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BLOOD CEREMONY

Blood Ceremony

Heavy Prog


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Prog-jester
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars "We're anti-war, but pro-horror. Standing before the crimson altar, our minds melted as we gazed into the cosmic eye. Now we slay the stages of the universe with heavy riffs, paranoia-inducing trills and '70s fills. " - claim BLOOD CEREMONY on their MySpace, and you can feel this eccentric vibe in every note of their self-titled debut album. Heavily inspired by BLACK SABBATH, BLACK WIDOW and JETHRO TULL, quartet delivers a beautiful and somewhat dark mix of Proto-Doom and Prog Folk - it's like they've caught up those times, when Tony Iommi was TULL's guitarist! Alla O'Brien's vocals are very artistic and atmospheric, pretty much in 70's vein, and they add a lot to band's groovy material (with best track being the closing "Hymn to Pan"). If you're into Stoner/Psychedelic/Proto-Prog/ Proto-Doom/Retro Rock stuff, this one is a Must!

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Send comments to Prog-jester (BETA) | Report this review (#274663)
Posted Saturday, March 27, 2010 | Review Permalink
Prog Sothoth
COLLABORATOR
Prog Metal Team
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.

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Send comments to Prog Sothoth (BETA) | Report this review (#592253)
Posted Tuesday, December 20, 2011 | Review Permalink
Sean Trane
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Folk
3 stars A Toronto retro-hard rock that has released a couple album (so far), the present being their debut album. BC is, despite its satanic name, a "prog quartet", fronted by main/sole songwriter guitarist Sean Kennedy and the delicious keyboardist-flutist-singer Alia O'Brien. Technically to call this kind of album a pure-prog album can be a stretch to some, but if you think that early Black Sabbath is proggish, you'll have no problem loving this album, as Alia is worth a thousands Ozzy (looks much cuter too), but also plays keys and thrills our ears with some consistent flute solos. But if the tunes often have so real intros, and have more prog characteristic, they don't have the outstanding songwriting ideas that Tony, Geezer and Oz had back in those days

So if your 70's-nostalgia longing will be immediately met with tracks like the opening Master Of Confusion, the short Tullish interlude Wine Of Wizardry or Hop Food, you'll be relatively happy when the disc stops spinning after the album-lengthiest Hymn To Pan, and you will be relieved (read: beg for mercy) from the constant bombardment of the same kind of music that you had been, subjected to. Of course the min redeeming quality is that BC sounds much better than most of the hard rock bands that have come out in the last two decades, but as often, the "retro" feel, while pleasant, it somewhat fails to really develop its own sound/soul and it has a certain "made ala X, Y or Z" aura.

I generally avoid to talk about future albums that I haven't heard, but rumours has it that there is a lot more of gloomy atmosphere, maybe even close to doom metal music. Sooo, if you'd want to investigate BC as a proghead, you might want to start with the debut. Still worth discovering, but start with the present and make sure you investigate before investing.

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Send comments to Sean Trane (BETA) | Report this review (#731510)
Posted Tuesday, April 17, 2012 | Review Permalink
Warthur
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars Now, here's something refreshingly different - progressive doom metal! Blood Ceremony play a style of proto-metal which never was: it mostly sounds like a fusion of the heavy, dirty riffs of early Black Sabbath with the dynamic flute-guitar interplay of Jethro Tull, with a witchy atmosphere reminiscent of Black Widow capping things off. It's a fascinating mixture which makes Blood Ceremony the best sort of retro band: they've hit on a style of music which absolutely could have emerged back in 1970 if the relevant musical trends at the time (proto- metal and pagan/prog folk) had only connected, but for some reason never quite emerged. Rather than indulging nostalgia for old bands, they fill in a hole in musical history which I never noticed but was clearly overdue a little exploration. Mindblowing.

