Blood Ceremony – Living with the Ancients

Canadian four-piece Blood Ceremony have been making a bit of a stir recently, as much for the theatrical nature of their shows as for their records. But as this disk shows, the actual music more than stands up on it’s own.

It’s all quite heady stuff. It’s got doom-laden guitar riffs, bewitching female vocals, folk-inflenced flute, and swirling Hammond organ. The result is a sound like a cross between Black Sabbath fronted by Angela Gordon, and a dark twisted version of Uriah Heep.

There’s a very strong 1971 feel of the whole thing, albeit with slightly cleaner production. Guitarist Sean Kennedy is clearly a disciple of Tony Iommi, and one or two of his solos could have come straight off “Black Sabbath Vol 4″. The rhythm section also has the same slightly jazzy groove of early Sabbath. But vocalist, flautist and organist Alia O’Brien turns them into far, far more than a Black Sabbath tribute act. If her haunting lead vocals aren’t enough, her flute and especially her sinister-sounding organ end up defining the band’s sound. Her keyboard work reminds me a lot of Ken Hensley.

With Song titles like “The Great God Pan” (not a cover of The Waterboys’ song) “The Coven Tree”, “The Witches Dance” and “Daughter of the Sun” as a paean to the 1970s horror movies from which they take their name,  the end result comes over as the soundtrack for the best film that the Hammer House of Horror never made.

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