Blood Ceremony – The Eldritch Dark

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Review by Jason Guest

Rise Above Records

Call ‘em doom, witch rock, occult rock or whatever you want, but Blood Ceremony are doing more than their fair share of giving the whole 70s retro thing credibility. Their 2008 eponymous début, more a Hammer Horror soundtrack than  a rock album, brought to us a bunch of Sabbath-infused, dirty 70s riffs drenched in haunting Hammond organ and ethereal atmospherics and devilish melodies. 2011’s Living With The Ancients saw the band’s writing and musicianship mature significantly as well as their ability to render the essence of their sound much more potently. And now with their third album, The Eldritch Dark, Blood Ceremony have again upped their game and pushed the bounds of their 70s-infused grooves ever further into that of, among others, psychedelia and folk.

Sean Kennedy’s fuzzed-out blues riffs are as sumptuous as they are simple and effective, as are his leads (check out closer ‘The Magician’ for some truly inspired lead work); Lucas Gadke’s bass-lines thunder in the low end, laying down a solid rhythmic foundation coloured with some cool melodic flourishes; new drummer Michael Carillo’s work is a perfect fit for the band, holding the grooves down and working the rhythmic riffs to give them the power they command; and with Alia O’Brien’s beautifully breathy, Jethro Tull flute and Deep Purple organ (that sounds wrong, doesn’t it?) casting a colourful spectrum across the album, musically, this is top notch. Vocally, Alia’s vocals have again been harnessed for their haunting and melodic power, the folk melodies augmenting her style and giving the album a tangibly earthy feel. And it turns out that bassist Gadke isn’t a bad singer either as is evident on the paganist/folk track ‘Lord Summerisle’ (yes, he, Christopher Lee of The Wickerman).

Where the darkness of their début and Living With The Ancients lay in the doomed riffs and the ominous atmospheric that cloaked both of those albums, The Eldritch Dark, though bearing a “lighter” sound, is no less sinister. With plenty of references to Hammer Horror, Aleister Crowley (parodied as Oliver Haddo in Somerset Maugham’s novel The Magician from which the track title takes its inspiration), the occult, paganism, and all things deemed wicked, sinful, and evil by the devil’s best enemy, this is an album of elegant design and sees Blood Ceremony at their wicked best. Seductive, evocative, inspired, call it whatever you want. Just make sure you listen to it.

Blood Ceremony – The Eldritch Dark8 out of 10

Track listing:

  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