Blood Ceremony (Reissue)
Metal Blade Records/Riot! Entertainment
Reviewed By Simon Crawley
Crafty and mysterious doom-like rock
This self-titled debut album from Canada’s Blood Ceremony was released in 2008 through the U.K’s Rise Above Records. Its recent rerelease through Metal Blade Records will undoubtedly help extend the band’s reach and introduce more metal fans to their intriguingly hypnotic retro-hippie cauldron-mix of ‘60s and ‘70s sounding doom metal.
Despite having been around since 2008, the rerelease of their debut album was the first I'd heard of Blood Ceremony. And, as far as first impressions go, I couldn't have been taken more off guard. The quartet from Toronto includes Alia O'Brien (lead vocals, flute, organ), Sean Kennedy (guitars), Lucas Gadke (bass, backing vocals) and Andrew Haust (drums, percussion). These guys take you on nothing short of a hazed trip down rock memory lane with an ensemble of church organs, gruff and fuzzy Black Sabbath riffs, minstrel-like flutters on flute and Alia O’Brien’s languidly harmonious vocals which peel off sinisterly between her passages on flute and organ.
The lyrical content is dominated by reference to the occult, magicians, witches, black magic and necromancy. But, rather than appearing very dark and heavy, the album feels mystical and trippy. Blood Ceremony’s nostalgic, organic sound and O’Brien’s gentle vocals are largely responsible for this together with the production which can either be seen as appropriate or a little empty and hollow sounding. It comes down to a question of whether the concept of authenticity works well for Blood Ceremony or whether decent enough work on production could’ve captured the nostalgia without the echoing emptiness. Nevertheless, the band largely manages to pull things off with curiously dazzling passages on songs like ‘The Rare Lord’ and ‘Hop Toad’.
Apart from the quality of the production, another problem I have with this album is that there are too many moments of aimless rambling that dilute the dense mist of sound that Blood Ceremony generate (see ‘Return to Forever’ and ‘Hymn to Pan’). The album ends up being impressive in its parts and a little frustrating and boring in its entirety.
Despite the criticism, Blood Ceremony is a fascinating band whose music bares an organic centre that is sure to see them continuously growing and evolving over time.