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BLOOD CEREMONY

Heavy Prog • Canada


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Blood Ceremony biography
Taking its name from an Italian horror film, BLOOD CEREMONY is a Toronto-based band that was formed in 2006 by Sean KENNEDY (guitar), Chris LANDON (bass), Andrew HAUST (drums) and Alia O'BRIEN (vocals, flute, occasional organ). In 2008, they released their eponymous debut. While the band never indulged in epic songwriting, cuts like 'Master of Confusion' and 'Hymn to Pan' comfortably pass the five minute mark.

Musically, BLOOD CEREMONY does sound like a mix between Paranoid-era SABBATH's sluggy riffage, with a touch of Stand Up period JETHRO TULL mostly due to O'BRIEN's flute. The result is something that borders on doom metal, but has enough backwards cast psychedelic atmosphere - not to mention O'BRIEN's quasi-operatic vocals - to make it stand out from the rest of the pack. Highly recommended to anyone who likes that late 60s/early seventies gloom metal sound.

- the Whistler -

Blood Ceremony official website

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Eldritch DarkEldritch Dark
Metal Blade 2013
Audio CD$6.99
$9.76 (used)
Living With the AncientsLiving With the Ancients
Metal Blade 2011
Audio CD$7.80
$6.95 (used)
Blood CeremonyBlood Ceremony
Metal Blade 2012
Audio CD$6.97
$12.04 (used)
Blood CereonyBlood Cereony
Import
Imports 2012
Audio CD$24.82
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BLOOD CEREMONY shows & tickets


  • Pentagram + Blood Ceremony + Bang! + more at ArtsRiot, Burlington, Vermont on 31 Oct 2014
  • Pentagram + Radio Moscow + Blood Ceremony + more at Gramercy Theatre, New York on 1 Nov 2014

BLOOD CEREMONY discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

BLOOD CEREMONY top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.57 | 28 ratings
Blood Ceremony
2008
3.59 | 49 ratings
Living With the Ancients
2011
3.88 | 32 ratings
The Eldritch Dark
2013

BLOOD CEREMONY Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

BLOOD CEREMONY Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

BLOOD CEREMONY Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

BLOOD CEREMONY Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

3.00 | 1 ratings
Let It Come Down
2014

BLOOD CEREMONY Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Living With the Ancients by BLOOD CEREMONY album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.59 | 49 ratings

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Living With the Ancients
Blood Ceremony Heavy Prog

Review by thwok

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.

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 Let It Come Down by BLOOD CEREMONY album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2014
3.00 | 1 ratings

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Let It Come Down
Blood Ceremony Heavy Prog

Review by aapatsos
Special Collaborator Prog Metal and Heavy Prog Teams

— First review of this album —
3 stars I have fairly recently discovered this band and happy to have found them. This is a 7" vinly single release, of which I only have the digital promo. "Let it Come Down" is the one original composition and "Loving You" is the cover with which they decided to accompany this single, originally recorded by Iron Claw.

Both songs are fairly straightforward, short, heavy rock, compositions, with the original recording showing late 60's psychedelia influences at a mid-tempo with Alia's vocals and flute work dominating the rich and retro sound. The bluesy guitar solo does little to hide the Cream-era inspiration and the whole tune flows brilliantly, resembling the beginnings of heavy rock with a fairly "typical", yet memorable melody. The cover song is fairly close to the original, albeit extended by a minute or so, with more raw power and a hard-rockin' street feeling. The heavy rock/proto-metal riff signatures are showing up and Blood Ceremony don't attempt to alter its character, and throw in a couple more riff and refrain passages as finishing touches.

A nice single release (albeit less proggy) which confirms the relationship of the band with the late 60's/early 70's - "Let it Come Down" is the more interesting of which heavy and retro proggers will enjoy the remarkable flute sections. 3.5 stars.

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 The Eldritch Dark by BLOOD CEREMONY album cover Studio Album, 2013
3.88 | 32 ratings

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The Eldritch Dark
Blood Ceremony Heavy Prog

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Blood Ceremony work further to establish a unique identity for themselves on The Eldritch Dark. Whilst still showing a doom metal influence, the overt borrowing from Black Sabbath is dialled back considerably here in favour of more varied borrowings from classic-era proto-prog, early metal and heavy psych bands. You can imagine Blood Ceremony opening for Vanilla Fudge or Deep Purple, especially with Alia O'Brien's three-pronged attack on vocals, flute and organ enhancing the group's sound. Once again managing to recapture the spirit of Coven or Black Widow without succumbing to mere nostalgia-peddling, Blood Ceremony might be one of the most consistently interesting acts in the witch rock scene they've come to popularise.

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 Living With the Ancients by BLOOD CEREMONY album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.59 | 49 ratings

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Living With the Ancients
Blood Ceremony Heavy Prog

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

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.

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 Blood Ceremony by BLOOD CEREMONY album cover Studio Album, 2008
3.57 | 28 ratings

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Blood Ceremony
Blood Ceremony Heavy Prog

Review by 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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 Blood Ceremony by BLOOD CEREMONY album cover Studio Album, 2008
3.57 | 28 ratings

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Blood Ceremony
Blood Ceremony Heavy Prog

Review by 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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 Blood Ceremony by BLOOD CEREMONY album cover Studio Album, 2008
3.57 | 28 ratings

BUY
Blood Ceremony
Blood Ceremony Heavy Prog

Review by 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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 Blood Ceremony by BLOOD CEREMONY album cover Studio Album, 2008
3.57 | 28 ratings

BUY
Blood Ceremony
Blood Ceremony Heavy Prog

Review by 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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 Blood Ceremony by BLOOD CEREMONY album cover Studio Album, 2008
3.57 | 28 ratings

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Blood Ceremony
Blood Ceremony Heavy Prog

Review by 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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 Living With the Ancients by BLOOD CEREMONY album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.59 | 49 ratings

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Living With the Ancients
Blood Ceremony Heavy Prog

Review by ClemofNazareth
Special Collaborator 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.

peace

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