Keeping in touch with the horror genre and the mixtures of doom metal and obscure prog sound that is coming out of the woodwork around these days as sort of a revival of bringing it back from the dead, the Toronto band that gave listeners a huge scare with their sole self-titled debut album back in 2009 on the Rise Above Records label and appreciated by Classic Rock Presents Prog, it gave listeners Tony Iommi guitar sounds, disturbing organ sounds, and Alia O’Brien, whose haunting vocals carry the sounds of Jex Thoth, and is following in the footsteps of Jethro Tull’s Ian Anderson and her dazzling flute solos, are worth a good fortune. Yet Blood Ceremony has achieved full control with their follow up self-titled debut with their new album, Living with the Ancients.
Alia O’Brien has put Blood Ceremony in top of their game and even though she doesn’t want to be center of attention, she and the other band members; guitarist Sean Kennedy, bassist Lucas Gadke, and drummer Andrew Haust, she and the band members know that the music always comes first and even though they look like something out of an album cover of Black Sabbath’s Sabotage album and Queen II, Living with the Ancients is such a creative album from start to finish that would make you go back and take out all of your doom metal albums and go back and hear the roots of Blood Ceremony’s music and see where their influences came from.
Opening with the retro psychedelic rocker The Great God Plan, it’s an occult haunting and vicious track that kicks off the album off with a bang. The spooky organ sound, Sean’s guitar playing through an Orange Amp and the drums following the tempo in 4/4 adds a disturbing notion on how religion can really fuck you up in a big way. Even though there are nine tracks on the album, O’Brien has come a long way since the formation of the band in 2006. She really carries the torch very well and her vocals are wonderfully made, it’s almost like the nightmare from hell in a beautiful way and the instructions on the Blood Ceremony manual are well made.
As Alia is carrying the Jethro Tull ‘70s sound of Stand Up, you can hear the influences of the album on Coven Tree as she and Sean Kennedy play different rhythms as they both play like a disturbing waltz section between guitar and flute as it displays to both perfection and to their catchy beats to surprise fans with their prog sounds and seeing where the line in the sand goes for them while The Hermit is in the realm of the British Folk sound, Garage Rock, and the Middle-Eastern ‘60s psychedelic west coast American sound, while it carries a passionate sound of The Doors debut album.
Track by track, the album makes you wonder what is going to happen next. My Demon Brother starts off with homage to Bigelf’s Cheat the Gallows and a spoken word introduction that is almost straight out of the Hammer Horror films starring Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing, the song is basically a tribute to the horror genre they grew up admiring as in their MySpace page mentions, “We’re Anti-War, but Pro-Horror.” This is one band you don’t want to get into the crossfire with, if you do, well, your ass is about to get hassled. You can hear O’Brien doing a Beefheart and VDGG-sque organ sound in the midsection , but it demonstrates how wonderfully and disturbing compositions they would come up with.
Morning of the Magicians is in a 6/8 doom waltz, as we see the band write almost a dance to the Sabbath and let the occult come in and create a disturbing moving beat that would shock a lot of the prom dancers into oblivion and run for their lives as Oliver Haddo, which almost sounds like Black Sabbath’s Electric Funeral it opens with Sean’s guitar sounding in the realms of Iommi-like atmosphere and O’Brien’s organ sounds paying tribute to Jon Lord of Deep Purple fame and Haust does his Bill Ward sections on the drums to give you a warm welcome to a delicious taste test. In fact as O’Brien uses the organ to give the Uriah Heep’s Look At Yourself and Colosseum’s Valentyne Suite-era to really beat it to the punch on Night of Augury, she rocks the organ not like Keith Emerson, but more of a combination of Dave Greenslade of Colosseum, Ken Hensley of Uriah Heep, and Virginia Scott of Beggars Opera. The Witches Dance is a small little folk instrumental acoustic piece between guitar and flute with a twist as it segues into the haunting and vicious rocker, the 11-minute finale Daughter of the Sun.
At times it sounds like Black Widow performing with Aphrodite’s Child, which is a wonderfully crafted composition that makes you feel that the dinner and performing for the dark queen was well received and makes her decide that she wants the band to be her opening act to make it a pretty kick-ass musical rock opera. Living With The Ancients is a treat for Doom Metal and Obscure Prog fans to sink their teeth into, this is one hell of a second album that shines so brightly and glows for the brilliancy that comes with it.