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Blood Ceremony - Blood Ceremony CD (album) cover


Blood Ceremony


Heavy Prog

3.58 | 54 ratings

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Prog Sothoth
3 stars I've been and listening to and reviewing albums here from 1970 continuously for a while now, thus I figure it's about time to take a bit of a break and review a much more recent release. So, Blood Ceremony's debut goes full throttle in trying to capture that distinct 1970 sound, when psychedelic, prog and heavy rock were in a quagmire of metamorphosis, baton passing and orgy engaging. There was also some dark things a-brewing that year, and Blood Ceremony, judging by the band name, definitely had no interest in channeling James Taylor or the men of Bread. Witches, black magic and the occasional toad is the band's points of interest, and they delve into their influences with reckless abandon.

The strongest influence here is actually Black Sabbath's debut, particularly the bluesier side of things such as "Wicked World". It's common for bands to emulate Sabbath, but usually the influences begin with the chuggier Paranoid album through the doom and stoner metal of their next few albums. It's less so for Sabbath's debut to be a main support grid, which gives Blood Ceremony a distinct flavor right from the get-go. The riffs are heavy yet often blues-based with a vintage tube-amp guitar sound. It's loud, but not too fuzzy or crunchy; you can here the strings being plucked just enough to give this effort an old-school vibe. Paranoid certainly is an influence as well, as I swear one of these tunes has a guitar solo cribbed right out of "Fairies Wear Boots".

Other 1970 influences include Jethro Tull's Benefit, with its flute soloing and proggish tendencies. It's also one of Jethro's darker affairs. There's Black Widow's Sacrifice for its lyrical content and general attitude. For all of Sabbath's evil sounding heaviness, they never embraced the 'dark side' even remotely as much as the Black Widow gang did, at least for this album. Blood Ceremony certainly seems to be all for hangin' out at black masses and groovin' rather than warning others to stay away from them.

Alia's vocals have a high priestess aura to them, although without the power of Grace Slick or the shrillness of Coven's singer. There's not much creativity or range to her delivery, but it gets enough of the 'feel' down to be considered serviceable with a detached coolness. Her flute playing though is essential to the band's sound, and she definitely shows some gusto in this department, particularly when things get proggy such as the opening section of "Children Of The Future" or parts of the genuinely great track "I'm Coming With You".

Yep, "I'm Coming With You" is a standout, mainly because it brings out the wildest tendencies of their influences to the forefront. The lyrics are more blatantly evil, the complexity is at a higher level, the band sounds heavier and the flute playing is a bit crazier. For the most part, though, although this group has successfully captured the essence of the dark side of 1970 better than any modern band I've heard, there's a lack of songcraft that makes listening to the whole album an exercise in style and little else. Nothing is catchy or quite as memorable as the influences from the past. Each song has some verses, some solos and some riffs that don't add up to much more than "this really sounds like one of those cult bands from 1970, yowza".

Still, for an exercise in style, it's one HELL of a style to embrace, and it exudes charm in its presentation. A little bit of a hook in some of these tunes and we'd have ourselves something for the ages, whether 1970 or today I'm not even sure anymore.

Prog Sothoth | 3/5 |


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