MetalBite Review by Chris Pratl on 4/2/2019 9:00:05 PM
I’m not sure that you can call it a ‘rash’ of female-fronted doom bands popping up in the metal movement of late, but there certainly is a few really solid acts that come to mind that seem hell-bent on reshaping the genre. Jex Thoth, Salome, Dark Castle and Serpentcult are recent bands that come to immediate mind. Add Canada’s Blood Ceremony to that lush mix and you’re finding a new rebirth ready to explode in resonating fashion before the mucky denizens find it and start bands all over basements and shopping malls the world over.
Blood Ceremony puts forth its second effort in Living with the Ancients, and it is a true lesson in musical witchcraft and the occult not really heard to a high degree in recent years. The obligatory comparisons and referencing to Coven is unavoidably part-and-parcel with this music when a female singer is involved, but where Jinx Dawson and company might have left off in staunch bravado and theatrical embellishment bands like Blood Ceremony are carrying on a down-tempo echoing that certainly feels very early 70’s but doesn’t get inexplicably ‘stuck’ there.
The flute offered in such subtle design by vocalist Alia O’Brien is not as elaborate or historically necessary as Jethro Tull’s Ian Anderson, who finds it a decades-long stapling of the instrument; it’s a musical device expertly inserted in the proper places for an all-encompassment effect. O’Brien possesses a strong, albeit calming quality to her voice that, unlike the aforementioned Dawson, doesn’t rely on over-amplification and often repetitious theatrics for her point to be made. The even tone and blatant dissolution of caustic or vibrato-heavy issuance is what makes her most enjoyable.
What Black Sabbath created in heavy metal with horrifyingly deep and darkened chords is wholly interpreted here in the edges of this type of doom, yet there seems to be a very innate sense of separation between the 70’s feel of “Lord of the World” and “My Demon Brother”, both weighty tracks by themselves but undeniably generations apart. While many bands deign to outright copy from bands like Sabbath or St. Vitus without care or confidence in their own materials, Blood Ceremony twists the genre ever slightly with a myriad of familiar chord structures and riffs that somehow are made as interesting as their previous owners. This actually screams more prog-doom than anything else, to be truthful. Usually when a band of this type gets into the studio the bells and whistles come out and criminally drape the entire feel of the album in mocking inflexibility. Blood Ceremony comes out of the mausoleum doors in a slow, constructed pace and delivers amazing tracks like “Morning of the Magicians” that is sorrowed and haunting as that beautiful flute carries up and over the music like a sightless bird literally free-form cascading through an invisible tunnel of sounds and emotions that are full and deservedly lush throughout. Tull’s Anderson is most definable in the very end of the track, but it is really just causal homage and not thievery.
As steeped in the occultist themes as this record is there is no room for over-statement or boring triviality; quite the opposite, the references are veiled and not as openly tangible, lending an even quieter serendipity to the album. The foundational attributes that are finely crafted and delivered in Living with the Ancients are a testament to just how powerful this sub-movement has potential to be in the current day, calling upon elders and minions alike to help spread the dark word to any and all comers. Doom metal at its best can be found within the confines of Blood Ceremony’s cloak-and-circumstance aura not easily denied.
Rating: 7 out of 10
(Originally written for www.metalpsalter.com)