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Drawing Down the Moon - 100%

thedevilyouknow, October 29th, 2013

Toronto, Canada's Blood Ceremony released their third and best album to date earlier this year. I admit that I'm a late comer this band, having missed their two previous releases. However, after hearing this I went back to listen to the first two. Although their early work is good and has some really special moments, it seems as though they put all of that together on 'The Eldritch Dark'. Being labeled as "occult rock" or "psychedelic rock" is what peaked my interest. Recently I have been all over this scene looking for that stand out album. Bands like The Devil's Blood and Jess and the Ancient Ones have some really good stuff, most notably the 'Come Reap' ep from the Devil's Blood and the song "Astral Sabbat" from Jess and the Ancient Ones. Where these two bands fail to make complete memorable albums, Blood Ceremony succeeds with 'The Eldritch Dark'.

'The Eldritch Dark' starts out with a bang on the opening track "Witchwood". You can hear the multitude of influences here. Think Jethro Tull meets Jefferson Airplane meets Blue Oyster Cult with Black Sabbath riffs. Alia O'Brien's vocals are superb and her use of the organ and flute add to the atmosphere. Sean Kennedy's guitar playing is excellent and the interplay between him and Alia's flute on this track sets the stage for what is a flawless album. There are no throw away's on here at all. The album builds momentum as it moves along. Each track providing the listener with an other worldly experience. The acoustic and folkish song "Lord Summerisle" sees the pair of Gadke and O'Brien harmonizing vocally and the lyrics and title are obviously referencing the 1973 classic film 'The Wicker Man'. The two strongest tracks here are the title track and "Drawing Down the Moon". The prior being a very heavy riff oriented song and Alia's vocals here are so strong. The Sabbath style riffs are in full force here and shows off the more doomy side of the band. The latter shows off the psychedelic side of the band. It's sweeping organs and eerie yet beautiful melodies take center stage here. At the three minute mark a heavy groovy riff kicks in and Alia shouts out "we welcome you to the sabbat" which sends chills down your spine.

The music here harkens back to the best of 1970's hard rock and 1960's psychedilia. Hammond organ, Sabbathian guitar tones, the familiar vocal lines that Grace Slick made famous with Jefferson Airplane, and the folkish flute sections that one can't help but compare to Jethro Tull. Alia O'Brien's triple threat of vocals, organ, and flute take center stage here as they should, but Kennedy's guitar work is slick and his riffs add the heaviness. The rythem section of Gadke (bass) and Carrillo (drums) provide the perfect backdrop for this familiar yet unique sound. However, this is not just another retro band. While they do use these elements, they give them a fresh new sound making this album stand out amongst all others in this genre.

The lyrics on this album also seperate Blood Ceremony from their peers. The standard satanic themes from most bands in the "occult rock" scene are left behind for the old gods, mythological creatures, astrology and paganism. Guitarist Sean Kennedy writes all the lyrics, and though one might feel they are childish, they absolutely work and are very well crafted. Although I was slightly upset that vocalist Alia O'Brien didn't write them, she totally does them justice with her ability to write amazing vocal lines.

'The Eldritch Dark' is a complete album. I look forward to future release from this band. Blood Ceremony takes "occult rock" to new levels by displaying all of its strengths and none of its weaknesses. This is one of the best and most memorable albums of 2013. Go out and buy this album and show this amazing band the support they deserve.

Dancing leaves - 81%

Depersonalizationilosophy, June 11th, 2013

Welcome to the third installment of Hexvessel’s collaborative effort. Ironically enough, this is also Blood Ceremony’s third album as well. What I mean by collaborative effort is Hexvessel released an EP in early-May featuring guest musicians from two other bands (Purson and Blood Ceremony). All have released material this year and I took it upon myself to listen and review them all. I very much recommend all three. There are different elements and directions and it’s amazing to see the subtleties among such as collection. They have similarities too, but wow I was seriously appalled by their efforts this year. Were it not for Hexvessel, I would’ve remained oblivious for the other two. Purson is a very strong candidate for my Top 10 for 2013. But the remaining two weren’t slackers in the least either. They have each put up a good and memorable album. And now, a little about “The Eldritch Dark”.

This time around I believe they have a very solid line-up, each member feels valuable and shares a piece of their vision within the whole album that is “The Eldritch Dark”. This being my first Blood Ceremony album, I do not know how they've changed or evolved, but there’s great chemistry and harmony here. There are tiny bits which are iffy, but as a collective effort I can’t help but feel purified by this experience.

Alia O'Brien definitely seems to be more assertive than the others. And that’s okay, who doesn’t love a bold woman every now and then. Her organ and flute portrayals are quite different from each other. They’re both plentiful and a handful at times. In my opinion, she’s a lot better with a flute in her hand than an organ between two. She’s just a born natural with a flute. In fact, it was her flute playing on Hexvessel’s EP that got me interested in checking out Blood Ceremony in the first place. I love when musicians leave behind the human aspect when recording. In other words, you can hear her gasping for breath and the position of her mouth when she blows into the flute. From note to note, you can hear the variations and even when dishing out a certain solo limited to one breath; you never feel the ominous atmosphere of monotony. When I mentioned iffy I meant more towards her organ playing. It’s good and decent, but every now and then I feel it somehow doesn’t fit the chemistry. In creating atmosphere she’s great, but when it comes to the organ solos, I didn’t think it was the best of her abilities.

Her vocals were okay. The duet between her and Lucas Gadke, however, was simply gorgeous and perfect on “Lord Summerisle”. Overall it was such a great piece instrumentally and vocally. It had like an old western folk theme which I thought was original since I’ve never heard anything quite like it. Gadke’s bass playing on the album was very likable. He deviated when he felt the moment was right and followed when he felt it was right. It was interchangeably blissful. Mutually, great interaction with the rest of the bandmates-subordinate and comrade alike.

If you want to hear straight-forward great riffing just listen to “Witchwood”. My god, the riffs there gave me an eargasm. Sean Kennedy is an interesting guitarist. The fact that he’s the only guitarist yet felt so much grandeur and empowerment, just shows how persuasive he can be. In totality, I didn’t hear much psychedelic influences it was more hard rock pronounced. A great lot of hard rock is terrible, but Kennedy does it right. Doom is also minuscule, but it’s there. This is just a great heavy metal album. If you can get a huge kick from Black Sabbath, definitely check this out.

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