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Blood Ceremony - Self-Titled (Reissue) Award winner

Blood Ceremony
by Phillip Lawless at 15 March 2012, 11:34 PM

Female-fronted Stoner Rock … my favorite new subgenre of a subgenre. After discovering WITCH MOUNTAIN a while back, I was supremely excited the first time I pushed “play” on the re-release of BLOOD CEREMONY’s 2008 debut album. Sure, the self-titled album includes the same kind of stripped-down Doom riffs that made bands like ELECTRIC WIZARD famous. But what struck me the most about this album is the clearness and attractiveness of Alia O’Brien’s voice, as well as her flute and organ playing.

The first track, “Master of Confusion”, kicks off with a two-minute spooky organ intro. After the intro, the organ matches with a wah-wah stoner riff for about 30 seconds, and then the song slows down and finds a fine BLACK SABBATH groove. Later in the song, the organ joins back in for the guitar solo. The final 40 seconds of the song is made up of a galloping riff with more organ accompaniment.

“I’m Coming With You” is the first song to feature O’Brien’s flute playing. Though sparsely heard early in the track, it builds to full-on flute soloing halfway through the song. The flute chirps and twirls over frantic guitar for a solid 30 seconds before the song oozes back down to basics. Oh yeah, and the lyrics: “It’s a black mass and I’m ready to go, the dagger has been stained. We’ll call the demons you’ve dreamed about and soar the cosmic plane.” Wow, what a solid track!

“Into the Coven” features another small flute part before the song settles into a syncopated Stoner / Groove. There’s one small flute part in the body of the track, then the final minute is a moving guitar solo with the organ joining in once again. “A Wine of Wizardry” is a short, old-style track made up of acoustic guitar, subdued drumming and flute. The gentleness of the track is an intriguing break from the Metal-based music before and after it.

The next track, “The Rare Lord”, begins with more flute work; then a meaty riff starts. Once again, the flute plays a large part in the track, skipping around on top of the guitar in various sections, adding flavor and interest. It sounds as if a violin even joins in, and between the flute, guitar, violin, bass and drums, there’s a ton of musical interplay here. Another amazing track.

For the first two minutes, “Return to Forever” is a more traditional Stoner song with guitar and vocals taking center stage. After a short breakdown, there’s a downright blistering flute solo. As it builds and builds, you can here O’Brien draw breath after breath, creating notes like a woman possessed. It’s followed in quick order by a respectable guitar solo. Then the final minute-and-a-half of the track bring the song full-circle back to the opening riff with O’Brien singing.

“Hop Toad” begins by bringing some psychedelic flavors to the proceedings. The song cuts down to flute solo for a short passage; then a loping riff kicks in. The song then rotates between low-key vocals and flute leads throughout the track. A short guitar solo, a quick movie / TV sample, then the opening drum beat kicks back in, and an organ solo over the roaring music acts as an outro.

The next track, “Children of the Future”, is one of the shorter tracks on the album at just over four minutes. It starts off as straight-forward Stoner Rock, but the middle part moves into a clean guitar and flute solo duel. Heck, there’s even a little bass solo thrown in – I’m guessing so O’Brien can catch her breath.

Closer “Hymn to Pan” is an epic eight-minute track that mainly features a simple stomping riff. Trying to type up every section would take a while. Suffice it to say, this mini symphony is full of sultry vocals, fanciful flute sections, evil organ accompaniments, rock-solid riffs and heavy-fisted drumming.

Personally, I find that doom bands with female vocalists are a total breath of fresh air, especially considering the scene has long been locked into a repetitive cycle of SLEEP worship. For me at least, the addition of female vocals and the use of unique instrumentation here definitely offer an interesting new angle.

4 Star Rating

1. Master of Confusion
2. I’m Coming With You
3. Into the Coven
4. A Wine of Wizardry
5. The Rare Lord
6. Return to Forever
7. Hop Toad
8. Children of the Future
9. Hymn to Pan
Alia O’Brien – Vocals, Flute, Organ
Sean Kennedy – Guitars
Lucas Gadke – Bass
Andrew Haust – Drums
Record Label: Metal Blade Records


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