After experiencing Blood Ceremony for the first time live on Ghost’s 13 Dates of Doom Tour, I knew I had to get my greasy paws all over this album. To put it simply, this band is everything the first wave of heavy metal was trying to leave behind. There are clear influences in bands such as Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin with plenty of doom elements scattered throughout. For those who know nothing about Blood Ceremony (which I’m sure there are plenty of you out there), the lineup consists of Andrew Haust manning the kit, Lucas Gadke on bass, Sean Kennedy on guitar, and Alia O’Brien on Vocals/Organs/Flute…. yes that says flute! No this isn’t a Jethro Tull tribute band so don’t freak out.
Usually I like to pick out my favorite tracks on the album, tell you about them, then pick a song I probably didn’t like and tell you why. Well I tried thinking about it, and it got me no where. So instead, let me just start off at track 6, “Return to Forever.” The riff a few seconds into the song screams Black Sabbath so loudly that I swore they were covering “Hole in the Sky” at first. Obviously this was not the case, but I was still equally pleased with the heavy riffage from Lucas and Sean as well as the creepy vocals from Alia. The first phrase of lyrics kinda set the mood:
“The master magician
Tunes a casket-shaped lung
In his ritual chamber
They pray to the dawn”
I mean, it actually sounds like we are being described a scene from a true ritual somewhere in an underground crypt or something. Eerie. Epic. Awesome.
Track 4 and 5 also work well together as “A Wine of Wizardry” is a quick little intro that opens up into “The Rare Lord” quite smoothly. The intro track reminded me of walking through some village market place in a Zelda game while the following track was what happens in that village after nightfall. Up until the 4 minute marker of “The Rare Lord,” the song is doomy as all hell (pun intended) and equally as heavy. Before I move on further, when I say heavy, I mean the riffs have that Black Sabbath heavy to it, not an overly down-tuned guitar tone… that’s not heavy in my book. Anyways, the song picks up after 4 minutes in and really gets your head banging. One thing I love to mention about tracks like this from similar sounding bands, is they sound a bit more “evil” then that of black metal. When I hear black metal, I hear Lord of the Rings. Now I love my black metal as much as the next guy, but lyrically, I think Blood Ceremony wins. Check out some of the closing lyrics to this track:
“Through spells of necromancy
Invading their minds
Armies of the night advance at his sign”
Does anybody else see hooded figures in all black around a fire pit humming weird spells? Is this Skyrim?! I mean cmon, lyrically speaking, Blood Ceremony can be pretty fucking scary!
One last track that jumped out at me, and actually makes me laugh every time I hear it (I’ll explain) is the second track, “I’m Coming With You.” So you are probably asking yourself, “How does this asshole compare this band with black metal, only to say how he laughs at one of the tracks?” Well, when I saw Blood Ceremony this past January, they played this tune. At about :20 in, after a very big build up, the band goes silent. Right before Alia comes in with a quick flute transition to the main riff, some kid in the crowd actually mimicked her flute before she could by screaming, “toot toot toot tootily toot toot toooot toot.” Needless to say, the downstairs portion of the Middle East club was laughing hysterically. Even Alia had to smile and raise the flute to her mouth again. To you good sir in the crowd, thank you for making me laugh my ass off at a metal show. Back to this song, you don’t only get just short of 5 minutes of great heavy metal, but you get Alia really showcasing her flute skills, which, I think, are friggen amazing. Say what you want about the sound a flute makes and if you like it or not, but the girl is talented. Oh and one last note, the outro of the song sounds very similar to that of the outro of “Iron Man” by Black Sabbath. For this, I approve!
I could complain about only having 9 amazing tracks to listen to on this record, but then I would just be selfish. This album reissue came out near perfect for my ears and that’s saying something. The one thing I think was missing off this album was a track like “Oliver Haddo” which came off of last year’s record. But, once again, I’m really not complaining as I just mentioned. If you like old school heavy metal with doom elements, don’t be a stooge, go and get this album now! If you think doom metal is boring, go get this album now and watch your opinion change. If there is one band that can turn you onto the genre, it’s these guys (and gal) right here.