Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Review of "The Eldritch Dark" by Blood Ceremony

Buy this album

1. Witchwood
2. Goodbye Gemini
3. Lord Summerisle
4. Ballad of the Weird Sisters
5. The Eldritch Dark
6. Drawing Down the Moon
7. Faunus
8. The Magician

Since the release of their sophomore album, Living With The Ancients, Blood Ceremony has worked hard to solidify their reputation as a worthy live act. Beginning with a well-received showcase at the prestigious Roadburn Festival, the band capped-off a series of 2011 European dates with Sweden's GHOST, playing a sold-out, headline show in London, UK. In the fall of 2011, they completed their first headlining tour of Europe, which saw the band received enthusiastically by fans in Scandinavia and Central Europe. This tour culminated in a performance at the Hammer of Doom VI Festival in Wurzburg, Germany. In 2012 they were direct support for GHOST on the highly successful "13 Dates of Doom" North American tour. Later in 2012, Blood Ceremony performed at Calgary's celebrated NOCTIS V Metal Festival.

 "Only at a Blood Ceremony show are devil horns the correct response to a triumphantly raised flute." -- NOW MAGAZINE

After these live performances, Blood Ceremony enclosed themselves within a dank, tomb-like chamber to begin preparations for their third album. After a mind-numbing spell in the analogue womb of Toronto's ProGold Studios, the band is now ready to unveil their newest, and most accomplished, musical offering: The Eldritch Dark.

Recorded and mixed by producer Ian Blurton (Cauldron, Cursed) and mastered by Canadian recording legend Nick Blagona (Deep Purple, Rainbow, Crazy World of Arthur Brown), The Eldritch Dark is a full-length paean to the darker corners of folklore and legend. Containing eight tracks of black magic rock 'n' roll, the album crackles with the excitement of a nocturnal ritual.

Tales of witch-cult gatherings in wooded glens, pacts made in torch-lit abbeys and Victorian magic are accompanied by vintage-style hard rock riffs, snaking bass lines and stirring flute melodies. The Eldritch Dark also sees the band exploring a more folksier side of their sound; most evident in the hymn-like "Lord Summerisle" and the murderous folk-rock epic, "Ballad of the Weird Sisters". Nineteenth century sorcerer, Oliver Haddo, makes a return appearance in the riff-hypnotic album closer, "The Magician".

Great organ keys start the album off at the beginning of” Witchwood.” A really groovy heavy metal feel comes after, with great vocals. There is a cool keyboard solo half way through and I was wondering where the flute was and they throw a sweet solo at you near the end, that duals the guitar solo and even harmonizes which sounds so incredible. Blood Ceremony seems to have come a long way from their previous stuff. The flute and guitar was nice to start “Goodbye Gemini” and then the track picks up. I can definitely hear an improvement on Alia’s vocals, which sound exponentially better than the first album in my opinion. “Lord Summerisle” is a nice mellow folk sounding track with acoustic guitar and flute. There is male vocals on this one to accompany the female vocals, which seems like a nice fit for it. This track is amazing and is definitely one of my favourites.

The guitars had a really southern folk feel on “Ballad of the Weird Sisters” and even the vocals had a twang on them that felt a little southern as well. The flute is badass and has a nice little solo and the part it had with the guitar at the end was awesome sounding too. Some great old school doom feeling riffs followed on the next track, “The Eldritch Dark.” They really reminded me of the first Blood Ceremony album, but with a new feel to them. The vocals on this track had a really evil ring to them and overall this was definitely a darker track. “Drawing Down the Moon” had organ, bass, and guitar on the track that sounded so perfect together. I for sure heard cowbell, which is an obvious plus on any recording ever. The organ and guitar has some good solos. This is a really catchy track and also my favourite on the album.

A short instrumental track entitled, “Faunus,” follows with some flute, guitar, and bass jams. The bass has a really fantastic groove, especially when the guitar joined in on it, while the flute had a solo. The guitar took over and did another solo, giving all instruments their spotlight. An eight minute epic, “The Magician,” concludes the album, with doom and heavy metal riffs. The guitar and bass have some really groovy parts and there are nice guitar and flute solos as well. A really gloomy organ piece to follow and the slow guitar and drum beat really adds to the gloom feel.

It’s been quite some time since I have listened to Blood Ceremony and this album gives you many reasons to do so. In my opinion this is a large improvement on their sound and the band as a whole sounds a lot tighter. Alia’s vocals have gotten extremely better and even a little eviler in the way she sings. The guitars also seem a little heavier as well, giving the band a little more oomph. You should definitely check this out if you haven’t already.

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