Coming out of Toronto, Canada, like a screaming naked witch on a flying hickory stick, Blood Ceremony are one of a bunch of talented performers like Jex Thoth that look back to the murky miasma of the dope drenched seventies when big haired ROCK was KING. Yay! We are talking the patchouli scented essence of a retro rockers wet dreams here…dirty sleeveless sheepskin jerkins; erotic European horror films; University Challenge; skinning up on gatefold album sleeves; Afghan rugs; John Holmes and his mutant dick; Volkswagen camper vans and going to see Black Sabbath at Nottingham Town Hall, resplendent in new purple loon pants. I could go on.
Blood Ceremony are all about the darker and doomier end of seventies rock culture. It is unsurprising to see Electric Wizard as myspace friends, and the liberal application of the flute by singer Alia O’Brien slaps the listener round the mush with the leather gauntlet of classic era Jethro Tull. Nowt wrong with that.
Opener’Master of Confusion’ is ushered in on a rising wave of vintage organ. The big balled riffs are redolent of crazy Richie Blackmore if he’d grown up twenty years later listening to Pentagram and Saint Vitus. Alia intones in a cold and steady voice, detached and passionless, the Grace Slick of doom. I could fucking overdose on the rock comparisons here, all too easy when a band wears their influences so strongly and proudly. ‘Into the Coven’ would make a decent 7″ single (red and black splatter effect vinyl) with its soaring chorus of “I see witches in the sky”. ‘A Wine of Wizardry’ is a short medieval-styled instrumental, the kind of merry olde English jaunt that Circulus do so well.
‘Return to Forever’ blasts off on a fuzzing and spitting killer driller riff that lurches along like a malevolent golem on mandrax. ‘Hop Toad’ starts with a flourish of flute that conjures up an eerie green pastoral vibe of dappled oaks and poachers hanging in gibbets, their eyes picked out by scrawny crows. ‘Children of the Future’ is the perfect fusion of ‘Master of Reality’ Sabs and early seventies Fairport. Sorry, I’ve relapsed into comparisons again. Inevitable considering the musical circumstances. Last track ‘Hymn to Pan’ ends on a brilliantly ominous and doom-tastic interval of notes, drenched in fuzz guitar and Hammer horror organ. Oh yes…turn this fucker up…you are deep in the old forest, the dark clouds are drifting across the full moon, the obsidian knife is raised above the hot belly of the deformed goat…then your mum calls you for tea. It’s shepherd’s pie.
This self titled debut is a worthy offering from Blood Ceremony, exceptionally well mastered by the exceptional Billy Anderson. Two criticisms: firstly, the vocals would benefit from more attack, aggression and ‘passion’; secondly, their whole lush retro-concept becomes just a little too much after a while, like eating a massive and exquisite super rich toffee pudding, the taste becomes overbearing after a dozen spoonfuls. Still, in controlled amounts, BC offer a superbly well crafted take on the best doom, prog and psychedelic folk that the seventies had to offer, and I’d love to see these hairy humpers blasting out live – ‘twould make a merry eve. And there you have it doomfuckers. I’m off to finish my shepherd’s pie. Bye.