaps the most doom influenced track, with a meaty Sabbathesque breakdown about half way through before slipping into a mammoth prog inspired flute solo. While Drawing Down the Moon just sweeps you away with its haunting organ infused classic rock edge and impressive guitar melodies. The penultimate track Faunus, an instrumental, gives the band a chance to really show off their ability, and the dark groove of The Magician delivers a strong closing track on an album with no weak links or filler.
A strong album, and one I can see will be on my playlist for a very long time. Such is the depth of The Eldritch Dark it is an album which rewards you the more you play it. Enchanting, and evoking a world full of witchery and dark arts, Blood Ceremony take everything great about classic, folk, and occult rock, psychedelia and prog, and throw it all in one big mixing pot, making their sound so familiar yet like nothing you have heard before.
Blood Ceremony Official Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/bloodceremonyrock
Blood Ceremony on Metal Blade Official here.