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Send comments to Warthur (BETA) | Report this review (#732425)
Posted Wednesday, April 18, 2012 | Review Permalink
stefro
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars There are but a handful of progressive rock-styled groups currently active whose work can actually be compared to classic era groups of the 1970s(Astra, Diagonal, Il Bacio Della Medusa, Black Mountain, Wooden Shjips, Wobbler, Arabs In Aspic, Dungen, Hills, Umberto) the rest either producing tacky modern genre readings(The Tangent, The Flower Kings, Darwin's Radio etc) or messy metal(Haken, Pendragon, Opeth, Dream Theatre). And whilst Blood Ceremony - a Canadian outfit who fall somewhere between the jaunty flute- prog of Jethro Tull and the meaty sludge-rock of Black Sabbath - don't quite hit the same excellent heights of the aforementioned list of authentic retro-prog purveyors, their crunchy sound is still leagues ahead of most. Issued in 2008 on the small Candlelight label, the group's self-titled debut mixes punchy guitars, twittering flutes, cod-satanic imagery and Alia O'Brien's powerful vocals with a gruff contemporary edge whilst never losing sight of their 1970s rock ambitions. O'Brien also provides the expansive flute runs that punctuate the hazy guitar riffs that dominate throughout, and although 'Blood Ceremony' does on occasion veer towards ersatz metal territory there's enough instrumental dexterity on show to demonstrate that the Toronto- bred four-piece have real progressive-sized ambitions. As with many albums, both old and new, the opening salvo of tracks prove the most indelible, especially in the form of opener 'Master Of Confusion', a piece that finds O'Brien displaying both her gruff vocal style and impressive flautistry atop a crescendo of Sean Kennedy's groaning guitars. Elsewhere, the fire-and-brimstone approach reaps more rewards with the wiry fills and satanic imagery of 'Into The Coven', whilst album-ender 'Hymn To Pan' stretches the group's formula into a suitably grand, seven-minute mini-epic. Although Blood Ceremony don't deviate too far from their brisk-but-effective sonic blueprint - this is an album constructed almost purely out of dazzling flute passages, tough riffing, black magic-styled wordplay and O'Brien's forceful tones - the slight lack of ambition allows Blood Ceremony to focus on exactly what they do best: rock the hell out. By no means a classic then, but those who enjoy the gritty sounds of fellow Canadian's Black Mountain and the 'Red'-inspired assault of Norway's Arabs In Aspic should feel right at home.

STEFAN TURNER, STOKE NEWINGTON, 2012

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Send comments to stefro (BETA) | Report this review (#744309)
Posted Wednesday, April 25, 2012 | Review Permalink
Tarcisio Moura
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Well, this is really something! Imagine a Black Sabbath cover band with a female vocalist who also plays a very Jethro Tull-like flute! Yes, that´s pretty much Blood Ceremony´s sound. They were from Canada and they emulate quite well the Brimingham quartet (around the time of their Paranoid/Master of Rality Cds), while Alia O´brien´s vocals are pretty interesting. So much so I was convinced this album was recorded in the late 60´s until I read it was in fact a recent release (of 2008) All the intruments timbres, the overall atmosphere and even the cover seems to be of that time. To top it all, the title of several songs are similar to BS classics (Master Of Confusion, Return Of Forever, Children Of Future and so on). Still, not really a copycat of sorts. More like a homage, I guess. Of course the members of the band don´t have the same ingenous songwriting skills as a Tony Iommi or a Geezer Butler (not ot mention Ozzy Osborne´s very distintive way of singing this kind of doom music). The tracks are not much varied either. On the other hand, no tune here is bad either.

If you´re a fan of this style of music, go for it. It is all very well recorded, well performed and the production is very adequate. The singer is very promising too (and her flute playing is outstandig). I really hope those guys will develop their sound into something more original and consistent. Their approach is quite bold and spurred my curiosity into listening to their second efford.

Rating: a good start. Very promising, so a 3 star rating is fair enough.

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Send comments to Tarcisio Moura (BETA) | Report this review (#809309)
Posted Thursday, August 23, 2012 | Review Permalink

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