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Blood Ceremony - Living With The Ancients CD (album) cover


Blood Ceremony

Heavy Prog

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4 stars I haven't submitted a review to the ProgArchives before, but I feel this is a band that is deserving of attention.

This is the second album by Blood Ceremony, a band based out of Toronto, Canada who's sound is sure to immediately invoke a JETHRO TULL meets BLACK SABBATH feeling in many listeners thanks to the heavy guitars and the flute playing by their lead singer, Alia O'Brien. This holds true on their second release, which is close in sound to their debut album.

Overall, I found this release an enjoyable follow up to their debut and at least on par in quality. The album is divided into ten tracks and not too surprisingly the longer ones are the highlights. The five tracks which go over the six minute mark all range from good to excellent. In particular, the opener "The Great God Pan" and the closer "Daughter of the Sun" both have an epic quality to them.

The shorter tracks are not quite as memorable. Perhaps because they are shorter, they don't have time to fully sink in as the longer tracks do. However, "The Witch's Dance" is a pleasant, albeit brief flute interlude.

One of the most distinguishing features over either of the two bands that Blood Ceremony is likely to be compared to is Alia O'Brien, a female lead singer. I enjoy her vocals a lot. She's more of a Grace Slick than a Annie Haslam and that suits the music perfectly.

I'm hoping to hear a lot more from this band in coming years.

Report this review (#423227)
Posted Saturday, March 26, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars 6/10

"Living With The Ancients" is a decent vintage Doom Metal album, but not as good as the hype suggests.

It's nice to hear some good vintage doom metal every once in a while. Blood Ceremony, from Canada, have released back in 2008 a very obscure album that nobody seemed to notice. This year, they're receiving much more attention, thanks to "Living With The Ancients". The story here is very similar to many bands out there right now in 2011 that are getting acclaimed, to name one Appearance Of Nothing, whose album I just reviewed.

Blood Ceremony is, in a way, the most original band out there right now. In another way, this band is just as banal and unoriginal as a pair of dirty sox. That's because we've heard this type of music so many times that our ears will bleed if we hear to another hard rock/proto metal band. But not in 2011, a very experimental and avant-garde year in music in my opinion. Basically, the sound of the band has huge influences of those proto metal/ hard rock bands from the seventies, especially the most heavy ones (an obvious hats off to Black Sabbath), but also some folkish influences, thanks to the massive use of the flute (this time, a hats off to Jethro Tull and Ian Anderson) along the album. There is also, along with the vintage guitars and all the other mentioned stuff, an organ very used to give a more powerful and full sound to the music. The most distinctive element though is most definitely the female vocals by Alia O'Brien ( hoping I'm writing that correctly). So I find it pretty hard to define this type of music metal, having such strong roots to the past.

Even from the lyrical point of view the band is heavily influenced by Black Sabbath; songs about dark magic, Satanic rituals, witches and such. There is though more interest in the pagan world than in Iommi's band, like the title of the title can suggest.

I have to admit that I wasn't crazy for many songs; too unoriginal, not that I don't like vintage retro music, but I find it a little boring if it is done with insistency, like this type of music is. Excellent highlights can be found in the gripping and hypnotizing "The Great God Pan", "My Demon Brother", and the final ten minute "Daughter Of The Sun". There are a few filler songs, but I don't mind them like many do. There is one short instrumental, "The Hermit", which didn't grab my attention particularly. In fact, some of the songs here, like "Night Of The Augury" or "Morning Of The Magicians", I just don't find that appealing, but that just taste.

In fact, I don't really have anything bad to say about this album; it's just that I didn't like it for pure and simple personal reasons. It can happen to feel like that for an album.

Report this review (#444953)
Posted Monday, May 9, 2011 | Review Permalink
Prog Folk Researcher
3 stars I had a tough time getting too excited about this album when I first listened to it and even now after several spins I don't find it to be all that innovative or original, but it has grown on me somewhat.

