Thursday, May 19, 2011

Blood Ceremony: Living with the Ancients (2011)


The whole retro doom vibe is something that really interests me, and there are a few bands who shake up the formula just enough to make themselves stand out. Like Jex Thoth, Blood Ceremony uses a female vocalist to do the trick.

Living With the AncientsLiving with the Ancients is the Canadians' second full-length, and it doesn't have anything to make it seem consciously retro. Instead, they've adopted the old school and made it their own, making the guitars sound much thicker than the old and the production much clearer. They use electric organ on many tracks, like other bands channeling the 70's, but on other tracks they've done something different. Flutes. It seems like a good idea, maybe?

The results are mixed. The organ tracks tend to be the standouts, like "Oliver Haddo" with its "Into the Void" inspired riff or "My Demon Brother" with its incredibly catchy chorus. But the flute stuff is just strange. Some times it sounds folky, but mostly it sounds like jazz flute (see "Coven tree"). That's just disconcerting. And they put a lot of focus on the instrument, with flute solos being the centerpiece of two disposable instrumental tracks.

It's pretty hit and miss. There are a few entirely forgettable tracks like "Morning of the Magicians" and "Night of Augury". The opener and closer, while strong, drag on longer than necessary. But there are also some very strong moments, and the vocals are enchanting.

The Verdict: For my money, the best female-fronted trad-doom band is Jex Thoth. But Blood Ceremony isn't bad, and if you just can't get enough of the style then you don't have a whole lot of other options anyway. I give it 3 out of 5 stars.

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