Blood Ceremony
Living with the Ancients

It’s great when a press release can succinctly provide the fodder a journalist needs to describe a release without fluff — only descriptions, points of reference and a little background. BOOM. BAM. DONE. However, a simple bio regurgitation from a writer does not a good review make. So let’s elaborate on Canada’s Blood Ceremony and their new album Living With The Ancients...

For the uninitiated, the quick and skinny is that this four-piece from Toronto released their self-titled debut (with awesome voodoo priestess cover art) in 2008 on Rise Above Records. It planted its flag firmly in 70s occult rock; that is, Black Sabbath riffs replete with eerie melodies, accentuated by flute-work and ghostly siren-call from singer Alia O’Brien (really hard to not mention Jethro Tull as a RIYL, so let’s just go ahead and admit it straight out and not be more “kvlt” than thou – fact is, the well is pretty dry as far as musicians incorporating flute and hard rock). Shortly after, they toured Europe with Electric Wizard – a great reference point as well, for Blood Ceremony certainly relish in obscure/cult b-horror movie themes; more specifically witchcraft, psychedelia, and other supernatural motifs.

Recorded by the acclaimed producer Sanford Parker, who’s popularity seems to grow daily, the nine songs that comprise their newest album, Living With The Ancients, clocks in at 51 minutes, 45 seconds. As far as well-rounded albums go, this one is pretty much perfect. It doesn’t wear out its welcome with unnecessary tracks – it’s concise, leaving you satisfied but also with a modicum of that “wanting more” quality that sticks with you after the album is over (which is almost a litmus test for an album’s staying power in my book). There are peaks and valleys, straight-forward songs and longer adventurous songs, all working in harmony for the benefit of a more complete and balanced album experience.

The album opens with ‘The Great God Pan’ – serving almost as a table of contents for the rest of the record and what the listener can expect: Bluesy hard rock metal with those ooey-gooey malevolent tones, O’Brien’s sultry yet dark croons, and a vintage pipe organ interlude that builds into a swirling psychedelic rock de force with guitar solos joining the fray to ensure a proper burial for the listener; definitely one of the highlights of the record. From there, the record dips into the mid-paced but direct, flute-laced ‘Coven Tree’, followed immediately by the first of two instrumentals ‘The Hermit’ – a song which is so 60s in nature with its playful melodies, I’m almost instantly transported to Haight and Ashbury. Another stand-out track would be ‘My Demon Brother’ – which I could almost envision as being a single from the record, if not for it being the shortest song on the album then certainly for it demonstrating Blood Ceremony‘s deft fusion of vintage metal riffs, eerie vibe, sweet chorus and great jam/guitar solo at the end to wrap the whole thing up.

Other highlights would be ‘Oliver Haddo’ (tell me you DON’T hear Black Sabbath‘s ‘Electric Funeral’ in that intro riff!); ‘Night Of Augery’ has a tremendously boisterous riff that bounces full of energy before a simmering down into a moody jam session that speeds up into a frenzy before a satisfying dénouement. Speaking of frenzy, I’d be completely remiss if I didn’t mention the amazing close-out track ‘Daughter of the Sun’, which clocks in at just over 10 minutes in length. This song helps cement the bands prowess for crafting an album as a whole and complete work of its own. Working with the first track of the record, this grand finale bookends Living With The Ancients by celebrating the breadth of their hard rock/metal spectrum, showcasing all of the band’s strengths in one track, and yes, there is a frenzy of a build-up that sounds like a malign car chase scene from The Addam’s Family – it’s great.

I went into this review only knowing that Rise Above was releasing the album, so I assumed it’d have some vintage/classic flair, but otherwise I approached the record completely blank. After several spins, this album won me over completely. This is a sincere and genuine band that loves this style of music and it shows – no faking anything, no trend hopping. Living With The Ancients is a FUN listen, plain and simple, much in the way Ghost’s album is, who Blood Ceremony will be touring Europe with in April – talk about a perfect tour partner in sound and subject matter. I’ll definitely be rocking this record throughout 2011 and beyond – now where can I find the vinyl for this gem?!

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Stacy Buchanan
March 10th, 2011

Comments

  1. Commented by: Nick Taxidermy

    this sounds like a total ball. namechecking Ghost and Electric Wizard is a good way to make me like a record.


  2. Commented by: King Cripple

    I didn’t find their debut to be consistent, but I liked the aim of band. I’ll definitely have to check this one out.

    Solid review!


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