'Living with the Ancients' is Blood Ceremony's second release, and I gather from reading quite a few reviews that I may have an advantage having never heard the first one which generally gets higher marks for energy and range. Alia O'Brien is clearly the driving force in this group, delivering the band's distinctive flute and organ playing in addition to almost all the vocal chores. And like many other reviewers I find her vocal talent to be rather limited. Not so much as to take away from what the band is trying to accomplish really, but strong female vocals, especially in heavy prog bands, is fairly rare and tends to set a band's sound apart in a genre where band relationships are often rather incestuous and separation can be difficult.

The themes are all here for a throwback heavy prog band, including occult references ("Coven Tree", "My Demon Brother" and "The Witch's Dance") as well as fantasy tales such as "Night of Augury". There are also literary references including ""Morning of the Magicians" and the Aleister Crowley pseudonym "Oliver Haddo".

The music here is retro heavy prog of the Black Sabbath variety, and in fact many reviewers compare guitarist Sean Kennedy's riff and soloing style to a less-talented version of Tony Iommi, which I mostly agree with except that Kennedy doesn't play keyboards and doesn't seem to have the wealth of cultural heritage Iommi had to draw on with the much richer early Sabbath material.

The band saves the best for last with ten-minute "Daughter of the Sun" that features several well-times tempo shifts, heavy but versatile lead guitar, a classic sixties heavy bass line and layers of organ sounds that mix a steady stream of persistent chord patterns with improvised sound-effect forays for a curious blend of psych and prog rock and just a tinge of flute thanks to O'Brien's inflected vocals and flute passages.

Overall this is a slightly better than average album that gets a bit of extra credit for being so new. Had this album been released in 1969 it would have likely been lost in a sea of similar and more talented bands. But there's far less in this century that parallels Blood Ceremony, and for that they get some acknowledgement. Three out of five stars and modestly recommended for fans of heavy prog who are looking for something a little newer than all those albums from 1968-1972 that they wore out a long time ago.


Report this review (#458382)
Posted Wednesday, June 8, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars Blood Ceremony's second album sees them continue their evocative "What if Tony Iommi hadn't returned to the fold after Rock and Roll Circus" Jethro Tull meets Black Sabbath sonic experiments, this time leaning somewhat more heavily on the Sabbath side of the equation and less on the Tull (though Alia O'Brien's flute is still a welcome presence). Alia's vocals are also an interesting presence too, with occult allusions more accurate than Sabbath's ever were littering the songs. On the whole, Alia and her coven continue to preside over their witch rock rituals as one of the most interesting - and perhaps the outright best - of the occult rock bands of today.
Report this review (#1026862)
Posted Sunday, September 1, 2013 | Review Permalink
4 stars The reason I love progressive music is because I'm always looking for variety. I'm searching for a different combination of elements, something I haven't heard 100 times before. The reason Blood Ceremony is one of my favorite bands at the moment is because they are different from your average "doom metal" band. Alia O'Brien, the singer/ flute player/keyboardist, is the defining element IMO. I won't describe what their music sounds like, because other reviewers have already done so. There aren't enough reviews of Living with the Ancients on ProgArchives. All three of their releases are well worth checking out, but I'm giving Living with the Ancients 4 stars.

Living with the Ancients is a step up from Blood Ceremony's fine debut album. IMO the songwriting has improved. My favorite songs are at the beginning of the album: "The Great God Pan", "Coven Tree", "The Hermit", "Morning of the Magicians". As someone with Asperger's Syndrome, my attention span is naturally short, so it may be that those four songs just appear first!

However, the album is consistently good throughout. The band sustains their songs, which tend to be long by FM radio standards, better than on their first album. The only real complaint I have is that I would like to hear more of Alia O'Brien's skillful flute playing. Her singing, while it doesn't display a significant range, is good and suits the music very well. To wrap things up, Living with the Ancients is a four star album IMO. If you a fan of first generation hard rock, and you've worn out your Uriah Heep records, you'll have a good time with Living with the Ancients.

Report this review (#1214150)
Posted Wednesday, July 16, 2014 | Review Permalink

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