Sound Advice: The Eldritch Dark by Blood Ceremony
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Sound Advice: The Eldritch Dark by Blood Ceremony

By the pricking of my thumbs, something metal this way comes.


The Toronto occult rockers in Blood Ceremony have consistently achieved something incredibly rare: they sound like no one but themselves. Fusing together ’70s-inspired psychedelia, a mystical take on stoner sludge, and the relentless energy of hard rock, Blood Ceremony has managed to fashion a sound that is entirely its own. Named after a film about the life of Elizabeth Bathory, the band draw its primary lyrical and conceptual inspirations from horror and occult media with a distinctly gothic and Victorian feel. The result is a sound that is often ominous and spooky, but also smoky, complex, and seductive.

The Eldritch Dark is Blood Ceremony’s third record, released May 28, 2013 on Metal Blade, and it is unquestionably the band’s finest work. The first thing that stands out is that the production is of a much higher quality than Blood Ceremony’s previous two releases, which capture none of the baroque, intricate complexities or wild, wanton energy of the group’s live show. No longer a pale imitation, The Eldritch Dark sounds lush and full. It captures the trilling effervescence of Alia O’Brien’s flute as well as the buttery flow of her voice and the cresting swell of her organ. The fat fuzz of the guitar and bass (that somehow sound filtered through the aromatic smoke of incense) and the pulsing, provocative drumming also sound pristine.

The record’s composition is also the most varied of Blood Ceremony’s releases. “Goodbye Gemini” begins with a lilting, wistful flute intro, but quickly becomes intense and Bacchanalian, with wild flourishes and chaotic percussion. (You can listen to “Goodbye Gemini” by clicking on the sample, above.) “Lord Summerisle” is a much more tender journey, though mystical, winding its way along with delicately interwoven acoustic guitar and harmonized vocals. “Drawing Down The Moon” has a more classic, acid-rock-inspired coolness to it.

Existing on the cusp of progressive and pagan, Blood Ceremony crafts some of the most compelling and original occult metal on the market. The Eldritch Dark is a brilliant combination of impeccable style and intelligent songwriting, with just the rich amount of brimstone-scented danger and gothic excess.