Monday, February 2, 2009

Music reviews: Blood Ceremony

Hey, I'm actually busy with job interviews this week so... I thought I'd review an interesting album I found online. Now I usually don't bother with reviewing well know stuff because I rarely have anything to add to something everyone has heard, but I'd never heard of this band before s I figured I might have something to say.

So the band is Blood Ceremony and this is their first, self-titled album. They are extremely old-school. The inevitable references are Black Sabbath and Jethro Tull, the Tull reference is mainly because they've got a flute player, and the guitar sound like it was ripped out of a Sabbath record. At first I thought that the singer sounded like Neal Peart (of Rush) before I realized it was a woman, she doesn't sound like Neal for most of this album, just the first song. Everything about this album is retro, including the cover art and the synthesizers, which I think works well for this band. Retro revivals are happening all over the place, but this is a new take on an old sound.

So how's the music? It's basic sound is moody early 70's metal, but it keeps things pretty varied throughout. It may be metal, but it doesn't have the overwhelming distortion that dominates that genre nowadays. As a matter of fact the sound is pretty clean, sometimes even folksy. The lyrics are pretty ridiculous, but I don't listen for the lyrics. Take a look at these lyrics off of the song "Return to Forever":

The master magician tunes a casket-shaped lung
In his ritual chamber they pray to the dawn

Sipping cosmic nectar
hearing Magus lecture

Now Astaroth's ship sets sail across the sky
Through Saturn's yawning hail, and into the eye
Black magic rites profane
Wizards are oft' to blame

Unless you're at a D&D session or a Pagan ritual these are just a little silly. There is nothing here that hasn't been done before musically, but it's of consistently high quality. The one bad point is that there's really only one tempo for the entire album, but there are a number of different sounds and textures, the main one being the Sabbathean hard rock, but also relatively light-hearted folkish songs and and at one point sounding like a Gypsy dance song (the intro to Hop Toad). I'm guessing that this will be a big hit with the stoner crowd, it's good even without chemical enhancement.

So a word about the rating system I use: I like the one from Sound Opinions. The ratings are buy it (if you like this genre of music, you will definitely enjoy it), burn it (try before you buy), and trash it (don't even bother). I'm going to give this a buy it: if you like hard rock/metal, especially from the 1970's, you will enjoy this. The only people who may be disappointed are hardcore doom metallers, since this is classified as doom metal, but sounds nothing like the usual doom metal album (which is a lot slower, louder, and more distorted). I mean, top 40 types won't like it, but they're not going to expect to like it.

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